I spent last week at a writers’ conference, because–as far as I’m concerned–I will never be done learning how to write. Then too, writing is a solitary undertaking. To spend time with my tribe was a great fun. We all got certain jokes, and we could all commiserate over the manuscript that won’t come right.
I learned tons, about prose and plot, and also about the writing process as mine compares to that of other authors. I learned about other genres–children’s and young adult, women’s fiction, and thrillers (why is there no such thing as men’s fiction?). I learned a few words of some publishing industry dialects I hadn’t heard before.
I also learned that I’m tired. Physically tired. Whooped. Whamped. In need of many naps.
This revelation came to me about Tuesday afternoon, after a day and a half of class. I was one of the most experienced writers in the room, and I was having trouble wrapping my head around what was presented. Worse, I was getting upset because it should have been making sense. I should have been able to integrate the material into my craft, I just didn’t get it…
I dismissed the theory that I was tired, because all we were doing was sitting and listening. The whole week was to be mostly refresher and review. I wasn’t under any pressure to pitch new projects to agents or editors–I was an intellectual TOURIST.
I decided to steal a cat nap on Tuesday, and crashed harder than I’ve crashed in years. As the week went on, I realized that what I probably needed was a vacation, not a mental workout. My body is tired, my mind is tired, my imagination is tired. I suspect this has to do with losing my mom in February and my lawyer job in March, and my dad receiving hospice care. I’m doing emotional work that saps my energy reserves in ways I don’t entirely grasp.
Foster kids often come into care without knowing when they’re hungry, thirsty, tired, or upset. They’ve been so focused on managing a challenging environment that they no longer self-monitor. The results aren’t pretty–tantrums, food hoarding, illness, injury, and trouble in school. We can become oblivious to our own internal states. If I hadn’t seen it over and over again in those foster children, I’d probably not believe we can be that cut off from our own reality.
In any case, I’d like permission to take a break from this blog, for at least the next few weeks. I have a lot of writing to do (I’m looking at you, Asher Fenwick), and I love to write. I always want to be ABLE to write in quantity and quality, and the blog–while great fun for me, and I hope for you–is one demand I can temporarily step back from.
How do you know you’re tired? Has fatigue ever taken you by surprise? To one commenter, I’ll send an audio book copy of The Soldier, a story about a guy who needed to reconnect with his own heart.
I’m not going to lie ….I will miss this blog. It is one that I follow religiously. But you need to take care of yourself first and foremost. You are a wonderful writer (one of my favs) but I also know you can be even better. If you need rest to do that .. then God bless.
Emotional fatigue is a real thing and it sounds like you are going through a bad patch of it right now. I was 50 when my father died and 55 when my my mother died. You would have thought a big girl like me would have handled it better. We all grieve differently. You need time to deal with your losses (including job and animals also).
So, you do what you need to do. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
I know it’s time to take a nap or break when I get cranky. Instead of looking at the cup as half full, it’s half empty. A nap or a good cuddle with Celeste helps. I knew I needed to switch jobs at work when I wasn’t valued enough to considered for a new position.
You have had a lot of change in the past few months. And, none of it was expected. When you suffer a loss it takes time to heal emotionally and physically. Acceptance takes time– sometimes longer than you think. I still look for Irish in the morning and set out her bowl and it’s been 10 months.
This is the only blog I follow and I look forward to it. Take a holiday and come back and let us know what you’ve discovered along the way! Put yourself first and take it easy.
Celeste and I are sending you a hug and a bark!
I did something last week I vowed I wouldn’t do again—I wallpapered a room. It was the laundry room and I did it because we replaced the outside door/window and the room looked crappy. I bought wallpaper right after we signed the contract and…then our budget was blown with an unexpected tree removal…so I decided I would do it myself because we already had the paper and I wanted it done before July.
