Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Writing Hiatus, or When Just Keep Swimming Isn't Enough #IWSG

The Insecure Writer's Support Group was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh. November's co-hosts are Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass. Find the other IWSG participants here.
Okay, it's time to bring up some insecurities this month, and I apologize for a longer post than normal.

This year has been a much rougher one than I could have imagined or even talked about until now, and I must admit I'm reaching my physical and emotional limits. I don't do the best with change, and there have been too many changes this year that have taken their toil. To name a few:
  1. The whole political election and its aftermath. Sometimes I wonder if we're living in the backstory of a dystopian novel.
  2. All the natural and unnatural horrors happening within the world. It seems like a new one occurs every day.
  3. Overall, I do enjoy my quiet day job as a library assistant in a small academic library at a higher education center, but we've had ten staffing changes since December. At a place with around twenty employees, I've found it a lot to handle.
  4. My grandfather passed away in February. Logic brain acknowledges and accepts that not only are all four of my grandparents dead, but also that everyone I know will die. Unless we find a way to stream our consciousness to the internet or something, of course. Emotional brain didn't get that memo, and when my grandfather died, emotional brain suddenly realized all her grandparents were gone. It hit me harder than I expected.
  5. Chronic pain is draining my energy. After two back injuries and various other injuries throughout the years as well as not coping with emotions well and having a hard time even understanding them in myself (Alexithymia), I've developed chronic myofascial pain syndrome and chronic tendinitis. I take the bare minimum of pain pills and muscle relaxers I can get by with and still function (3 or 4 on the pain scale most "good" days), but pain is hard to live with day in and day out (since 2008). I'm just getting slower and slower.
  6. Number 5 doesn't help my generalized and social anxiety disorders. And I'm getting tired of having panic attacks every week when I go grocery shopping. Nor does #7 help with the anxiety either.
  7. I mentioned I don't like change, but I may have a neurological reason for it. Every so often, a very close relative would call out something I do as "autistic." I didn't pay much attention to it until April's Autism Awareness Acceptance month, and several of my autistic friends started posting symptoms and other information about autism in adults. I started to see myself in those posts. So I did some research and asked my relative why they said what they did. Well, it turns out their psychiatrist mentioned I sounded like I was autistic, and she does have a background in how autism presents itself in women. So I'm 98% certain I'm autistic and would consider myself self-diagnosed, although I do plan to seek a more official diagnosis once I have collected and compiled more data, have the funds, and find the courage (see #6) to find someone to diagnosis me. And if the government (see #1) doesn't make it harder for people with pre-existing conditions.
  8. My dad is remodeling the interior of our house. We've lived there since 1989, so it's time to replace the floors and paint and all, but my sanctuary is gone. Everything is different, and it's all just too much.
I've been keeping my head down, blinders on, and swimming along, but now I've come to a Niagara Falls' high waterfall, I'm trying my best not to take the plunge. Something needs to change before I break down, either physically or emotionally. I've been cutting back on things, and I don't have much left that I do beyond the day job and writing. Since the day job pays the bills, I've decided to take a month off, maybe even two, from writing and editing my own work. I fear that if I don't take the time off now, then I won't have a choice later on. It has happened in the past.

After all, I've been working on my own manuscripts every single day since July 1, 2015 through October 24, 2017 (over 615,000 words written!). With being a writer part-time seven days a week, working at my full-time job 5-6 days a week, and everything else, I just desperately need a break. Even though I feel really guilty about it and it hurts not to stick to a routine.

What does that mean for The Fate Challenges and Soul Reaper series? Soul Reaper is on an indefinite hiatus, but I do plan to dive into Forged content edits when I come back to writing in a month or two.

During my hiatus, I plan to read more. More fiction. More nonfiction about writing. More about autism (seriously it's my new special interest). I plan to play video games, watch TV, and just rest up so I'll be in a better mind-space to get back to writing come December or January.

November 1 question - Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?
  • NaNoWriMo 2009: Virtuoso - Finished (first draft), not published
  • NaNoWriMo 2010: The Cassandra Project (originially titled Sarah's Nightmare and then Missing) - Finished (first draft), not published
  • NaNoWriMo 2011: Starred - Finished (first draft), not published AND The Last Prophetess - Not finished, not published
  • NaNoWriMo 2012 and Camp NaNoWriMo 2013: Reborn - (Rewrite) Finished, published 2014
  • NaNoWriMo 2013: Forged - Eventually finished (first draft) in December 2015, will be published in 2018 AND Reigned - Not finished, not published
For all you NaNo participants this month, keep on writing and try writing an extra word or two for me too!

2017 Stats: 111,229 words written and 907,704 pages edited (my work and for others)


Omega by Jus Accardo
Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne
The November Girl by Lydia Kang
Mark of Fire by Richard Phillips
Sacred Seas by Karen Amanda Hooper
Void Wyrm by Chris Fox
Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
Twelve by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


Michelle Wallace said...

Hi Cherie!
I hear you on the everyday natural and unnatural horrors happening within the world. Scary.
Congrats on all your NaNo projects that are in various stages of completion. What an accomplishment!
Enjoy the reading/video games hiatus!
Happy IWSG Day!

