Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of signing the final docs on our current home.
I bring that up because I believe it's kind of relevant to what's going on in that shiny, spinny little orb I call my brain.
The SO and I celebrated with Chinese food (we finally have a good Chinese restaurant--well, take out--place again!) and good wine and Curse of the Jade Scorpion (which is one of our favorite Woody Allen flicks). It was a quiet, happy evening in our still-feels-new home. Lovely.
I fell asleep at nine o'clock, which is late for me these days. At the beginning of April, I came down with the flu (one of those respiratory things) and I haven't really felt 100% since. I was flat out sick for three weeks and the exhaustion has persisted. For a while I was going to bed at eight at night and sleeping until eight or nine in the morning. Which is unheard of for me. My natural waking time is 5:30-6:00ish even on vacation. I was craving naps in the afternoon. Even green juice --my never fail cure all -- didn't help a lot.
I was -- and am -- exhausted.
And of course I have a book due. Because that's how it works in publishing these days. I write for my bread and butter and I ALWAYS have a book due. Of. Course.
Initially I wasn't concerned because the book was largely outlined and based on my own trip to Scotland (well, minus the murder and mayhem). It's a cozy mystery, and that's a genre I know very well indeed. It was fun reliving my own trip and listening to my favorite folk music and watching documentaries on the auld country...but then I got sick and fell behind and the Dark Thoughts Came.
The darkest thought was the most obvious one: hurtling at full speed down a never-ending highway is not actually a strategy. What is my strategy? Do I have a plan for the future?
Yada yada yada.
By week three, I knew that well or not, ready or not, I had to begin writing again.
And...I couldn't do it. I was falling asleep at ten in the morning. I was falling asleep at my keyboard. Hm. But that made sense because I was still coughing, still recovering, still obviously a bit under the weather. Not to worry, Camille. We can fix it in post.
I couldn't help noticing however that when I woke in the morning, even before I opened my eyes, I was filled with a sense of anxiety. Depression. Something close to dread. A feeling that was vaguely familiar.
Where did I know that feeling from?
Oh yeah. Five years ago when I burned out.
I hadn't even noticed I was off the map and here I was teetering on the edge of the abyss again. I'm not burned out--I loved every minute of writing The Mermaid Murders and A Case of Christmas. But I'm close. Way too close to that edge.
The last time it happened was simply a matter of writing myself to a standstill. Fourteen stories in one year, including four novels--two of them to mainstream publishers. That'll do it to you. This time it was different. This time it was getting sick and having time to think...and while I highly recommend thinking on a regular, even daily basis, it forced me to realize a number of things I had been too busy writing to really consider.
Like the fact that I had not had time to deal with the business side of my writing career since Summer 2014.
A writing career is not just about selling your writing. But that's what mine has been for the past couple of years. In 12 months I've written three novels, a novella and a short story. I moved house. I went to Scotland. We had a dramatic REVEAL. And a slew of other stuff happened too. And while I can hire someone to answer emails and send books for review, I can't hire someone to plan the rest of my life, or even the rest of my career for me, and that's sort of what has to happen. It has to be me and it has to be now.
Also I had to realize that I've fallen back into the habit of overcommitting. It is so damned hard for me to say no, to disappoint people. But if you overcommit, you risk failing and disappointing them anyway, so sometimes no really is the best answer for everyone.
On the bright side of all this is the fact that I realized in time what was happening to me. I actually listened to what my body and brain were trying to tell me. The message is STOP. It's not conducive to short term success or financial security, but that's the message and I'm heeding it. Okay, maybe a little belatedly, but I am listening. I can hear perfectly well when I'm upside down.
So that's where we are right now. I'm taking a break from pretty much everything while I break up the engine and examine all the parts. I'm considering a number of plans and projects and I'll be sharing those here...and maybe on social media. I'll be asking for your input and thoughts as well.
Even if I'm a bit scarce for a while, you know me, I get in these chatty moods and next thing you know I'm blabbing away everywhere. What I'm trying to say is don't be alarmed if I go off the grid for a bit. And while I may juggle a few projects, I'm not cancelling anything. Next year will still be almost exclusively devoted to sequels and series books as promised, starting with The Monet Murders in the early winter.