At the time of this writing, we just finished another round of snow and are gearing up for a bit more over the weekend, although it now looks like we’re in for more rain. Unlike other parts of the country (including our former home in Montana), our temperatures in Midcoast Maine have stayed on the plus side, mostly in the 20s and 30s, so you’ll get no complaints from me. In fact, we live in such a quiet area that sitting outside to watch and listen to the silence of the snow, even for just a minute or two, is an unexpected battery charger. That said, I’m looking forward to more sun, more green, and more warmth. Looking forward to hitting the beach, too.
The launch of You, Me & Mr. Blue Sky went well—please keep the photos of you and your personal copies coming!—and Craig and I are delighted by the feedback we’re getting. The overwhelming majority of you have tapped into everything we wanted this story to be, and that alone makes it a success. We are especially excited to be returning to our beloved Billings, Montana, as well as Livingston, which was always like a second hometown to us, next month. We’ll be at Elk River Books and This House of Books for some YMMBS fun and food. (If you’re a subscriber, check out our ad in the Spring issue of the Montana Quarterly magazine! If you’re not, become a subscriber!)
After that, I’ll be taking a bit of a break—or, as I prefer to call it, a sabbatical—from writing and the writing business.
This decision didn’t come easily, but last month, beginning around the time of the YMMBS launch, my husband and I both came down with that icky cold/cough thingie. Except mine turned into acute bronchitis with asthma. The diagnosis surprised me, and it took some time to fully heal. I’ve always been one to look at health matters from an emotional/psychological perspective as well as a physical one, so I asked the question: What is taking your breath away right now (and not in a good way)?
I think I knew the answer even before I asked the question. Didn’t make it easier to accept, however.
For a little over a year, I’ve been struggling with a creative drought. Whatever the cause—writer’s block, the move, too much distraction, loss of self-confidence, burnout, I’ve explored them all—no prescription has taken root. Writers will tell you that the antidote to any writing problem is to keep writing, but I also live by Jerry Greenfield (of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream fame)’s motto: “If it’s not fun, why do it?” The business of writing has not been fun for a long time. And I don’t want something that has been a constant throughout my life, something that has always brought me joy, solace, and aliveness, to become a burden or resentful.
Since 2012, I’ve had the privilege of being a full-time author. This is not the norm. In fact, the overwhelming majority of authors have second and even third jobs. I was one of the lucky ones. It’s incredibly hard to go back into the workforce outside the home after you’ve worked on your own time and in your own space for so long. (And yes, that’s as big a first-world problem as I’ve ever had, and for that I am humbled and grateful.) However, I’ll likely be doing just that, on a part-time basis, leaving room for flexibility to continue doing other things I love, such as workshops at libraries, speaking at book clubs, and some occasional one-on-one coaching. I’ve loved being a part of our new community, and perhaps some new characters and stories will reveal themselves to me along the way.
In addition to a writing sabbatical, I am significantly reducing my time on social media as well, especially from Facebook. If you’d like to keep up with life in Midcoast Maine, then you can follow me on Instagram (spoiler alert: we’re bringing a baby dachshund home next month, so PUPPY PHOTOS!). You can also occasionally talk 80s music and other stuff with me on Twitter.
When my first novel, Faking It, went into the Kindle Store in June of 2009, and the first 50 purchases came in, the mind-blowing revelation wasn’t just oh-my-god-I-published-a-book, but oh-my-god-my-book-is-being-read-by-people-I-don’t-know-and-who-don’t-know-me. Everything that happened after that was beyond anything I had imagined and downright magical. Since then, so much of the pleasure I derived was from knowing my stories weren’t sitting in a drawer, so to speak, but rather reaching readers all over the world. That is still mind-blowing. You made this life possible. You made this roller-coaster ride an adventure. You made it meaningful.
I have never wanted to let you down. I still don’t. I hope this time off will refill the well, give me breathing room, so to speak. I hope it will rekindle (sorry) the joy and fun and passion. I hope my books keep meeting new readers. And I hope other authors’ dreams come true in the same way mine did.
See you soon.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.