Robin LaFevers writes: One of the hardest things about being a writer can be the sense of isolation we experience–the sense that we are the only ones to feel a certain way. Especially when those feelings are not happy or joyful ones. That’s why fellow writers’ honesty is such a gift. Today I am honored to share with you such a gift–a guest post by YA author Myra McEntire. It is a raw, honest look at some of the hardships of being a writer, and the unexpected places where we can find healing connections.
Myra is the author of the Hourglass trilogy, which was a RITA nominee as well as a nominee for the YALSA Teen Top Ten. She is also a contributor to MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME, a collection of holiday short stories which has received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly.
Pantaphobia: THAT’S IT!
I was diagnosed with major clinical depression last January. Big time med changes, counseling, the whole churro. With the help of family and friends, including Stephanie Perkins (who held me accountable for daily tasks like eating, showering, and teeth brushing), the extreme low only lasted for a couple of months.
But even the regular low is a real pain in the ass.
I spent a lot of time attempting to escape my pit of despair. I sat in front of my computer, trying to turn words into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs. I tried, and tried, and tried, but never made it to scenes or chapters. There were distractions – we moved, our kids changed schools, and then summer break rolled around. Summer break at our house is like a three-month Coachella Festival. My focus is solely on crowd control and keeping everyone alive. Next year I’m ordering myself a t-shirt that says “SECURITY” in hot pink, sequined letters. I’ve not ruled out a low voltage tazer, but there are some … legality issues I need to look into.
When I wasn’t serving as the family bouncer, I decorated, painted, gardened, and crafted, until there was nothing left to decorate, paint, garden, or craft. (Y’all, I Mod Podged so many things my cats got nervous. I think they thought they were next.) Finally, once school started. I could breathe. I had quiet time to be still and get honest with myself. I evaluated life, and what I wanted from it. I didn’t know if I could write for publication anymore.
I had multiple conversations with my husband – who understands chasing dreams, as he’s a former minor league baseball player. “Should I get a part time job? Finish my masters? Keep the house really clean and serve a home-cooked meal every night? Go to the gym regularly?” (THE GYM. REGULARLY.)
Thankfully, my husband is wise. “You won’t be happy,” he said. “That’s not you or your life.” The man turned down home cooked meals, and I’m a mighty fine cook, so he was not. messing. around. He gave me the courage I needed to keep questioning myself.
I talked to dear writer friends, who assured me they’d still love me if I weren’t “one of them.” That made me feel safe, but sad. I loved being “one of them”
I didn’t seek out online affirmation, so every note or tweet I got from a reader was a boon, a bolster, a blessing. They all reminded me of how it felt to emotionally touch a reader. That’s why I started writing in the first place. [Read more…]