The kids are at their last of school before holiday break. I have turkey broth simmering on the stove. I’m sitting in my quiet living room beside the Christmas tree, attempting to find peace. I want to enjoy the holidays and make the most of them, but I need to get my head right. In truth, lately, I’ve been feeling kinda lost.
As I wait to hear word from agents about the dystopian novel I spent the last six years obsessing over I’m trying to focus on other things mostly unsuccessfully. Not only am I pitching one book, but I have high hopes of selling the series. I really and truly feel like I’ve put my best foot forward. It’s been professionally edited. The query is tight and the agents I’ve reached out I really researched. Waiting is harder than I expected. I’m finding it hard to focus on much, but I’m making myself write because if I don’t, my mind will implode. I find myself unable to sleep after waking from stressful dreams about simultaneously getting rejection letters and being chased by zombies. They always catch me.
Short fiction is helping. I’ve been able to get a decent string of solid stories out as I spin about the future of my series and plan a stand alone book. One night while I was staring at the wind-buckling trees I asked myself, “What do I do if this doesn’t work?” This is when my mind lets in the idea of becoming a certified dog trainer again, but then I tell myself, “No you are a writer, and you have made the decision to pursue a full-time career in storytelling.”
I feel like a fake adult.
If I shut my inner-doubt down and really pay attention, I can see and feel how close I am. It’s been an uphill battle of discipline and the feeling like I’m wasting my time, but I am close. There is this weird thing that happens anytime I send positive vibes my own way. A part of me always wants to swat the self-boost away. I’m not sure what this is, but my inner-doubt is one of the hardest things I have to manage. I think about that scene in Erin Brockovich when Julie Roberts yells, “I’ve taken time away from my kids. If that’s not personal, I don’t know what is.” I spend about 8-10 hours a day writing, networking, and cobbling this career together. Somedays I feel like I’m awesome and others, well like I’m living in a dream world reaching for impossible goals.
Writing all this down helps, just I I thought it would. I’m not gonna hear anything until after the holidays. I need just to put it out of my mind and enjoy the holidays. There will be a lot of down time moments where I can work through the concepts I have for my next book because right now I only have annoying fragments of things that don’t make very much sense, but that’s how it all starts out doesn’t it?
I’m sure that I’m in a dramatic state of mind when I say this, but, I’m all out of sorts. Like, really, really in a mood. I have been in one since Monday. It’s the first week back to work (after one off) since I submitted the dystopian to several carefully selected agents. I can’t seem to climb out of this funk and focus on anything for very long. I gotta say I wasn’t expecting this. Just like every other part of this project these feelings are new to me. My over anxious, fiction-swallowed brain wonders what this means. It’s not my lack of confidence in the work itself or how I presented it. I feel good about both of those things. So, what’s my problem?
Writing that down led me to this answer: I’m burned out.
I burned myself out, and I’m still recovering. Sure, the unknown of what’s ahead is certainly eating at my feet, but that’s not the only thing going on. I pulled something crazy off, and now I’m paying for it. I suppose that means I will be slowly getting back into the groove of things. Perhaps leaning into this rather than fighter it would allow me to unclench my shoulders. After writing solely one story for so long, spreading back into multiple projects (nonfiction work included) feels strange.
Creating a world and spending time not only inside of it but obsessing over each detail fitting into place was fun. If I’m being honest, some of the most fun I’ve had. What I experienced with the book I just finished is something I’ve always fantasized about. Perhaps some of what is going on is that I actually miss the world I created. Does that sound completely crazy? Maybe, but I run that risk every time I open my mouth.
I’ve been cleaning and organizing my house. I’m in no way naturally domestic. I’m just so damn anxious, and cleaning helps. Also baking.
Again, I know I’m being dramatic, but I feel lost this week. I have a pile of work, but I can’t stop vacuuming or putting things in themed baskets. Waiting is part of it. I’ve got to find a middle ground, perhaps have more patience with myself. It’s hard to feel like I’ve accomplished anything when nothing is final yet. Again, part of the gig, I know. I just have to suck it up. Christmas is around the corner, and I need to sell more articles, so I have to find a way to ease my mind where it needs to go. Maybe whisper to myself, “Don’t worry, it will happen.” Who knows?
So basically, I’m just whining here right now, feeling sorry for myself when nothing at all is going wrong. But, my mind does feel clearer so for that thank you.
“Go for broke,” is one of my favorite sayings. One I keep close to the lip, a tool I use as I build my writing career. It’s Monday after Thanksgiving, after a week off, and I’m feeling more than a little strange. I started my time off completely zapped. I had never worked harder. The late summer well into November were so intense. I feel like a different person coming out of it. Finishing that book transformed into a rabid obsession that fueled all of me. The first two days off I still found myself drifting toward my computer trying to figure out different concepts (now it’s time to write another one) and ways to will my goals into a successful reality—which for some reason translates into checking Twitter too much. Once my family came into town, my mind left my work worries and remained in the warm present. It was a truly wonderful Thanksgiving that left an afterglow for the majority of the holiday weekend. As Sunday crept past my anxiety grew.
