*dusts off screen*
Hello blog, it’s been a long time. How are you?
I haven’t written since March, since my third book came out in eBook and Audio. Which means I haven’t written about the publication of my first paperback in May or my book signing in June (see pic!). And the truth is I haven’t been able to. For the last few months I haven’t been able to write a thing.
Because honestly, I’m exhausted.
Not in my usual “tired all the time because I have chronic illness but so that I’m getting on with my life” way. Emotionally exhausted. Because, like so many of us, I have a tendency to just keep going no matter what is happening. I’ve ignored all the things that have happened in my life over the last nearly three years, not stopping to congratulate or commiserate with myself. And what years they have been.
As many of you know, my mum died suddenly in September 2016. Two weeks after her funeral we moved from Cambridge (where I’d lived, worked and studied for most of my life) to Leeds. One week after that I started a new job that was supposed to be amazing but turned into one of the hardest experiences of my life (toxic workplace, bullying, high stress). A month after that I got my first book deal.
I didn’t stop to think about any of these things. I didn’t stop to grieve, I didn’t stop to take in my new environment or question my new workplace. I didn’t congratulate myself on the book deal I’d been dreaming of for years. Instead I worked and I edited and I wrote another book…
And I just carried on.
Until this time last years when everything felt as though it was unravelling.
I quit my job and took several months off to re-calibrate. I changed literary agent and, more recently, I decided not to sign another contract with my current publisher.
Oh and on top of all of that I got married (and thank all the gods for my husband amongst all of this who, despite going through the wringer himself this last year, has always been there when I needed him).
In the spring I started to feel better, clearer. My third book had been published (full disclosure, this one isn’t selling anywhere near as well as my other two – there are lots of reasons for this, none of which I’ll bore you with but thank you to everyone who has bought and reviewed it!) and I went back to work – different job in a new firm, with my own office for the first time in 20 years of working in law!
Things started to feel better.
But I still couldn’t write.
And this blog post is the first thing I’ve written that isn’t a shopping list or an edit since March.
I’ve been forced to take time to think, to look back at what I’ve achieved, what I’ve been through – all those things that I have been avoiding thinking about these past few years.
I’ve been thinking about the girl who sat in her office in 2010, dreaming of writing book, of getting a publishing deal, of having a launch party with her friends and lots of prosecco.
The 2010 version of me would be very proud of me right now. So why isn’t the 2019 version?
We spend so much time looking forward, or thinking of how we could have done things differently in the past. We don’t spend anywhere near enough time sitting with what we have right now.
My third book should have sold better.
I should be in a better financial position than this.
I should have achieved xyz by now.
Should, should, should…
So this summer I have been consciously trying to stop thinking like this. To remind myself I have had three books published in two years, that (regardless of how well they have sold) they had had solid 4 and 5 star reviews, that I have a beautiful house, and savings, and an amazing husband.
That my privilege is huge.
And I’m thinking about what I can give back, rather than what I can do next.
And I’m reading, and sleeping (as much as a chronic insomniac can) and swimming and yogaing and staring up at the clouds a lot.
August is going to be more of the same.
For the curious…
I have written a fourth book. It is about music and mandolins and love and friendship and questions what “family” and “home” really are. It has no publisher as yet, but I think it might be the best thing I’ve ever written (and I hate writing that because it scares the shit out of me). I have no idea what will happen and I’m trying to be OK with that.
As for a fifth book, well, we’ll see…