Two weeks ago. Right before putting on my happy face (or at least for those who saw it, it was supposed to be my happy face) and heading off to a conference to celebrate the very thing I'd just said I didn't want to do any more.
My confession is this: I actually said the following words:
"I don't want to be a writer any more."
Did I mean it?
Well, yes. I did. And the feeling, as unusual as it was (and somewhat confusing too because 'being a writer' has been my 'heart-thing' for so, so long) lingered longer than to be just a writer's gloom comment.
So what was going on?
On reflection I think I've identified three things contributing to my despondent confession: depression, fatigue and wordly overdose.
|I know how you feel.|
I read somewhere, I can't find it now (don't you hate that?), that fatigue is one of the biggest killers of creativity. For me this is probably magnified. I'm a big sleep person. Always have been. I can't wake early and write (just visit me at 7:15 one morning and you'll see why that is) and I can't write at night because ideas keep me awake. So I have to write during the day - but I have three children. Add to this equation several writing deadlines that ate up every inch of rest time (and introvert recuperation time) and you'll understand why I was tired.
Writing for me requires (celebrates?) creativity. Normally I'd rave to you about how much I love story, and ideas and thinking up new ways of expressing truth in fiction. But burn me out with fatigue and I just want to crawl up and hide. But hide I could not because I had...
|Have you bitten off a bit much?|
Emails, books, social media all crowded around me demanding I think up correctly worded responses and neatly summed up answers. Speak to me on a good day and I'll agree with you about the importance of an online presence, a faithful mailing list, marketing connections, promotional give-aways. But all of these require words, and if words are a writer's commodity - sometimes we can end up broke. Broke and badly in debt.
In the time since I've returned from the writer's conference I've had to work hard to restore a balance to my life and creativity; time on my own, paying back the debt of wordliness with silence, catching up on sleep etc. I'm aware that creativity is gradually creeping back in. But I can't take it for granted.
Because, after all, I want to be a writer.
What sucks the life out of your writing ambition? What are the warning signs for you, and how do you recharge/realign your creativity?
Penny Reeve is a children's author currently living in Western Sydney. This week she hopes to read an Amanda Deed novel just because, watch the passion-fruits grow and enjoy her toddler's company. You can read more from Penny at her website, or facebook page.