It's been a minute.
Hi, everyone. It has been a long time since I last posted here. I needed the time to pull myself together and get my head back in the writing game. This is the third episode of burnout I've experienced over the past three years and I've learned during that time to honor the burnouts when they come, allow them to hang over me for as long as they need to, and look forward to the day when they will depart. They do always depart, I've learned, and my ability to write comes back again. So that's the good news. But sometimes they last for a very long time--my worst was an entire year--and making peace with a lack of creativity and/or motivation during those spells is difficult at best.
But one of my reasons for starting this blog was to share my thoughts on writing and the experience of being a writer, so other writers out there don't feel like they're doing something wrong if and when they run into the various difficulties that plague our tribe. There's a lot of b.s. on the internet about writers and writing, a lot of dogmatic crap that's occasionally useful during certain phases of your career and occasionally not useful at all. It takes a little experience and experimentation to know which advice to take and which to discard, and when to do it, and in the midst of my most recent burnout episode I turned 40 so I feel that gives me enough perspective to offer a little bit of wisdom now and again. So I'm telling you now: burnout happens. Let it happen when it comes. And don't fear that it will be permanent. It's never permanent. Try to be patient and give yourself time to recover.
The good news for me was that my burnout only applied to this blog. I was able to remain focused on the writing I have to do in order to pay my bills, and I did, finishing up my 39th novel, A BLACK GOAT ON THE JORDAN RIVER, which will come out under my Olivia Hawker pen name from the marvelous Lake Union Publishing in August of 2021. I'm very happy with how the book turned out, though it needs a few more scenes added before it's ready to proceed through the publication process. Writing in the midst of a burnout episode means you aren't necessarily doing your best work, so I'm feeling fortunate that I've got the time and the support from my editor at LU to give this book one more pass before we send it on into the next phase of book-making.
I've found this spring very difficult emotionally, as I'm sure we all have. Some people who are very dear to me have lost loved ones to the virus. A few have lost several loved ones. I'm an extremely empathetic and emotionally reactive person by nature--I always have been, which drove my family nuts--but it's a feature I wouldn't change if I could, because I think it makes me a better writer. But it has made the pandemic an exhausting experience for me. It's difficult for me to see people I love so deeply grieving, and be unable to do much for them at all. And then, over the past few months, my grandmother had to be hospitalized for a week--not with the virus, thank goodness, but with other health issues--and of course none of us in the family could visit her during that time. (Fortunately, she is back home now and is doing much better--thanks to her wonderful doctors and nurses!) And then one of my closest friends had a covid scare (he's fine now, too, much to my relief.) All these things have combined to keep me far away from my writing desk while I've waited for my well of energy and resolve to refill. Sometimes it takes a while.
But here I am again! So heeeeeyyy, world. I've been spending all my time in my garden, which has been a real sanity-saver. I've always loved gardening, but now more than ever, I really appreciate the peace and order and constant cycles of growth and renewal a garden offers. I feel as if I've developed a close personal friendship with my land and my garden now; there's a quiet, contented sense of cooperation and mutual reliance that feels like some of the best and longest-running relationships I've had over the course of my life.
The pictures in this post are all ones I've taken while I've been out gardening this spring. I know not all of you have access to a garden right now, but I hope you've been able to make a connection with something that feels comforting and peaceful to you--a hobby, new routines of calling your loved ones, making plans for the future, or whatever gives you a few minutes of pure enjoyment every day.
Stay well and be safe.