I have not published anything since 2017, and I am not happy about it.
2018 saw two deaths in the family, and that set me back, on top of struggling with a renewed surge of depression and anxiety. 2019 took a massive upturn with my new job placing me in a much more welcoming and healthy environment, where I am much, much happier than my previous job, but it was still a major change that came with the baggage of rewriting my entire life and sleep schedules. Remember, folks, even positive change can be stressful, and that’s normal.
But even more than all of that, I’ve been struggling with a specific kind of writerly self-doubt. Nothing I have written since finishing the What We Need trilogy feels even half as good.
- I know that it sounds egotistical to be so proud of my work, especially in an online writing culture of strong self-deprecation. But I am proud, and I do honestly think they’re great books. I won’t downplay that to mollify people who abide confidence in a creative person, but I am aware of how it sounds.
- I know I’m comparing first or second drafts, at best, to published works. It’s not a fair comparison.
- I know that I spent three years writing in that universe and nothing else I’ve started since has gotten more than six or seven total months of my writing time. Of course they’re not going to feel as whole and polished.
Even knowing all of that down to my bones, it doesn’t dispel the strong dissatisfaction I feel with all of the work I’ve produced since. None of my characters have grabbed me the same way. None of my settings have been so cohesive. None of my romance arcs have felt as satisfying to complete when I set down the pen, so to speak.
But the solution isn’t to keep writing new things until one of them is “the one” that saves me from this spiral of non-publishing dissatisfaction. I’ve been trying that for two years, and I have two complete novels in various stages of revision that I’m sitting on, plus a third that I am chapters away from completing (NaNo 2019 is still going for me until I finish this damn thing,) plus several strong partial drafts of other projects. Starting yet another new project in the hopes that this one will “take” is not going to help.
So my 2020 writing goal is to take at least one of my complete novels, rewrite the ever-living hell out of it, and polish it until it shines just like the published works I’m so freaking proud of. What’s stopping me? Why can’t anything else be as good?
Nothing, and no reason at all except that I haven’t put in the work yet. So I’m going to.
Major life upheavals have stopped me from publishing, from even producing anything I could call a finished work, for two years now. And I can’t change that. I can forgive myself, and I mostly have. But I can set a new goal now that I will publish something in 2020, dammit! I put out a book a year for three years straight! I can do it again, and I’m starting from a much better place with multiple projects already through a drafting cycle or two.
If all goes well, I might even be able to get two books out there, or at least make a solid start on getting a second one ready to print. I’ve got big plans, and stability is returning to my non-writing life, so it’s time I took advantage of that, don’t you think?