Changing Tides & Turning Leaves
October is finally upon us. Halloween-themed cross stitches. Over the Garden Wall rewatches. Trips to the local pumpkin patch. October is, without a doubt, one of the best months of the year. After the hellfire summer I endured, I welcomed the first day of October (which is also my sister’s birthday!) with open arms. After the past few shitty months, I was not sorry to see summer disappear in my rearview mirror.
However, summer wasn’t all awful. (Just like 93% awful.)
I haven’t officially announced the good news on my blog, but as of mid-September, I’m no longer agency-less! Seven weeks after the LGC fiasco, my agent was hired by Red Fox Literary and she took her client list (aka me and my agent siblings) with her! I’m thrilled to be a part of Red Fox and am eternally thankful for the wonderful ladies there for taking a chance on us.
Ever so slowly, my life is returning to normal. News flash: I’m ravenous for normal. I’m even hopeful about starting my next project soon, as my most recent YA is with my agent and CPs. After finishing that revision, I gave myself a month (!!!) off to relax, and well, I don’t do well with too much time on my hands. During my writing hiatus I’ve: played/beaten two video games, finished several cross stitches, started gardening, read many books, and binged more television than I’d care to admit. But I’m beginning to feel itchy and restless and eager to write again. (Hey, maybe this’ll push me to finally win NaNoWriMo next month!)
I’m so thankful to be situated at a solid agency, to have such a stellar agent (shoutout to Jennie Kendrick), and to be in the place where I can keep creating. But I won’t lie. The summer was really hard. I lost hope not only in myself, but in my writing abilities and my future. I joked often (because, as my therapist likes to remind me, I use humor when I’m uncomfortable) that my tumultuous summer was my origin story—but whether it’d be a superhero or villain origin story was yet to be seen. I was mostly kidding, but I definitely felt defeated. However, if this blog had a theme, it’d be perseverance.
I wanted to talk about five (of many) things that helped keep me going this summer when my professional life was in complete upheaval. Even now that things are settled, I’m still trying to maintain a centered mindset—hard to do when I’m pursuing a career that is almost completely out of my control, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The below are great to keep in mind whenever you’re stressed about publishing/writing/bookish things.
Spend time with people who don’t give two fucks about writing—or reading. Seriously. Most of my social life is online, thanks to the wonderful Twitter KidLit community. This is usually fantastic, but when I’m having a rough time, it’s kind of the worst—it feels impossible to escape my stressors. My boyfriend is a very creative soul, but he’s not a reader or a writer. Being around him is a huge relief when I’m all-consumed by writing stress. I’ve also spent more time with my local beekeeping club and all we talk about is honey bees, which is a pure joy.
Find hobbies outside of writing/reading. When I first started pursuing publication in early 2016, I read this advice and straight-up disagreed. Considering I live and breathe writing, I was appalled by the idea of spending time doing anything else. Sure, I thought, maybe other people need outlets but not me. (HA!) Trust me, having an outlet that has nothing to do with your writing is crucial. When I compare the time I spent writing constantly in 2016 to now (I like to think I’m fairly balanced) it’s a no brainer: I’m much happier and healthier. During the summer, I revised an entire book, but I also spent a lot of time playing video games, exercising, and working with my bees/my beekeeping club. Seriously. Diversify your interests.
Remember what Matters™. Soon after signing my contract with Red Fox Literary and finally feeling as if my life was back on track, I had a health scare. (I’m fine.) But before this, I was beginning to stress over the minutiae, as I’m fond of doing. This felt as if the universe was skillfully reminding me that—hey, publishing isn’t the most important thing in your life!—even though it oftentimes feels that way. The biggest blow came when my boyfriend had a health scare a week later. (He’s also fine. It’s been a weird couple of weeks, folks.) As an anxious person, it’s alarming how easily and quickly I get wrapped up in minutiae, by the things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Be nice to yourself. I’m my toughest critic. I’m downright mean to myself, almost on a daily basis. I’m working constantly to change how I view myself, not only in regards to writing/publishing, but how I view my body, my talents, my successes…
Celebrate the small stuff. Along with the above, remember: don’t set your sights so far in the future that you forget to celebrate your everyday victories. I struggle with this a lot. Even as recently as yesterday, I was beating myself up over the fact that I’ve barely written in a month and I’m (constantly) worried I won’t ever write again. I already wrote one book this year! I need to celebrate that and maybe not bully myself so much. Just an idea.
I realize these aren’t terribly inventive or new concepts, but they’ve really helped me. Maybe they’ll help you too. Living in the world is tough right now—there is no denying that. It pains and angers me to turn on the news, to hear/see/feel the suffering. Finding the good and the things under my control (while adopting a somewhat zen AA-based mentality to accept the things I cannot change) are what get me through the day.
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