Dancing With Disappointment

Hello and welcome to another fussy, self-indulgent edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

This week has been an ass-kicking for me at my day job, and so I find it to be something of a miracle that I’ve had any mental energy to do blog-stuff at all. That said, I’m gonna do a bit of whining in this post, so… consider yourself warned.

We writers are no strangers to disappointment. Your dream agent responds to your query with a form rejection. You spend months on submission with no offers. Your self-pubbed title doesn’t return the numbers you had hoped. Being a writer of the handful-of-unfinished-ideas and-exactly-one-completed-first-draft-of-a-trunk-novel-and-that’s-about-it persuasion, my disappointments are a bit smaller in scope, but I feel them keenly all the same.

The thing getting me down of late has been the realization that I probably won’t be able to compete in NaNoWriMo this year.

I’m a planner, not just in writing but in every facet of my life. Every Monday morning, as soon as I get to my desk, I fill out the week’s events in my planner. I write in my schedule, I make a list of tasks, both work related and home related, I fill out a handy habit-tracker chart. Throughout the week I tick off the boxes of completed chores, and add new ones. I adjust my schedule as needed. I make little notes about my successes and failures. Even on my commute home, I’m organizing in my head what the first, second, and third things I need to do when I get there. I largely dislike surprises because a lot of my mental health is wrapped up in being prepared.

So believe me when I say, when it comes to NaNo, I can’t just wing it.

September is the month I typically spend brainstorming a NaNo project. My ideas usually need years of percolating before their ready to be developed, so when I choose one to blitz-write in November, it’s already somewhat matured.

This year, however, the fruit of my muse is woefully unripe, leaving me with three less than optimal choices.

  1. Take another, exhausting crack at Border Towns. Spend September and October mentally working through the necessary revisions so I can dedicate my THIRD NOVEMBER IN A ROW to this WIP.
  2. Un-repurpose the Pillar-verse, the setting I’ve been writing my Short But Sweet vignettes in, despite the fact that I know it’s a mess, I know it’s a trunk novel, and I’m having more fun with it in its current format.
  3. Allow my “opus,” the novel I labored over for 10 years without ever getting beyond the 10k word mark, to resurface. I’ve matured a lot as a writer since I last took a crack at it and it could be fun. But I’ve already spent a decade of my life on it only for it to flop back into the depths of my brain.
  4. Or. Just… forgo NaNo entirely. Spend this year percolating and brainstorming and be ready with a fresh project.

None of these choices feel great, honestly. And that’s disappointing to me. I enjoy NaNoWriMo. I mean, I hate it, but I enjoy it (much like writing in general). It succeeded two years running in actually getting me to put words on the page when I would otherwise procrastinate. I also like the feeling in the community in November. The rush, the exhaustion, the elation, the motivation. It would be a bummer to miss out on that because of poor timing with the tide of my creativity.

But, I also have to accept that it might be the right thing to do. It’s a disappointment, sure, but as far as disappointments go, it’s one I can live with.


This week’s Short But Sweet prompt:

Damnation, such obsessed faith and flawed education!


Or maybe… I’m just performing some Olympic level procrastinating and this is all my way of rationalizing it. So says the anxiety brain. In any case, thanks for joining my pity party. I’ll be back on Sunday with my answer to this week’s Short But Sweet prompt, and again on Tuesday with a Your Mileage May Vary review of N. K. Jemison’s Fifth Season (I’m at 63%, I think I can make it!). Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Overthinking Olympics

Hello and welcome to another anxiety-fueled edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

So, it is now one whole week into the new content schedule and it didn’t even take me that long to realize that it’s going to be a helluva lot of work to main. Certainly more than the non-existent workload of the last several months since consigning Border Towns to the “to be revised once I’ve had some significant distance” pile. But, you know, that was sort of the point, wasn’t it? To give myself something to creative engage with while I brainstorm the next novel? The way I’ve designed the posting schedule means that almost immediately after I’ve finished One Thing I have to start outlining the Next Thing with nary a moment to bask in the joy of success of the First Thing.

