I’m about to get real folks. Because at the moment it’s the only thing I can do. Because I want to keep writing but I also want to be honest that sometimes it’s hard. And sometimes I honestly can’t.
When I started this blog, I wanted to be open and honest about my writing experience, but I didn’t want to bitch or moan. I didn’t want to focus on the negative. I wanted to be vulnerable, but not pessimistic.
So, on the many times that I’ve started a blog about how hard it is to break into the publishing industry or my fears over never being able to write a good enough query letter or my jealously over people who have managed to break through, I’ve taken a step back and thought about whether or not those feelings were deep-rooted or fleeting. And whether or not that was what I wanted to put out into the world.
And the answer has always been no. Because that’s not me.
Those are glimmers of my humanity for sure. But, day-to-day I’m an optimist. I always tell my daughter, “there’s always a solution.” So on my best days when I think I might not get picked up by an agent I start thinking about hybrid-publishing. When I start worrying about my query letter I turn to the gratitude for all the people that have helped me with it. When I see new authors have their book birthdays, I am genuinely happy and excited for them and think, “if they can do it so can I.”
But what is also me is this: I suffer from periodic depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety intense enough to make even my gratitude-driven outlook on life utterly exhausting.
It is important to note: I’m lucky. My depression and anxiety are not every day. It’s not all the time. But, when it comes, it usually last for weeks. And when it’s bad, it’s really bad.
For the past few weeks I’ve been going through one of these periods and it’s been tough. You may be asking yourself, ‘why are you confessing this on a writing blog?’
The simple answer is because it is affecting my writing and I made a promise to share my writing experiences with you. And I don’t view this as being negative and I’m certainly not complaining.
Let’s face it. It’s hard enough to write, but it seems next to impossible to do when it takes all your energy just to put your pants on in the morning. Let alone to be a good mom and wife and to try and keep up with the laundry. Oh, and yes, the transition to a new job that is forthcoming.
I have been gifted time right now. Down time in between jobs. To deal with myself. To regroup and recharge. I was hoping I’d used the time to jump head first back into writing. To work on my next book and to continue pitching my first book. But honestly guys, it ain’t that easy.
So, here’s what I can tell you.
I can do the familiar stuff. Writing #WritersQuick5 brings me a lot of joy. It’s familiar and it’s fun and I look forward to it.
Soliciting new writers for #WritersQuick5 though can tug at my soul. I don’t like asking people for things. And I don’t like feeling like a sales person. Getting new writers takes a lot of energy from me. But, I’ve deemed it 100% worth it because I love #WritersQuick5. I’ve learned so much and have been touched but everyone’s answers. It’s a true blessing. And for me, at this moment, I’m thankful I have a few more writers lined up for a few weeks out. But after that? It will take all my energy to track down more. I just have to have faith that my gumption and sense of self-worth will be back up to normal levels to be able to tackle that. Because it IS worth it.
Writing Amache’s America is a true joy. I am familiar with the platform. I love the characters. And it’s low key. Because I’m not thinking about getting it published (at the moment) it is all very organic. I’m trusting my instincts. I’m writing what feels good. And, the people that do read it seem to love it. It’s a safe place.
Editing my query letter for The Cube is a trigger. There is too much hope and destiny packed into those few paragraphs. Every time I think I’ve nailed it, I get feedback that one line just doesn’t work or that I still need to flush something out. It’s gotten to the point where I 100% know I’ve had TOO many people look at it and I’ve thought about it TOO much to the point where it may not work at all.
But that may just be an excuse for the fact that sending a query letter out and getting the right agent at the right time seems like catching lightning in a bottle. And again, I’m having trouble summoning up the energy to get dressed.
And then there are the suggested edits to the book itself. The book that I love, that I consider to be done. There are ways to make it better for sure, but I also just want someone to read the whole damn thing to know that it’s a complete story and not just the first five pages.
A couple of my friends have suggested I do a Kickstarter to help get momentum going and get my book into the world to move on. But, when your depression and anxiety have you questioning your own self-worth, do you know what’s impossible to believe? That anyone will want to participate in your self-indulgent Kickstarter.
Reading is a safe place. I’ve read many books this month and reading has made me feel more like myself again. Curling up with a blanket and a book is the closest thing to breathing for me. It gives me life. But, in times like these, it also makes me sad. Because I want someone to read my books too.
SO, where does that leave me?
Well first, I know this current bout of depression and anxiety will pass. Because it always does. And if it doesn’t, again, I am lucky. I have a therapist I trust and a husband that loves and supports me and the unconditional love of my kid and we will figure it out. The fog was already starting to lift and earlier this week and I had a couple days of playing tourist in my own city followed by a couple days of getting a lot done before I slipped back into the darkness yesterday. I need to remember that there will be good days and bad days and that eventually the good will outweigh the bad and I’ll be back on track.
And second, that I need to listen to myself. I have a tattoo on my right arm that says, “choose grace”. It’s a reminder to myself to always give others the benefit of the doubt, but also to give myself the benefit of the doubt too. That even in the darkest of hours, the sunrise is still on its way.
And third, that while internal pressure to keep to my dreams and my goals is good. And forward momentum is good. And working hard to realize a life ambition is good. It will do me no good if I harm myself in the process.
So day-by-day I will do what I can. And then I’ll lie down if I have to. And then I’ll get up and do a little more. And that, if anything, the fact that I had the energy to write this blog post today is a great sign. Even if part of me is dreading the idea that no one may read it, a bigger part of me is just thrilled to be writing about writing again. A few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have been able to put these thoughts into words. Healing is a beautiful thing.
And ultimately writing is a paradox. Because this blog post isn’t for anyone else but me but simultaneously if just one person reads this and gives themselves some grace that sometimes a person just cannot write every damn day, then that’s a good thing too.
Here’s what I believe: at the end of the day, even though writing seems like the most solitary of experiences, in reality writing is what binds us together. It gives us the connective tissue of the shared human experience. And deep down I know that we are all in this together. Even if I feel alone. Even if that’s hard for me to imagine. Reading and writing will get me through. And I will do my best to give myself grace until my inner light shines bright again.