Friday, April 27, 2012

The Time I (Almost) Quit

By Autumn of 2009 I had finished my first draft of The Low Notes. I had a half-completed manuscript for one other story and countless other seedlings for stories that maybe had a few sentences written. I had finished my writing class and a fire had been lit under me to get something published. I had a goal in mind. I would edit and submit by January of 2010.

A handful of people had read portions of The Low Notes and had given me good feedback so I felt hopeful that with some hard editing I could make my story into something sell-able. I decided to take a few weeks off from writing, give myself time to separate from my story for a little while before going back with semi fresh eyes for my first edit.

In early December of 2009 I found out the salon I was working in would close by the end of the year. I was out of a job. That month is a total blur to me now. I spent every day scrambling to find a new salon to go to, all while continuing to book my clients out for the new year. Even though I had no idea where I would be sending them. To say I was a mess would be putting it lightly. I can say that it was the worst feeling I had ever had and the most anxious time I've ever experienced.

The roller-coaster ride of the end of 2009 had so many twists and turns I couldn't see straight. But in the end, I had two days to make a snap decision of what salon I would be moving to. Two days to basically say 'yes' to anyone who would take me. Luckily, I found a place to work and started to figure out how to run my own business. Unfortunately, it was only a few weeks in when I realized that I had made the wrong decision.

I was so utterly unhappy that I was seriously starting to question whether or not I even wanted to be doing hair anymore. Suddenly, after about 5 months, I realized I still loved my job, I just hated where I was working. I could see my clients starting to slip away and my passion was starting to fizzle. Taking a leap of faith, I reached out to the salon where I am now happily employed and the rest is history.

So 2010 didn't start out great and though things started to settle down by the summer there was one thing that my depressed state had helped me successfully avoid. Editing. Hell, I hadn't opened a single Word Document in months! My head was too cluttered. I went from being down in the dumps to living on cloud nine when I got my own salon studio and jumped right into business-lady mode.

My nights were consumed with bookkeeping and promotional ideas, social networking and building a business plan for my salon. Writing was always sitting in the back of my mind but writing wasn't paying the bills.

The daydreams never stopped. Ideas never ceased to creep up on me. I'd find myself listening to the play list I had made for myself when originally writing The Low Notes and thinking about all of the things that needed changing. My brain was aching to get back to it but I was still stuck. I had taken too much time away from it and I didn't know how to break back in.

I suppose you could call it writer's block but I didn't label it that at the time. On days when I was beating myself up I was calling it self-sabotage. Other days I just ignored the thought altogether and tried to focus on the things I kept telling myself were more important.

By 2011 I had looked over The Low Notes a very small handful of times and each time I saw it I was hit with the weight of how much work I thought truly needed to be done. It seemed impossible. Some days it didn't even seem worth a try. I had tried to work on other things hoping maybe my creative juices flowing on another project would give me a jolt back into The Low Notes. It didn't.

Amazingly, by Autumn 2011 I was making breakthroughs with myself on a weekly basis. Figuring out why I was being so negative about the project and why I was keeping myself away from it, choosing housework over doing the thing I love most. And one day I told myself that enough was enough. I was going to finish that book come hell or high water!

At first it was damn hard. Painfully hard! And then, it was flowing like it was 2008 all over again. I was eating, sleeping, breathing Kevin and Nina. They were taking over my brain and it felt better than ever. Looking at it now, with my release date on a countdown and a contract signed, I wonder if I would've had as good of a story to tell if I had done my second pass back in 2010 like I wanted to.

Maybe I needed to be laid off, to have six months at a crappy job to reignite my passion for beauty, and a chance at running my own business to give me the confidence I needed to pick myself back up to the keys. Either way, I can't look at that time as lost, and I can't look at it like not meeting a deadline. I look at it like the path that needed to be traveled to give me the work I have today. I needed that time and experience, the sadness and even the contemplation of quitting my life's work to get me to be what I am today. An author.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you. If I hadn't been at some of the low points in my life, my writing wouldn't nearly be the same. Low points give you the raw clarity to really flesh out a character. I admire your attitude. :)