But again, maybe that’s actually a positive change. There’s some popular conventional wisdom out there that suggests if you want to be successful at writing, you need to treat it like a job, even if it’s not your job. And while that might be a little too unrealistic and burdensome on some people, it is absolutely true for me. I know myself well enough to know that if I continue to mentally categorize writing as a hobby, that’s all it will ever be: something I can start and stop at my leisure and a thing I will never, ever do professionally. Which is the opposite of what I want. So, by giving myself a schedule and deadlines to meet, like a real job, I can get myself into the mindset needed to write every day, even when I’m tired and just want to play video games.

i love video games
I mean, I want to play video games all the time tbh

That said, being this active again has given me to thinking (and rethinking) about the way I have approached the writing community, and my place in it. Though it may not seem like it based on this blog, I am actually a very private person. I am uncomfortable with attention and have serious anxiety about what People Might Think if my personal details were on display for consumption. That’s why, for example, my twitter page very rarely deviates from writing related topics. I cultivated this particular twitter account for engaging with the writing community and nothing else (I actually have two other accounts, each for different interests; I intentionally keep all three compartmentalized, but none are really for me to talk about myself).

Which has left me wondering… is my twitter page too sterile for an aspiring writer? Do people visit it and think I come across as robotic and weirdly mission-centric (I mean, I do)? Would an industry professional, upon query or submission, check me out and want me to be more open about my life, not just as an aspiring writer, but a human being? Is the ko-fi link in profile tacky? Do I seem desperate for engagement? I don’t even have a passable manuscript, do I even count as a writer? Is my journey even one worth chronicling?

As dramatic as these questions sound, I don’t think they are unique to me. After all, writers sort of have to be hypersensitive over thinkers. How would we ever revise and edit a manuscript otherwise? There isn’t a writer out there who hasn’t rewritten a sentence half a dozen times because it just doesn’t feel right. Show me an author who hasn’t used a thesaurus to find a new word to replace the perfect one they already had, only because they used the same one 47 pages ago and it felt too redundant. The instinct to question oneself isn’t just pervasive in the community, it’s, in many ways, encouraged.

It makes me wonder how any of us retain our sanity while doing this whole writing thing (age old jokes about all writers being a little bit crazy aside). It makes those who succeed all the more impressive and those who continue to toil in the face of such deep-seated uncertainty all the more legendary. And it makes my ever-present anxiety brain relax its grip just a little bit. I’m not alone in this, no matter how solitary I might feel. None of us are.


That got a bit deep, didn’t it? These new topic-less blog posts are gonna be fun, I can tell. Anyway, that’s all from me for this Thursday Words Day, but before I go, let’s see what our Short But Sweet prompt is!

The clever man will be laughing all day.

If you want to participate just write your flash fiction or vignette and tag #ShortButSweetSunday on twitter, or drop a link in the comments. Looking forward to some great reads! Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Ch-ch-changes

Hello and welcome to another rambling, existential, content-packed edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

Today I’m going to unveil the NEW CONTENT that you can expect to see on the blog going forward, but before I get into that I first want to talk a little bit about what I hope to achieve with these additions and why I’m making the change in the first place.

When I started this blog – yikes, almost two years ago – I had two goals: the first was to establish a place where I could scream into the void about all the parts about writing a novel that weren’t sunshine and rainbows (okay, so like 90% of it). I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on that, even if the screaming has been sporadic. The second goal was to, maybe, possibly, hopefully, form friendships or a community of fellow writers who were like me: near to the very beginning of their author journeys, and having to fight tooth and nail for every tiny success.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at making connections. I’m shy, riddled with anxiety, and possessed of fluctuating mental health that often times means I’m a bit of a flake. So, that’s on me. With that said, I’m ready to make a change, not just to my own internal mindset and habits, but my exterior activities as well. So, while these additions to the blog were first conceived of with the goal of getting myself engaged in the writing community even when I’m between projects, the more I thought about it the more I realized that it can use this newfound desire for growth to forward along that original ambition, the one where I’m no longer just another struggling writer, but Just Another Struggling Writer.

Ultimately, I hope that one day this blog will stop being “the lamentations of yet another person struggling to write a novel” and start being a rallying point, a safe haven, a creative sounding board for those of us who just can’t do this thing alone. More than anything, I hope you join me on that journey.

So, without further ado, behold the new content schedule for Just Another Struggling Writer.


tuesday
Tuesday

Tuesdays:
Your Mileage May Vary 
or Reasons I DNF This Book.

