This is me. Being vulnerable.
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.
6/6/2019 02:31:59 pm
Aww, Jen! I feel your pain in spades. I, too, grapple with depression and fatigue. I'm still surprised at how long it takes for me to recoup after a task or event. As if I didn't see it coming. Yes, they become stumbling blocks unless, like you, we find time and space to visit with our true selves routinely. I wish you well upon your new journey.
6/6/2019 03:04:22 pm
Your comment is so kind. Thank you. That's exactly what I feel like I've been doing--revisiting my true inner self and letting my inner child play for a little bit.
6/6/2019 02:46:02 pm
Welcome back, Jen. None of this (life) is easy. We have peaks and valleys -- even you, even me. When we gain understanding, knowledge, even without clear and obvious solutions, we get better. You're better now, and we (your friends) are happy for you.
6/6/2019 03:05:33 pm
Thank you, Simon. Your message warms my heart and makes this transition easier.
7/22/2019 08:19:18 pm
I hope you feel better I to vent don't let things like that get to u I'm working on me and remember enjoy life do what makes u happy, waiting on number 6 stay sweet beautiful .
6/6/2019 03:20:39 pm
I have enjoyed all of your books but without you in the Best frame of mind there won't be any more so you get Better first thanks Brendan
6/6/2019 03:58:18 pm
Thank you for understanding, Brendan!
6/6/2019 04:06:39 pm
For 13 years I’ve been in a small church choir, and the demand is just relentless, especially during Christmas and Easter. Plus we’re only four or five singers (I’m one) and four or five players. When one of us takes off the impact is large, but all of us do—we have to.
E. W. (Ed) Chambers
6/6/2019 04:28:02 pm
6/6/2019 07:52:31 pm
Be well and listen to what Universe is telling you.
Writing with depression is so hard. I've been struggling to stay productive and finish a series this year while slowly coming to the realization that my current antidepressants, while adequate, aren't perfect. And the pressure of getting the next book to readers is real, and the guilt it creates is real, and sales drop when there hasn't been a new release, and.... all of that contributes to the depression.
6/7/2019 07:48:38 am
I must very selfishly ask that you be selfish more often. I truly enjoy every one of your books. You weave stories that feel grounded in reality even though they are utterly fantastical. Not everyone can create such wondeful tales and I can only imagine the drain it must be to practically build a universe. Though I am eager to know what happens next in your amazing story, I hope you and your family can get through your financial, medical and emotional troubles while also playing video games together, doing crafts and altogether enjoying a wonderous life.
6/7/2019 08:01:37 am
OMG Jen, so sorry for all your struggles, you are an amazing person, and an amazing author, I can only hope things go better for you in the future, your forever fan ...Joyce
6/8/2019 05:00:58 am
Have always enjoyed whatever you write. (Hopefully, I have found it all.) take your time and keep well. Patiently waiting. 😊
6/9/2019 06:50:07 pm
It's very good to hear from you, Jen. I was worried after so long without any news. I must admit I have my own selfish reason - I simply want more of your books to read. Thank you for sharing with us, and I hope you can find happiness and peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
6/11/2019 05:22:40 am
Thank you for letting us know. No doubt we all appreciating knowing what you are going through. I love your books, and have been following closely your confluence series for quite a while now. I've tried writing books before, even got up to 70000 words for one of them, and everyone I gave it to said it was a great book and asked when I was getting it published. That things still isn't published after 10 years. Writing is really difficult and seeing you doing it as your job is really inspiring. I've waited patiently because I know you produce some amazing works, I have confidence in you. I see nothing wrong with you taking some downtime, we all need some from time to time
6/16/2019 09:25:47 pm
Jennifer, You have just gone through some of the most traumatic events of your life. It would seem that you need to put some distance between them and yourself. Do somethings that are healthy and truly make you happy. Best Always - Richard
6/25/2019 11:03:22 am
I too, love your books. Best sci-fi series I ever read (and I have read a few). I’m glad you are back on track, for your own sake, not just ours.
