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When Your Escape Becomes Your Cage

I love writing. I love reading. They are the things that have sustained me for pretty much my entire life. In my darkest periods, they were my escape, and there have been a couple of times when they were probably the only things keeping me sane.

When you love something that much, all you want to do is more of it. And so I wrote and I wrote and I read and I read, and eventually, two years ago, I hit my ultimate goal. I signed a contract for a multi-book, traditionally published series.

I’d made it. My dream was now my life.

But what I didn’t see coming at the time was that, in its own way, it had also become my cage.

Don’t get me wrong—writing and reading are still my passion. But over the course of those two years, the thing I turned to as an escape from the pressures of real life slowly became my real life. Between deadlines and sales figures and marketing, the stress of it slowly began to crush me, to the point where I finally started therapy for an anxiety condition that had been generally manageable for decades, but which had suddenly reached a point where it was controlling me and making me miserable.

One of the first questions my new therapist asked me was, “So what do you do for fun?”

And all I could do was blink at her. It was the scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier where Sam Wilson asks Steve Rogers, “What makes you happy?” and Steve gives the saddest little smile in the world and admits, “I don’t know.”

As my writing career became a bigger and bigger source of stress, the writing itself remained enjoyable, but it stopped serving as an escape. It came with a huge amount of baggage, reminding me at every turn of the pressures and fears lying in wait.

It took time and a lot of soul searching. But I eventually had to accept that while writing could remain a wonderful, important, fulfilling, enjoyable part of my life, it couldn’t continue to be my entire life. Not if I wanted to hold on to any shred of perspective or sanity.

So. In the past six months, while dodging deadlines and continuing to work my butt off at my writing, I’ve been putting real effort into trying to figure out what else is important to me and what else I enjoy. Some of it I’m less than proud of. Binge watching multiple seasons of Supernatural isn’t the peak of mental health. But at the same time, it was the escape I was so sorely lacking in my life, and while it can get out of hand, a little couch potato behavior can sometimes be a good thing for a mind that can’t seem to let go and relax.

Some of my other efforts have been better. My husband and I have been spending more quality time, going for walks and playing games. I’ve gotten back into some creative endeavors, including knitting, sewing, adult coloring, and even a little bit of drawing. Making something tangible with my own two hands has been particularly satisfying, especially in the publishing world where so much progress is intangible and everything is a matter of waiting.

While the time away from work has come with its own anxieties, overall it’s been worth it. I come back to my writer life with better perspective and more energy. And less crippling fear of failing at what I love. That kind of helps, too.

All in all, it’s a work in progress.

Has anyone else made the transition from doing something for fun to doing it for work? How have you coped? What fun things have you brought into your life to help take its place?

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How Do You Bounce Back?

Resilience. Some people are naturally inclined to have it, others struggle. I’m here to tell you, if you’ve decided publication – of any kind – is your goal, you’re going to need it.

Resilience comes into play when you have to push through a rough part of your story, produce words when the words are being little bastards, bounce back after some hard truths from a critique partner, or when you get rejected by every agent in the universe – plus a few from the Delta quadrant. Then, even after you sign with an agent, there will be more rejection, in the form of passes from editors. Even after you sell to an editor or publish, guess what. You got it! You can still face rejection for other projects or in the form of low sales.

Aren’t I just a little ray of sunshine this morning? 😀 So, how does one conjure up the resilience to keep going in this brutal business? After bouncing back from a recent rejection, a friend asked me, “How are you so resilient?” It got me thinking.

Part of it is who I am; the life experiences and beliefs that come together to give me resilience. I don’t say this to throw rose petals at myself. In fact, I wish I could’ve skipped some of those life experiences, but it is what it is. It makes me ME. The other part of bouncing back is habit. I have some bounce back steps, and today, I’m going to share those steps with you.

Step 1: Digest the rejection, in whatever form it comes, and grieve. I mean it. Being upset, angry, hurt, resentful, envious – whatever the emotion, don’t fight it. Be honest with yourself because if you deny that you’re disappointed and feel like you got slapped in the face with a cold fish, it will eat you up inside.

Step 2: Wallow a little. This is your Big Black Moment, the part of your journey where all is lost. A pity party is to be expected. Eat some dessert, have wine. Have both together. Navel gaze. Beat yourself up, compare yourself to others, doubt everything you ever thought about yourself. Oh come on! You know you’re going to do it anyway. Own that sh*t! BUT, you are allowed no more than 48 hours of solo woe. It gets toxic very fast, so set a timer, grab some bon-bons, and make it count.

