I was going to start this post off by saying that, for a month that started out so well, January really turned on me at the end.
But I think that might be laying too much blame on January’s shoulders to be fair.
And, honestly, January was pretty cool. I got to be a panelist at ConFusion. The panels were great and I got to meet a ton of people I’ve always wanted to meet. I’ll put up a post about that later on.
I think, at the end there, it reached a point where I couldn’t continue to carry it all and something broke.
I got sick right after ConFusion. A dry cough on Tuesday that, by Wednesday, turned into something that felt like my lungs were filled with watery concrete. I didn’t write. I was depressed. I was not getting stuff done for friends. I just didn’t have the energy. That depressed me more. Not writing depressed me further. I missed a week on the blog and then another and I started to question my commitment.
That’s when the imposter syndrome kicked in. “See how easy it was for you to quit?” it said. “You haven’t written for an entire week. You didn’t even struggle like a real writer would have.”
When I did manage to get upstairs, the writing wasn’t working. The book that I’d committed to myself to write by the end of the year had stalled in the outline. It just wasn’t coming together.
I went to “The Well” of social media to get away from the pressure, stress, and depression of the writing not working to find that the well had become a burning tarpit of rage and hate. I tried to focus on the good stuff that folks had posted, buried under all the vitriol. Friends were releasing books, being accepted as guests to cons, things were going well. I wanted to see that, needed to see that, but it ultimately depressed me because that’s not where I was.
That’s the thing with social media. You’re seeing everyone’s A-Game while you’re bobbling, and fumbling, and struggling to make headway. You don’t see the struggles on the other end, just as they don’t see yours.
It got so bad that I had to step back for a couple of days to escape it. I think it was at this time, I had the seeds of an idea to change things up, but It would still be a few days before anything happened.
By the end of the weekend, I shook the sickness. Not the cough, entirely…I’ve still got that to this day, but whatever was sucking on me like an energy vampire – my immune system finally staked that bastard.
Monday, I woke up to find that the heater in the house had stopped working. I spent the day waiting for service and watching the boiler temperature indicator drift closer and closer to freezing and wondering what would happen if it froze and how much it would cost (It didn’t freeze and things are working well now, thanks).
No writing that day and, as I walked into the office, all bundled up and twitchy from two cups of coffee and no food, my wife asked me if I was ok.
The dam broke.
For what must have been five minutes, it all just poured out of me. Some of it I’ve talked about here, and I came real close to losing my shit at that moment.
When I was done, I felt like I had to apologize. I didn’t *Need* to, of course and she told me that before I got started, but I still felt like I had to.
Despite how messed up that is (and that might be another topic I’ll get to later), that was when I really started getting better.
The next day, I woke up to a rejection email. It was worse than a form rejection. It was a broken form rejection where part of the automated process that inserts the person’s name at the end of the email failed.
It should have been devastating, receiving a rejection letter from %reader% (No typos here, that’s how it was signed), but it wasn’t. I did decide, then, that I wouldn’t look at my email immediately after I woke up anymore (something that has turned out to be both beneficial and surprisingly difficult to do).
That morning, I went upstairs, opened the WIP and I hauled 99% of it to the “Muse Droppings” folder and started over.
It was slow going, but it worked. Over the rest of the week, I’ve built an alien race that I hadn’t planned on initially, and I’ve got an opening scene. More importantly, I’m thinking about the story during the day, which is something that I hadn’t been doing before.
Like all healing, it’s a long game. I’m refocusing my life on the basics. The really important stuff.
There have been setbacks. I arrived to a trainwreck at work on Tuesday and it was all I could do to make it through the day, but I got up on Wednesday morning and wrote.
I’m easing my way back into social media and I’ve started posting more than I have been. While the tarpit is still flaming, I will not fan those flames. I am being the change I want to see in the world, posting encouragement and (hopefully) entertaining stuff. I don’t spend a lot of time there anymore, but I do want to make the most of the time I do spend there.
I really didn’t expect this to be a 1000+ word post. If you’re still with me after all of this, I’d like to ask for just a little bit more of your time.
Life is messy sometimes. When the shit hits the fan, you will need to deal with it in a healthy manner. It’s ok to do what you need to do to take care of yourself. It’s ok to talk to the people in your life about it (Like I should have been doing – a lesson that I am still learning). Get help when you need it. The work will be there when you’re ready to go back.
So take care of yourself. Step back if you need to and – take it from someone that *still* needs to have it drilled into his head – talk to the important people in your life.
You’ll find your way back on track and you’ll find folk that are rooting for you to do just that.
Time: 1:06 Pm-ish
Music: Lynn Hollyfield – Fear the Wind