7/12/2019 03:40:43 pm
Take care of yourself as you need to. You don't OWE us anything. You are not alone with the depression struggle. There are millions of us out here, so really, you are being normal.
7/13/2019 10:31:45 am
Thanks for the update, I enjoy your books and I can be patient, just like all your fans. Take care of yourself, the books that result from taking care of yourself will be all that much better.
7/21/2019 09:28:10 am
8/1/2019 01:19:55 am
I read the first three books of the confluence series and then I got sucked into my own stressed-out, lack-of energy except for just the bare essentials of day-to-day function life. I haven't even been able to read as much as I used to. (I feel guilty if I feel like I have time and energy to read, because that time should go to cooking, cleaning, marking homework, etc...)
Jenni Ball (aka Jenni Harris)
8/7/2019 11:12:45 pm
Goodness, you are a phenomenal woman!
8/13/2019 11:21:32 am
Glad you are feeling better! That old adage "physician heal thyself " applies to us all! Hang in there and realize you are never alone in how you feel! Thanks for sharing,
8/19/2019 02:12:36 pm
I was wondering where you "were" Jennifer, and so I tracked down your website and blog. So sorry you have had to deal with so much stress in your life. Sometimes we have to contract ourselves so we can have the energy to be there for the things that are most important in our lives-your family being that very important thing. Even though I am a rabid fan of your Confluence books, I can wait for as long as necessary as long as I know you are feeling better day by day, and joy continues to bubbles it's way up to your heart and soul. Take good care!
9/2/2019 03:08:02 pm
Dear Ms Welles, I am a not-famous software author who has burned out-resumed countless times the past twenty years. I get your dilemma. It may not resolve but you may learn pace. I have been reading sci-fi for 70 years; your works are unique so please continue. Best, Jim
9/27/2019 08:45:09 am
just a vote of confidence and awaiting more of the Confluence story!!!
11/1/2019 03:18:01 pm
11/5/2019 08:08:04 am
Thanks for the update. I had read the first two books of the Confluence series back when they originally came out and then did not realize there were more until a couple weeks ago. Now that I have burned through the other three books I came here looking for the next book since at the end of Vengeance 2019 was listed as the proposed date. This update from you lets me know I have some time before it will be out. Unfortunately, Amazon is not 100% reliable in letting you know that the next book in a series, one that you have purchased every single book in, is now available. Hopefully this finds you and yours happy and healthy.
12/22/2019 01:08:21 pm
I really understand what you have been going through and applaude how well you are progressing through it After reading this, I felt moved to tell you how profoundly grateful I am to you for your books. I'm 74 years old and with the dark and grey weather have fallen back into feeling there was no reason to keep living. One thing I did decide was to stop paying attention to all the bad news on the world and started to read real books.
12/24/2019 06:12:46 pm
3/5/2020 07:24:15 am
Thank you for sharing your struggle. Sometimes we are forced to pause and deal with all the frailties that come with being human. I say this after facing ovarian cancer and the aftermath of treatments and surgeries. I hear in your words that you, too, are rising from the ashes of what was to flourish in the new what is. I get it; my new reality is becoming more joyful and powerful than I could have imagined. Perhaps that is why your books are speaking to me. I love how Jane and Darcy are growing into the best versions of themselves, and that those best versions are both mighty and compassionate. I look forward to the continuing Confluence saga, but be free. Your duty is to yourself and your family. Find your healthy place. I’ll wait. Jenny
3/12/2020 11:12:30 am
G'day, just wanted to see if there was any news on the audio book for Vengeance? Hope all is well. Keep up the great work.
3/17/2020 05:12:55 am
I am glad I read your post. I thought I had missed the next book. I am an art teacher near the end of my career. Teaching allowed me time with my family, but it was always hard to balance. As my kids grew up and became more independent, I threw myself into my teaching with a vengeance, leaving little time for my art or family. I guess we all struggle with this. Like many of those who responded to your post, I get it! Time with family can never be replaced, time to decompress is never wasted, and time for you is necessary. Your public will wait for your next book. Good luck with it all.
