Hachi Bliss - fireflys_locket

Fluttering Nerves

I've been creating. Writing parts of Book Three, taking outline notes for future books, editing parts of back burner stories, even making formatting templates for myself so I (hopefully) don't have to stress as much about that stuff later.

But even in the midst of doing *exactly* what I want to be doing - creating without the use of pressure - I'm still second guessing myself. Can I really do this? Can I follow my intuition no matter what and ignore the structure and rules others preach - for the sake of feeling alive and free and creative again? I feel so nervous all of the time, like I'm doing something wrong and might get scolded.

I've never resonated much with zodiac horoscopes. They tend to paint Geminis as extroverted and energetic, which is so not me. (I relate more to Cancer!) But The Pattern app* has been surprisingly on the mark for me in most cases. They also sometimes have discussions that are thought-provoking. (This is not an ad. I promise I'm going somewhere with this.) A few days ago, someone was answering a prompt about creativity by saying they didn't feel like they were worthy to create. And I related so much!

Yes, I am a self-published author with two finished novels and (probably) more on the way, and I still constantly feel like I'm not worthy. That I don't deserve to create. Particularly in the way that fulfills me the most, ignoring writing conventions and "rules" and allowing myself to follow my inspiration. But deep down, I truly believe creativity is a birthright! You don't have to earn it. You don't need anyone's "permission". And you don't have to follow the "rules". Just follow your heart.

I've mentioned this before, but freedom can be scary. When you're living by your intuition and your own set of rules, doubts spring up. It can feel like butterflies, or maybe a flock of birds, are living in your chest. That fluttering activity can be exciting and terrifying at the same time.

I've been observing in myself that excitement can turn so quickly into anxiety. My brain almost reads them as the exact same thing. But that doesn't mean the excitement isn't there. That I shouldn't try to embrace it when I'm able.

*Some people think The Pattern app is listening to them through their phone, so download with caution, I guess! 😅
Kikyo Red - margyydoodle

Detours

Part of me so desperately wants to be "writing again", claiming the active identity of writer and author. Another part of me is screaming out in fear, "Please don't make me do that ever again!" My last writing journey was such a difficult one. It was like bleeding words out onto the page. And that was so fulfilling and cathartic when I could lose myself in the process. But the rest of the time my mind was relentlessly attacking me with fears. "They will hate it. They will hate you."

If that's what "writing again" is, I can't go back there. My mental health just cannot take it anymore. But maybe I don't want to think of "taking a break" and "writing again" as an on/off switch. Maybe I don't want to be "working" or "not working" as two separate states of being. Maybe I want to return to the natural ebb and flow of inspiration I had before I was an author: where everything I did was part of a summoning ritual for inspiration, but none of it was done in service of creating a "product".

I rejoiced in the flow of stories constantly coming to me, through me, and living within me. I didn't read to "harvest" inspiration or keep up with "trends". I drank from the well of stories (in many forms) because it was part of keeping myself alive. I breathed stories in like fresh air, because they were one of the only things keeping me breathing. I wrote because there was magic surging up in me, and I had to open my heart and let it out, giving stories back as a gift to the world, from my most authentic self.

I know. Maybe this sounds "crazy" to you. That it's too good to be true. Writing can't always be that good, that natural, that... easy. And no, it can't. Not entirely. There will be times of struggle. Times where you have to push a little in order to make progress. But even in those times of "pushing forward", you can still trust in your intuition to guide you along the way.

Maybe the "blocks" we face as creators are as key to the process as anything else. And we actually make it worse by resisting, by struggling against the block or trying to ignore it. By even calling it a "block", instead of a detour. Maybe sometimes obstacles are detours in the right direction.
Lovely Reflection - amethystia

I Was There

I'm in a very weird space of "in-between" right now. Not totally done with marketing for Book Two, but also already wanting to move on from it. I'm not going to put so much energy into the marketing this time. That's a conscious choice I am making for my own mental health. But I do have some more snippets to share with you once I've rested a bit.

Full Disclosure: I got my second vaccine shot last week, and it hit me hard. I was feverish and miserable for two days. And I'm still exhausted and anxious from the whole thing. But it is better than getting the virus and potentially getting a blood clot due to one of my assorted weird health issues.

I'm also still emotionally reeling from the anniversary of leaving high school. I'm continuing to dive into old memories, conversations, and papers from back then. And for the most part, it honestly makes me feel better. There's some solid proof that I was there.

I was there... I was there... I was there...

It's not just a dream. It's not just a story I told myself about another lifetime. I was part of those schools. I was a part of those people's lives, even in some tiny, forgettable way. Because sometimes, in this "life" I have now, I don't feel real. I feel like I'm fading away. Like my reality gets lost in vivid dreams and stories. I know who I am almost completely. But I'm not sure that I exist outside of myself. Or at least, how.

Do people really know who I am? Do they care? What parts of me are people picking up on? Which ones do they have no idea about? I try to be completely open and honest whenever I can. I feel like I bare my soul at any possible occasion. But there are still parts of me I'm not sure how to share, for fear of rejection or being misunderstood.

