Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Words Fail Me

I have been in a very deep writing rut these last eight months or so. My second novel was all set to be sent to my editor last October. I had grand plans to publish it in 2017 but then the wheels fell off the bus. My quiet, structured life got squirrelly last fall. Between family illnesses, family businesses, day job stressers and perhaps a bit of a mid-life crisis, I found myself putting the brakes on my book and not writing anything. (Yes, this blog was still fairly regular, but I did a lot of sharing of old posts to limp through the worst of it.)

Now with spring taking its first tentative steps again, I find myself itching to take some steps as well. I have been feeling rudder-less and lethargic, unable to get motivated to do any creative project, in able to focus. And my friends will tell you that when I am not knee-deep in reading a stack of books, taking a class, making a quilt, AND writing a book, I feel like I am floundering.

I have felt lost but It seems the universe conspires to point us in the direction of our wildest wishes. My inbox and Facebook feed have suddenly been inundated with invitations to try some writing classes or new books on story structure. Fellow bloggers are posting feverishly about every aspect of the novel, from character arcs to subplots and description. And every one of them seems like something I need.

Unfortunately, I am still not at a place in my life that will allow me to jump back into the Book 2 project yet. Self-publishing is not free after all if you want to enlist the assistance of a top-notch editor and cover designer. And when I stop to contemplate the cost of all the classes that are calling to me, a tiny voice gently reminds me that I most-likely already own a book (or 12!) that will teach the same topic.

Now, confession time, I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to books. (No comments from my husband, please! 🙂 ) I have how-to books on every aspect of novel and short story writing that I could possibly need. The trick is picking one up, reading it from cover to cover and actually implementing the strategies they outline. That is where the lack of time, energy and focus has been plaguing me.

Like so many writers and artists, time is always a factor. The day job takes so much of it and drains me of the needed energy to run headlong into a pile of words and just create for hours on end. When I do have some time, I feel unable to focus because there seems to be so many projects that need my attention and so many worries that need my brain.

The same holds true for reading for the pure joy of it. It just hasn’t happened lately. I am the type of person who always has a book going. ALWAYS. Finish one, and I am rummaging in my to-be-read pile immediately. The last half-year or so? Not so much. I have started many and finished very few. The few I get through took forever. And it has nothing to do with the quality of the writing and the story. Too much stress and a serious case of brain fog has made it hard to focus.

So my gift to myself right now is to pick one book from the writing craft pile and one book from the fiction pile and just soak it all in. I am going to allow myself the luxury of just reading for a few months and not worrying about putting pen to paper (or fingers on the keys). I will try my best not to feel guilty about it. That is the hardest part for me!

This is a writer’s work, too. Everything we read is fodder for our story. It all teaches us what we like and what we don’t like. It shows us different approaches to the page and how others who have gone before us have handled a sticky plot point. And I am long overdue to remind myself of this. Plus I really need a little magic in my life, and what better place to find it than books!? It’s my hope that in reading, I will find my way back to filling the page.


  1. Cheryl, I so feel this. Not having the emotional space, the time, the resources- financial, emotional- to be the writer you yearn to be is soul-crushing. I went from writing full-time to a full-time day job this past year and it stomped on my brain, my lungs, my heart. Seven months in and I’m finding my way through to the page again, but it hasn’t been without a lot of gnashing of teeth and a river of tears.

    I’ve just finished reading Lisa Cron’s Story Genius, in preparation for my 4th novel and in my attempt to move away from pantsing to a more reasoned approach, as this new project demands. I highly recommend it. Particularly if you are already familiar with ‘Wired for Story”

    And if you ever need a compassionate but hard-core story editor, I’m here in the front row, waving my hand. I’d love to work with you!

    • Thank you so much! I am always looking for book recommendations. We can never have enough, can we!? I am ashamed to note that when I went to Amazon to immediately search for these two, I discovered that I own them and have buried them somewhere on my kindle! Despite having all the kindle purchases divided into folders by genre and writing-craft, business, etc, I still manage to forget about what I have in there. Will be going home tonight and moving them out of their folders so they are staring at me whenever I am looking for my next read. 🙂 Also, it is very good to know that I am not alone in my starvation of time and resources.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: