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Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A Confession About Burn Out Part 2

If you're following along, this is where I tell you the backstory that led to my burn out...how I have been working my ass off for the last four years to reseed my author world after it imploded when my publisher closed. Watching all of my precious books fall from retailer sites one by one was so defeating but it didn't keep me down, I was driven to find those books a new home (and I did).  

Not only have I been writing full tilt (17 books published in 4 years plus many more that are on my hard drive, three writer worlds to manage on top of that) but I have a day job gig and I teach some university courses up to four times a year. I am also a mom and a wife and a friend (although I will admit that I haven't been a very present friend lately). So, yeah, I have a lot going on and I'm not complaining. I thrive in this kind of environment. I'm extremely efficient and work with my head down and my fingers flying. 

Then Covid happened and that was a hiccup (like barf up my throat kind of hiccup). My writing life got weird and, like many, my brain did a lot of misfiring. I kept on writing though, pushing through as I do. A year later, spring 2021, Covid was more a part of everyday life. I'd gotten my writing world sorted and was in a good place creatively.  Two of my publishers offered me contracts at the same time and I, being the person I am, said, "Absolutely, I can do that!"

So, along with having three books release over the summer/fall and an intensive course to teach for all of July, I also, somehow (because I never miss deadlines) wrote two vastly different books. 

Did I make my deadlines? Of course, I did! Are you kidding?

But I was tired...so tired...and my day job was all of a sudden filled with uncertainty and there were pressures there that I hadn't faced before, draining pressures and were wearing me down bit by bit. Morale was so low among my colleagues and I wasn't able to help the people I needed to help because of the systems at play. I should have known then...I should have taken the time to rest because my desire to write dried up and it suddenly became a chore. 

Writing, one of my greatest passions...became a chore.  

Instead I pushed forward because that's what I do. I suck it up and keep going. And when I was offered a contract to rewrite three of the courses I teach at the university, I said yes. The timeline was tight and because when it rains...well, you know, I also got heavy rewrites on one of the books I'd written in the summer. Then I got edits on the other book I'd written. I was drowning and so exhausted that it was hard to keep my head above water.

I'm sure you can guess what happened after that. Burn out was hovering. I was exhausted. In the depths of my soul worn out. I should have taken that as a warning. I needed to chill out. I needed to sleep for days. I didn't do that.

I made my deadlines again. I gave every last bit of energy I had to do it and I was empty. Completely empty. 

Then one day while getting ready for work, I had a thought pop into my head...it was a random thought about how I needed to plot the sequel to one of the books I wrote over the summer - there's a contract, you see...

And I had a panic attack. The first one I've had in years. I lost it. How can I possibly write another word? How can I put that much work and effort and blood and sweat into another book?

In that moment I knew my body and my mind had, metaphorically speaking, curled up into a little ball, fetus-like. I was done.


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