Out of the Black Hole, Into the Quarantine

On the one hand, it feels a little weird and dumb to talk about myself at a time like this.

On the other hand, self-isolation time seems like a good time to end my internet self-isolation.

I hope this blog post finds everyone healthy, safe, and as happy as can be reasonably expected. I’m coming up on the last few days of a three-week stay-at-home shut-down period, and I promised myself I’d update this blog before I go back to work.

Today’s post is primarily around the fact that this is my first post since December 2018. I also haven’t updated my author page on Facebook since March of 2019, despite Facebook nagging me about it at least once a week.

I apologize for dropping off the face of the earth, as least in an author-ing capacity. I actually tried a few times to write some kind of update and just lost motivation each time for a few reasons:

  1. Yeah, that Category 5 hurricane.

In my last post well over a year ago, I wrote about riding out what was, at the time, a Category 4 hurricane, then also talked about how I was still writing and optimistic about getting things back on track. Here’s the thing about natural disasters, though–the aftermath is often worse than the event itself. And it goes on. And on. And on.

My husband and I are probably luckier than most in that we’re back in our home and have made great strides in returning to normal. The road getting this far, however, was rife with stress, anger, and bouts of depression.

This was not my first depression rodeo by a long shot, but the thing about even mild depression is that just maintaining daily functionality takes so much mental and emotional energy that you have little left for anything else. Worse, in the aftermath of a widespread disaster, most of the people around you are also grappling with constant stress and depression, so even on days you’re feeling pretty stable, you’re probably expending a lot of that mental and emotional energy trying to help those who are not.

As it happens, that mental and emotional energy is pretty key to creativity. I know, I know–tortured artists make the best art, right? It’s an oversimplified stereotype, though. Besides which, I’m pretty sure said torture refers to reflecting on childhood traumas and messed up relationships and stuff like that, not having an apocalyptic meltdown because your cabinet-maker poofed off mid-job to start a meth lab or something.

2. Self-marketing is difficult and I’m inherently bad at it.

Self-marketing via social media is a lot like screaming into a void. You just kind of have to hope you scream long enough & loud enough that some of it eventually escapes the black hole and echoes out into the rest of the universe. Most social media platforms don’t make that easy, at least not without money involved. I primarily use Facebook because it seems the most versatile, yet Facebook purposely suppresses my page posts from my followers so they can try to charge me to “boost” the post’s reach. That’s why some pages you follow will make the same post multiple times. They’re trying to reach as many followers as possible despite the algorithms suppressing the post.

Of course, the other side of that is making sure that the content you’re blasting out into space is worth listening to, and I’ve not always been sure how best to do that. Do I talk about myself? My writing process? My reading list? What can I offer my readers that’s interesting?

I’m trying to work on that latter problem to help me better overcome some of the challenges of the first. I recently bought a guide that can help me plan content so I can hopefully share more interesting posts more often. I think it’ll also help me to keep in mind that a post can be short and sweet instead of long and… savory?

Anyway. I may eventually even brave my webcam to make some video posts. We’ll see.

3. I’ll admit it–I’m struggling.

The final but most important reason I’ve been hesitant to put myself back out there is because of the lack of visible progress on my next book.

Am I still writing? Yes. Is it coming together? Yes… I think.

It’s been close to two-and-a-half years since I released Bloodlands. I don’t feel great about that gap, especially in the fast-paced world of self-publishing and social media. Some authors manage to churn out multiple books a year, and I can’t help but feel sometimes like it’s a race that I’m losing.

Of course, that’s 100% the wrong way to look at it. My writing style, methods, and daily challenges are unique to me and it does me no good whatsoever to compare myself to others because of that. I just have to continue to work through the negative mental conditioning that makes me compare myself and try to compete.

On that note, I do want to talk about what’s been going on with the book, but I think that’s a post in and of itself, so look for it soon.

In short, I think it’s time to end the radio silence. I won’t say I’m getting myself back on track, because I don’t even know where the track is anymore and I’ve also got other cats to herd and the world is just about as mixed up as my metaphor usage right now, so I think it’s best not to make promises. I may not make regular, monthly updates on the book for a while, since I think that’s part of what killed my mojo before, but I will try to share what I can when I can and share other content as well.

In the mean time, I hope everyone is being careful, staying safe, and hopefully reading some great books if you suddenly have more time on yours hands than before.

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