The past few years have been a little rough for my writing, and consequently, for my website as well.
It started in December of 2015 when my website was held hostage by our website host, Go Daddy. Even though I was able to get it back, all my content was lost. (Unsurprisingly, I do not recommend Go Daddy. Apparently this happens with them somewhat frequently.)
The prospect of starting over was too overwhelming for me to handle. I salvaged the articles I could from my Tumblr, but I lost a lot of them, some that I really loved and had worked really hard to write. I didn’t want to start all over, and yet, there I was, needing to.
Instead of getting back to work, I focused on a personal project my husband and I had been working on: buying a house. We had finally saved enough for a down payment, largely in part due to Wattpad and my opportunities to write commissioned content through my involvement in the Wattpad Stars program. We found a place we liked in our price range, and by May of 2016, we had the keys. In June, I was the maid of honor in my sister’s wedding, and in July, I spent a month working and teaching in a different part of the state. In August, my husband and I welcomed our first puppy to the family, and in November, we welcomed our second puppy. Needless to say, 2016 was a very busy year for me.
I continued to write, but by then, my Deathless trilogy had finished, leaving me in a sort of writer’s hangover. I missed the world I had created for the trilogy, I missed the characters, and I didn’t know what to do next. I was stuck. Not a whole lot of writing happened in 2016 except for the birth of a new idea during NaNoWriMo, which was promptly abandoned when the stresses of work and NaNoWriMo became too much.
By the time 2017 rolled around, I was ready to slowly get back into writing. I’m not sure if this happens to you, but when I don’t write, my anxiety gets pretty bad. I don’t write autobiographically or keep a diary anymore, but even writing about fictional people and places and situations provides a much needed release for me. Writing saves me by clearing my mind and giving me a creative outlet where I can put all the junk I’ve gotten out of my head. The problem was that I didn’t know what to write about. So, I just wrote. I continued in the universe I created with The Deathless Trilogy but with a new, fun twist taking place about twenty years after the trilogy ends. I called the book All the Space Between Us and just allowed myself to have fun with it. I played around with perspectives and layout and romance and suspense, and it helped me shake some of the cobwebs from between my fingers and get into my work again. But none of the writing was serious for me, just practice so I could get back into the work. Until the end of 2017, that is.
I had an idea for a while about a girl who had undiagnosed dyslexia and was placed into a theater class to help her cultivate a better sense of self as well as a better relationship with literacy. I wrote the first ten or so chapters with a main character who was entirely outside of who I am, and finally got stuck, because I couldn’t hear her voice anymore. I decided to go back to the beginning and rewrite it. As I did this toward the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, I began posting the chapters of a novel I called Misfit Theater Company on Wattpad.
Misfit Theater Company made me frightened, because it wasn’t science fiction, it was contemporary young adult, and it was close to my heart. I was deeply involved in theater growing up and I have loved ones with dyslexia and other similar learning disabilities. It felt very personal to me, as the characters and the story was very close to my experience. Each of the main characters reminded me of someone who had meant something to me growing up. Janie, the main character, reminded me of my loved ones with dyslexia and me at my most insecure. Thatcher reminded me of my high school boyfriend before I began dating my now husband. Moth reminded me of a combination between a boy I was in theater classes with and my husband. Patti reminded me of a close friend of mine in theater classes as well as every most serious girl in every theater program ever, haha.
But I put this personal, out-of-my-comfort-zone book out there. I changed bits of it as I went on, clarifying them through author’s notes. “Hey everyone, this character no longer exists, pretend like she was never there.” Stuff like that. It was not perfect, and it was also not a big hit at first. Few people read it, but the ones who did seemed to love it. One very kind superstar of Wattpad helped it, Darly Jamison who is an amazing author and who began reading, commenting, and voting on my new project, leading new readers toward it. When it was time for the 2018 Watty Awards to open, I entered Janie’s story.
Around the time the story concluded and was entered into the Watty’s, I suffered a personal loss that sent me into a ten month long depression. And then, after I had become so excited and renewed in the writing experience with this fun and new novel, I stopped writing again. I couldn’t. I was in too much pain to move. Not literally (thankfully), but emotionally. I knew that I needed to write to feel better, but I couldn’t think about anything but the loss I’d experienced. I became obsessed with trying to heal myself physically that I lost sight of how to heal myself emotionally or spiritually.
While I was stuck in my darkness, I won a Watty Award, I attended WattCon 2018 in New York City, and I started two novels that are still waiting for me to return to them. By April of 2019, I realized that the only times I felt any real joy in the past ten months had been when I was writing or immersed in Wattpad culture. As I said earlier, I started two other novels, but I decided that it was finally time to start working on a sequel to Misfit Theater Company. I committed to it, and those fun, lighthearted, nostalgic characters came back into my life to help me. The stage lights came on, and a little more brightness entered into my world, chapter by chapter.
Now it’s the end of May 2019 and the losses I experienced still hurt, the years I didn’t write still hurt, but I am back on the upswing. I’m fully committed to Misfit Theater Company 2 with a full outline I’m about 1/5 of the way through already, and I’m returning to my first love, The Deathless Trilogy, to revise with the hope that publication will come soon, either self-publication or traditional, I don’t mind at this point, I just want to share it. And I’ve finally written a new post on this site.
After the last three years, I’ve learned that sometimes it is difficult to write–because my stories have been lost, because I’m busy, because I’m depressed, because I’m stuck in a story, because I have no good ideas–but I have to keep going. I have to write something. Otherwise, I’ll slowly go mad, and whatever stopped me from writing will only get worse.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, “Any motion whatsoever beats inertia, because inspiration will always be drawn to motion. So wave your arms around. Make something. Do something. Do anything.” So here I am, writing. Doing something. Trying to make something again, despite my losses, despite the fact no one has seen this website in the past three years and will likely not see this either.
I feel like I’m waking up after a long sleep. I’m waking up excited to write every day and utilizing whatever time I can to do so. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.