Tree Branches, Clem Onojeghuo

So I Had a Bad Week

Last week was a really hard week for me.

I got sick for the second time in a month. While it wasn’t the awful flu that took me out a few days while on vacation in Walt Disney World, it was still not much better. An acute upper respiratory infection plus two ear infections. I’ve never had a cough this bad before that I can remember. It’s all-encompassing and worse when I sit up which made sitting and concentrating at a desk all week incredibly difficult.

I took off work Tuesday and left early on Wednesday. I made it through all of Thursday, just barely, and my emotional well-being deteriorated due to some things that happened at work that I wish I could go into but have done so privately enough to keep myself from doing so in a public forum. I went to urgent care where I got my diagnosis, four medications, and a doctor’s note to miss again on Friday. Then I went to sleep.

Despite being off work on Friday, I still took care of some things at home because I care about my job, knew I left some things open, and because I’m good at my job. But that apparently wasn’t enough and I had a minor breakdown about my job late Friday night into early Saturday morning that only succeeded in making me even sicker.

Sometimes there are things that you can’t control in the moment. I can’t control my job right now. I love my job. I love where I work. There are just some aspects about it that are making it difficult to remember all the things I love about it. I don’t want to look for another job. It’s an additional stress I don’t want in my life right now. Right now I’ve marked that the part of my life that is my job – a bit part considering that working 40 hours a week is pretty much the overarching feature of my job for the majority I’m awake – isn’t controllable at the moment. I can’t immediately change or fix or better that situation.

So my sickness, low moments, and frustration forced me to ask, what can I control right now?
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Snowflake, Aaron Burden

New year, new you? Just focus.

I don’t like making New Year’s resolutions. Inevitably I keep none of them. I rarely make it even a few months. Weeks, even, sometimes. Yet every year I still think that maybe, just maybe, this year will be the year I keep all of my resolutions.

Thinking on that, I don’t like the word ‘resolution.’ I prefer the idea of goals. And I don’t think that any goals I make for 2016 will be transformative. They might broaden my reading horizons. They might urge me to finish something or try something new for me. They might anticipate things I already know I’ll slack on. But they won’t change me. I don’t mean to sound negative about all of this though I know it’s coming across that way.

The way I see it, each year brings new opportunities. For me, the opportunities I want to take are those that revolve around things I already like doing or things I want to be doing. For instance, I read a lot and love doing it, so I want to make some goals about my reading list. Or goals with cooking or writing, things I already do and love. Another example is exercise. I hate exercising. In New York City, it was so easy because I walked everywhere and up and down steps every day. Now, I’m being a bit hypocritical to my own opinions here because I have actually added an exercise goal to my 2016 list, but it’s one I already know I’ll fail. On the other hand, I know I won’t fail my reading and writing and cooking goals.
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Mountain Silhouette, by Jordan Hile

I don’t want to want to write

And it bothers me.

I’ve been writing Young Adult fiction for years and, of late, growing more and more frustrated with it and the genre as a whole. I know my frustration stems more from a frustration with myself, with being stuck as an unpublished writer, but it’s not only that. It’s also the fact that I read a lot of YA fiction. Honestly, I read a lot of bad YA fiction. It just to make me feel better, that if these books were published, it would only be a matter of time before mine were too. The problem is that now it’s less likely to make me feel better and more likely to make me angry. I’ve moved on to, if these books were published, then why isn’t mine?!

With that in mind and also the fact that querying and getting no after no completely squashes any desire for me to write, I’ve started to wonder just what it is I should write next.

A long time ago, I didn’t write YA fiction. I used to write short fiction, dabble in (bad) poetry. I wrote literary fiction in college. I completed a Regency romance for my first NaNoWRiMo attempt. I used to love writing for the story, and the story would just come to me. I didn’t think about if what I was writing was sellable or ready for the market or even something that would fit into the YA world. I just wrote.

So now I’m done with my latest YA novel. I’m querying it to absolutely zero success. I’m frustrated and I’m angry and I feel like I don’t even want to bother with it anymore. And by ‘it’ I mean writing. I hate that but it’s the truth.

I don’t want to want to write. Yes, you read that correctly. I want to write, but I wish I didn’t. I wish I didn’t because I don’t know what to write.
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Candle Light Tea, by Jalal Hameed Bhatti / flickr

I have a confession to make

Some days (most days) I want to stop writing.

To be honest, I’m not where I thought I’d be. I don’t know if I could have told you point-blank what I thought I’d be doing at 31 years old, but I had a few ideas. Married with kids, probably a stay-at-home mom, writing, a book (or two) published. But I have none of those things. I’m single, living alone, working 40+ hours a week. Writing-wise, I have a hell of a lot of rejections, no agent, and a huge heaping hole that hope once filled.

I’m not writing this for sympathy. I’m not writing this for anyone’s encouragement. I’m writing this as a confession because it’s hard for me sometimes to come to terms with this. It’s hard for me to keep writing when all I can see in front of me is more rejections, another discarded novel, ideas piling up, time and energy spent on doing what I love without the chance of it going out there into the world for everyone to enjoy.

I feel like I don’t have the time because I have a full-time job and have to work every day and when I get home and on the weekends the last thing I want to do is work on a novel. I feel like every time I see another 16-year-old or 20-year-old or early-20-something with their debut, second, third, fourth novels, that I’ve missed my window. I’m too old, too busy, too — something.
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Time, by Judy van der Velden / flickr

A history of writing in my life (part 3)

This is part three of the history of my writing life. If you missed it, here’s part one and part two.


I already talked about my early years and my schooling years, so now it’s time for a short foray into the years since then.

I wish I could be a writer full time, though I can’t imagine getting any more writing done than I already do. Now, I have to squeeze writing in time during my lunch break, on the weekends, in the car (Google text to type is both great and awful at the same time), before bed — any time I have a few minutes. Mostly, though, I’m just exhausted and uninspired and don’t write at all. Still — I have a feeling that if I ended up with the time and ability to write full time, it would end up as a constant list of things I did instead of writing.

I’ve written a lot since graduate school. One short story, a handful of poems, several novels. All of the novels are YA. I’ve queried four of them. I’ve had no offers of agent representation. It’s a maddeningly, frustrating, seemingly-endless loop of write, revise, re-draft, edit, set aside, read, touch-up, query, reject, reject, shelf it — start over again with something new.

As I started out five years ago, I tried to remember to stay on top of the trends. Instead of vampires, I tried a riff on werewolves. The novel, The Moonstone, is not one of my best. In fact, it’s probably only slightly above my MFA thesis in terms of writing, plot, and longevity. To be honest, I don’t even like werewolves and the supernatural / paranormal / fantasy obsession in YA fiction. What business did I have writing it? I know now that I was so eager to publish that I thought hitting the edge of a trend would work. Too bad werewolves never picked up post-vampire age.

Moving on, I tried to merge the uniqueness of my birthday (February 29) with a fantastical notion of what happens after death. In-Between and Ever-After came out of this, and I still adore this novel. It’s unfortunate that I was about a year behind on this trend, too. I started querying about the same time as Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and a few similar novels popped up. Even though I queried a little bit with The Moonstone, this second novel felt more a part of me than the previous. So getting rejections from both queries and requested manuscripts was more devastating than before. It also taught me a lot about the process, about “agent speak,” and about my own expectations. I still love this novel, and I probably always will. But what I know the most is that I really want to make sure that somewhere, sometime, in my career, I revisit the meaning and interest of Leap Day.
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