I’ve spent the last year becoming more of myself, a large part of that writing for myself rather than for a validating audience. It’s allowed me to uncover parts of my core I had hidden and changed over the past few decades.
Part of grounding back into myself has been working on my first novel. A lovely and challenging and illuminative experience, given I never thought I had any talent in fiction and have since realized I never learned how.
I’m aiming for a zero draft by my birthday in April, and a final polished first draft to start pitching to agents by the end of 2020.
One of the few things I wrote for an external audience was an Instagram post from a few weeks ago and, given that my end of the calendar year post for the past few has been around choosing your word of the year, I wanted to share here as well:
2020 will be the first time I choose a word to guide my year since 2017.
By the end of 2017, I was beyond burnt out. Spiritually spent. Broken in ways it has taken me two years of kicking walls to start to piece back together. It wasn’t that one event broke me, or that moving to NYC or getting my first book out into the world or working for JDRF were particularly taxing things.
It was that 30 years of habitually not taking care of myself, of pushing too hard, of ignoring my own needs, of trying to prove that I was someone worth caring about, worth being attended to (by myself or by others) finally caught up and, utterly boundary-less, I had nothing else holding me up. My grit had finally worn itself out.
And for fuck’s sake, grit and warrior ways keeping me running for 30 years is really damn impressive. I have to give myself an immense amount of credit for it, but it was time to find another source of fuel.
Now, I am still in the middle of the work, but feeling more equipped. I know it’s time to choose a word again because I feel excited by the prospect of it coming to me, rather than feeling burdened by it.
It was important that I give myself the break, even though two years felt like a long time to not choose a word, to not set goals for my year, to not write anything at all for public consumption, to stop trying to overextend, to just let myself be.
Two years of not striving for accomplishments for someone whose entire identity tends to be wrapped up in the (perceived) significance gained by accomplishing? A challenge. A necessary one.
Rest was vital for me. So this is to pass it along – if you’re approaching this final quarter of the year and not feeling invigorated? Feeling guilty when all of the messages around you are “push through” and “don’t stop now”?
Resting isn’t stopping. Resting is recuperation.
Even when it feels like too long.
If it’s REALLY rest, you’re going to feel restless long before you’ve actually recuperated. The discomfort of slowing down will prove you would benefit from it.
Please – please – give yourself permission to do so.
And while I’m here, I wanted to share a few quotes from a book I read last month, Alix Harrow’s gorgeous The Ten Thousand Doors of January. They have become major comforts through my writing process.
“Words and their meanings have weight in the world of matter, shaping and reshaping realities through a most convenient alchemy.”
“Even my own writing – so damnably powerless – may have yet enough power to reach the right person and tell the right truth, and change the nature of things.”
“Word magic comes at a cost, you see, as power always does. Words draw their vitality from their writers, and thus the strength of a word is limited by the strength of its human vessel.”