Step 3: Reach out to your people. Not just any people, because while your spouse or sibling is probably awesome, they aren’t going to understand this process. You need to talk to a writer friend who has been in the trenches too. Make sure they are wise and reasonable, not a hot mess who will lead you astray. Tell them what happened. Let them be upset with you and for you, and let them reassure you.

Step 4: Listen to their reassurances. Absorb it. You aren’t friends with dummies, so don’t be that guy who can’t take a compliment. Your pals know what they’re talking about. Let their words of wisdom soak in.

Step 5: Get over yourself. This is the hard part, but it’s time. You’ve had your moment of sad, now it’s time to dig deep and keep going. The black moment is over; it’s time to move toward your resolution. Focus on the facts. Look at the substantial takeaways from this experience. How can you improve? How can you grow? What can you learn from this? Take those lemons and make a lemon drop martini.

Step 6: Get out there and enjoy life. Do the things that make you happy, let the brain rest and renew. That is when ideas strike.

Step 7: Get your butt back in the chair, put your fingers on the keyboard and WRITE THE NEXT BOOK. This is the single most important step for any author, regardless of the issue. The soultion to 98% of every writer issues is Write. Keep writing. Then, write more. You will get better. Your voice will get stronger. You’ll find that hook or genre or magical formula that will put your story in front of readers. You will not move from where you are unless you keep writing, so go for it! Tell us the next story and start bouncing.

bouncy amy

What about you? What do you do to process rejection? Favorite indulgence when in woe? Any tips you’d like to share with the blog?

11 Comments

The More You Know, the Less You Think You Do

When I first started writing seriously, I was twenty-nine. It was the summer after my second year of teaching, and beginning to write down all the stories in my head was the first step on a long road toward rediscovering myself after a pretty difficult period in my life.

I came up with an idea. I started a new document.

And let me tell you: I was on fire.

The words flowed. Everything that came out of my brain was sheer, staggering genius. Angels wept, reading the beauty of my prose. I was convinced that I was going to sell in a minute flat. The instant I finished that bugger, publishers were going to be knocking down my door, desperate to bring my literary brilliance to the world.

Do you believe me? If so, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

I look back now on those first fledgling efforts, and I’m struck by a mixture of mortification and wistful fondness. Baby Me was so adorable! So naïve! So confident!

She didn’t know that you shouldn’t use two adverbs in every sentence, or that dangling modifiers were even a thing. She didn’t know about beat sheets, or Big Black Moments. Hell, she didn’t even know her book needed a f*$(ing conflict.

She was, in a word, a beginner. An amateur. She didn’t know what she didn’t know, and so she thought she knew everything.

I’ve come a long way since then, but it’s been a hell of a difficult road. The journey has been humbling, and there have been times when I’ve lounged around in a pit of despair, bemoaning my inadequacy. Even now, when things have been looking up in my career, I’m plagued by self-doubt. I’m arguably the most skillful at my craft as I’ve ever been, and yet my confidence is nowhere near as high as it was when I first started out.

In other words, I’m a poster-child for something known as the Dunning–Kruger effect.

If you aren’t familiar with this particular principle of psychology, allow me to briefly explain. The idea is that this basic cycle applies to everyone working to master a new skill or enter into a new field:

  • They begin as idiots who are so clueless that they don’t know how stupid they are. They achieve shocking heights of overconfidence.
  • They get kicked on their rears by actual experts, and their confidence in their abilities takes a nose-dive.
  • They slowly but steadily improve and learn. As they do, their estimations of their own abilities recover, until they achieve a modest, realistic perception of themselves.
  • They never, ever think they are as hot of shit as they did back when they were idiots.

To put that in graph form:

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

(I’m not sure about you, but the fact that psychology has actually given a name to what I’ve often imagined to be my own particular brand of neurosis is oddly comforting.)

Sometimes, it’s tempting to look back on the heady days when I first started out on this crazy road with nostalgia or even longing. I wish I could write that freely and with such self-assuredness, knowing what I know now.

But then I remember: I was an idiot back then.

And the fact that I feel like I’m an idiot now is a really good sign that I’m a lot less of one than I used to be. 🙂

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Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost (Part II)

(Link to Part I)

Part II (aka. More on figuring out my genre path and what the heck I want to be when I grow up…)

During my wandering summer/early fall, I realized two things:

1) I love a good a supernatural/superhero/fantasy/sci-fi whatever. I mean I LUUUUURVE it and I always will.

