Today marks the 12th anniversary of my first ever book publication. It comes at a pretty crappy time in my life. You can tell by the lack of activity here that I haven’t done much in recent… couple of years. At least not on the public side of things.
I write this while riding the tail end of COVID and taking stock of what the hell I’ve been doing with my time. It’s not an easy answer. It’s also not something I find easy to share. In many ways, it feels like admitting defeat, when I’m still here, fighting the good fight. Just in a different way.
So WTF happened?
Short answer: I burned out.
Slightly longer answer: I burned out so bad, it wasn’t even that I struggled to write; I didn’t want to read anymore. Books in general held no appeal at all. Stories on TV became background noise.
After years of putting everything I had into my books, making sure I was putting out the best possible story I could deliver in the most professional way, and promoting them as much as possible, I just had nothing left in the tank. I’m pretty sure depression was part of it, too. When half the writing world was saying, “We are doing great!” I was with the other half that wasn’t. When media were reporting record book sales during the pandemic, I watched my numbers hit rock bottom and stay there, no matter what I did. And it just became a cycle of try something, watch it fail, try harder, fail more. It became all about keeping my head above water, business-wise. It got me nowhere, and cost me everything I ever loved about putting words on the page. I just couldn’t do it anymore.
So I stopped.
I left social media, retreated into small groups of close online friends, and gave myself permission to not think about anything book-related. Last year, I gave myself a goal to just read 2 books a month, and I exceeded that goal. This year, I realized that what I missed most were the days decades ago when all I did was write, because all that mattered was the story. I wrote any chance I had, and I wrote anything that came to mind. Never cared about markets, or readership, or sales, or any of that crap. I just had a story in my brain that needed to come out on paper.
So I went back to those stories, and what I found was an almost childlike hope and optimism. There was a brightness in those tales that just kind of turned darker and darker as my writing journey evolved. The world got worse. Then it went to hell in a handbasket. And it took my stories with it. I went from writing modern romantic fairy tales with sci-fi twists to literal apocalypse horror. I reflected the world back onto itself and lost myself in it.
And then it got worse.
Between COVID, wild fires, race riots, global recession, family matters, financial matters, and now war just across my home country’s border, I lost count of the times a bit of news made its way past my firewalls and I thought to myself, “I did not sign up for this shit.” I mean, we learn about these great, world-changing events throughout history and wonder (or at least I do) what it must have been like to live through those times. Now I’m actually living it, and I gotta say, I’m not a fan. Things seem to keep going from bad to worse, if not on the global front then the personal, and every time there’s a lull when I think there might be a turning point, something else crops up. I’m really struggling to see light and hope for humanity right now. And I realize how privileged that is to say, considering I’m personally safe and secure, and (for the most part) healthy. But you need to be able to look ahead and see some good, and right now, I don’t.
I was going to announce a couple of new projects this year. I’ve been working behind the scenes to make it so that, by the time I announced anything, everything would be done, and all I’d have to do is schedule the releases. It was going to be a project spanning several years, which would give me a steady schedule of book releases I wouldn’t have to think about, so that I could focus all my energy on writing new books.
As it is now September and there’s been no announcement, you can probably tell it didn’t go to plan. I did get part of the way through, but not enough. I do want to announce at least one of my projects, but I’m worried that as soon as it’s “public” it’ll stall. My muse seems to have developed a crippling case of stage fright.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I’m still here. I don’t want to give up. Stories have always been such a big part of who I am that I can’t just set them aside and move on. But I also can’t escape into them so easily anymore. There are too many other things in life pulling on my attention and energy, and I’m just too worn out to keep going as I have. My plan, going forward, is to conserve my strength and channel it into writing. That means, you won’t see me much on social media anymore, and I won’t be posting many blogs, or sending out newsletters.
From now on, I’ll be around to announce a book release, or share a new story, and then retreat back into my den to work on the next.
I want to thank each and every one of you who have stuck around with me throughout my journey. I am so grateful for your patience, your support, and your love. I am so thankful that my books have found a home in your bookshelves and your hearts, and no matter what happens, that’s something I will never, ever take for granted.
The journey isn’t over yet. I still have stories to tell, and I’m looking forward to telling them. If there’s a book or series of mine you loved and always wanted to get more of, please tell me. Aside from encouragement, it helps me remember what I loved about them, and maybe it’ll spark some new ideas and new books.
Until next time!