So, I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, but every time I sit down at the keyboard, I seem to lock up. I managed my post for Authors Speak last month, but not much else lately. Free Fiction Friday has been written ahead on for a while, so I haven’t even been doing that. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s fiction, a blog post, or something else entirely, nothing seems to want to come out. In fact, I’ve already restarted this post once. I suspect by the time I’m done, it’ll be even more. (This would be the second restart…)
There are a few things working against me with my block, the biggest is that I have been struggling again lately with my depression. I wrote a post a couple of years ago about it, and the vast majority of it is disturbingly still pertinent. Politics, holidays, and a big mess in the publishing world have contributed to this in a big way. But also, I’ve fallen into one of the biggest traps an author can do.
Comparing myself to other authors.
If it isn’t how much they make (which I am more aware of thanks to the ARe mess where people have talked about how much they’re losing because of it), it’s them being nominated for awards, or reviews consistently coming up on my timeline, or fans tagging them in recommendation threads, or or or…
A long time ago, I learned there is no value in comparing myself to others. All it will do is deepen my depression and make it even harder for me to put words on a page. Just like reading my reviews—especially the negative ones—it does me no good.
But that’s only part of it. It contributes, there’s no doubt, but it is only a part.
Depression is hard. It’s a liar. It undermines everything you know, everything you understand about yourself and the world. It colors everything gray and it makes you struggle to remember how things should be, not the skewed perception of how they are now, through the depression filter.
It takes the fatigue from my uncontrolled, underactive thyroid, the fears from my anxiety, and the pain from my adenomyosis and amps it by a thousand (or more). If that’s not enough, it alone makes me want to crawl into bed and hide under the covers for the next who-knows-how-long.
It takes the words and characters from my brain and locks them behind a door. They’re knocking; they want out. They don’t understand why the door is locked.
I understand. I want to unlock it, but I don’t have the key.
It makes sure you see people on the internet actually saying that authors should give their work away for free and if they don’t then they’re greedy, which makes things even worse. It makes me feel wrong for wanting to make a living at it. I feel guilty if I don’t post free stuff regularly.
Except, writing the only thing I can do. I get a small amount of contract work, helping with audiobooks. But I can’t go get a day job, as some suggest I do, so I am still working on making my writing a full-time income. I am, in fact, unemployable (and not just for my physical problems, but this is not the place to get into it).
Even when I manage to remember it’s all right to make a living at this, the concept is a double-edged sword. It puts an author under a tremendous amount of pressure to produce. Especially if you’re the main income in the house. My family depends on me getting the words down and getting them out there—whether through Dreamspinner, another press, or self-pub, it doesn’t matter—so the royalties can come in and we can pay bills.
So, it’s difficult to sit down and write for the love of it when everything is written with the eye on publishing it. No matter how hard I try, all those worries about “is this the right genre” and “what if they fall in love too fast” and “is there enough sex” and “is there too much sex” and and and… I find myself struggling to put down words because the anxiety makes it almost impossible to forget that stuff and just write.
And the worst part of depression is that it tells me that no one would miss me if I gave up. If I disappeared from social media, from the publishing world. From my own family. It tells me no one would miss my books. It makes me think those that read them only do so out of pity. I know, when the filters aren’t in place, I know this isn’t true. I’ve read the reviews. I’ve seen the comments. I’ve answered the questions about “when is <title> coming out.”
And yet, the depression lies and tells me those are lies. It drags me down until I struggle to remember the way back out. Until it’s hard to remember there is a way.
My family supports me. They tell me it’s okay if I can’t write. But they love me and don’t want to see me hurting. But I’m the only one that can do this. So if I can’t… then what?
Depression is a bitch. It doesn’t care who you are or what you do. If there’s something it can use to make you struggle harder, it will. If there’s something it can do to make things look bleaker and more hopeless, it will.
I promised myself a long time ago that I wouldn’t make excuses. I’ve tried to share with my readers and friends the struggles I go through with my health problems, showing how much they can interfere with life. I want to be up front with everyone so they know that I am trying, even if it doesn’t feel like it’s enough.
To that end, 2017 is going to start out rough for me. I have only one title anywhere near ready for publication. Three Hearts is with my editor now. The amazing cover artist is working on it with me and I hope to have something to show soon.
But after that? I have no idea when I will have something out. So, please have patience. Read the free stuff I’ve got here on the site. I’d love to know what you think, so feel free to fill in the contact form or email me directly.
And please have a little patience and stick around. I’ll do my best to get back to you soon.