Guilty confession #1: I am not a great reader. I am slow, easily distracted, and tend to put off reading for other leisure activities, a bad habit I am desperately trying to correct.

Guilty confession #2: I am also really discerning when I read. Actually, that’s too charitable a word. I am fucking picky. I don’t even know why. All I know is most books tend to turn me off by the second act, and even the ones I end up binge-reading to the end don’t really stay with me. Doesn’t mean they’re not good, of course. Just that… well, I’m evidently really hard to please. Sorry.

So, in an effort to broaden my library (and maybe figure out whatever the hell my taste in books is), on alternating Tuesdays I will post book reviews of different persuasions.

The first, Your Mileage May Vary, will cover books that I read to the end, loved or hated. Take these reviews with a grain of salt; because I’m thinly read I honestly haven’t the faintest clue how to write a “proper” book review. Most of the time, I imagine, I’ll probably just be word vomiting my thoughts and feelings without direction or structure. Please look forward to it.

In Reasons I DNF This Book I will dive into specific moments that turned me off of a novel. Whether it’s due to my inner editor not shutting up and letting me enjoy something, or a protagonist I just don’t get along with, or a cringey awkward moment that forces me to put it aside until the second hand embarrassment subsides, these posts will explore what makes a picky reader (me) so damn picky.


thursday
Thursday

Thursdays:
Your Regular Weekly Blog Post

Thursdays you can expect to remain pretty much the same, with random topics and thoughts on the struggle that is being a writer. In the past I talked about the progress of my manuscript, and revelations I was having along the way, but now that I am (at least for the moment) project-free, the discussion might trend more toward current issues in the book world. This is the least “content” like of my three planned weekly posts, and mostly will just be a continuing chronicle of my experience in the writing community. One thing I do plan to do every week is include a one-sentence writing prompt for….


sunday
Sunday, Sunday Sunday

Sundays:
Short But Sweet Sunday, flash fiction or vignettes

Well, I couldn’t go this whole time without doing a little bit of fiction writing. Can’t let these razor sharp skills get rusty, can I? Now where did I put that sarcasm font? Anyway, at the end of my weekly Thursday posts I will include a one-sentence prompt, and on Sunday I will post my answer to that prompt. All pieces will be less than 1000 words and I intend to limit them all to the same setting and group of characters, which I am tentatively calling the Pillar-verse. The Pillar-verse was once an old fantasy novel idea of mine that was undoubtedly destined for the trunk, and though I still think it is too unfocused a concept to be drafted and revised, I would still like to share it in some way. (Hell, maybe if I dabble in it often enough I’ll get that spark I need to actually write the damn thing.) But going beyond that, I hope that others might eventually partake in Short But Sweet with their own takes on the prompt.


In addition to the extra content, I also will be doing a bit of site maintenance, including adding a page for writerly resources. Most of these will trend toward fantasy writing, since… that’s what I do and all, but hopefully writers of any persuasion will find them useful. Be on the lookout for those updates in the next day or two.


One last thing before I go. That’s right, OUR VERY FIRST SHORT BUT SWEET PROMPT. A reminder: the goal is to write some flash fiction or a vignette, less than 1000 words, and post it Sunday for all to enjoy. It can take place in a world you already created, or it can be something entirely new. If you decide to participate, please feel free to tag #shortbutsweetsunday on Twitter, or even just drop the link to your own post in a comment here. However you get it out there, the goal is just to boost your creativity with some extracurricular words. Hope to see lots of great pieces on Sunday!

This week’s prompt: It was fall, the season of knowledge, but nobody knew that.


Well, I honestly think I’ve yakked enough for one post. I’ll be back on Sunday with my answer to this week’s Short But Sweet prompt, and again on Tuesday for the first Your Mileage May Vary review, where I plan to discuss City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty. Until then, as always, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few. 

Kerry Share

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Checking In

Hello and welcome to another sporadic, possibly over-sharing, edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

Where to start. How about with a general question/wonderment.

Wow, what the fuck 2020? 