4/4/2020 09:46:11 am
So, wow I feel your pain. CFS at 21yrs old went from 185 to 265 in a short jump. I have 28yrs experience at 21 by the way. My first marriage went to hell as my mother was dying. Lost my mother and my wife in the same year, almost lost me to the darkest of places for three years then I found the Harley Quinn to my Joker and the darkness was in for a shock. I realize the date that you wrote this in 2019. I pray you do not lose your fight with the darkness. I’m not special and I pulled through I know you will as well. Ok, moving on.
4/6/2020 03:41:26 am
What is "fifty shades of sci-fi"?
4/6/2020 09:59:03 am
Did you read the book? There was a bit of erotica in it...pretty hot, and unexpected in a Sci-Fi novel...then again it has been a decades long break from book reading...
4/6/2020 03:26:21 am
I am sorry you are struggeling. Sorry I emailed you asking about Confluence, I didn't realise. I like your writing and wish you luck on your sidetrack/pseudonym projest.
4/6/2020 12:16:59 pm
I hope you are safe and healthy during these uncertain times.
4/18/2020 09:04:04 pm
Jennifer:Your honesty and humility are incredible! Mental and physical health are so intertwined; it amazes me as I consider how much so.
4/22/2020 11:00:32 am
I just discovered your books, they kept me company, and very enthralled while tending my orchard. Healing prayers for you, may peace and wellness descend on your life with joy and healthy energy!
5/18/2020 11:45:10 pm
Okay. Thank you.
6/10/2020 11:51:40 pm
Thank you for the awesome gift of your writings; from your Confluence series, to the bravery in expressing of yourself openly. Reflections on your books are just as wonderful and profound for me on the third and fourth re-reads. I expect the enjoyment will just be as true on the twentieth times years from now. Thank you again for your timeless gift. Please take good care of yourself.
6/11/2020 10:18:32 pm
We are all pulling for you, take your time, we are an impatient lot, but we are understanding about the way life twists and turns. I will keep you in my prayers. Heal well and live!
6/22/2020 01:28:43 pm
I read all 5 Confluence books and can't wait for the 6th one.
6/23/2020 12:44:18 pm
After recently having a flashback dream concerning your Fluency books, I re-read them all. Then I went to your website and found these comments. I REALLY would like to see episode six!!! I sincerely hope that you have found some "inner peace" and will grant us all the privilege of reading some more of your writings. I have a strange affinity to the Kuboderan's and the unique group of Terrans that you describe so eloquently. I would pay big bucks to be able to read Episode 6. It would be a great help to my own sense of well being in thise current atmosphere seemingly worldwide. Regards and Best Wishes
7/19/2020 03:35:40 pm
7/22/2020 05:15:37 pm
Jennifer, It's no surprise you got burned out. I am in awe not only of the quality of your output but also of the quantity! And with all that other stuff going on? ... Yeah. I do hope life is getting back on an even keel, but I suppose that's a bit of a stretch for anyone right now. Anyway... Please take care of yourself. And know that when you do finish book 6, you are going to make someone very happy in Washington state. And even if that never happens, you have given me many hours of joy! Be safe and be well!
8/6/2020 08:00:07 pm
Enjoy all your books and look forward to the next confluence book. I hope you get the meds all balanced. Sounds like a lot of the same issues that people like me without thyroids, or malfunctioning thyroids go through in terms of brain fog till the replacement hormones get balanced. I ordered the new set and look forward to reading any of the shorts I may have missed.
9/5/2020 10:42:21 am
Jennifer-I have to take exception to something you said in your post: I'm not special.
9/5/2020 07:46:59 pm
Jen, I just discovered your blog thanks to a mutual friend’s shared post. I realize you put this out quite a while ago, and although I was aware of the basics of what you were going through, I was still touched and saddened by the details you shared here.
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Jennifer Foehner Wells
I'm an author of the Space Opera variety.
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