Coming Up For Air

I’ve been heads down on book 4 for the past eight weeks. It’s shorter than my other books, a different genre and category too, but still I’ve never finished the first draft of something this quickly. I still have some loose ends to tie up before I can abandon this draft for a while and work on the 4th draft of book 3 but I’m so close. My brain knows it and my body definitely knows it. I came into this weekend feeling drained and tired and numb. Not just because I’ve been writing like crazy but because of the reason why I’ve been writing like crazy.

I’m the kind of person who hates asking for help. I hate inconveniencing people and even more than that I hate feeling like I owe people. But recently some people in my life have stepped up and offered to help me financially so that I can try and turn this whole writing thing into an actual career. I haven’t made a decision yet on whether or not I’ll take them up on that offer. But even so that feeling of responsibility still weighs heavy on me. And honestly, it always has.

I don’t just work so hard for me. I do it for my family; for the people I care about. That’s why I write every day. Even when I’m tired. Even when I’d rather be doing something else. I’m trying to build up my backlist in hopes that one day one of my books will take off, that it will entice people to buy the others, that I’ll be able to make a comfortable living doing what I love so that I and the people I care about won’t have to struggle anymore. Because that’s what these last three years have been since my father passed away—an emotional, financial, spiritual struggle that I’m still battling on a daily basis.

But what if I could change all of that? If I just keep pushing, exhausting myself, worrying myself sick, what if all of that hard work pays off? I can sacrifice my sanity for a little while longer can’t I? These are the things that keep me up at night. Especially when I realize that I’ve lived in Florida for a year and a half and I haven’t really seen any of it. I’ve only been to the beach a handful of times. I haven’t done any of the normal touristy things people do here. I haven’t made any meaningful connections with anyone new. I’ve been sleeping here and going to work here and hiding in my apartment on the weekends writing, but I haven’t really lived here.

So I’ve felt stuck. Because what’s more important—my responsibility to my future or my responsibility to my present? The here and now vs. the what could be.

I went to the beach for the first time in almost a year this weekend and while I was just wading there, feet barely skimming the sand, I realized that the answer is both.  It’s possible to suspend yourself in that illusory place between the present and the future without losing your mind. It’s possible to stay tethered to your goals even when you decide that you need a break. And I did. I needed a break. So I took one and even though I can feel that guilt just below the surface, I’m going to ignore it. I’m going to loosen my grip on the future and I’m going to let myself breathe.

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10 thoughts on “Coming Up For Air

  1. breeroberts says:

    That’s the great thing about being your own boss.
    You: Boss, can I go to the beach today?
    Boss: Yes, of course!
    You: Thanks!

    And as a writer you know that even when you’re not butt-in-chair writing, your brain is still plotting and planning out your stories. So technically you didn’t take the day off, did you? 😉

    • You’re right. Physically you can step away from writing, but the act of creating is something inherent and ongoing. Not only can I choose to give myself a break but I can also choose not to feel guilty about it.

  2. pishnguyen says:

    Stunningly beautiful post! I’m glad you were able to take a much-needed break, and I hope it helps you feel refreshed enough to tackle your story once again. 🙂

  3. indytony says:

    I think you are expressing some of what Scripture reveals about the Sabbath. We are created to work hard, yet also be refreshed by regular rhythms of rest and reflection.

    Keep up the good work (and rest when you need to).

    • Thanks! And you’re right. There is absolutely a season for everything and even in this fast paced world it’s important to force yourself to take a break when you need one.

  4. Víctor Manuel Ramos says:

    Anyone who writes can relate.

    • Unfortunately that’s true. In the quest to turn writing into a career it’s really easy to become overwhelmed. That’s why finding the right balance between dedication and obsession is so important.

  5. Fredrik Kayser says:

    It’s a good mantra, “Don’t forget to breathe.” It can mean so many different things. Beautiful post. 🙂

    • Thank you! It sounds obvious but just the physical act of breathing is so important. When I’m worried or overwhelmed I literally feel myself holding my breath. My body has always been really intune with and vulnerable to stress and as I think about what’s next for me both financially and in terms of my career that stress has been getting harder to manage. I think that’s why this weekend was so important for me. I just needed to be reminded that I’m in charge of both my future and my emotions and if I need a break I can take one whenever I want.

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