It’s no secret that I can’t write when I’m depressed. I’ve tried and I can’t. So, as you might imagine, this year has been more a less a vacuous wasteland for me. Between working in-office through the pandemic (I’ve never been less enthused to be considered “essential”), tryna home school my kids while working full time (fucking pay teachers ALL the money), losing a beloved family member without being able to travel to see them before their passing (thanks COVID), and just the general shittiness of the times we are living through, it shouldn’t be a surprise that my creativity went to the grocery store for milk and never came back.

(Which is not to say I haven’t been writing at all. In May I started journaling to help cope with *waves hands frantically* all of this, and I have been tenderly nurturing the seeds of an epic, EPIC fantasy idea I had a while ago. But the second draft of my former WIP… It’s dead. I realized mid-way through that the middle part of the story needed MAJOR revisions and, well, I decided that in this moment, in this year of everything being on fire, I wasn’t equal to it. Which is a shame, because I think it really does have potential, and maybe one day I’ll fish it out of the trunk and actually put in the labor to make it readable, but… not today. Not right now.)

Which leaves me adrift. No word count goal to strive for, no concrete project to feverishly outline (again and again and again). Just some vague nuggets to develop as the moon of my creativity waxes and wanes.  It’s in moments like these that I wonder if I even count as a writer anymore. Hell, it’s taken me the better part of a day to write these some 350 words of this blog (so far). Why should I be allowed to call myself a writer when I’m not writing anything?

On and off since March or so I’ve told myself that I can’t force my creative well to refill itself when I’m depressed (and that’s true), therefore I’m better off waiting for my brain chemistry to sort itself out and then blitzing on projects while I have the chance. But… with the world in such a state as it is, it’s getting harder and harder to not be depressed. With each passing day, missing my mom who I can’t visit because she’s immunocompromised and my kids are in daycare (hot beds of germs at the best of times), or wishing my partner and I could do something normal like have a date night outside of the house, or crying because I can’t give my soon-to-be-8 year old daughter big birthday party, I feel my goal of being a professional writer slipping farther and farther away.

Some days, I’m so worn down from it all, that… I’m okay with that.

And those are the times that suck the most, because I don’t want to be okay with that. I don’t want to be someone who gives up on my dream.

So, to avoid that dark future where there is no writing but plenty of antipathy, I have to make a change. I can’t just sit around anymore waiting for the good ole muse to saunter her temperamental ass home. If the ideas aren’t flaring up on their own, then I need to be the one to stoke the fire.

All of that to say, you might be hearing a lot more from me coming up. I have some ideas on how to keep myself engaged with the writing community and my own creative impulses even when times are tough or I don’t have an actual project to be working on. I want to do more book reviews, writing prompts, or even flash fiction. I want to grow not just as a writer, but as a, dare I say it, content creator.

I might fail. I have many times in the past. This blog is proof positive enough that I struggle with habit forming and my writing goals are the first on the altar when times get tough. But that’s the other thing about me, ever am I willing to try.


So that’s all from me this week. Next week I hope to be back with an update on some changes and additions I’d like to make to the blog. I hope you’ll tune in. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Maybe I Should Have Been An Editor

Well, my New Year’s Resolution to blog every week is officially dead. Lasted longer than I thought. RIP 1/1/2020 – 2/6/2020.

But enough of that, I’m back after a month long mental health break and ready to make an ass of myself by talking about something I have very little knowledge of.

ready
Admit it: you heard it in their voices.

Sometimes, when I’m laboring away over my WIP, but even more often when I’m reading, I wonder if maybe I should have been an editor, rather than a writer.

My writing “career” is young, and largely shaped thus far by fanfiction, but last year I learned how much I enjoy the editing part of writing (and I say that doubting my own understanding of the term “editing”). My favoritest favorite part? Brutal, merciless cuts.

I adore crossing out entire sentences. I love circling paragraphs and jotting in the margins “Is this necessary?” Though I haven’t gotten to this point in revision yet, I already have a handful of scenes in mind that are destined for the axe. And I’m excited.

This mindset, perhaps to my detriment, doesn’t go away when I’m not writing, however. In fact, it seems even more pronounced when I’m consuming other media. I’m going to give you an example.

Warning! Hot takes incoming!

take warning
Spicy

In November, in the throes of NaNoWriMo, I, like many other nerds across the country, sat down after work on a Tuesday evening and watched the premiere episode of Disney’s new Star Wars TV show, the Mandalorian. Spoiler… warning?

shrug
I mean if you don’t know by now…

About 30 minutes into the episode I remember saying to my partner, “I’m assuming ‘The Asset’ is interesting and important, because otherwise why would I care about this show?”