2) Just because I love a genre, doesn’t mean I have to write it.

Once I released that into the universe, and looked at my writing with objective eyes, I figured out why my manuscripts weren’t working: The external elements.

The paranormal part of my paranormal romance didn’t reach my high geek girl expectations, nor did it showcase my voice and strengths successfully. If anything, it highlighted my weaknesses and made me doubt everything about my writing.

The emotional arcs and romance of my characters worked. Those elements brought me joy, but the external simply didn’t feel “right.” Imagine taking a purist historical romance author and telling her or him, “Write me a dark and gritty, modern day suspense.” Maybe they could do it and it’d be phenomenal. More likely, they’d struggle and it’d make them question if they should be writing at all.

So I said to myself: Self, you love the emotional connections and sexual chemistry between characters, the humor and adventure of every day life; your voice is naturally modern and fun with a thread of heartwarming self-discovery and lots of hot smexitimez. You already co-author erotic romance in a contemporary setting and love every moment of writing every manuscript. Why the hell are you not writing contemporary romance?

I had no answer for myself other than…

ariel facepalm

I could not believe it’d taken this long for the coin to drop. But, rather than berate myself for the time it took to figure all this out, I got started on my new book with NaNoWriMo. And…I wrote a contemporary! 😀

I took some of the personality traits from the characters I loved in those old, not working WIPs and began again. (Because I am not giving up Sawyer, ever never ever! *smooshes character*) Every step of writing this contemporary felt right. I felt good about what I was doing. I could delve into the character’s emotions more, amp up the UST and the simple, small moments that mean so much in real life. I had the confidence to go with my voice and not fight it. I wasn’t riddled with doubt over the external elements that weren’t working for me. I’d found it! I finally found my writer home!!!hi five

What can other writers learn from this? Plenty I hope! Please learn from my mistakes because I work long and hard making lots of them every year.

1) Don’t rush into anything if you aren’t sure. What’s the big damn hurry when you’ve only begun the journey? If you’re certain, by all means go for it. Otherwise, write, read, explore, figure out not only your voice, but what genre you can rock with that voice. 

2) Sometimes, if a manuscript is causing you grief, all you need is to talk it through with a writer pal and get back on track. Other times, if that story feels superdonk wrong – it could be plain ole WRONG. Wrong for you or just wrong for you right now.

I won’t say that I’ll never write paranormal, just as I won’t say I’d never write YA. Maybe I will, because I adore both genres. Right now though? It’s not going to happen. I’ve found where I’m supposed to be and what I want to write.

What about you? Did you know your genre right out of the gates? Did it work out for you? Or were you like me, with a few twist and turns along the way? Is there a genre you love with all your reader heart, but it doesn’t line up with your writer brain? Speak to me of your journeys and trials. I’ll pour the mimosas.

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Don’t. Give. Up.

Depending on whether or not you follow me / this blog, you may or may not know that I finalled in the RITA’s this year. It’s incredible. Amazing. Unexpected and fantastic and the cause of so much joy and relief.

‘Relief’ may seem like a strange word to apply this situation.

But here’s the thing: unless you are one of maybe three or four of my closest confidants in the entire world, there’s something you don’t know.

And that’s that I came the closest I have ever been to quitting writing last fall.

However vocal I have been about my success, I have been exactly that silent about my failures. It’s what we all do. We say it’s about being professional. It’s about putting our best foot forward, about not coming across as crazy and negative and defeatist. But it’s a problem, because when other people only ever see the good things, it’s easy for them to imagine that there are no bad things. As a beginner starting out in this industry, or as someone who’s gotten one rejection too many, you might look at the people who are achieving the things you want for your own career, and you might think they have their lives together. That it’s smooth sailing once you finish your manuscript / contract an agent / sell your first book / win your first award.

But it’s not. There’s still crippling self-doubt, and there’s still that lingering sense that everyone else is doing better than you are, somehow. That you’re not as good as you used to be, or you lost your touch, or you’re an imposter, pretending to have a clue when you’re fumbling around blindly.

Or at least that’s how it was for me.

Last year, I could not seem to write a single word I liked. I’d had a book perform less well than I had hoped it would. I was struggling to finish rewrites on a manuscript that felt completely, totally, utterly wrong. I was convinced that no one wanted to read the ridiculous, overly esoteric crap I kept feeling like writing, and there was a part of me—a big part that just said: “No.” There wasn’t any point to what I was doing. I wasn’t any good at it anyway. I should just stop it. Go home. Get a real job.

