Recently I’ve been doing some serious soul-searching. Several things in both my writing and my personal life happened almost simultaneously, and I just wasn’t able to deal with all of it. There was nothing really big, mind you, just a bunch of stuff that built on each other rather like tiny bits of dust and lint clinging together to create the mother of all dust bunnies. And then I found out something very interesting: dust bunnies scare my muse.
Suddenly, in the midst of my private crisis, I lost the desire to write. As it stands right now, I’m contemplating where to go from here. I seriously doubt that my love for writing is gone forever. Writing is a part of me. I’ve never been able to go very long without writing. Deep down, I’m sure I’ll get back to pounding on the keyboard eventually, but right now I have to deal with my reluctant muse.
Yes, I know, I wrote this blog entry. Yes, that is writing, but I struggled with this entry. A lot. Unusual for me. I may not know what to write about, or exactly what to say, but figuring it out is usually a challenge, a challenge that I have almost always met with joy and anticipation. Today, on the other hand, it’s all about passing on what I’ve learned from this painful episode.
I believe a large part of what’s wrong with me is burn out. I love writing, especially fiction, but I’ve been writing for a long time. Over the last few years, since I decided to get serious and make fiction a career, I’ve focused so hard on writing that there was little else in my life. Yeah, I spent time with my family, but usually when there was a problem somebody needed help with, or if I was exhausted and had no choice but to take a break. It was very, very rare that I did something just because I wanted to — and when I did I tended to feel guilty. I felt I should be doing something else, something more productive. I’m disabled, so I didn’t even have a day job to focus on. It was all writing, all the time. I didn’t fill the proverbial well. I didn’t appease my muse. So she hid in a corner and isn’t speaking to me.
Right now, I’m trying to make a decision about where to go with my writing. It’s a complex issue, due to my disability. And a writer’s anxiety and confusion is worse than dust bunnies when it comes to scaring muses.
I have to make some hard decisions. Writing for fun, career, submitting or not, how to shape my career should I decide a writing career is what I want. I have to consider things like how much can I physically do every day, every week. Will getting a big (and big is a relative term) advance lose me my social security (otherwise known as food and a roof over my head), or could a big sale possibly be the beginning of something wonderful.
I never though I’d live to see the new millennium, and I never thought I’d have these sorts of issues to deal with. I’m on unexplored territory right now. And I have a feeling I’m going to find out some interesting things about myself. But whatever happens, I don’t ever want to become so overwhelmed by writing that I forget to take time for fun, for me. And my advice to all you writers out there: fill that well. It isn’t just a catch phrase, it’s essential to a writer’s well being.