Turns out, I was right. Baby Yoda, and the conflict it created in the narrative, was what made the show worth watching. Not the titular Mandalorian (at least not him by himself). So, though I found 99% of episode one to be kinda (read: really) dry, I sat down the following Friday for episode two.

Friends. Fellow Star Wars fans. I’m sorry. I hate to be the one to tell you this.

Episode two was a complete waste of time. 30 minutes of pure, unadulterated filler. Filler content. In the second episode. Of an eight episode series.

The more I thought about what I had seen over the course of two episodes, the more dissatisfied I felt. TV is one of my favorite mediums, and Star Wars is a franchise I genuinely love and enjoy (though I wouldn’t pass standard gatekeeping tests), but this series was falling well short of my expectations.

All around me, however, I heard nothing but praise. My (long suffering and supportive partner) even brushed off my criticism as coming in the midst of NaNo and therefore I was in full on critique mode and couldn’t just enjoy things for what they were.

And, well, maybe there is some truth to that. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I would have done. What I would have cut, or changed, or moved around to make those first few episodes tighter and, in my opinion, more compelling. But, that inclination didn’t start with the Mandalorian.

A month before, while on a whirlwind weekend vacation out of state for a family wedding, I inhaled a novel that had been in my TBR pile for months. When I say inhaled, I mean I finished at 4AM the day after I started it. Then I set my kindle aside. Laid my head down. And thought to myself, “I wouldn’t have included [certain chapters from secondary character’s POV]. They really slowed down the pace.”

Honestly, it was kind of annoying. It was a good book, good enough that I didn’t bother to put it down even after a long day of air travel and visiting with my in-laws. And yet, I couldn’t just… let it be a good a book. I couldn’t leave it at that.

It’s part of the reason, I’ve realized, that I struggle so much to finish books. It’s not that they’re not good. Because, objectively, they absolutely are. It’s that I can’t turn off the part of my brain that lets me just enjoy things for what they are. It’s always “this sentence doesn’t flow” or “that word isn’t right here” or “the plot is hindered by this sequence.”

Without really knowing what an editor does, I sometimes wonder… if that is what I was meant to do. Maybe that part of me unable to let media go without critique, something that genuinely frustrates me, is actually a calling that I’ve never understood or heeded.

Or, maybe, I’m just a picky ass reader for no real reason.

All I can do is just try to let go when reading, or watching tv, or playing video games, and hope that my inherent inclination to pick things apart will come in useful when its time to turn my eyes on my own work.


This post was literally a month in the making. 2020 has not been treating me kindly and February especially was taxing on my mental health. Thanks to all my lovely friends and followers who are with me on this journey. I hope to be back next week to talk about the decision I made this week to take a break from my WIP.

Until then, my your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Writing for Yourself

Alright yall let’s get it out of the way first: on July 15th I got whammied with some major financial issues that triggered my depression in a bad way. I won’t go into it too much (you can read my previous post about how my depression affects my creativity here) but I’m back-ish now after a difficult two months. Thanks for understanding!


Manuscript News

The big thing to come out of my hiatus is that I realized I didn’t give my WIP, Border Towns, enough time to rest between drafts one and two. When I started feeling the itch to write come back, it was always directed at other ideas. I felt disconnected from Border Towns, though, to be fair, I had the same sensation the last time I took a big mental health break from it.

But, I’ve given it some thought, and what with November right around the corner and all, I decided that I’m gonna let Border Towns breathe while I work on a new idea for NaNoWriMo.

Which brings us to…


The Weekly Struggle

I’ve had my 2019 NaNo project picked out since last year. I decided early that it would not be the Border Towns sequel, even though I have one planned, instead opting for something completely new. This particular idea has been percolating, like all my stories do, for a few years now, and since it is a standalone, self-contained novel, I won’t feel the pressure I do with Border Towns to continue laboring over it once it’s complete.

As I was doing some pre-outlining work last week, my momentum was arrested by the realization that… well, this thing has TRUNK NOVEL written all over it. I realized that I just didn’t see a point in it, not in the plot itself nor in the actual act of writing it. I couldn’t imagine an agent being grabbed by the premise, I couldn’t fathom selling it, traditionally or self-pub, and all in all it kind of felt like a waste of my time. After all, the whole point of me doing this writing thing was to make a career out of it, right?

