Friday, March 22, 2019

Release Day Reflections - Building On A Promise

I finally did it!  I finally earned my seventh bird.  

The story behind the bird is, when I got my tattoo in July 2017, the artist accidentally put one too many birds on my arm.  I didn't catch the mistake until I was already home, but the birds signify how many books I have published.  At the time I had only published six, but since I was working on number seven, I didn't think it would be much of a problem.

And that was where I was wrong!

Sometimes, the hardest part about writing is giving yourself enough room to fail without actually giving up.  Unfortunately, I miscalculated that balance last year...BIG TIME!  I was frustrated with how hard the story was coming, and how quiet the characters were being.  I had a lot on my plate personally, so I decided that giving myself a break would be the right thing to do.

But then I didn't come back.

I made excuses as to why I needed more time away.  I set other priorities and busied myself with trivial matters that led to unhealthy habits.  Sadly, it wasn't just my writing that started to suffer, it was my own identity.  I started to question who I really was and what I wanted out of life.  I was in a full blown depression spiral.

Now a couple things about me personally really quick. 1) I have major anxiety.  2) I am probably on the Autism Spectrum, though I am not interested in being diagnosed. (Both my kids have been diagnosed, so it really wouldn't change my life)  These two elements combined means that I don't do well with chaos.  And that was exactly what my life had become.

Then in June I got the kick in the pants I needed.  A long time writer friend, Jane Charles (whom I had only met a handful of times, but had become a kindred spirit over the years), visited Oregon and we went on a self-guided Winery Tour.

During this tour Jane asked the very blunt question I needed to be asked.

"Why haven't you written anything new in over a year?"

I had no good answer.  So her response to my mutterings was, "Finish the damn book!"

So that was the commitment I made.  I was going to finish the "damn" book.  But first I had to figure out why I stopped writing it to begin with.

And the answer was actually pretty simple.  I HATED my outline.  I felt confined by it and it was exhausting thinking about how to go about fixing that.  But as I had made a commitment, so I was going to fix the problem whether I liked it or not.

So I set aside all of my previous work and started from scratch.  I tweaked a couple of plot holes and reconstructed a road I had originally wanted to take with my story, and pretty soon, the words were flowing again.  The outline had been a dam, and tearing it down was the difference I needed.

By the time Nanowrimo rolled around I knew that I had an outline I was going to conquer.  This year for Nanowrimo I made my goal less about reaching my 50,000 words and more about just finishing this work in progress.

And I did it!

Granted, I was far from done, but the largest hurdle was behind me.  It took me a couple more months to get through my edits and get it out to my Beta Reader, but in the end the results were encouraging.  I was back where I wanted to be and reinvigorated to write more.  My Beta Reader even told me that I couldn't wait as long as I did to finish the next books (there was something about my health being at risk...but I think she was joking...I hope.)


Either way, book number seven is out there for the world to see, and book number eight is in progress.

Thank you all for your support through all of this, and don't forget to leave a review if you pick up a copy of my book!

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