After doing a project like this in the past I’ve been sore, tired, crabby and it took me at least a week to recover…and I don’t have time for a week off this summer. I have to prepare for my choir’s retreat, then we have several gigs and then….well, by mid-August I’m going on a long postponed vacation.
So, what did I do? I paced myself! Tuesday they replaced the door/window and after they left I washed the walls. Wednesday I papered one long wall and one short wall. Thursday I cleaned out the cabinets, washed them and put in fresh shelf paper. Friday (when I knew I would have people to help move the washer and dryer)I did the other short wall and the tricky/icky wall behind the washer and dryer. Looks great and I’m happy I did it. In the past, I would do as much as I could, and then collapse and start over the next day crabby and sore but determined to finish the damn project THAT DAY.
We had take-out and I took a nap right after I finished my section of the day, used a heating pad and took a hot soaking bath right before bed. I took me about three and a half days but I am none the worse for wear and I happy I did it.
I wish I had been wiser in the past to pace myself, having clear and manageable goals each day with time for naps and not worrying about meals during the time. I finally have admitted to myself I can’t do everything I want without some sort of break to recover in between.
I’m glad you’ve discovered what you need BUT I’ll miss your weekly blog SO MUCH. I discovered your blog two years ago (I discovered your books about a month after “The Heir” came out and have been hooked ever since), about the same time my own Mom was failing and we had to arrange hospice for her. Reading your thoughts, your everyday thoughts, helped me heal and take my mind off the craziness Mom’s final days and the family-behaving-badly aftermath her death brought.
I love interacting with you on the blog and decided I would comment every week if I could. It’s been a little treat I give myself every week to give myself a *vacation for my mind and heart*. That’s what you need, Grace, a *vacation for your mind and heart* so you may heal.
We are adult women but losing our mothers effects us probably more than we realize. I suspect one of the reasons is because we (or others do)now consider ourselves the Matriarch (one of my younger brothers called me that last Christmas and I practically slugged him!)and we don’t want to be! And we miss our Moms, plain and simple.
Do what you need to do, Grace, we’ll be here when you get back!
I find that I will go and go until I fall over. I always feel that I have to keep going to get everything done. I know that it’s time for rest when I am falling asleep sitting up.
Grace, I will miss your blog for the next few weeks. Enjoy your break and get some much needed rest. See you when you get back.
Of course you are exhausted what with the grief and all the changes and loss you have been dealing with. You are doing well to recognize it and let community around you know that you need time, space and rest to recover. I love reading your blog and books too but as part of your reading community I also support you as a fellow human even more so I am really really glad you are taking a break to take better care of yourself and rest. Take as long as you need. We will be here when you are ready and no pressure. We all have our own lives we live too. You just take care of yourself and we will all be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. This too shall pass- speaking as someone whose dad died a year ago and also went through some life and job changes, it does get better , just takes time. Take it easy. and Thank you.
I get similar issues to what you experienced at the conference if I’m not self-aware. Other times it is like being a toddler: I need to get horizontal, preferably with a cat or three, and sleep. No other options, just *splat*
And yes, this year so far grief has zapped your energy supplies. It’s nasty that way…
Wishing many naps and restoratives, we’ll all be here when you’re recharged and ready (not necessarily simultaneous occurrences).
Blessings to you Grace.
Knew I needed a break after working 10-12 hour days at a stretch. Drove home one night and did not remember how I got to my driveway. It’s an hour long trip from door to door. Long work hours, hubby working in another town 300 miles away (coming home weekends)took its toll. Decided to take a few days off to recharge my batteries.
Understand how parental illness and loss can really affect one’s spirit. It’s even worse when they are far from one’s home.
Take all the time you need to recharge your batteries. Will miss this blog but would miss you and your future ladies/fellows even more.
