Without a doubt this has got to be the weirdest summer.
At least it's my weirdest summer.
I mean, what DIDN'T go wrong? Appliances breaking left and right (currently the dishwasher and pool heater are on the blink). Pandemic. Family feuds. Health crises for the parental units. Pandemic. Sick dogs. Social and political unrest. DID I MENTION THERE'S A @#$%^^&&!*ING PANDEMIC? Neighbor drama-trauma (which I realize bothers me more than I want to admit).
In short, I'm burnt out.
It's not about the writing. When I can sit down long enough to write, the writing is fine. I'M burnt out. I'm tired. I have zero emotional energy. And my mental energy is expended on things I truly don't want to think about. I don't want to think about climate change although an entire summer of triple digit days makes it hard to ignore. I don't want to think about having to rely on natural selection to get us out of this pandemic, but that's inevitable. I don't want to face the fact that my parents are well into their 80s and not in great health. I don't want to think about voter suppression, the humanitarian crisis in EVERYWHERE, a country on the verge of civil war--but for months I haven't been able to read or watch TV or movies, so what else is there to think about?
No wonder I find it difficult to sit down and write fun, entertaining fiction. I am not a fun, entertaining person right now.
Every time I think I'm coming out of it (like now?) something else breaks or someone else gets sick or there's something new and terrifying happening on the news. And, proof of my red zone stress levels, everything feels like the last straw. The. Last. Straw.
This is not me. But yet it's been me for the last two years.
I do think part of the trouble is--this is tied to the pandemic, for sure--there hasn't been a lot of "refilling the creative well" over the past two, well, three years. So that's kind of my focus right now. I'm consciously making a belated effort to refill the well.
Part of the... I wouldn't call it a difficulty, exactly, but I achieved all of my initial life goals a long time ago. I write for a living--and I love what I write. I found my life's partner. I can typically help the people I love when they need help.
So what's next? I think that's what I'm struggling with. What do I want from the rest of my life? Or at least the next ten years? What would make me happy? I honestly have no idea--and I think that question mark has to be addressed.
I mean, there are things I want that are not possible. I want the people I love--even the dogs I love--to live forever. That's not going to happen. But within the reachable realm, what do I want? Do I want to move to another country? Do I want to write in another genre? (Those two are kind of the same thing, aren't they?) In fact, do I want to give up writing and do something else with my life? What would that be?
(Okay, giving up writing seems pretty unlikely. I can't imagine a non-writing life. Writing isn't just what I do, it's what I am.)
I do have several short term practical goals:
Body at Buccaneer Bay - October 19th**
The Monuments Men Murders - November 30*
Hide and Seek (Patreon exclusive) - December 31
Fatal Shadows: The Collector's Edition - December 31
(*Updated yet again as of 9/7 because I just realized my BFF is coming to spend two weeks, and while she is also a writer, it is HIGHLY unlikely much writing will happen.)
(**Updated yet yet again on 9/23 because see above)
I think that's all doable. Beyond that...I do know I want room for the extra stuff. Creative exploration and expansion. The projects that don't necessarily make money, but that allow me to stretch my brain and flex my writing muscles.
What will those be? I have no idea. Which is maybe both the good news AND the bad news. ;-)