I leave in two weeks for Hawaii for the summer. It sounds fabulous but is also kind of wrenching as my two oldest sons will be with their dad for the first month and then come to me for the second–and I’ll be away for one of those weeks they’re with me attending Romance Writers of America’s national conference in Orlando.

I’ve never been away from Mac for more than a night and flying thirteen hours away from him for 6 nights of business makes my heart hurt. I think I’d be better with the week away if that were my only week away from the boys, but that’s just the beginning of three months of frequent, and sometimes hard, travel. I’m excited to promote She’s Gone Country, but struggle at leaving the kids.

The She’s Gone Country booktour kicks off in California, with four stops there, before zipping to Henderson, Nevada (just outside Las Vegas), and then back to Bellevue where I’ll turn my attention to Pacific Northwest events. Surfer Ty and I head to London for a week in September, too, so I can attend the annual meeting for AMBA, the Association of Mills & Boon Authors. I haven’t attended an AMBA meeting since September 11th, and that entire trip was shadowed by grief and shock.

Because I won’t be returning to Bellevue to repack for Orlando or the booktour, I’m having to haul all my business attire with me to Honolulu and so I’ve been sorting through my wardrobe, trying things on, purchasing a few new dresses, coordinating shoes and accessories. I was absolutely delighted to discover that I could slide/squish myself into my favorite navy Max Mara slacks. They’re not my tiny navy slacks, but my formerly comfy ones. They’re not as comfy on me as they once were, but they zip, and with a longer blouse, I almost feel like the old Jane. Almost.

The scale isn’t showing that I’ve dropped a lot more weight but my body must still be shrinking from the workouts as I can definitely fit into some of my old size 8 clothes. There’s no chance of squeezing into the 6’s or the 4’s, but that can be a goal for next summer. It’s enough that I see progress. That I feel better than I did. That I have hope.

The writing, though, is still a struggle. I’m in an ego bruising place of fear and insecurity when it comes to my work.  I’m not confident about this new book. Not comfortable with my voice. Not feeling the love. Right now I miss the writer Jane who knew what she was doing and where she was going. But maybe that Jane will return. Maybe it’s like my work outs in my garage with the weight equipment…maybe with time, with effort, with patience…this new story line and voice will fit me. Maybe if I just relax and go with it, the ideas will flow and the story will work.

Until it does, I have to stop the hate. I’ve been so mad at myself for not being more productive, and brilliant, and efficient. I struggle at my keyboard and as I struggle I’m filled with the old self-loathing. The little voice inside my head has so much to say…so much negative talk and put downs. Stupid, stupid Jane. Why do you think you can write? Why do you think you can succeed? Why should you deserve more than you’ve already got? And the voice achieves what it sets out to do.  It stops me. Silences me. Hurts me. Sickened, I remove myself from my keyboard, desk, office. I then pace. Fight with myself.  Do simpler things like email.

But the mean little voice, the mean bully inside my head can’t win.

It shouldn’t win.

It’s wrong.

I know I deserve kindness and patience and encouragement. I know I deserve love.

But its amazing how, when the pressure is on, I crumble instead of squaring my shoulders and locking my knees and digging deep for strength. Must find the strength. Must find the peace. No one can do it for me. This is one of those battles no one can fight but me.

And so that’s my goal. Not to write 5-10 pages a day. But to dismiss the critic and embrace the fear and take that deep breath, that deep calming breath and remind myself–I can do it. I can do anything. I just have to take it one baby step at a time.

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