Does this happen to you, dear reader? Do you push yourself and push yourself, ignoring all the signs, until BAM! Your body pulls the rug out from under you? This is exactly what happened to me last week.
Despite all the signs over the last month or so—depression, exhaustion, irritability, even poorer sleep than normal, inability to concentrate—I continued my relentless drive towards my dreams. My hours have been longer, my “to do” list busting at the seams, my sense of achievement non-existent. That’s not to say I had achieved nothing, because I had, lots, but the euphoria waned as I headed towards the wall.
I knew I’d hit it last week when I had lunch in Chester with a friend. I was back early afternoon, with plenty of time to get on with the masses of things on my “to do” list, but I said to myself, ‘I can’t.’ I uttered these same two words to another friend when we went to watch Candyman a couple of days later, and to my mum that same evening. Both asked, ‘You can’t what?’ To which I replied, ‘I just can’t.’ And that’s the nub of it—an inability to articulate the extent of how I felt.
To reiterate the fact I’d hit that wall, I awoke on Saturday morning with a blacking swollen eye—a sty, the worst I’ve ever had, and the overwhelming evidence that I was (and probably still am) run down. Part of me still wanted to push it aside and power through but as I thought about sitting down and reviewing the screenplay for Bonds, creating more chapters for The Headhunter, or even writing this blog, my whole body screamed, ‘NO!’ Instead, I picked up a book, disappeared into the garden with Stoker on his harness, and lost myself in other worlds. I say plural as I read more than one book. And that’s how I spent the bank holiday weekend, intermingled with walks and my current favourite Netflix shows—Jane the Virgin (Rogelio rocks!) and Chesapeake Shores (go Bree!). And, you know what? It was fantastic. I feel restored, relaxed, recharged, and, best of all, my black eye has gone.
This has been a stark reminder that it’s okay to be driven and have dreams I am striving towards, but it’s also okay to take time out, and when my body hints it needs that time, I need to listen.
So, as the seasons start to change and I come into my birth month, I also come into my new year. And the item at the top of my list of resolutions is to take better care of myself. Don’t get me wrong, I am soooooo much better than I used to be, but I have slipped back into my old patterns of working until 10/10:30 at night, denying myself that vital time to rest and recharge.
On bank holiday Monday, as I sat in the garden and wrote this blog, I took another huge step, and one that was a tad scary—I let Stoker off his lead so he could explore the garden without a tether and build his independence. Those of you who have cats will understand the fear I held—what if he disappeared over the fence and didn’t come back? But, I have to let him explore the world; I can’t keep him cooped up forever. Besides, I’m hoping the other two will finally stop grumbling when he can go outside on his own—still a month away. Supervised independence is the stage we’re at.
Now, you may have noticed I dropped in a couple of bombshells earlier—screenplay and The Headhunter. Seeing Bonds on the silver screen is a dream I’ve had since I first wrote the book almost ten years ago. This month. It’s taken a step closer to that dream as the awesome Danielle Fray has turned my screenplay structure—a project eighteen months in the making—into an actual script. We have some work to do to streamline it, but I cannot express how excited I am to see my novel, my structure, turned into a script for a movie!
August also marks the month I finally finished polishing Eternal Bonds and put it up for pre-order; its release date marking an important date in any horror lover’s calendar (November 8), which meant I could finally create again. This may sound strange, but as an author AND a publisher, writing stories isn’t the only thing I have to do. In fact, this year, writing stories is something sorely lacking as I’ve been focused on getting Eternal Bonds ready for publication, as well as other aspects I group in with the publisher side of my life (a topic for another blog).
So, being able to sit down last weekend and open the file on my next WIP was a feeling like no other (I shiver as I recall the bubbles of excitement!). The Headhunter picks up where Eternal Bonds leaves off in a way, as it follows Ellie Lawrence as she embarks on her own journey. The Headhunter is the first in the Ellie Lawrence series and is a novel I started after I’d initially published Bonds but put aside when readers demanded a sequel to Bonds. As you know, a sequel turned into a quarter, but now I can return to The Headhunter and complete the story, which has changed somewhat since my initial concept.
Before I sign off to relax, I wanted to tell you about one of the books I read (or finished reading, to be more precise) over the bank holiday weekend. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is a novel recommended to me by one of my best friends because she said, ‘Kya reminds me of you.’ Intrigued, I picked up the book and read about Kya, a girl abandoned by her family at seven, who had to learn to look after herself, growing up alone and uneducated in the marshes. She kept to herself, studying the marsh and its wildlife, looking out for them as they looked out for her. She was taught to read by Tate, the only person she allowed herself to love, but who left her like everyone else in her life. I won’t say any more about the book, as I don’t want to spoil it for you. All I will say is that it is a beautiful story of the strength and resilience of one little girl to grow up and live the life she wanted, regardless of what the townspeople thought of her. And this is why my friend said Kya reminded her of me—because I know who I am and what I want and I live it, because I stand by what I believe in, because I don’t form opinions or beliefs to please others only to be true to myself, because I am fragile (dainty fingers, tall, lean) to look at but strong and resilient inside, because I am authentic to who I am, because I keep to myself and dip my toe into being sociable. She said she has no doubt I would have adapted and survived in a similar situation to Kya.
It just goes to show how friends see things in you which you don’t see in yourself. I’ve felt a little lost recently, but my friend’s words—reiterated by another friend a few days ago—reminded me of who I am and how I always march to my own beat 😊.
’Til next time,