Nicola said...

I'm sending you a well needed and well deserved HUUUUGGGGG!!!!!!!

Enjoy your hiatus time, Cherie and look after yourself.

Christine Rains said...

You more than deserve that hiatus. You always amaze me with how much you do, but your mind and body need rest. It's been a rough year. Refresh yourself.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Cherie, congrats on finishing so many NaNo projects. I'm sending you a big hug.

Gwen Gardner said...

You are so right. So much is going on in this world that it’s hard to handle it all. And then you have tons of stuff added to it. You definitely should take a break. I hear you on the autism. I’ve questioned myself on some of my behaviors. I get anxiety and had horrible panic disorder in the past. Hugs to you, Cherie!

Tamara Narayan said...

Holy Smokes! Your plate is full. I know someone about 50, female, who was recently diagnosed with Aspergers, which was kind of surprising and made sense all at the same time. I hope you find some peace during your break, but it sounds like you'll be using the time wisely and developing your writer's brain, so to speak.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a lot to handle. Sorry about the pain. Hope you find out for sure about possible autism.
I've always admired how much you write, so I think a break is more than deserved at this point.
All of my grandparents are dead and yes, it does hit you when the last one goes.

Computer Tutor said...

A few thoughts: 1) a lot of us felt the same way as you do about the prior election--and re-election--but the world kept turning. If you look deeply and avoid the misinformation, there's a lot to be hopeful about. 2) chronic pain--I am so d*** sick of it. I feel your frustration.

M.J. Fifield said...

I am so with you on #1 & 2.

And I lost my last grandparent a few years ago, and more recently there were four deaths in my family in six months. I had to go on hiatus both times. I think most of us need to take a hiatus at some point to recharge and recover. And like others have said, I'm always so amazed and impressed with all you accomplish—you've more than earned a break. Definitely no need to feel guilty.

Take care of yourself!

cleemckenzie said...

That's a major list of insecurities, and I know many of share some of them with you. Hope the health issues improve because that is definitely an important area in our lives. I'm worthless when I'm in pain.

Rhonda Gilmour said...

It sounds like you have the self-knowledge to know when to back off and let your creativity lie fallow for a while. I hope your situation calms and settles soon, leaving you a comfortable psychic and physical space to write.

James Pailly said...

Speaking for myself, I've learned that if I don't have the other aspects of my life more or less under control, then I'm not much good as a writer. So I say take the time off, take care of life, and then come back to writing when you feel ready.

Heather R. Holden said...

Sorry you've had such a rough year. Can't imagine how taxing it must be to live with chronic pain. And ugh, know too well how awful anxiety can be. (I struggle with panic attacks constantly, and even had a pretty severe breakdown just a couple weeks ago, so I can see how anxiety would make your other struggles more difficult.) Taking a break from writing definitely seems like the wisest choice right now. Your own well-being should always come first, after all! Hope this break is exactly what you need to recuperate...

Charity Bradford said...

Very interesting. So do you think the autism developed or was it always there? Someone thought my oldest daughter was autistic when she was 14 or so, but as a kid she was the most outgoing "normal" seeming kid ever. However, once she hit puberty she developed some serious OCD and anxiety issues. They really slowed down, and some cases reversed, her social skills. I have OCD, but it's manageable.

I hope things look and feel better after your break. Sometimes that's the best thing you can do. Slow down and give your brain time to process these changes. Hopefully one at a time. :) Good luck!

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

That's a tough plateful. In your place, I might crawl into a hole and refuse to come out, so I think a 2-month hiatus is totally reasonable.

BTW, I have a son on the spectrum (high-functioning Asperger's). I think that just knowing that has helped us all deal with it when problems come up; he and we know that it's not him being irresponsible, but something he has to both accept and work on (he is 20), and also learn to work around.

Here's to some relaxation and healing for you.
My IWSG Post

emaginette said...

Take care of yourself first. Try not to worry about stuff beyond your control which is unfortunately most of it.

Anna from elements of emaginette

Juneta key said...

It does sound like you have a had a tough year. Wishing blessing and peace through the holidays and coming year. Take of yourself. You are a wonder and inspiration despite the trials.
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

Natalie Aguirre said...

So sorry for your health and other challenges. You are dealing with so much. I can relate to being overwhelmed by it all to with all my life changes. I don't like change at all either and am not good at it. Glad you're taking time to focus on de-stressing and your health. Chronic health problems can be so draining. Hoping for the best for you.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's a rough year. I wonder how much of the struggle came from not knowing you were slightly autistic? Is your research turning up anything that will help you?

Nick Wilford said...

Sounds like you've really been going through it. I hope your break is good for you and your research turns up answers on your suspected condition. With how hard you've been working, you've earned some rest!

Cathy Keaton said...

I hate seeing anyone dealing with chronic pain. THAT truly messes with your quality of life all by itself. Get better and SOON, Cherie! And, if the news is painful too, just turn it off. Life's too short to make it more painful.

Chemist Ken said...

