Of exhaustion and summer breaks

Being a disciplined writer while raising kids requires a sort of fanatical, dogged commitment (if you ever want to accomplish much). You have to be kind of ruthless with your spare minutes. It helps if you have a crazy gleam in your eye at all times. It lets people know you’re mat as a hatter, and that they shouldn’t invite you to social functions. You have important ish to do.

I’ve recently polished up my first MS, started querying, and suddenly realized I should thinking about starting my next WIP (work-in-progress for you newbies). I’m really encouraged. Several contests (#pitmad and #pg70pit to name a couple) and generous feedback have spotlighted the areas that need improvement, and I have a great to-do list.

Even happier, I have some exciting new plot ideas. I’ve met some really amazing people who can learn from. I’m a newbie, but “newbie” means I’ve started, right?

Only I’m tired. So, so exhausted.

Summer yanked school and schedules out from under our feet. For the summer months, my entire established routine is teetering and collapsing like a drizzle castle into a tidal pool. (Very nice, brain. A beach metaphor. Who’s at the beach right now? Not I, says the pasty hobbit!)

I’m a little melodramatic. Still, it’s a genuine frustration.

Naturally, my solution is: try harder. Get up earlier, read more, make a stricter schedule, scour my community for a new sitter, write new outlines, prep all the damned food, and Konmari the whole freaking house. I can bargain with my day until I find space, surely.

The trouble is, the writing a wrung-out brain produces is basically creative walk of shame material. You read it the next morning and can’t fathom why you thought it was such an attractive idea. It’s stale, predictable, and uninspired.

A few of the more blunt people in my life have suggested I take a break for a while. I cannot emphasize how much resent this advice.

I resent it mostly because they’re absolutely right.

The most difficult truth for me to accept is that, sometimes, the only way to move forward is to pause. It feels like giving up, losing my place, admitting I’m not good enough. It feeling like death. Except it’s really a continuation. Writing is less like a race, I guess, and more like art.

Stillness is an integral part of dance. Rests are part of music. And relaxing is part of imagination and plot growth. Being still is so, so hard for me–I’m a movement sort of girl. But too much “busy” tends to dry my imagination like a convection oven. (Toast. My mind is totally toast.)

I think it may have to do with being in executive function mode for SO long, creative impulses are getting vetoed by my hyperactive frontal lobe, and they’re getting strangled to death before they ever see the light of day. A step up from chaos is usually good, because it makes structure and ROOM to write. But too much structure smothers the ever-loving life out of the process. Good for editing, bad for writing.

So, this week is brought to you by: a hike in the woods, sewing a Halloween quilt, cupcakes, snuggling on the couch, a one-eyed kitten, visiting friends (who miraculously still remembered what I look like), and watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with my daughters.

It’s totally working.


Bell Pepper, the one-eyed pirate kitty, doing her part to help me embrace chaotic good.

Bell Pepper, the one-eyed pirate kitty, doing her part to help me embrace chaotic good.



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