On Stepping Back

via Death to Stock Photo
via Death to Stock Photo

You know those movie montages* where the girl breaks up with her boyfriend** and starts reinventing herself? Going dancing, taking classes, visiting new places, making new friends? That’s how I feel after (finally) making the decision to take a break from writing fiction.

Since my writing break started, I’ve noticed how much more mental energy I have every day. I’ve started paying attention to interests I had been ignoring for a long time. I’ve been journaling regularly and started doing yoga this week. I’m reading a biography I got for my birthday and remembered how much I LOVED reading biographies as a kid. My stress and anxiety levels have gone way down. I don’t feel *as* guilty about not writing as I used to. I feel so much lighter and freer than I did before.

Stepping back from writing is still scary sometimes, especially because it seems like EVERYONE on the internet tells you to never give up, to always keep pushing, to never give up on your dreams. Well, honestly I was pushing myself into a brick wall repeatedly, and that shit is EXHAUSTING. So even though I sometimes wonder “What am I doing, I have no idea!” I know it’s really the best option for me right now. (Shout out to Meg Kissack from That Hummingbird Life for a super uplifting conversation on Twitter that helped reinforce that this decision was the right one for me!)

I realize it’s a little ironic to write about not writing, but I think reevaluating your dreams and seeing if they’re really working for you is important, and isn’t discussed enough online. So if you feel like you’ve been hitting the same obstacle over and over again, maybe it’s time to step back. You can always come back to it whenever you’re ready.

 

*Is there a movie where this happens? I feel like I’ve seen it before, but the name is totally escaping me right now…

**All breakups mentioned in this post are metaphorical. Teddy and I are still doing great, in case you were wondering.

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What Leslie Knope and I have in Common

Ummm, it’s not the hat.

Do you ever try to match yourself or people you know to your favorite characters on TV? Teddy and I do it all the time, but I think our closest “matches” are Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt. This is me:

Ben Leslie2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is Teddy:

ben gif2 ben gif3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I didn’t know better, I’d think the writers had eavesdropped on actual conversations we’ve had.

 

I’d never watched Parks & Rec consistently until last fall, when Teddy and I binge-watched seasons 1-6. (I still haven’t watched the last season because last seasons make me sad. If I haven’t watched it, it’s not over, right?)

 

At the time, I was feeling pretty crummy about myself. I had finished the rough draft for a novel, but I had no idea where to go from there, and I had the sinking feeling that it might be fatally flawed. I was left without a project. So I guiltily watched too much Parks & Rec, and then I noticed something. Leslie and I are a lot alike when it comes to work.

 

Leslie loves working. All she does is work work work — on vacations, on her days off, when she’s sick. Always working. When she can’t work, she makes up new subcommittees and community projects and runs them all herself. If Leslie doesn’t have a government project to do, she spirals into a lovable, super caffeinated tornado.

 

I do the same thing when it comes to my creative projects. Even if I’m not directly working on them, I’m thinking about them. I love projects, and I always want to be working on (at least) one. And if I don’t have a project, I get stressed and irritable. (Sorry, Teddy!) I’d love to be working on a creative project right now, I just can’t swing it. It’s felt like I’ve been running into one brick wall after another. I was thinking about it recently and I realized that in the past year I:

 

  1. was diagnosed with PCOS
  2. made drastic lifestyle changes
  3. lost 45 pounds (woohoo!)
  4. had to change my birth control because it wasn’t doing its job (not in a pregnancy scare way, but in a “my period started a week early AGAIN?!” way).
  5. had gallbladder problems which means I’m getting my gallbladder out in April

 

That’s a looooot to handle. And I realized recently that writing a novel sounds totally exhausting and not fun right now. The thought of seeking publication/ marketing sounds like self-imposed torture. (Just like Leslie, I have the tendency to be a *smidge* hyperbolic.) I just do not have the creative energy to pursue that at this stage of my life.

 

It’s honestly terrifying to type out those words. I know there are lots of people who might be rolling their eyes at this post and saying, “Really? That’s what’s stopping her? She just couldn’t cut it, I guess.” I also didn’t want to admit to myself that writing wasn’t working for me. Haven’t I wanted to be an author since I was 12? I’ve literally been working toward this dream for over a decade. Does this mean I’m a failure, or worse, that I’m giving up on my dream? What do I do now?

 

I don’t know the answer to the last question, but for right now I’m trying to show myself grace. I’m still writing down random story ideas and journaling. I’m trying to read about other interests/ think of new things I’d like to try. And Teddy has told me 1500 times that even if I stop writing now, I can always come back to it. I’m *finally* starting to sort of believe him.

 

I keep thinking about the recall vote that kicked Leslie off of city council. That setback didn’t stop Leslie Knope, and this won’t stop me either.

 

Note: If you are working on a novel or other big project, this post is NOT intended to discourage you! This post is talking about how writing isn’t working for me right now. I’ll be the first to cheer you on from the sidelines! Go get ‘em, tiger!

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February Round-Up

Vinal Edge Records
Loved the posters outside Vinal Edge Records in the Heights. (And no, that’s not a typo.)

 

Happy first day of March everybody! I know it’s totally a cliche to say “I can’t believe it’s March already,” but since February really is shorter than the other months, I think we get a free pass on that one. February was also WAY better and WAY busier than January, so it seemed to go by in 2 days instead of 29.

 

Between double birthdays AND Valentine’s Day in the same week and a college friend coming to visit, it was a really fun month! But I’ve also been dealing waking up at 2 am with debilitating stomach problems once or twice a week, so that’s been not-so fun. I went in for an ultrasound a couple weeks ago, and tomorrow’s my follow-up appointment to see if it’s gallbladder-related. (We’re 99.9% sure that it is, but we’re not sure if I’ll have to have it out or not.) Hopefully we’ll have some more information tomorrow!

 

killer chai latte
Great chai latte from Coffeeshop Company

 

Luckily I didn’t have any gallbladder issues this weekend, because it was jam-packed! We played Top Golf, went to a new coffee place (that’s part of an Austrian coffee company!) where I got a killer chai latte. Then we went to see Deadpool for the second time, which I really liked. NOT kid-friendly, but really funny, and such a nice break from the super “gritty” superhero movies that are all the rage right now. (Seriously, is anyone else over all the superheros hating each other constantly? It’s getting soooo old!) If you’re worried that Deadpool will be too gory for you, I’m super squeamish and I still enjoyed it… although I did close my eyes a few times. So please don’t hate me if you go see it and you totally hate it!

 

 

Coloring chairs while watching carpenters make them on Ellen's Design Challenge.
Coloring chairs while watching carpenters make them on Ellen’s Design Challenge.

 

Between the busy moments, I’ve been journaling a lot, which is TOTALLY new for me. I’m usually the least consistent journal-er ever, but I’ve just been thinking of it as an “idea notebook,” so there’s less pressure to write a perfect description of every little thing that happened every single day. Plus I’ve been writing lists of good and bad things for each week, so I can look back and see good memories but also remember when I had that really bad gallbladder attack. So far it’s been working really well for me!

 

How are you guys doing lately? It’s starting to feel like spring here in Texas, which I am LOVING! Spring turns to summer really quickly here, so I’m trying to soak up all the cool breezes while they’re here. Speaking of Texas, I wrote a Houston City Guide over at The Collaboreat last month, and it was really fun! So if you’re coming to Houston soon, or just like reading about Texas, you should definitely check it out! 🙂

 

I hope you guys have a great week! xo

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