Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Other Half of the Story

When I wrote this post back in December I was under the then impression that it explained everything.

I've now come to the realization that it didn't.

It only gave half the story.

Here's the other half.

I recently came across a pair of blog posts that finally put a name to this Dark Clouded Thing that's been hanging over me.

The first was this post from Lisa Shearin.

The other was this one from Skyla Dawn Cameron.

Lisa's post gave me the name: writer burnout.

Skyla's post described an event that actually took place for me:
The thing about that is, when I’m burned out, I can’t make words, but the stories never stop. The characters are still yapping, the stories are still going, I just can’t get them out of my head onto the virtual page. Same with depression and life trauma I’ve been through–no matter what, the characters keep talking and I’m never alone.

But last summer...the voices just...stopped.

[...]

..characters weren’t talking to me at all. The voices were completely silent. It’s like everyone just got up and walked away.
Plus, another post by Skyla related to that other one described another event that also took place for me:
Of course, just when I was feeling it coming back, I lost my full time job and was thrown into a tailspin of panic and depression. I completely lost my focus--it was several months before I could buckle down and do things that required my brain, like reading and editing, etc.
And now, some context...

Since 2011 I've been dealing with losing a job and being unemployed for over a year then getting a job but working for low pay, tapping out our savings to cover household expenses, taking care of LadyAce when her health issues crop up, then back again to being unemployed from June 2014 to present (with only two short-term assignments of roughly two weeks each over 9 months), and generally worrying about money (we're currently on one income that juuuust covers bills and groceries but leaves no wiggle room whatsoever).

So, yeah, I've been stressed out of my mind for that past 4 years.

Similar to what Skyla described happened to her, my voices stopped talking altogether at the end of January 2013.

Those of you who follow the Kat and Mouse serial might note that the stories "In The Name of the Father," "Stand Off," and "Sub Rosa" were posted between mid-May and early October of 2014.

However, those three were written and completed in 2012, with editing and revisions painfully taking place through all of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014.

And by "painfully" I mean painfully. Mentally taxing and exhausting. I would get frustrated at the story and whatever work I was putting in within half and hour. And that would turn into pure digust five minutes after that. I had to put everything away, out of sight, walk out of the room, watch TV to calm down, and not touch it again for two days. Sometimes, a week. Sometimes, a month.

I took pretty much a year and a few months to edit and revise three stories.

As for actually getting words written?

Excuse me while I bust a gut laughing.

During that time, the idea of sitting down to write made me tense, fidgety, and nauseous. Attempting to actually sit down with story notes gave me a headache.

All that eventually led to the meltdown post, followed by a lot of mental scrabbling as I tried to figure out just what the hell was going on in my head.

Truth is, a lot of the Progress Notes posts in 2014 were a lie. A lot of that writing had been done in 2012, before the voices vanished. And releasing the second season "boxed set" of Kat and Mouse pretty much used up whatever mental reserves I had. I broke down in tears several times while editing and formatting the e-book.

And that book launch tour in September?

When y'all weren't looking, I was fighting a chronically sour stomach and nearly went through an entire bottle of Rolaids in a week and a half.

And I'll spare you the details of how quickly I went through a box of Imodium.

At that point I hadn't written any words of fiction since 2013.

And I hadn't wanted to write any.

Which finally led to these two posts from last December.

Bascially me throwing in the writing towel.

And I will now admit it here: those posts were a knee-jerk reaction from a panicked individual.

What has come to light for me recently is that I'm not a voice actor.

As I said at the beginning of this post, it's only half the story.

I'm both.

I'm a writer and a voice actor.

In fact, 2008 Abner knew this fact very well.

Guess I'd forgotten.

And only recently remembered that being a writer-actor is doable--fellow AWer Adrienne Kress is both.

Amazing what you forget when you're stressed out of your gourd.

* * *

Having said all that, does that mean I'm back on the writing wagon and cranking out new stories and Kat and Mouse is back online?

No.

At least, not yet.

On the bright side, the voices, the ones that vanished 2 years ago, have started up again.

A little.

A whisper here.

A whisper there.

A couple of conversations that faded in, went for a moment of three, then faded out.

But they have started up again.

I am, however, going to follow Skyla's advice #3 and #4.

I'm still dealing with trying to land a day job so I can help with household stuff and still worrying about money so my stress levels are still on the high end. Until that lets up, I'm going to leave things alone.

For now.

Especially with regard to the voices.

Just gonna let them chatter.

But thanks to Lisa's and Skyla's posts, I now know that this thing exists. And that it happens to writers. And that it can be dealt with.

Things make a little bit more sense now.

And I'm re-realizing something I'd apparently already known as far back as 2008.

I'm a writer and a voice actor.

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