Dear Past Writer-Self

13 years ago today, I finished writing my first novel.

Heyo, blog! It’s been a minute. Not having written in ages makes maintaining a writing blog, well, like a frying pan: hard. Who knew, right?

Anyway, August 31 is a special day, since in 2008, on that date, I finished my very first full-length novel.

It must have been pretty exciting, considering how many exclamation points I used on the page written in red pen in a spiral notebook when I wrote The End on a novel for the first time.

That was half my life ago now.

Since then?

  • I’ve finished some half-dozen novels, a couple of novellas, and a couple dozen short stories.
  • I have several other tales in various stages along the way.
  • Haven’t published anything.
  • I’ve given up on some publishing dreams, had new ones, given up on those, and need to probably poke one or the other of those dreams awake again one of these days. (The problem with dreams is they’re always napping on the job.)

I can’t help but compare my excited 13-year-old self who had just finished her first novel in a spiral-bound notebook (I think it was like 95K words), who was on top of the moon and enjoyed writing for the sake of it, to my half-my-lifetime-later mid-twenties self who hasn’t written in four months due to . . . something.

If I figure out what, that might help. Exhaustion both physical and emotional, busyness, lack of focus . . . something. I know I should give my writer self the benefit of the doubt — I’ve been dealing with a lot in my life this year and I have a job, neither of which my 13-year-old writer self would understand.

But the fact remains that my writing has been nonexistent or barely-there for a long time now.

My stories are not silent. I’ve had several brainstorms for several of my WIPs these last few months. They knock on the door of my mind, often without warning, sometimes without even knocking — simply barreling the door down and presenting me with new mind-blowing revelations about plots and characters and settings and storylines that I’ve been neglecting on-page for too long.

My stories are not silent. They are alive and bursting with new brainstorms — sometimes a torrential thunderstorm, sometimes a quiet flickering summer lightning storm if I’m busy or tired. But I’m always discovering new things about them as they simmer on the back burner like a patient oatmeal or a scientific experiment waiting to fizzle over and explode — not sure which.

My stories are not silent. It’s only my pen that is.

2020 was bad for my writing. 2021 has been worse.

In 2020 I wrote less than 40% of what I usually write. In 2021, so far, 2/3rds in, I’ve written less than 40% of what I wrote in 2020.

I have a coiled-threads mess of feelings about this that I’m having a hard time untangling.

  • Sadness — I haven’t been writing.
  • Super Stressed — Will I ever write again?
  • Resigned — Well, I’m busy and have no energy, so there’s nothing I can do about it right now.
  • Apathetic — Okay but do I really care tho’ [*slaps apathetic self who is probably just tired*]
  • Be-kind-to-yourself — Life is stressful and this non-writing is just a season. Breathe. And stop feeling guilty, for the love of frying pans. (Who knew, right?)

I’m not sure which of these is . . . the real thing . . . if there is one.

Did I mention I overthink things? 😛

Dear 13-year-old-me:

I’m so proud of you for finishing that first novel! Ethan and company (okay, mostly your Duncan obsession, and the bears too) are in written-book form, and regardless of what happens to it in the future, that’s something awesome.

If you could write a letter to me now, I wonder what you would say?

Would you be impressed at what I’ve written since then? Would you be disappointed I haven’t published anything? Flabbergasted that I could go four months without writing a single thing? Confused at how I’ve managed to make everything that used to be a joy about writing and reading into a chore?

Would you tell me to find my joy again? To write for the fun of it? To breathe in and out and forget that I have failed so many times and instead to just start again?

Start again . . .

That brings to mind the song “Start Again” by Red. (Listen. Or lyrics.) It’s one of the theme songs for two brothers in my WIP The Other Half of Everything.

I’m singing it in my head, to you, past-self. (Even though you don’t like rock music yet.)

Can we start again?

Love, your future (now present) mid-twenties writer-self

16 thoughts on “Dear Past Writer-Self

  1. *hugs* We all go through dry spells sometimes. This season will pass and you’ll pick up your pen again. And, let’s be real. 2020 and 2021 are years to be kind to yourself, with all the world’s crazy having been taken up to 11.

    I love your letter to your 13-year-old self.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is so much in this blog post I can relate to. *Hugs* All I can say is, yes, it sounds like it’s a season and though it’s painful, it will pass. Your writing and your stories will always be inside you … just look at how they’ve been bursting in on you! … and you’ll be able to once again put them down on paper/computer file. I hope the joy of writing overtakes you sooner rather than later! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy anniversary to such a HUGE accomplishment!!! There really is nothing like reaching the end of that first ever story. ❤

    I'm so sorry you've been experiencing such an awful writer's drought. But I think 13-year-old Celti would be completely proud and in awe of you. She'd be so proud at how MANY epic stories you've created, the fact that you got to go to TWO writer's conferences, how you've come into such a huge community of other writer friends, how you literally built your own business and work so, so hard, and just how very MUCH you bless the entire writing community. Writing isn't word counts and keeping a consistent schedule, it's so many things, all of which you excel at continuously. And, as you said, your stories are not silent. But your LIFE isn't silent right now either, and sometimes there just isn't enough time and/or energy to pick up the pen, and that's okay. It's okay to allow seasons of quiet words. To live and let the stories percolate. There WILL be seasons of many word counts, but the other seasons are important too.

    Love you so much, dear Celti. As Sarah said, these past couple of years absolutely are ones to show kindness and patience to ourselves. Brighter days WILL come. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Honestly I think writing during 2020/2021 is just really hard 😕 I’ve been worrying about how little I’ve been writing too, but I know I have to accept that a lot of times writer’s block is usually code for either depression or stress for me. I hope you (and I) get back into the writing groove, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ‘Be-kind-to-yourself — Life is stressful and this non-writing is just a season. Breathe. And stop feeling guilty, for the love of frying pans. (Who knew, right?).

    (Flynn Rider has entered the chat haha)

    But for reals – DO be kind to yourself. Life is so big and so MUCH. One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn re writing is just how slow it is. How you can’t just churn things out. How finishing a novel takes so long and editing takes longer.

    And that is so frustrating! Because you read about people churning out book after book – but they aren’t us and we aren’t them. And we never were supposed to be. (Comparison is the thief of joy.)

    I guess – the thing I’m trying to learn is to be patient, and to try to enjoy the journey – even if it is very, very slow. Even if it takes years. Even when life and the living of it take up all available time. It’s okay.

    You’ve got this. The stories in your soul aren’t going to go anywhere. They will wait for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, I’m so sorry to hear that! *hugs* I love your writing so much and was just thinking the other day about your Falling Snow sequel I got to read a couple of chapters of. I hope the writing groove comes back for you! And thank you for the encouragement. ❤

      Like

  6. I love this so much and I relate so much. ❤️ Since March 2020 I’ve only written a fanfiction and done a little editing, and I’m learning to see that as okay. These (almost two!) years have done a number on us all emotionally, I think, and a little grace is a good thing.

    Adore your metaphors, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

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