This got more depressing than I intended. But that's the thing about being vulnerable. You have to show the dark with the light. I released a book that was extremely vulnerable and hard to share with the world. And now, I'm tired.

I'm processing. I'm grieving. Remembering the past with equal parts of anguish and gratitude. I can't trade the life I was given. The pain I carried. I have to accept that. Over and over again. For the rest of my life.
Back to Back (Sora/Kairi) - mowd_icons

March 2021 Favorites

Well, I'm no longer a one-book-wonder! And I feel more like an author now that I have two books released. Of course, with that, comes the potential for more pressure and stress, but let's unpack that later. It's favorites time!

To All the Boys Series: I'm not the biggest rom-com person. I don't have a particular affinity for fake dating. But from the first book, to the first movie, and a listen to the audiobooks, I've been very invested in Lara Jean's story. I've now read all of the books and watched all of the movies. And while the second book was a bit of a disappointment for me, I loved how the series ended. I've appreciated Lara Jean and her introverted nature, love of family, and "quirky" cuteness. The books and movies have been a bit of a comfort read/watch over the last few years. The last book had a wistful, nostalgic feel that made me wish I'd had a senior year, graduation, or promising future (that anxiety stole away from me). But even the sad parts were sad in exactly the right way, fitting Lara Jean's character. Hope always shining through. (Watch on Netflix.)

Clannad (Anime): About ten years ago, I watched Clannad (and After Story), and fell completely in love with this sweet and sad anime. The characters are wonderful, and their stories are often very moving by the end of their arc. I did leave some of the less-compelling arcs out of my memory, but as a whole, Clannad is still a fantastic anime, and that last quarter of the show is still as heartbreaking and beautiful as ever. (Watch on Netflix.)

OCRemix: I've always been a fan of video game music, and I've collected a lot of soundtracks over the years. Game remixes have come onto my radar now and again, particularly the Final Fantasy VII: Voices from the Lifestream album OverClocked Remix put out years ago. But lately, I've been exploring more of the excellent remixes the site has to offer! (Current favorites are "Aqua Wave" from DKC and "Above the Rising Falls" from Kingdom Hearts!)

Other Music Favs: Nite Swim (Luna Shadows), Stitches (Mr. Little Jeans), Give You Up (Dido), Colors (Halsey), Sober (Lorde), Last Forever (Echosmith), Feel Alive (Katie Herzig), The Lakes (Taylor Swift), and *anything* by Kina Grannis!
Rinoa Sky - whispyr

Trusting Your Journey

Today is a weird day for me. It's the anniversary of the last day I attended school before the panic attacks forced me to drop out... half my life ago. For the last week, I've been obsessing in my head about things that happened in the past. Which is not at all surprising.

What is surprising is that it hasn't been all bad. I think I'm building up inspiration for this next arc of Magic Inc. And also, the other stories I want to move forward with. I'm just starting to feel the pull to write for the love of it again. To just explore and feel the emotions of following character journeys. And this is where I want my motivation to come from now. Not pressure. Not my obsessive brain.

"What if readers hate the book? What if they don't even care? What will I work on next? Should I take a break? Should I continue to focus on the series of my heart? Or try focusing on another story that might sell better? What if they hate that, too? What if they hate me?" These are just a few things that have been racing through my brain since releasing Book Two. My mind can be a dark place. But these things are not where I want to put my focus. I want to focus on my love of telling stories. My love of art.

We limit ourselves when we put the biggest importance on what we think others want from our work. It's so hard to follow your own path and feel that empowering freedom if you're tied down by what you think everyone wants from you. It's natural for your mind to worry or compare, but in the end, to do the best for your mental health and the heart of your writing, you have to start listening to yourself.

Seek your love affair with art for art's sake. Tell the stories that are flowing through you. You can, of course, gain inspiration from other people's creative journeys, but trust in your own. That's what I'll be trying to do from now on.
Free Falling (Serah) - whispyr

Flying Through the Trees

I'm on a journey to reclaim my love of writing and writing done out of love. To not force, to not pressure. To write only for myself, when it flowed out of me. The freedom has been both healing and terrifying at the same time. The feeling of pursuing your own path is like flying through the trees. You're soaring one moment, then dizzy on the ground the next, wondering if you were "crazy" to set off on this path alone instead of the well-worn one.

But it isn't "crazy" to go your own way. It's brave and authentic to follow your intuition, whether that leads you to follow the "normal" path or to make your own path through the trees. Trusting yourself feels so beautiful and authentic, but it can be scary, too, if you have an anxious brain like mine! Letting go, no longer clinging to what you thought you had to, is flying and falling at the same time.

It can be so hard for me to not equate my value with being productive or selling books. I know that art has its own value and that creating in the wild unknown is freeing and flowing. And I love that. But my brain tells me if I don't get any writing or planning or editing done, I'm worthless.

That's just not true. We all have an inherent value. Just for being a living, breathing human. Our culture is obsessed with working hard and producing something tangible to prove our value. And there's nothing wrong with those things! But there's more to life than that.

I told myself I was taking this year off from pressure. But I'm still struggling to trust that I'm on the right path, at least during the dry spells. Even though needing breaks is completely natural, we tend to question our worth during these times instead of using them to rest and breathe and live.

