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  • Juliette Hyland

When you lose your words

2017 was going to be the year I took my writing to the next level! For years no one, other than my husband, knew that I wrote. I quietly did Nanowrimo and worked at night and on weekends on these creative activities, not admitting my dreams to anyone. What if I failed?

Yet this was the year I was going to change. I made multiple writing New Year’s resolutions, committed and cleared my schedule to attend my weekly writers group, bought this domain and took my website live. My secret was out and then the writer’s block hit.

Realistically, if I look at this year, I know that I have not been blocked for most of it – or really any of it. I have completed and posted multiple short stories. My book is out for submission and unless I have been on business travel, I have been to all my weekly meetings. I routinely update my social media accounts and have made, at least, steady progress on several of my long term projects.

What I have come to realize is that the term, “writer’s block,” is my crutch. It is my excuse for not meeting word counts or for failing to make writing a nightly habit. It has been easier to say I’m blocked, No words came or I’m just not feeling inspired, then to admit that writing is hard and the process is not clean and direct.

“All first drafts are crap,” or some variation is the common expression used on writing blogs for inspiration. It’s true; first drafts suck but what is less talked about is that editing your crap can feel downright useless. It can feel like a wasted effort and time-suck. I know it’s not but accepting that your first words were less than brilliant can be demoralizing. In a world where you set your own deadlines, this can be the kiss of death.

While writing my latest short story, The Witch’s Daughter, I felt uninspired, tired and burned out. The submission process for His Forgotten Duchess is moving forward but slowly and working on two new novels is tiring. In short, I began to question why I was bothering. After all, what do I have to show for it?

Then my computer crashed. I back up all my files, or I thought I did, but while scrolling through the files I realized that my novel was not stored there. Two years of work gone. In those moments the loss of those words was crippling. I cursed my stupidity and I cried, ugly sobbing, hysterics if I am honest.

The good news - we were able to retrieve my novel but I did lose about 5,000 words from my most recent projects. That feels like a lot but considering the potential damage, I feel blessed. Besides, those were likely my worst 5,000 words, destined to end up on the cutting room floor. I saved myself some time, right…right?

Still, there is a part of me that is grateful for the experience. Creative endeavors can sometime be hard to explain to others. Why am I doing something that technically hasn’t provided me a substantial income? These endeavors can feel like indulgences that we use to make us happy while we toil away at our “real” jobs. There is a time and a place for walking away from projects - that sometimes needs to happen. However when your “dream” becomes work, it can feel less like a dream. This is the moment it stays either a dream or morphs into a goal. I got this experience showed me clearly that when I wasn’t looking my dream became my goal. I just wish it hadn’t cost me 5,000 words!

My favorite tea mug reminding me to CALM down!

My favorite tea mug reminding me to CALM DOWN!

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