For me, this year has been about humility. Not only the humility of realizing how hard parenting is (parents out there, I am sorry. You guys are amazing and deserve much credit!) but also the humility of struggle. There’s nothing quite like hitting your personal wall over and over again to teach you that sometimes, you can’t do everything. You can’t fight through everything. Sometimes, you just have to slog and wait.
Post partum depression hit me like an anvil a couple of months after the birth, and it’s brutal to try to work around. Tending the baby is about all I can do some days, though thus far I have done it, and done it well enough she’s securely attached. My writing time (via babysitter) often went into sleeping. Sleeping is amazing, and cannot be overstated in its importance. Babies are hard on the sleeping.
Then, extraordinary family circumstances hit me hard. The scarce energy I had left over to do things other than Baby disappeared for awhile in other family things, and I hit a new level of exhaustion. Client work slowed to a crawl, and writing time became staring at the screen time, or sleeping. I went back to reading comfort books, at night, in audio while watching the baby, and tried to keep my head above water. Crying became part of the day. I waited, and I slogged, and I waited.
Then I figured out–for the third time–that I had to toss out more than 60k on Book Five. That’s 180,000 words total on the book that I’ve had to abandon, which is two novels’ worth of words. It was like a punch to the gut. But I finally (hopefully finally) think the direction is right. I’m going back to the original plan for the series before the publisher made me change the end of Vacant, or as close as I can get now, and I’m feeling good. Some of what I threw out may eventually become Book Six. But it’s disheartening to realize the words I’ve cried over and bled onto the page through really hard circumstances have to go.
It’s about nine and a half months after baby, and I’m just now starting to feel the fog begin to clear. I hope it lasts this time. The last time–around six months–it didn’t last. So I’m in an odd place of hope and despair co-mingled, and sitting down at the keyboard with finally something to write, and the belief that maybe, maybe, this time I’ll be able to slog through, and the words will be worth keeping. But it’s hard. Most everything is hard right now.
I have said before that I will realize Book Five on such and such a date, or such and such a season. I now know better. Right now all I can promise is that I will keep slogging. I will revise and release a few old novellas if I can, if it gives me joy and makes me feel productive, but only if it does so. I will chip away at the next book as I can. And I will find things, in fiction, that make me happy and interested and intrigued.
That’s why I write, after all. It’s why we read. So that when things are hard, there is the story, and there is the joy and sadness and hope and meaning. There it is, on the page.