Don’t read this if you’re an aspiring writer or a die-hard reader that doesn’t want to see behind the magic curtain. It will discourage and disillusion you, and just possibly annoy you.
No. This blog isn’t for the dewy-eyed hopefuls, the ones still wearing rose colored glasses. It’s for the tired writers, the moms who work too hard and the people who do too much.
I had a book I’d hoped to have to my UK editor by the end of October and it’s not going to happen. It hasn’t even begun to happen. I’m still on chapter 1, page 7 or so. The book is great. It’s just not on paper, and frankly, its not getting there anytime soon because life keeps happening and a close family member is very ill and another is terminally ill and I’m dating someone I’m crazy about but he’s miles away (roughly 2,600) and this is all peripheral. There’s the everyday stuff at home, the kids and sports and homework and frankly, I’m calling into work sick.
For the entire month.
Maybe the entire Fall.
Maybe the entire year. (Okay, not the year.)
You see, I want to play. I want to be with my kids again and bake and make frosted Halloween cookies and go to a pumpkin patch and carve jack o’lanterns and decorate with orange and purple lights and plant bulbs and take out the summer zinnias and dahlias for cool weather pansies.
In short, I want a life.
And a life, I’ve realized is very important. A life isn’t just showing up, exhausted, numb and stoic or bleary-eyed, it’s happy. Despite the tough things the world throws at us.
So how does one get ‘happy’?
Take a time out. Stop for a day, a long weekend, a week. Do what your heart desires. Sleep, watch t.v., read, go for a walk at the Arboretum, take a drive to see Fall foliage, book a vacation. Do what you haven’t let yourself do. Have your favorite food. Indulge in hot cocoa with marshmallows or a big steak and baked potato with all the fixings. Make yourself a cocktail and put on fun music even if you’re alone. Dance. Take a bubble bath. Book a massage.
That’s the first step.
The second is, don’t take yourself so seriously. Don’t take your children so seriously. Don’t take your spouse/partner/lover/neighbor/mother so seriously. We’re all people. We’re all fallible. No one is more valuable or important than the next. Enjoy your mortality. Savor the small stuff.
I worried for years about writing fewer books. I worried about losing readers. I worried about alienating editors. I worried about getting lost, or left behind in the industry. And then I realized that was all ego. I was basing my idea of success on external factors, like what other people thought of me. I was driving myself to prove I was capable, and prolific, and essential and then one day I woke up and realized I’m not that essential in this industry. I’ve talent, and I work hard, but the only person I need to please is me. And the real Jane Porter is happiest with her kids and friends and decorating for holidays and making her own pasta sauce and wrapping gifts with flourishes and building puzzles at night on the living room carpet. That’s Jane. That’s the Jane that matters.
So if you’re tired, or pushed too much, or stretched too thin–ask yourself if all of the work and stress and exhaustion is worth it. Is there anything you can cut down? Cut out? Is it all absolutely necessary? If there’s even one thing you can edit or eliminate…do it.
Do it and chill. Kids aren’t the only ones that need a time out.