Whatever you do, don't feel guilty about taking the time off from writing or anything else. Sometimes we just need to stop, and there's nothing wrong with that. Sounds as if you have been going through a lot of changes, and I don't do changes well either. The chronic pain is particularly nasty, because it's hard to write ( or do anything) under constant pain.

And don't worry too much about the stuff in Washington. Once Russia is handed the keys to the United States and annexes us, I'm sure everything will calm down. (:

Victoria Marie Lees said...

I'm so sorry you are dealing with chronic pain. I will include you in my prayers. Sorry to hear of your grandfather passing as well. Sometimes just writing about our problems can lift the weight from our shoulders. Breathe and talk with others. You can do anything you set your mind to.

Anonymous said...

OMG YES! Take care of yourself first. If that means writing has to take a back burner, do it. Otherwise, something in the future might happen and forces writing completely out the window. Especially if you are dealing with chronic pain. I have 2 issues that cause them and they so draining on their own. I can't imagine piling the death of my last grandparent (which I know is coming sooner than later with my grandma D=) and discovering being autistic on top of the chronic pain.

M Pax said...

Hugs on the rough patch. Chronic pain is wearing and affects everything. Losing people is hard and some are harder than others.

Maybe if you find out about the autism there's something that can help the chain effect of things. But take some time and enjoy yourself. Love the life you're living.

H. R. Sinclair said...

{{{HUGS}}} When everything happens at once (and why is it that it usually does) it take a massive toll. You are doing the right thing, slowing down, assessing, healing. That's how we get through it.

farawayeyes said...

WOW, you certainly have a lot on your plate and, in my opinion, you deserve a break. Take the time you need to rejuvenate, it'll all be there when you're ready and hopefully it won't be so overwhelming. I do have to say you certainly have been a success at NANO in the past.

Trisha said...

It sounds like it's been a very huge year for you, Cherie!

You definitely need a break, and there's no shame in taking one. I sort of took a break from writing for, like, three years or so. ;) I didn't enjoy not writing but I couldn't find the energy. I guess I had it all sucked away by other things going on in life.

Anyway, enjoy your down time, particularly all the reading you'll be doing! Reading is amazing!

Oh, and autism runs in my family as well.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

Sending you hugs- because it sounds like you could use some right now.

I think taking a break from writing will be so helpful to you in the end because you need some time to adjust to the changes that are happening all around you and to figure some things out. I have found that when I am more stressed I tend to be more panicky too.

I am not a doctor and can't diagnose people with autism- but I am a teacher and work with kids and families who have to accept autism as a diagnosis. My nephew is also autistic. The good news is- that the label is just that- a label. You are still you! That won't change. What could change is learning ways to deal with certain social anxieties because there are support groups that help people with autism navigate social situations that can be stress inducing. So- I would like you to know there is nothing to fear on that end. If anything, you may feel more at ease with strategies and a better understanding of some social interactions.

I am so sorry for all the pain you are in. Sending healing thoughts your way.

Please make sure to do something you love every day- to bring a smile to your face. :)

Loni Townsend said...

You have always impressed me, Cherie. I hope your recovery time serves you well and you find replenishment and healing during your hiatus. See you when you return and happy reading!

Jay Noel said...

I hope you're enjoying your hiatus. You deserve it!!!

You've been on a tear the last couple of years.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I don't know your faith background, but please know that I'm praying for you. I saw this post late, but you are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope that's okay. Please enjoy your break and don't feel guilty. Read away. Hunker down. Gather the troops of purring and/or snuggling animals, if possible.
Hoping that you find healing, acceptance, and encouragement.

Crystal Collier said...

#5... A wise, very busy man in his 90's was asked how he does it all. His answer was that as he's gotten older and his capacity has diminished, he only does the most important things. I think that's the answer to our aging/chronic issues. We really learn to focus on what matters in our later years, because it's all we can handle. Regardless, I'm sending warm vibes your way. Keep the cheese close for those down moments.

Julie Flanders said...

Hey Cherie, I'm late here but am so sorry to read all you have gone through. No wonder you need a break. I am amazed you were able to keep writing as long as you did. I think your plan to read lots during your hiatus sounds like the perfect thing.
I can relate to some of what you have struggled with, I have been having a difficult time since the election and the ongoing situation causes constant anxiety. It's difficult to focus and I've had to cut back on almost all social media.
Take care, my friend!

Sherry Ellis said...

I'm sorry about all of the problems you've had. Losing your grandfather - your last grandparent, is tough. I remember when I lost my last one. It's a hard thing to go through. Sorry about the pain you've had, too. Hopefully something can be done to help alleviate that. Mental problems are the hardest to cope with. I've been dealing with a lot of that here. Have you talked to a counselor or your doctor about all of it? It might help. I'll keep you in my thoughts. Hugs!

Mark said...

I feel you, Cherie. It's like I could be reading my own story. Election, the news, work life. Yeah, the last year hasn't been much of a winner. But I have to have faith that things will get better too. I pray you find that inner spark too:)

Authors with Advice said...

Take care of yourself. You have to, as no one else will. Your health and well-being comes first.

All the best!

Anonymous said...

She's human.