After writing the last post and giving myself “permission” to stop writing and – more importantly – stop stressing about writing, a funny thing happened. Actually two things happened:
- I started to enjoy life a bit more, and
- I started to miss writing.
Not at first. Nope, I went a solid 14 days (yes, I counted.) before I felt the gentle pull. Just subtle things like thinking about a character or a scene. Nothing earth-shattering. Just little thoughts here and there.
And then 2 days later I opened my laptop and started writing.
Again, nothing earth-shattering at all. I opened one of my Scrivener files, read through a chapter of my YA novel and began tweaking a few lines. But hey, it had been 16 days since I’d even opened my laptop so PROGRESS!
And then today I had a mini breakdown. Just when I thought I was moving forward! Now, these mini breakdowns seem to be more common than I’d care to admit but in the spirit of being honest I’ll go ahead and tell you all about it.
First off let me be clear, my day didn’t start off bad. In fact I had a lovely breakfast date with a friend who I hadn’t seen in quite some months. We chatted about life and how she was transitioning from working for “the man” into self-employment.
(Note: I use the term “the man” to represent big business. Not an actual man, even though I do believe it was a man she was working for. I digress…)
The breakfast was yummy and the conversation was awesome and I consumed far more coffee than I normally do. Which, now that I think about it, might have played a factor on The Breakdown – which I’ve now decided to capitalize for dramatic purposes.
Anyway, I left feeling great and inspired and then BAM I was freaking out. It hit so suddenly that I didn’t see it coming. The same old script ran through my stupid, traitorous brain:
I’m floating aimlessly. I’m totally failing. I’m almost 40.
WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!
I texted my bestie (who lives too damn far away! *shakes fist*) and said this…
You know when you’re having a perfectly good day and then your brain decides it’s time to remind you how inadequate you are and that you’re totally floating aimlessly and then your good day turns to a sad day so quickly that your head spins? That. Right now.
Being the best friend she is, she replied back with all the right words and even though my brain was whispering she’s lying to you I pushed that aside, had a little cry and was set to curl up in the fetal position until it stopped hurting when I got another text. This one from the friend I had breakfast with.
She’d written a blog post about her journey and had dedicated it to me. TO ME! Why? Well, because many years ago when we first met I was on the brink of embarking on my own non-traditional journey. If you’re new here the gist is that my husband and I sold everything, quit our jobs and moved 2,312.2 kms (that’s 1,442.3 miles) to begin a new journey down a more creative path. And that had an impact on her in a way I had no idea it did. The blog post was heartfelt and made me cry more, but in a good way. It reminded me that when I started down this path all those years ago I was hopeful and a bit scared but also completely sure that it was the right thing to do. (Spoilers: It was worth it!)
And here I was crying about feeling lost and aimless.
So I stopped crying and started to evaluate my life in terms outside of money. Because we are SO prone to tie success and money together that we forget all the successes we accomplish everyday. Ones that money just can’t buy. Here is a friend telling me I’ve made an impact on her life. Is that not a success? Yeah, it is! And I had a huge ah-ha moment. Oprah would have been proud as hell.
I realized that I tied up being a published author with success and money. I even mixed in travel and freedom in some weird way. It goes something like this:
Write a book > Get Published > Success! > Money! > Travel! > Freedom!
Did I want to be published? Yes!
Did I want to be successful? Um, YES! Who doesn’t?
Did I want money? I like money, it helps pay the bills.
Did I want to travel? Yes!
Is writing/publishing a book the only way I can travel? Um, no. That’s a silly thought.
Did I want freedom? WHAT THE HELL IS FREEDOM, ANYWAY?
Note all the exclamation marks. Somehow I made my self-worth dependent on getting published. No agent, no book deal. No book deal, no success. No success, no money. No money, no freedom. (Again, whatever that means?!) No freedom, ALL THE FAILURE!
Chasing something as obscure as “freedom” has led me down this rabbit-hole of crazy. There, I’ve said it. What is freedom in this context? Does freedom equate to being stress-free because that’s just laughable!
You know what successfully published authors do? They write more books and they write them all the time. I follow the really successful ones on social media and guess what? They are still stressed. They have deadlines, people to answer to, internet trolls, hectic writing/traveling schedules etc.
BOOM. Another ah-ha moment. Becoming a successfully published author isn’t going to make writing any easier. In fact, it might make it more difficult.
So where does that leave me? Well maybe, just maybe, I already have all the parts of my bizarre thought process.
I can write a new book today and publish it tomorrow. I mean literally I can. I most definitely won’t because I’d like to make sure what I’m turning out isn’t pure crap. But you get my drift.
What about success? Like I said, we tie success and money so tightly together that we forget that something as mundane as doing laundry on a day when you couldn’t give two shits about housework is a success! I wrote a book, in fact I’ve written a few. I’d call that a success, wouldn’t you?
And money? Well right now I am 100% debt free and can pay my bills with money to spare. Sure I had to bust my ass to get to this point. It wasn’t easy. But the point is that it was within my reach without that book deal. So there’s that.
I can travel whenever I like, to wherever I like. Travel and writing have absolutely nothing to do with each other.
And freedom? Well, in my case I think I confused freedom with being stress-free, in which case I’m a foolish idiot. ‘Nuff said.
My real life goals are far more meaningful. I want to live a life I can be proud of, to enjoy each moment, to inspire others, to share my writing with those who may enjoy it, and to be the kind of person I’d want to spend time with.
This post got away from me a bit. Sorry about that. I just needed to get things off my chest.