Give. Up.

To the rest of the world, I kept up a bright face. If I had nothing nice to say, I said nothing at all. I had days at a time when I’d lurk on social media but keep my trap shut, because all that wanted to spill out of it were horrible, self-defeating things about how nothing was going my way.

I tell you this not because I want your sympathy. I tell you this because it’s how I felt. I knew it was irrational. I knew it was absurd, but none of that mattered. I felt down in the dumps. I wanted to quit.

And then three months later, my book was named a finalist in the RITAs.

By that point, my mood had started to come around anyway. Maybe it was the lengthening days, or the optimism of starting a new project. But let me tell you, nothing has ever kicked me out of the blahs the way getting that call did.

I shared my happy news with everyone I knew. But now I want to share my deeper truth: My darkest day came about three months before my brightest.

So no matter how down you’re feeling. No matter how hard this crazy, impossible, wonderful job of writing seems. No matter how low you get.

Don’t. Give. Up.

The only way to get to where you want to be is to keep moving forward.

Your brightest moment could be just around the corner.

Don’t. Give. Up.

20 Comments

The Waiting Game

The past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of waiting.

Waiting in lines at Disney World.  Waiting at the mobile phone store, because the sales people take entirely way too long to activate phones.  Waiting in traffic, because a contractor decided to shut down lanes during rush hour on the only route I can take to work.  Waiting in the car rider line on the first day of school, because the new principal decided to change procedures without informing us parents.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

I try not to complain about things I can’t really change.  I mean, what’s the point?  Bitching about traffic doesn’t make it go away.  Instead, I spend a lot of time and effort making sure I avoid these situations so that my life runs smoothly.  I leave a half hour early for work to avoid the school rush, get to the car rider line forty-five minutes before dismissal so I can be first in line and get my kids to practice on time, and I know exactly what I want when I go into an electronics store to avoid all the sales mumbo jumbo.

But there are just some things, no matter how hard I try, that throw a wrench into my perfect little plans.

Like take, for instance, this whole writing thing.  What happened to my plan?  I should be published by now, or represented at the very least.  I should be finishing up my sixth book and planning for my seventh, talking to Lifetime about making my third movie, and writing cover blurbs for all my bad girlz, because they should all be published too.  Instead, I’m waiting.

Yeah.  Those perfect little plans.

But I don’t get discouraged.  I keep researching, because things are constantly changing.  I keep networking, because the more people you know the more chances you’ll have.  I keep writing, because when I do get the call I want to be ahead of the game.  I keep planning, even if my plans haven’t worked out thus far, because it gives me something to keep moving toward.

So if you’re just starting out, here’s my advice to you.  Set your goals, but know that they may have to change.  Do the best you can to stay on track, but expect the wrenches that will get thrown your way.  And always be ready to get the call tomorrow, but don’t get discouraged if it takes a while.

It will all be worth it one day, I promise.

How do you stay sane and keep yourself on track?

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You can’t do it alone.

It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing this, how skilled you are as a writer, or how far you’ve gotten down the road to publication. If you’re a writer, you have doubts.

You doubt that you’re good enough. You doubt that people will like your characters, that anyone will ever buy your book, that your prose doesn’t suck. You’re not writing enough, everything you write is crap, you don’t know where this story is going, you hate your hero, everyone else is doing better than you are, you’ve lost your touch, you should just quit, you suck, suck, suck, suck SUCK.

You’re wrong.

And here’s the other place where you’re wrong: You can’t combat the doubt alone.

As writers, we are solitary by nature. We spend hours of our day locked in our own heads with our characters and our drive and our doubts. Many of us prefer it that way. I know I do. But sometimes, we need to get out. We need people to remind us that the doubt cycle is just our own brains trying to defeat us, and that we’re doing our best.

IMG_20130807_150224Truth time: when I write, more often than not, I have my Captain America teddy bear sitting right beside me. (He looks away when I start writing gratuitous smut, but he’s pretty much always there.) When I start to doubt myself, he gives me a hug, and reminds me that I’m doing great, and I just have to keep on keeping on.

And the rest of the time, I have my friends.

Once a month, I go to my local RWA chapter meeting, and I connect with real, live actual writers and get inspired all over again.

