Ready for a long sob story and a lot of gross oversharing? SWEET!
Today I decided to recommit to the amazing 12 week program that is The Artist’s Way. If you haven’t heard of the book by Julia Cameron, I highly reccomend you check it out.
I completed the full 12 weeks in the summer of 2017 when I was going through an intense bout of wtf am I doing with my life. I even kept up with morning pages through the start of 2018. At that point in time, I didn’t really identify myself as a writer or an artist, even though I was dabbling heavily in oil pastels and abstract art, and had always had a quiet calling inside of me to start writing books. I just knew the path I was going down was a hot mess, and my relationship with my husband and mental health were suffering as a result. I didn’t do it hoping to make a career out of art, but instead to start inviting creativity into my life.
Long story short… it worked. Starting in January of 2018, when researching ‘how to sell books on Amazon’ – which in my mind meant physically buying books from thrift stores and selling them on Amazon to accompany my ebay side hustle, I instead got sucked into this idea that maybe… I shouldn’t be selling other people’s books. I should be writing and selling my own. I did the logical thing and started cranking out nasty ass erotica (those pen names will go to the grave with me, fam), trying to learn the publishing process. I joined forums. I read everything I could get my hands on.
It felt so fucking liberating tossing my perfectionism aside and just creating something that people would enjoy. Making a little pocket change on the side didn’t hurt, either.
It was all downhill from there in the most delicious way. Before I knew it, I was overwhelmed by the brothers of the Mountain Misfits MC (and Olive and Esther… those two bitches could not be silenced), their stories flying off my fingertips as I learned as much as I possibly could about this business. I was having a fucking blast, and my inner artist was so joyful just doing something that I’d only dreamt of doing as a kid. Life was good.
But somewhere along the way, things got a little weird. I started getting obsessive. I started isolating myself because I didn’t want anyone in my everyday life to know what I was up to. At my grandmother’s funeral, a trusted family member leaked my secrets, and I became the butt of everyone’s jokes, and for some reason my creepy uncle thought that because I write steamy novels I was open to him publicly groping me while I stood over her casket. (I also got so blacked out drunk afterwards I got banned from two bars in my hometown, fell asleep in my parents’ yard, and threw up for the next week straight.) That was the beginning of my downhill spiral.
From that day forward, I wanted to be taken seriously for my work. I wasn’t just going to write the books, I was going to become an indie powerhouse. I was going to write the best fucking books, I was going to be the best fucking marketer, I was going to succeed no matter what the cost to my physical or mental wellbeing.
I started getting really sick in October. Balancing my full time job and obsessively trying to find this undefinable ‘success’ was turning my immune system to complete garbage. I started cutting off friends. I wasn’t spending much time with my husband because when I wasn’t working, I was sleeping. I started lashing out at people I cared about if they even breathed in my direction in a way that was displeasing to me. I was treated for an upper respiratory tract infection. I tried to pretend like I was better after two weeks of steroids and inhalers. I was not even close.
I constantly felt like I had a lump in the back of my throat. Swallowing even water was sometimes enough to send me into a choking fit. I was wheezing a lot. I strapped on a happy face and went into complete denial mode, promising myself if I wasn’t better the week after Thanksgiving (which is one of the busiest weeks of the year at my full time job) I’d go to the doctor.
When I finally dragged myself into her office right before Christmas, I was on my last leg. I hadn’t been working out because I felt like shit all day every day. I quit alcohol. I quit coffee. I wasn’t doing any self care aside from this strange compulsion to soak in the bathtub twice a day. I was diagnosed with strep and pneumonia. You’d think that would be enough to make me take it easy for a minute, but I was on a newbie career high. Bound by Steel was when I really started seeing the fruits of my writing pay off. Rising Son rolled around and the Amazon algorithm smiled down on me, pushing me to go harder, proving that if I was just diligent enough, if I just wrote fast enough, I was going to have the career of my dreams, and all my problems were going to be solved.
I wrote Twisted Fates in two weeks. Over Christmas. With strep and pnemonia. (Please don’t shoot me, but in retrospect, it really fucking showed.)
Long story short, I never got better. By 10PM every night my throat was so sore, I was in tears. I bombed myself with nyquil. I took allergy meds out the ass every day, because it was suggested that that was what was still wrong with me. Trying to write Ascension was one of the hardest things I ever did. I wanted to be able to celebrate completing a series. Instead, I was failing. At everything.
Not only was my muse pretty much up and dead, everyone in my real life was about ready to wash their hands of me because they didn’t understand how sick I was. I was still showing up every day, but I was in pain. I was like a hurt dog, come near me and I’m gonna bite your face off.
Still, my dumbass persisted. I wanted to start this new series. The Indignant Few were already becoming so vivid to me. I couldn’t wait to get their stories out there (and show off the sexy covers I’d commissioned!)
I wrote 50,000 words of Judas and decided it was shit.
To be fair, it was.
The romance wasn’t clicking because it wasn’t between the right two people. The other guys in the club weren’t hitting like I wanted them to. It was a hot fucking mess and the only good part about what I’d created was that I realized I needed an intervention. Big time.
I went back to the doctor.
I had mono.
All this time, I’d been self destructing. I always thought booze or guys with face tattoos would be my ruin, and instead it was Flonase and ‘work ethic.’
My diagnosis brought me a kind of joy I hadn’t experienced since my grandmother’s funeral. Maybe that’s sick of me to say, but having a medical professional tell you to stop and you will get better was all I needed to hear.
Since then, I’ve been resting, relaxing, unraveling a year of self destruction, and figuring out exactly what I want from this life. My husband stepped up to the plate big time. I layed in bed and played Candy Crush. I watched so much trash TV, and loved every minute of it. I slept 16 hours a day, didn’t answer text messages, and didn’t even open my computer one time. It was a luxury that I never thought I could afford, getting myself well again at all costs. Even though I felt physically terrible, my mental state grew happier and happier.
When I finally sat down to finish Judas from the ground up, it flew from my fingers like I was blissfully writing away at my silly erotica stories all over again. Is it perfect? HELL NO. Is it better than anything I’ve written so far?
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say yes.
That book I almost died for wasn’t even worth the effort, because when I finally got my shit back together, the one that came out of me was a million times better.
When all was said and done, I vowed that that chapter in my life was officially closed. I’m never going to that sick sad place again. I’m never letting my greed or pride or ego murder my artist and my body ever again.
I ordered myself a shiny new 2019 planner. Sure the year is almost halfway over (which means this planner was more than halfway priced LOL), but for me, it’s just starting. I sat down and tried to set my intention and goals for the next 90 days.
The only thing that really mattered to me right now was getting back home again. Back to a state of health, a state of creativity and joy, a state of purpose… 90 days of enjoying life. Of course that includes writing, but writing with LOVE, because even though I like twisted stories about messy people, at the end of the day, love always wins!
I promise I’ll check in and let you know how my progress is coming along during this round of the Artist’s Way. I know it’s going to be good. It’s just one small step in making me the author you guys deserve. It’s just one small step in getting back home.
If you stuck it out through all this, bless your heart.
If at this point, you’re just like… that’s nice… can you please show us this damn book you’ve been ranting about – here’s a teaser. And a link. Have fun. It’s on sale until June 6th for $2.99 and free in KU.