It’s a quiet evening. I’m sipping green tea, curled up in the armchair my husband and I dragged and wrangled up the stairs so I can have a small writing space away from the hustle and bustle downstairs.
Armed with tea, my laptop, and a notepad nearby, I start in for an evening writing session. My animals come and go—I like to leave the door open so they can wander in if the mood suits them. Leo, my lab, strolls in, sniffs around, decides there’s still nothing interesting about this perennially boring room, heads back downstairs—probably to entice my husband to play tug-of-war with him. My beloved black cat, Zander, stares out the open window.
Blue curtains, handmade by my best friend’s mother years ago, frame a view of green trees and a bit of blue evening sky. Behind me, a tapestry is lit by strands of fairy lights.
So much has changed in the last six months.
I’ve published my first paranormal romance book, actually held a copy of my own literary creation in my hands. Book 2 in the series, Tangled Flames, is well under way, with a scheduled release date of mid-August.
I’ve traded shelving books at the local library for days sipping tea and writing fiction—coming full circle to where I was a few years ago.
But there’s something different this time. The last time I tried to write full time, I wasn’t ready. I had lessons to learn as a writer—about craft, about the indie author biz, about conquering self-doubt not once but many times.
But I didn’t quit.
I didn’t quit when the story wasn’t working. I didn’t quit when I hadn’t mastered deep POV. I stepped back, took a deep breath, studied my craft, and tried again. And again. And again.
I didn’t quit. Not when the almost-but-not-quite rejections came my way. Not when everyone else had an opinion about how my writer’s journey should unfold, when they tried to give me a roadmap that I knew wouldn’t take me where I needed to go.
Even when I took my position at the library, I managed an intense revision of my novel Spellfire’s Kiss, a promising start to the second book in that series, Forgotten Shadows,and a number of other steps forward.
I didn’t quit when I got my fibromyalgia diagnosis. Even as I type this, my hands are sore, but today’s massage (a recommendation by my doctor) helped ease the worst of the pain. I take more breaks than I’d like. Self-care isn’t some theoretical thing for me. It’s self-care or collapsing when you have a chronic medical condition. Not just for me. For anyone with such a diagnosis.
I’m not telling you this to be self-serving.
About that Buffy reference…
Remember in the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, how every time Buffy slayed even the most vanilla of vampires, it was a challenge?
And by the later seasons, she’d be walking with Willow and Xander, stake a vampire, and then continue the conversation before the dust even hit the asphalt? Because she’d practiced, she’d learned, she’d found her process, idiosyncratic as it may have been. She’d found a mentor, perfected her methods as a slayer.
But even when the slaying got tough, Buffy never quit slaying.
Well, I’m saying all of this to tell you that it gets easier. I kept going. And it’s not easy, per se. But I feel more capable to deal with the everyday writing dilemmas when they pop up.
Storytelling misstep? I just backtrack, find the source of the problem, and work forward from there. Self-doubt? I’ll see if I can’t stake that doubt demon without even setting down my teacup. Bad fibromyalgia day? Lots of self-care, maybe a massage, and try to do what I can that day, however small those steps may be.
Self-doubt, story blocks, writing obstacles still creep up. But like Buffy, I’ve become more proficient in my ability to slay the vampiric obstacles lurking on my writer’s path.
One word, one scene, one story, one world at a time…
There is no finish line. There’s just one word, one scene, one story, one world at a time. My journey as a writer is one of the most magical parts of my life—equally as magical as my path as a witch.
I’m so glad I didn’t quit. Not when I got that fibromyalgia diagnosis and my whole body ached. Not when I got those kind—and necessary—rejections. Not when I got the no-response rejections. Not when I plain just tried and failed. Not when I looked at my manuscript and felt it was a flop. Not when I struggled to learn, to fix, to improve, to grow.
I’m still learning. Still growing. Still improving. All the time. The writers I admire most are those who never quit learning. I’m inspired by their productivity and persistence.
If you’re struggling, don’t quit. Take a break if you need to. Read a book and get swept up in another writer’s storytelling. Write something different. Laugh. Listen to music.
Brew up the next cup of tea, put on your writing playlist, settle into your favorite writing spot, and keep going.
One word at a time.