When I’m losing my mind, I text my long-time critique partner, and she reminds me that I’m being ridiculous and I need to just keep going.

When I’m feeling alone, I get on Twitter and look at all the other writers out there dealing with the same things I am.

When I go to conferences and am terrified and intimidated, my Bad Girlz are there holding my hand (sometimes literally). They’re standing next to my table at my first book signing telling people walking by that my book is amazing and they need a copy. They’re dancing with me at the RITAs after party and helping me let go of my middle school fears of being the ugly girl in the corner who can’t dance. They’re sharing their struggles and their doubts, and they’re here for me no matter what.

Because no matter how much of a loner I am, I can’t do this alone.

And neither can you.

So if you feel like you’re all by yourself in this, or if the doubts are starting to overwhelm you, STOP IT. Go get a damn teddy bear and hug it tight whenever you’re being mean to yourself. Join RWA or whatever writer’s association is best suited to your genre. Go to local chapter meetings. If you can’t get to chapter meetings, take advantage of their online forums, and go find some other gathering places on the internet where writers talk and gripe and cheer each other on.

Because you’re good enough. You’re doing amazing.

Sometimes, you just need someone to remind you of that.

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A Tribute to Fathers – Both Real and Fictitious

With this weekend being Father’s Day, I thought it only appropriate to devote my blog today to fathers – both real and fictitious.  Fathers inspire us and support us.  Fathers offer up funny anecdotes to weave into our stories.  Fathers are often our heroes, and unfortunately sometimes our villains.  Good or bad, fathers have helped shape our minds into the plot spinning mazes they are.

The Real

I was terrified to tell my dad that I was a writer.  After all, he’d paid to send me to school for an engineering degree and here I was trying to get published.  When I finally worked up the nerve he was completely supportive, of course.  And every time I talk to him now he asks how the writing is going.  I know it seems stupid, but just having that little bit of approval is always like a propeller for me.  I stopped worrying about what people would think and started concentrating on what really mattered – growing as writer.

Of course all this wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the other important Daddy in my life – my husband.  I am very lucky to have a husband who offers to take the girls outside so I can have some writing time, and who understands the importance of writing conferences and monthly group meetings.  My husband isn’t afraid to do the typical mommy duties if it helps me out, and is always an open ear for reading a scene aloud.  As writer’s, we need that support from our husbands to live a healthy balanced life.

wedding-pic Me & DadIMG_1928

 

 

 

 

 My better half

 

The Fictitious

I heard an author once say that her heroines always had some sort of dysfunctional relationship with their mothers, and though the writing was literally right there in front of her she never realized the similarity this had to her relationship with her own mother.

You may already do this subconsciously but if you don’t, understanding the relationship your characters have with their fathers is a great way to add depth to them.  Is your heroine a high-maintenance Betty who needs to learn to stand on her own feet?  Is your hero a struggling single father determined not to leave his child?  Does your heroine spend her days alone because she’s afraid of rejection?

Maybe a good or bad father is at the heart of all this.  That high-maintenance heroine might’ve been a daddy’s girl.  That struggling hero might’ve grown up without a father.  And that lonely heroine might’ve only done wrong in her father’s eyes.  When you think about the motivation behind your character’s behavior, considering the root will not only make them more believable, but also relatable.  It’s much easier for a reader to forgive the bad parts of your protagonist if they understand where it came from.

say anything Godfather-fathermonstersball

So, how have the fathers in your life helped you as a writer?  Do you have any interesting plots that have spun from a father/daughter relationship?  What are your favorite father/son relationships in literature or movies?  Please share and help us salute them!

Happy Father’s Day!

Jenna P.

 

 

 

4 Comments

Out of Hibernation, Into the Buzz of Spring!

There’s nothing like Spring!  The trees budding, the daffodils blooming, the grass greening, the butterflies flapping.  Spring is the time to crawl from winter hibernation and march forward with a sense of renewal.  It’s the time to let our creativity blossom and allow our ideas to sprout into something beautiful.  Spring is the time to get writing!

This weekend I was in the mood for a little spring cleaning.  I sorted through my filing, my shred, and all the odd pieces of scrap paper I’ve collected over the year that for some reason I didn’t feel the need to discard at the relevant time.  The de-cluttering was invigorating until I came across an old schedule I’d prepared this time last year for the completion of my current WIP and realized…

I’m eight months behind!  AHHHHH! 