Wish I didn’t know exactly how you feel, but I do in more ways than just being physically tired. I came out of retirement to help a local school division with state testing at the end of the year. By the time mid-June came around I was physically and mentally exhausted. From completing this task I went right into the first week of Camp Grandma. I had my sweet 7 year old granddaughter for 7 glorious days. In the heat we did Busch Gardens not once but twice. We read together, colored together and sang songs together. Then I attended her older brother’s baseball game after traveling 2 hours in traffic. Today I allowed myself rest. God understood that staying home from church activities and resting my mind and body was a recuperative means of worshiping Him. Give yourself a break, Grace. You have delighted your many readers with your wonderful stories about fascinating characters. I have thoroughly enjoyed each of your books through the first read and the second. Take the time you need for yourself and when you return to your routine you’ll breathe and feel better. Please take care of one of my favorite authors.
I don’t think you really need – or should need – anyone’s permission to do what is best for you, Grace. Even though I will miss your weekly often thought provoking blogs, I definitely understanding needing a break. Besides, the selfish part of me is more than willing to deal with missing what has become a regular part of my Sunday if it means you will be happier and better able to write. 🙂
I’ve been in the same situation with not being able to focus during a presentation of topics I normally find very interesting – granted details about specific pet foods and dog training isn’t usually considered interesting but I am a bit of a geek. Just this week we had a very interactive training session and I found myself dosing off on the drive down to headquarters (not good during rush hour traffic) and again during the training. Even on my day off I spent probably an hour texting and on the phone with my manager and some time in the store when they had problems at closing time. At least when I transfer to the original store, I can’t be expected to just stop by since it is about 20 miles from home.
Enjoy your blog break, Grace! And try to get some real R&R in!
Likewise with others who have commented, I will miss your insightful blog. You excel at blogging as you do with writing the fiction that keeps us happy. A wise person said to me recently that if it’s not working keeping this many balls in the air, don’t try to add another one. Maybe even stop juggling, pick up the few balls you really need and find your rhythm again – or a fresh rhythm. Then you can add some more at the right time.
Sort of a form of PTSD, isn’t it?
Reading the comments I thought of an old hymn, “Rest, peace and life, The flow’rs of deathless bloom…” (Or some such). Not something I thought about much at sixteen, but, oh, some kids must.
For me, the signifier is often an inability to filter distractions. When I can’t ignore the sound of someone else’s TV show while researching or studying, or I can’t process my daughter’s question because I’m doing something else…it is time to regroup!
Thank you for your efforts – every story is a gift to us! Take care of your SELF, please.
I understand stepping back from the blog. During Christmas I take two weeks off from e-mail and Facebook. I love it. Rest is important, learning to take care of yourself and not push too hard. I visited my best friend in Texas. She is going through a period of grief and loss. She was busy putting out fires and didn’t realize grief and loss were part of the picture. Take the time you need sweet pea. We’ll be here when you get back. Oh re-read Worth, just loved it.
I was oblivious about the impact of a nasty neighbor and lemon of a house until labs and blood pressure began to spiral out of control. After the fifth doctor asked what had changed in my life, the scales fell from my eyes and I put my current house on the market. Less than two weeks until closing, I’m physically exhausted, but my blood pressure is already normalizing with escape in sight.
I’m sorry about your parents. I went through the same thing in reverse about ten years ago. You’ve got a shoulder here if you need to lean or vent.
I only found this blog while attempting to tell you how much I enjoyed reading Jack. Loved the dialogue in the book especially. Very enjoyable story- thank you.
I’m sorry to hear about your family. I understand why you could definitely use a rest.
When I am working too hard and running too fast in life, the exhaustion usually sneaks up on me and I don’t notice until I feel like I’m on the verge of tears. Before that, I can sometimes catch other warning signs like feeling low in spirits, being off my feed or grabbing food that isn’t as good for me, and getting more control-freakish and cranky.
Sometimes a nap is possible but otherwise I rest with a walk or a good comforting book (often one of yours).
So by all means, Grace, get thee some rest and relaxation, and refill your well. I think every one of us here empathizes with you and would rather see you rest and not write the blog for as long as you need than to know you’re burning yourself out.
