It’s a little bit crazy for me to think that 2016 marked my three-year anniversary of becoming an indie author—mostly because for much of that time, I haven’t really been a publishing author at all. This is going to be a long post, so bear with me, as I’ve got a lot to get off my chest.
Around the end of 2014, I went through a long period of creative depression due to circumstances that were mostly beyond my control. Somehow, I managed to publish a book I’d written months before (more about Finding North later, since I’ve recently made a pretty big decision about that book) but besides that, I could barely manage to write a word. It took until the end of 2015 for me to get my mojo back, and even then, I started a lot of projects that I never finished, always hopping from one shiny new idea to the next. 2015 was also when Kassandra Kush and I decided to write the DPR: Miami series, a project I adore, but which sucked up a ton of my focus and creative energy, leaving less for solo work.
I know the general consensus was “goodbye and good riddance” to 2016, but I saw a lot of growth and great things last year. I changed my college major and moved into my first apartment. I made an invaluable new critique partner and joined an online word sprints group that gives me the kick in the ass I need to put words on the page. A couple of authors I adore invited me into their mastermind group with a weekly call that invigorates my heart and soul like nothing else. I got my website redone (isn’t it pretty?) and recommitted myself to investing in my career. The first half of the DPR: Miami series came out, finally, finally making my return to publishing.
For the first time ever, I decided to do the “word of the year” thing I saw a lot of my creative friends doing. I had a renewed spirit, an ambitious plan, and I felt that 2017 was going to be my year to THRIVE after the series of setbacks that have marked my career for the last couple years.
But then I got disgustingly sick a couple days after New Year’s, and all I wanted to do was lie in bed and watch Netflix. In fact, that’s how I spent the better part of the last four weeks—back in December, because I was recovering from the stress of finals season, where my writing output dropped to zero because I just didn’t have the time. For some reason, ever since then I’ve had the hardest time moving that needle, even though I had all the time in the world to write.
Finally, about a week ago, I came to a realization that made me feel foolish for not figuring it out sooner.
Nothing can thrive without a solid foundation from which to grow.
My ability to create is inextricably tied to my wellbeing, both physical and mental. Finals season left me drained, but instead of properly taking some time to recuperate, I was constantly stressing about why I hadn’t written more yet. All the pressure I had put on myself to have this book finished by the end of my winter break further crippled my creative output, leaving me caught in a vicious cycle. Only when I accepted the importance of taking care of myself, even at the expense of hitting some of my professional goals, was I able to fully recover my ability to create.
Just a little side note about the book I had hoped to finish by now: it’s a rewrite of Finding North, that little book I published all the way back in 2015, which I’ve since pulled down from sale. Now that I’ve broken the ice on the new site, I’ll probably write another blog post that’s specifically about why I’m doing this rewrite and what’s changing (don’t worry if you loved the book the first time, I promise the essence of the story is staying 100% the same). For now, all I’ll say is that I’ve come a long way as a writer since I wrote that initial version, and in looking back at it, saw many places where I wanted to make changes in order to build a stronger foundation for the Compass series as a whole.
My hope was to be able to publish three books this year—two Compass series books and one entirely new thing—besides the second half of episodes in DPR: Miami and the Peculiar Lives of Circus Freaks anthology that my writer’s group is publishing. Now I’m not entirely sure if I’ll be able to hit all of those goals, especially since I’m back in school now and it looks like this semester is going to be quite work-heavy. But if I don’t, I think I’ve finally learned not to be so hard on myself. And I’ve made sure to build time into my schedule to relax—to read a book, or watch Netflix without guilt, or go out with friends like I’m doing tonight.
Ultimately, I write because it makes me happy, because it satisfies an ache deep in my bones that nothing else can. If I’m not enjoying it anymore, if it’s causing more stress than it’s alleviating in my life, then what’s even the point?