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A 2021 Writing Update

This is a bit weird, I’ll concede. It’s mid-August and I’m posting a writing update that will cover all of 2021 so far. The timing is wonky, but it’s been a wonky kind of year.

For the greater part of 2021, I was unable to write. There were moments in between, a week here and there when the words jumped obediently onto the screen, but mostly, nothing. No time, no energy, no inspiration. For someone as in love with writing as I am, this has been one of the strangest times in my life.

This is what I’ve come to learn.

I couldn’t write because I was burned out.

Still am, in some regards, but it’s getting more manageable.

I don’t believe in writer’s block. Dig into the archives of my blog, and you’ll find the evidence of that belief sprinkled everywhere. My mantra has always been ‘butt in chair and do the work’. Even when I don’t know what to write, all I need is to type that first sentence, and the rest is sure to follow.

But while I don’t believe in writer’s block, I do believe in mental health. And mine has been on the lower side.

Besides the external factors, 2020/21 has dragged a lot of personal problems (and loads of pressure) with it. And if there’s one thing I know well about myself, it’s that I don’t perform under pressure. I’ve had to reconnect with my schedule, remove all the non-urgent items from my to-do list, and allow myself a moment here and there to do nothing. Rest.

I guess my generation was raised to hustle. The main hustle, the side hustle, the friends and family hustle, and every other hustle in between. Because let’s face it, we start handling everything like a business. We celebrate being able to list how many things we complete in a day. We celebrate not sitting still.

For me, this constant hustle translated into zero time to recharge. Insane work hours (I run an indie art business on the side) and unending busyness with chores, mom-duties, or adulting meant never relaxing.

Since the beginning of June, I’ve scheduled time to sketch in my drawing journal. It’s just 25 mins every day, but the practise has helped me reconnect with my creativity and offers me a short time every day just to get my thoughts in order. Those 25 mins have led to taking actual breaks. Unscheduled ones. And that has done wonders for my soul.

I’m still not feeling totally myself. Between anxiety and depression, it’s been a rough year, but I’m finding my way out of the dark.

A more manageable headspace means more focus, and in turn makes it possible for me to actually write.

So, I’ve just started revisions on A Curse of Venom & Scales. Beta feedback has helped me realise what has been wrong with this manuscript all along, and I’m SO RELIEVED. I knew something was off, but couldn’t pinpoint what. Of course, knowing means rewrites.

Initially, I thought the rewrites would only influence certain storylines, but I’ve accepted this process will be more substantial than I’d suspected at first. And I’m fine with that. Rewriting now means I’ll get to keep the story I’d planned for Books 4 and 5, and that makes me happy.

Also, being back with my favourite cast of characters sparks joy. It feels like catching up with old friends! My mood is greatly improved by being able to write their antics again.

Then, I’m finally rewriting the first three books I ever completed. I’ve spoken about this trilogy before, if you’re interested. But basically, the story is good and the grammar SUCKS.

I’m going to have to uncomplicate the plot a lot. Why? Well, I introduce 32 characters within the first 2 chapters, for example. Not all of the plot lines make sense, not all of the characters have agency (and how could they? there are so many) and not all of the secondary plots are needed for the main story to function.

The idea is to polish all three books, then publish them in close succession. Since most of the groundwork has been done, I think I’ll be able to cut some of the steps of the publishing process from the mix. You might even see them sooner than expected. I’m excited about this project, friends. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Finally, I’m working on a mythology retelling with a gaslamp fantasy flavour. I started this project kind of tongue-in-cheek, but have fallen so completely in love with the characters that I can’t imagine not completing this story. Unfortunately, I’ve had the least time for this one. I’ll get to it once the others are done.

And that wraps up this writing update.

Thanks for stopping by.

Yolandie

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