And yes, it does come back. It always does. And yet, somewhere in my brain, I always fear it won't. But we have to allow ourselves the breaks when we need them. It's hard to let go and trust the process. But I'm going my own way anyhow. And even though I have a long journey ahead to accepting myself and my process, I'm proud of myself for that.
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Jane (Book One) - fireflys_locket

Time and Age

The last few days have been rough. Even though the final steps of the publishing process went way more smoothly than last time, I feel very burned out after spending most of the last three years trying to "perfect" my first two books, with only a couple of real breaks throughout.

I'm also approaching the anniversary of when my panic attacks got so bad that I had to drop out of high school. Come the end of this month, I'll have been out of school for as long as I was in school, which feels very, very strange given that I feel like I could blink and be fifteen again.

Time has always felt odd to me. When I was Jane's age in Book Two, I felt like I was an adult trapped in a child's body. Now, as an adult with a very sheltered, small, panic-ridden life, I feel like a child, or at least, a teenager. Either way, I've always felt out of touch with people my own age. Always felt both ahead and behind. (But now, mostly behind.)

There's no moral to this story. I don't have any grand advice or meaning for you to absorb. But I feel for you if you have some anniversary you're grieving right now. Even if it's just a year of quarantine. That's plenty to grieve on its own.
Jane (Book One) - fireflys_locket

Magic and Soul: A Magic Inc. Book Two Excerpt

“My Dad always said I was talented. That I was meant for great things. But I never really understood why. I mean, I come from a powerful family, but… I never – I barely had to work at it. Magic just came easily to me. For a while, as a child, I was fascinated with the idea of being powerful or exceptional. Especially when I thought about how different I felt from the other kids. But then… it started to feel pointless. I was good, but I never got any better because there was no reason to. No motivation. So, I – well, I had to look for a reason.”

“Did you find one?”

Chaz chuckled. “Yeah, I did. And it was important, so I trained hard. And I did get better. But I still felt like I didn’t deserve to be so powerful. Like the power wasn’t even mine, and was only given to me to fulfill a purpose that could have easily been someone else’s. That’s why I get so – obsessed, I guess – with running Magic Inc. sometimes. It was something I had to learn to do on my own. I mean, through my Dad’s help, but… I really had to work at it. It may give me a lot of stress, especially now, but when I do make something happen, I know I did it on my own. I earned it.”

I smiled, then thought for a moment. “It’s good that you love your work. And that you want to work hard. I know that’s admirable. I just don’t think you should feel bad about being powerful. About having something so special come naturally to you. Because isn’t magic, like, a part of your soul? Even if you didn’t have to work at it so much, you should be proud that it’s a part of you. It’s your strength of soul, the connection to who you are, that makes you powerful. It does belong to you.”

Chaz looked surprised. “I… well, never thought of it that way.”

“Maybe you were meant to fulfill a role, but that doesn’t mean that’s why you’re powerful. Maybe you were chosen because you are powerful already,” I continued. “And I don’t think having a destiny means that we don’t have any say in it. That we don’t get to decide what it is. It’s only that some part of us has decided already.”

“You are incredibly insightful, Jane,” Chaz said, shaking his head. “I’m not sure if you’re right – no one can really know how this works – but when you say it with such certainty, I believe you.”

I wasn’t really sure why I was so certain. Just that I still believed we were meant to be together, and that I would have chosen that life no matter what options were in front of me. But I wasn’t sure he would feel the same.

“Would you choose this life?” I asked, quietly. “If you could just be normal. Free from your responsibilities. Just a college student, studying game design?”

“There are things I would change if I could,” Chaz replied, sadly. And I knew he was thinking of his father again. “But yes,” he said, looking into my eyes with sincerity, “I would choose this life.”

~

My favorite part of writing Magic Inc. has never been the magic. As fun and whimsical as writing fantasy can be, I've always been drawn to conversations between characters over anything else. Maybe it's part of being a classic introvert, but I love deep conversations in both life and writing. And what is writing if not life? Especially, for me and Magic Inc.

Jane and Chaz's deep conversations have been my favorite thing to write over the course of Book One and Two. They relate to and balance each other so well. Jane, with her passion and emotion and the pain of someone beyond her age. And Chaz, with shared experiences of feeling different and his introspective deep thinking of someone a little older. Jane inspires Chaz to dream and believe in himself, and Chaz comforts her when she's in pain with his understanding and empathy. He sees her in a way that no one else does, and for Jane, who is so mistreated and misunderstood by her classmates, that's everything.

This is one of those moments where Jane is able to connect with her own soul and speak words beyond her years. Chaz doesn't talk down to her. He respects her thoughts and beliefs. Children are not just children, they are humans, too. With their own passions and pains, "positive" and "negative" traits, and unique experiences.

As Taylor Swift would say, "When you are young, they assume you know nothing." But Jane's innocence of spirit, in spite of her trauma, allows her to connect to something I think we (as adults) have to relearn our connection to: intuition.

Chaz shows Jane the compassion and understanding I wish I'd had as a child. In a small, strange way, his words are often me reaching back to comfort my younger self.
~
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