That’s how long I’ve gone since writing in this blog. To be honest, that’s how long I’ve gone without prioritizing my writing.
How did that happen? Why am I back? Well, it’s awkward, it’s painful, it’s messy. In other words: it’s human. (And no, I didn’t have a baby.) Here’s the Cliff Notes version.
I took what I intended to be a short break from bloging and writing because everything was coming out political. I wasn’t ashamed of my views, but the current political situation wasn’t what I wanted this to be about. So I took a break. It was an easy choice, because things had gotten pretty hectic in my work life. I’d decided that it was time to buckle down and get to work on some major bills. That meant pulling 50-60 hour work weeks every week.
Then, last June I had to leave my job unexpectedly, and I was unemployed for six weeks while a situation resolved itself. I’m not going to get into that situation here, but suffice it to say it was a fairly emotionally traumatic six weeks. Then, in mid July of 2017, I got another nursing home job. This time, I deliberately chose a nursing home that offered 3 days/12 hour shifts. I still loved nursing, but I needed not to be surrounded by it five days a week…not when those days were often double shifts.
Then, to both recover from the six weeks of unemployment and make progress on those bills, I picked up a second job at a coffee shop. Experience, they say, is what you get when you don’t get what you want. That certainly held true for me. My financial situation still requires me to work 50-60 hours a week, but I will never again put all those hours in one job. 36 hours at a nursing home and 15-20 at a coffee shop is MUCH less draining than 60 hours all at a nursing home. Plus, you meet different people at a coffee shop. It’s like mandatory socializing. After 7 years of strict health care only, being a barista was like being paid to have fun. (Even after a year, it still feels like being paid to have fun. It’s an odd feeling, to make mistakes at work that don’t harm or at least negatively impact another person.)
Except learning two new jobs and recovering from an emotional trauma takes a lot of energy. Stories…and words in general…came sporadically. The novel that I was so proud of in January 2017 became a source of constant frustration. Something wasn’t right in the story and something wasn’t right in me. It got to the point where opening up the writing apps would fill me with a deep disgust. I thought for several months that the stories would never come again. I thought that 2017 with all its assorted anguish, both political and personal, had broken the words inside me. That lasted until mid summer of 2018.
If 2017 had built a wall in my psyche, 2018 has been a series of small events chipping away at that wall. In June I started trying to write again. I tried working away at editing the novel. I wrote more on a fun story that’s been kicking around for years in my head. I tried writing a new story idea. Progress was slow and painful. I was out of practice, and out of patience with myself. Writing wasn’t bringing me joy, like I remembered it doing before. I wanted to write, and I didn’t want to write. I couldn’t quit either job to focus on writing, like some online writing blogs talked about…because I’m an adult with adult responsibilities, and that just wasn’t (and still isn’t) feasible.
That’s when I woke my mom up in the middle of the night with my writing woes, and asked her advice.
“Put the novel aside for good. Put the computer away. Write this new story on paper. Don’t write with an aim to get published; write to see if you still love it.”
Painful advice, but I took it.