The project I’ve been referring to both here and on Too Many Words as my dystopian series has been consuming most of my brain. I had no idea how obsessed and wound tight I was until I stepped away. Funny how that works. Perception is the greatest of all powers to wield, I think. I sent out a bunch of pitches before the break, and now I’m off to start new projects I’ve lined up. I was in bed last night anxious about getting back to work and unable to get right to sleep. Not something I was anticipating. I just stared out the window at the wind-grappled trees trying to find a peaceful mindset to attack the next few weeks with, then eventually, I faded out. My dreams were a combination of rejection letters and zombie attacks. To want something so bad is a feat to hold all its own.
Monday morning started like most. My alarm went off at six. I sat on the sofa with coffee and a copy of Rune of the Apprentice by Jamison Stone. Then the mad dash of breakfast, packing lunches, and making sure my children are remotely put together enough to send out into the world for six hours. While I walked my dogs, I took the long route and strode as slowly as I could.
I sat down at my desk and opened my inbox for the first time in five days to find the first ‘pass’ from an agent on this project. It took some time to let that roll off my shoulders. “No’s” always come before “Yes’s” and I’m really confident in this project and in its ability to sell. I just have to hang in there and busy myself with my next projects. Gotta keep writing. Create. Pitch. Create. It goes on and on. This is the gig. After that I settled into an awesome planning session with Rebecca Clark about our next steps with the Shadow Bearers. Then before I could settle into anything real, I felt a need to vent, to think out loud. Sometimes to write one must clear out the junk first. So basically I just spent the last few hundred words thinking out loud about what I’m trying to process. Sharing my junk with you.
I’m in a new phase. My head needs to remain in the game. Now, I need to put a game face on and sell some articles.
Thanks for listening to my nonsense.
I’m writing this before I pass out. It’s been a long, busy day. Today is my official first day back from nine days off. I was nervous about taking the time but I organized myself and made it work. I had no idea how badly I needed the time off until I took it. My sister-in-law who rocks and my almost seventeen -year-old nephew whom I adore were in town. My husband and I both took off the entire time. This was the first time ever in the history of our marriage we both took that much time off at the same time. Crazy right? It was great spending time with family and unwinding. As much I love the hustle it’s nice to cool down the jets and just drink a crazy amount of wine and go on adventures. Good stuff.
It’s funny how often it’s overlooked (at least in my case) but spending time with myself without goals and crazy schedules really helps me to learn about myself. I got to know myself just as a person over the last few days in a different way. Which fortunately for me means that I have unlocked some pretty killers ideas that I had been searching for over the last few weeks. Score.
Now that I can clearly see my month of August I am really glad I took the time because I am going to be crazy (and I mean crazy) busy. I’m excited about all the projects I have on the docket. Starting at the end of the week stay tuned for updates. A lot is happening and changing. I’m a littler nervous about a couple of things. I continue to wait to hear about final decisions regarding the YA contemporary I’ve been shopping around though I’m a lot closer to where I want to be with it.
There is something unsettling about starting new projects. I would compare it similarly to getting on a roller coaster. The fact I’m strapping in for a series of intensities is clear but what it’s going to feel like isn’t. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I think it does. There is a fine line between excited and nervous. I ride it often. Honestly, I think I enjoy it. Part of the fun is the hustle.
That’s it for now. I’m tired and my eyes are starting to glaze over important words. Time to unwind.
I’m kinda kicking ass. Which is strange because if I were to have written this earlier in the day I would have probably told you nothing was going right. I was sleepy and low energy all day. A typical human reaction to working too late the night before…and apparently I’m doing it again.
Tinkering with the tone in the wizard story I’m working on while listening to Coldplay most of the night has been a delight. I’m going over each line and strengthening where I need to. This story has definitely turned out slightly different than my initial thought, but the characters naturally went this way, so instead of fighting, I leaned into it.
Let’s not forget this writing thing should be fun. It’s never fun beating your head against an artificial wall.
I recorded a fun talk with Kendall Ashley earlier today. We talked about the articles she writes for Geek & Sundry and Nerdist, zombies ( of course), and shows we love. That episode will air on August 4th.
Update: Starting the last week in July Too Many Words goes from Mondays and Thursdays to just Thursday for right now. Unfortuenly I haven’t yet figured out how to clone myself or have developed any device that added hours to the day. (Which, I feel like someone should.) I have my hands in all sorts of exciting new writing projects, opportunities I wanted to be sure to grab. This meant that I needed to rearrange my schedule, which was making me nervous but a theme I keep going back to is, adjusting isn’t something to fear, it’s just life.
That’s a good note to leave off on, I think.
Till tomorrow night
I have always been incredibly stubborn. At times, it works against me, and it takes turns maddening those who love me. But as I build my writing career I’ve decided it one my qualities I love most about myself.
When I’m told, I can’t do something it only makes me convinced that I will, in fact, do just that. I get surprises and setbacks and opportunities. All that is part of what I do, but I know as long I don’t stop writing and continue to improve and grow I’ll be fine.
This is a new feeling for me.
I have a strange relationship with ideas. I get flustered when I get one while I’m focusing on something else. But, in those moments when I just don’t have one, I panic, I feel miserable and obsessed with getting a spark of any kind.
Perhaps this is just my process.
I worry about all the different outcomes of any possible situation constantly.
Wishful thinking and hard work.
Denial and delusions of grandeur.
Either way, I suppose I’m on the trail.