I’ve been doing creative writing since before I can remember. When I was 10 I started writing awful self-insert Dragon Ball Z fanfiction (no, seriously) without even knowing what fanfic was. When I was 14 I discovered The Pit (you know the one) and found that the thing I had been doing the last several years actually had an audience if one cared to seek it out. I’ve written millions of words of fanfiction, most of it terrible, some of it good enough to inspire me, when I was in my early twenties, to maybe think about taking a stab at original fiction. It took nearly a decade to finally finish a first draft of something original.

So… something in me chafed at the idea of spending time, precious, precious time, on what would, in my mind, essentially be original fanfiction. Something that no one would read or care about. Something boring or bad (or both) that would only ever serve as practice. At that point why should I care enough to write it?

Well, the simple answer is, because I want to. The idea might be lackluster, the storyline might not be able to carry it’s own weight. It might never go anywhere but into the stack of used notebooks in my closet, to be pulled out in another ten years and cringed at. I’m ashamed to say it took me a few days to get over myself and realize: what in the hell is wrong with that? I know I need space from the WIP I am pinning my hopes on, if I ever want it to be good enough to pin my hopes on. I know I want to stay creative and get some more novels under my belt, because that’s what real writers do isn’t it?

As much as I want to profit off my creativity (I mean, don’t we all?), it’s the not reason I’m creative. I’m allowed to write something just for practice, just to keep my proverbial muscles loose, just for the joy of writing.

After the labor (of love) that the last year of Border Towns has been, I really needed that reminder.

(Compounding all this is the SUDDEN URGENT NEED I had on Monday to write a contemporary romance, when WE ALL KNOW GOOD AND WELL that I am a high fantasy writer. But that’s an entire blog post in and of itself. Maybe next week.)


What I’m Reading This Week

I’m not actually reading anything yet, but on Friday I picked up both Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri and City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty. Border Towns is lightly influenced by the Middle East and I wanted to read some fantasy more heavily in that vein. Problem is… I don’t know where to start! Tomorrow begins a mini-staycation and I’ll have loads of time to read for a change. Which should I try first?


That’s all from me this week. I look forward to returning to a regular posting schedule, especially as we get into my favorite part of the year: PREPTOBER! Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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DFWCON Recap

Okay so, for those who don’t follow along on my Twitter, this weekend I had the privilege of attending my very first writing conference. I’m not sure what I expected, and I was more than a little nervous, but the experience was absolutely invaluable. LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.


A Natural Introvert In a Room of 400+

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I, like many other writers, am a natural introvert with a degree of social anxiety. I find it very difficult to start conversations in most situations. Yet, one of the most surprising things about this weekend was 1) how easy I found it to talk to people and 2) my regret on Sunday evening that I didn’t manage to talk to more people. It turned out that after my initial anxiety was surmounted, I had a thousand questions I wanted to ask everyone I came across.

Is this your first time? Where are you from? What do you write? Is it finished? Are you pitching? Who are you pitching? What else is in your back catalog? What writing program do you use? Pantser or plotter? What classes are you going to?

It got to a point where I almost wish I had a microphone and a podcast to blame my incessant interrogating on. But, I couldn’t help myself. It was the first time I had the opportunity to be around other writers. It was so nice to be able to talk about things like word count and genre nuance with people who get it, and that relief was the biggest factor in overcoming my anxiety.


Classes, Lectures, and Panels, Oh My!

notes

I was telling people by the end of it all that my brain felt like a sponge that had absorbed as much water as it was physically capable, and all I wanted to do was get home and squeeze it out all over the page.

There was so many great classes to choose from that I was driven into a panic because I couldn’t actually pull a Hermione and go to all of them. I will say I came away just a little disappointed, not in any of the classes or presenters themselves, but in my own inability to streamline what I wanted to get out of the conference. I bounced around from topic to topic based on a whim, whereas I felt I probably would have gotten a lot more out of it if I had really considered what would be the most useful to me at this precise moment in my writing career. Oh well, lessons for next time.