For me, it’s always nap time! I don’t sleep well so I often find myself nodding off over my keyboard. Rarely do I actually succumb to a nap, choosing to get on with writing. There aren’t enough hours in the days to spend them sleeping.
And, in frequent fashion, I’ve done this backwards — I’ve just read past the headline and reviewed your entire posting. Your exhaustion is shared by many of us who just “keep on keeping on” convinced we can catch up, then slow down and catch our breath. Your eventual self-awareness is an inspiration. Thank you. I have some evaluating to do.
While you ruminate, I leave you with the thought that in Thomas Jennings you have created the perfect man! Oh, if he was real and we could go back in time. This is the first of your books I’ve read and I’m looking forward to enjoying the others in this series. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂
Great idea, Grace! We all need to recharge our batteries, and you are sooooo prolific! Enjoy having one fewer item on your plate.
I am so excited about Asher’s story. I re-read Hadrian recently and refreshed my memory. What a charmer he is!
Hope you have a bit of time for some real R&R!
I love your writing, especially the contemporary series set in Maryland. I hope you’ll write more of them.
I have been tired to the point of exhaustion in the past and can give you a list of my past symptoms:
nothing is fun
drinking too much Starbucks sugar laden coffee “for energy”
sleeping all of the time
lack of joy in life (see nothing is fun)
depression is a symptom of fatigue for me
catching every cold and flu bug that goes around
If you are exhausted, I hope you’ll get the rest you need. It took time to reach exhaustion and it will take time to restore your energy. Once you’re back on track, I’d love to read more books that are similar to the Kiss Me books or a continuation of that series. Best luck to you.
One more thing, the loss of a parent is devastating. I slid into a serious depression after my mom passed away. A good counselor and antidepressants eventually helped.
Dear Grace, Take a break!!! I have been one of the thousands, if not millions of people who have enjoyed your talent for the last several years. I have said “Thank-you’ a few times but not as often as I should have. I hope that a break will be just that, a break, and You will be right back to it in a few weeks or months time. Until then grab a blanket and your favorite book and relax.
Take a break, Grace. I do computer consulting. I spend nearly all of my time in my little office in my house, typing at people. There are long stretches of time, during the winter, when I don’t talk to anyone outside of my immediate family… not even a clerk at the store as I have my husband grab whatever we need.
In the summer, I sell crafts (made while sitting at my computer waiting for something or someone) at a Farmers Market. You have to be friendly at a farmers market. You have to say hello, and talk about your stuff and discuss process and that citrine is a gemstone known for attracting money and …
You have to talk to people. A lot of people. After 4 hours of Market on Saturday I go home and go upstairs. I do not Not NOT want to talk to another living soul for at least the rest of the day. I’m tired. If you need a break, take a break.
Stress is harder than work. So take care of yourself. We’ll see you when we see you… (and I’d rather you were writing books anyway, seeing as I’ve read everything you’ve written to this point and NEED A FIX!!)
Hi Grace, a few years ago I found myself falling asleep at work while working on my computer. I tried everything to wake up, caffeine, sugar, and walking around the building. nothing worked. when I had my annual check up, I told my doctor and he ran blood tests. I have type-2 diabetes. the tiredness is one of the big symptoms. Depression is another. you should get your blood checked. it’s a disease that can happen to anyone at any time and nothing to be ashamed of (that’s another story). check out Joslin.org for more faqs. I hope you don’t have it, but if you do you need to control it. very dangerous to your health.
I LOVE your writing and the way your mind works! You are so much fun, but also you touch on some very serious topics. and handle them all ‘gracefully’. thank you for sharing your time and talent with us!!
I wish I had seen you in San Diego as I am hardcore fan – I have read every one of your books. I was at my first RWA and I was a bit overwhelmed. Relax and enjoy – read a book. Thank you for all your wonderful stories….