Normally I would beat up on myself for being such a slack ass, but one of my resolutions this year was to forgive myself a little more.  So instead I began cleaning out all the “internal” clutter I’d been carrying around in hopes I’d figure out what happened.  After all, if I’m going to be starting over this Spring I’d better learn from my mistakes, right?

Best I can figure, here’s what happened….First came the schedule crunches, which I will freely admit I have a hard time adjusting to.  Work at my day job finally picked back up after a long down time (good for the wallet, not so good for the muse).  My older daughter’s gymnastic schedule threw the family’s groove out of whack.  My younger daughter started kindergarten, bringing in another set of books to read at night and homework problems to check over.  And my husband’s work schedule went haywire.  Well, you know who’s left to make the adjustments, right?  MOM.

I’m not complaining – it’s part of being a mom and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  But the reality is the more I adjusted to these new circumstances, the less time I had to write.  Sure, I fought the good fight for a while – burning the candle at every end I could.  I woke up and wrote before work, squeezed every spare minute I could on the weekends, and used my time sitting in the car rider line at school to work on my plot.  I had every single freaking minute of my day planned out – literally.  And slowly everything began to wear down – my brain, my emotions, and all of my will power.

AHA!  I burned myself out, that’s what happened. 

I didn’t give myself any downtime in that tight knit, perfectly measured schedule I’d so diligently worked to master, and look where it got me?  Sitting on the couch with a severe case of writer’s block, waiting for something – anything – to reignite that fire inside me.  Never Again, I tell you!  Never.  Again.

So here’s my plan.  First, I’m going to admit to myself and my family that contrary to what I’ve tried to portray, I’m not Wonder Woman and I need a little bit of help.  Then…you’ve all heard by now about the fabulous bad girlz book race Elizabeth Michels is launching on March 15th, right?  Well, I’m in.  I’m crawling out of that cave from the long winter, stretching, and heading for the sunlight.  My 80K might be split between two manuscripts and a slew of plot boards, but I’m going to do everything I can to get it done – this time making sure not to forget the importance of rest.

**Takes a long cleansing breath**

Okay, internal clutter – gone.  Path to redemption – still a little hazy, but it’s there.  I can feel the heat of something grand churning in the pit of my stomach.  Let the creativity blossom and spawn the words I need to finish this.

Are you coming out of hibernation too?  Join us for the #80Khotfoot.

Good Luck!!!!

Jenna P.

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The Zen State of Reading

Would you believe this is actually the third topic drafted for my blog post today? The spazziness that has been my mind this week has been, well, uhm, spazzy. Finishing up the last few scenes in a novella, shopping around another, social media, emails, critiquing, and trying to decide on my next project. I love my ADHD medication, but it can only handle so much.

To be the most productive and happiest me that I can be, I want to be like this…

Chakra Agua

[Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender, trying to unblock his chakras.]

No, I don’t mean I want to be an adolescent boy with a giant blue arrow on his head. I mean I want to feel all calm and… zen. Instead I have so much going on inside my brain that I’m more like this…

tumblr_m4y4nynRZ21rxph3eo1_500[Dar’s Brain – Squishy jelly legs and all.]

But before I begin studying up on Mahāyāna Buddhism, I’m going to share what I’ve done the past two days and how it helped clear the mental clutter to give me peace of mind.

First, I took two days off. In these two days I continued to make notes on CP’s manuscripts, answer emails, and scribble down whatever notes came to me. I didn’t fall behind on that and I still did my super fun day job. What I didn’t do was keep up with the 1.5-2k a day pace I’ve been setting for myself since I recovered from two weeks of flu/throat/fever misery.

At first this made me itch. I need to write or I’ll go crazy! But then I went out and foraged for a few good reads, returning home with a nice big bag of books. Bookstore. Used bookstore. Library. All the usual habitat of books. Wonderful, wonderful books. (I was in the mood for paper, but shhhh, don’t tell the iPad!)

Reading on a regular basis is important for writers, but there’s reading and then there’s reading. For lack of a better word, I tend to devour books. Three, four, five, six at a time and I’m a fast reader. I get my reading high on. Yes, I said reading high. This may be kind of judgmental of me, but anyone who doesn’t get ‘ermagerd man pass the doritos and check out that prose man‘ after a reading sprint of epic proportions must be doing it wrong. *wink*

After giving in completely to the need to read, I feel rejuvenated. Refreshed. Clear headed and ready to go.

Have you ever binged on books and come up with the same results? Did you feel better after a day or two of letting yourself go in a book or three?

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