I haven't been posting to social media. Or this blog. I've been completely MIA.
What the hell is going on with me?
Well, I honestly don't know, but I'll do my best to parse it for you here.
I've been in some strange mental space where time just slips through my fingers. After the stress I've been through in the last few years--a failed marriage, the separation, divorce, dating (hell in and of itself), moving to another state, all of this along with struggling with both my depression and my chronic fatigue syndrome flaring up again recently,
--and all of this with children, I might add--
I just shut down.
I seemed to spiral inside myself for a while and be... well... utterly selfish for a change. I indulged in things I wanted to do. Things like playing video games with my kids and my partner. Watching YouTube with my 10-year-old. Doing crafts of many types--everything from knitting, to making friendship bracelets, to kumihimo, to drawing, watercolor, and gouache. Learning to spin yarn on a spinning wheel I've had stored in my garage for almost a decade because I never felt I had TIME.
In essense, I took an unintentional sabbatical to refresh and recharge. It wasn't planned. It just happened.
Now, this isn't something I haven't done before--I always take some time off after launching a book because I'm exhausted from the struggle of it all. This time it just lasted a lot longer.
Before you take up arms against me: Yes, I enjoy writing, don't get me wrong, it is one of the greatest joys of my life!
But writing takes a lot of mental energy. And I just didn't have that anymore.
And what you may not realize is that there is such a PUSH to get the next book out all the time. I constantly get emails, messages, and social media posts from people, even within 24 hours of a book release, asking when the next book is going to launch. And I get it--you have enjoyed the book! That makes me incredibly happy and I'm ecstatic to be so successful in my endeavors!
However, that constant sense of pressure also created, I think, some small sense of rebellion inside me. It's a lot stress to keep pushing so hard for so long. It's hard to be creative in that headspace. And I was tired. I felt worn out. Depleted. Like I wasn't even myself anymore. I was a ball of tension and I was unhappy.
Add to that, thanks to the way generic drugs are formulated in this country, (that could be a whole blog post in and of itself) I have been struggling with depression. And my chronic fatigue syndrome has been intermittently flaring up. There are days when just taking a shower is so exhausting that I have to rest for an hour or two afterward before I can continue on with my day. This is just the state of energy within my body. It's not something within my control. Please--no unsolicited advice on this, I'm under a doctor's care, I've researched my illness to the point of distraction, I'm doing everything I can in this vein.
Now, none of this was something I thought about much on a conscious level. But I was definitely avoiding what I saw as work. Once I gave myself that little bit of permission to do something fun... it got easier and easier to indulge myself. I let go and let myself do things I enjoyed for a change instead of constantly checking email and social media and worrying about what I was writing and how fast I was writing and whether what I was writing was good enough.
That said, there has always been guilt. Lots and lots of guilt. We don't get away with being a grasshopper for long when we've always been an ant.
Previous to this, I didn't even let myself have fun on weekends. I didn't have any work-life balance. I believed that I had to keep the momentum going every single day. That I had to write something. Or plan something. Or advertise something. That I had to stay on top of social media.
I had burned myself out.
During this sabbatical, I decided to write 3 short books in another genre with a pen name to try to clear my head, but that didn't work. They were supposed to be short and easy and then I'd get right back to the Confluence series. They weren't.
It was still hard.
I made a committment to other people to finish those and I honor my committments. They are half done. I can't even tell you the release date for the next Confluence book until that project is finished. Otherwise, I'll be setting myself up to go right back to that spiral that led me here to begin with.
So, where am I now?
My mental space feels unfettered, uncluttered... I'm supremely happy for the first time in a long time. When I write, I feel full of joy. I catch myself smiling to myself, and having the words get away from me instead of constantly glancing at my word-count targets as I grind through the words. In other words, I'm in a much better place, thanks to this time I gave myself.
I've been slowly getting back into the hustle, but trying to find work-life balance.
I'm trying not to be the hermit in my office staring at a screen all day and NOT being a part of the world too. I want to read, watch tv sometimes, laugh with my kids, have hobbies I enjoy, but still be proficient in my work.
So I set myself to getting back to everything about 3 or so weeks ago. Things were going fine and then whammo! The universe hit me (and my entire family) with the nastiest common cold virus I've ever experienced. I'm still coughing. So that "reset" ended up being a soft launch. But I'm back in the game now.
So yes, there will be more Confluence books. They are coming. Bear with me. I'm sorry I can't give you specifics or dates. But they are in me, planned, plotted, sorted. They will be coming.
And yes, I'm suffering the financial consequences of not writing much or releasing a book for a good long time. We're in full-on frugal mode here at the Wells ranch in Pennsylvania. So, tell a friend about my books! ;D
(Update on the audio book of Vengeance: it seems my narrator is going through something similar to what I've described in my life. It's my understanding that the book is nearly done being recorded. Stay tuned on that and I'm sorry for the delay, but it's been out of my hands.)
So, that's it. That's me being vulnerable.
Look, I realize we ALL have our thing that challenges us, that makes our lives difficult. I'm not special. In some ways, we're all grinding our way through our lives. I'm not even saying I coped with my own challenges well (Clearly not--I'm in financial distress because of it.). I'm just telling you what happened and how I got to where I am now, hopefully in a way you can understand. I'm not asking for sympathy, just understanding.
Since I'm getting so many emails asking me what is up, well, I thought I'd better 'fess up.
And I hope that if this post gives you any insight, it's that we all need to find the things that make us happy and make time for them. All work and no play... makes for very grumpy folks.
I'm back on track and production of more content is under way.
May you find joy in the things you love.
Jennifer Foehner Wells
I'm an author of the Space Opera variety.