Community

community

This really goes without saying, but the writing community is rad. It just is. I mean, I knew that before the conference, just based on how welcoming and supportive the online space has been. But for an introvert with social anxiety, moving those interactions into the physical realm came with new bunch of questions and fears. Sitting amongst all those fellow aspiring and successful authors, I found myself often wondering if I even belonged there. I don’t have a completed manuscript (first draft notwithstanding), I don’t have a back catalog, I’ve never queried or pitched. At 31 years old, I have as much (or less!) experience as an 18 year old.

And yet, no one ever made me feel that way. Even as I admitted, somewhat shamefaced, that I only just finished my very first first draft but a short two weeks prior, I was greeted with congratulations and high fives, even from some who had 12 books under their belts. It never felt condescending or placating, but spoke to the universal truth that writing is hard and in that little conference center, we really were all in it together.


All told, I left on Sunday creatively invigorated. I couldn’t wait to get back to the page. I had a hundred thousand ideas I wanted to get to and I still found myself pushing for more. I felt even more determined to make this the year I start treating writing as a job so that one day it will be my actual job. I found myself wishing there could be a conference once a month (my wallet would never survive) just so I could soak myself in that determination any time I felt low.

Thank you so much to the DFW Writers’ Workshop for putting on such an amazing experience. I’ll definitely be back next year.


That’s all from me this week. I’ll be back next week, probably with that previously promised post (how’s that for alliteration?) about Writing For Yourself. But! If you lovelies have any ideas for some topics you’d like me to tackle, be it authors behaving badly, craft, or even how the weather affects my writing, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me a message on Twitter.

Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Writing With Depression

I’ve written and erased more words than I can count trying to compose this blog post. My mood has swung from defensive, to apologetic, to ashamed, with plenty of pit stops in between. One moment I feel emboldened to share my experiences, so that others who might be going through something similar can feel seen. The next, I tell myself that strangers on the internet care not a whit for my problems, and that I’m only opening myself up for negative attention by talking so frankly about something so raw and personal. In the end, I hope I’ve found some middle ground.

To put it frankly and simply: I, like many others, suffer from depression. Mine manifests primarily as major depressive episodes, which I experience three or four times a year. During these times, which usually last around three weeks, my chief symptom, apart from an emotional cocktail of all the usual suspects, is exhaustion. A normal day of waking up, taking my kids to daycare, a 9 hour work day, then coming home to care for my three littles literally feels like being in a state of perpetual motion designed to drain every last iota of energy from my body. As such, any waking moment of spare time I have not being used to keep up appearances at my job or to my family is spent in bed.

If I could form a list of all the activities that are sacrificed on the altar of my depression, creativity would be at the very top. It’s not a choice, but, logically it make the most sense. Writing is work, hard work at that. Squeezing it to a full schedule of work, kids, and a social life is a labor in and of itself. Trying to maintain it while your brain chemistry is trying to convince you of how worthless you are… well, I don’t pretend to know how other depressed creatives feel, but for me it’s damn near impossible.

It goes without saying that it sucks having to take a break in this way. It feels like I’m giving up on my dream, even if I know rationally that’s only temporary. At a time when my mind is already fertile ground for self-loathing, writing becomes yet another catalyst for guilt, which then turns into a sort of resentment for my project, which then morphs back into guilt and the cycle continues. In the end, the title for this post becomes a misnomer because in reality, for me, there simply is no writing while depressed.

Eventually the fog starts to clear and I feel a little silly for all the things I did and felt during the episode. I go around and make my apologies to my kids, my partner, anyone who I let down or was short with. And then I get on with my life, knowing that in a few months we’ll all be going through it again.

I wish it was different. I really do. Who knows what I could have accomplished this month off if I my brain hadn’t decided it was time to venture down the rabbit hole. Even now that I feel ready to get back to it, I’ve found myself having difficulty reconnecting to the project after such a long and mentally trying hiatus.

Ultimately, the only answer is to just… keep fighting through it. I have to pick up my pen and write the next word, the next sentence, paragraph, page, and chapter until it’s done. No matter what obstacles I face, that goal has ever been the same.

Thanks to those who read this, even though you don’t know me or perhaps can’t relate to this particular difficulty. And to anyone who’s going through something similar: I don’t have any advice, but I see you. And I believe in you.

 

Kerry Share