Sunday, January 31, 2016

Triumph After the Pain: Why I took a Break From Writing

I found myself struggling to write--to put pen to paper, to put fingers to keys. There was a kind of fear that wasn't there before. And it scared me.

I'm aware that it's in large part due to burnout. I was creatively exhausted. Depleted. Empty. And extremely frazzled.

Crimson Earth was a huge project. The number of hours committed and the emotional toll it took on me, officially made it the hardest project I've ever accomplished. Maybe if I hadn't been in the midst of busy season at work, and maybe if I hadn't been planning a wedding, then maybe it would have been easier. There were times when I felt like I was drowning, and I would plaster a fragile smile on my face, absolutely determined to finish the f*cking book.

Looking back at it now, those months felt like a dream.

Crimson Earth is done. It's out there for the world to devour. There was a brief moment during the holidays where I wanted to ride that momentum--the euphoric waves of having written and published my second book. I was eager to start on another story that had been clamoring for my attention. But every time I sat down to collect my thoughts it felt as if the strings tethering my heart were suddenly clipped, and a steel wall would come down, shutting away any and all inspiration.

That feeling was terror.

I wasn't ready to endure that kind of pain again.

I'm so very proud of the sequel. Every time I think of the plot and the subplots, a bubble of elation and glory fills me. Because I did it. I really, really did it. I wrote and published a second book. And I love every page: The harrowing journey taken by Aeva, the beauty of Ruven's pain, Pique's bravery, and Karth's glimmering hope. It was a curse-of-a-challenge, and one that definitely helped me grow as a writer.

But like a child who's touched a blazing stove, I remember, the agony of the heat. I recall it too vividly--the sleepless nights, the muscle spasms triggered by anxiety; holding my breath as I counted and recounted how many hours a week I could realistically devote to writing. There was never enough time in the day, and the chilly nights were nothing more than a tease.

There were good moments in those months. Most notably, was the sharp, untouchable focus. A kind of intensity that I'd never experienced before. I would lose myself in the work and it was a blissful kind of purgatory. In those moments I was determined, passionate, and driven.

I'm almost over this slump. I know this because I have finally written and posted this blog!

I was so trapped in my fear that I couldn't get myself to write a simple, honest post. I felt like I had no words. Nothing meaningful to say, and any effort was already more than I had in me.

I'm over the hill, so to speak. I've started reading again, thinking, thinking, and thinking some more about the other stories buzzing around in my wearied imagination. That space in my head felt like it had shrunken, but it's growing again, like the glow of a bulb turning brighter as it builds and consumes more energy.

Breaks are important for this reason. In the stillness and quiet is where our dreams can flourish, breathing color and life into empty spaces.

I'm going to be trying something new for my next project--Snow Dolls--which after a turbulent stint in the querying circuit, is now back on the editing block. For those of you who have read my stories, you know my strength has mostly been in first-person narratives. I'm going to go out of my comfort zone and change it up a bit for SD. It's going to take a lot of work, but Time and I are going to be friends on this challenge. It will be my goal for 2016.

Thanks for stopping by and checking in on me. :) I've missed you!

BTW - Have you checked out Crimson Earth yet? Let me know what you think by leaving a review on Goodreads or Amazon.

Love, love, and more love, ~A