So, my title was ridiculously long, especially compared to my other titles. This might be because I have been struggling the past week. I will not call this “writer’s block” because it isn’t. It’s more about me than writing. (Plus, I truly think that calling it a certain thing can cause the problem to be much worse.) I set up a goal for myself, and I didn’t meet it, and I didn’t meet it for a reason. Below, I want to share what happened in the hope that my story will help others who struggled to understand where their struggles came from and how to quickly get out of a slump. Basically this is going to be how I reminded myself that it’s okay to fall down – as long as you get back up – and how I got back up before I convinced myself that I couldn’t.
So, what happened?
I’m in a writers group called Kansas City Writer’s. Recently, members were invited to submit to an event that would be taking place. Of course, I was excited. I clicked on the invite, ready to read the guidelines, and my excitement almost immediately died.
The event was Listen to Your Mother – a wonderful show that takes place on Mother’s Day in which writers from all around the city read about their mothers or mother figures or being a mother themselves. While I’m sure many writers were ecstatic, at this point, the invite felt like some universe joke, and a cruel joke nonetheless.
Why did it feel that way?
Well, as many of you know, my mother died from a drug overdose when I was eleven. I talk about her a lot. I write about her more. But it’s also been a decade since her death, and it’s sometimes more difficult later on in life – especially during the big events, like my graduation. My next novel also releases one week after the day she died eleven years ago. On top of that, this year is a mark that my mother has been more dead in my life than alive in it. Honestly, I’ve been talking to my dad about her a lot, so I’m still learning more about her drug abuse that I couldn’t comprehend when I was younger. These realizations are really hard. There’s really no more that I can say other than that because that is the truth.
As much as I write for my mother, I also write for myself.
I found myself at my laptop, striving harder than ever to just write about her, and I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Not right now. And it took me over a month to realize that it was okay to feel down about her again, even though it’s been over a decade. I’ve gone through a lot the past year or so – I’ve moved, my brother became engaged, I graduated college, I’ve been published three – almost four – times, I got a job, and I’ve lost my roommate and grandmother. Because of all of this, I haven’t really taken a lot of time to just rest, to let all of the events soak in, to take a breather and write for myself a little more. Trying to force myself to write about my mom was just what it sounds like: forcing myself. And I can’t do that. Accepting that I can’t do that is harder said than done, but I’m getting better at it.
This is what I did to remind myself that it’s okay.
I shouldn’t have said “I did” something because it’s more along the lines of what “I do” all of the time. I keep nice reminders close around me at all times, especially when I’m feeling down. One thing I do is keep trinkets on my desk to cheer me up. I also keep photos on my laptop’s desktop that remind me of what I’m proud of, what I love, and what I want in the future. Below, I’m going to share a few of those things, and why they keep me lifting me up when I fall down.
Since we were talking about my mother, here is a photo I keep on my desktop as well as top objects I keep on my desk at all times.
The photo is probably my favorite photo of us, because it was Christmas, and we were with the entire family. The objects are a little different. The mother-daughter statue was given to me by my aunt during my mother’s funeral. The bracelet draped around her shoulder is my mother’s bracelet that I used to wear every day until the hinge broke. And the fake flowers is actually a project we made together during my sixth grade year in middle school. All of these help remind me that she is proud, no matter if I can write about her or not.
But I also keep reminders of my cat (who is currently sleeping behind me as I type this)
This is because Bogart is always with me. He reminds me to smile, and – as many pet owners say – pets are family. He often reminds me when I’ve been on my laptop too long (by crawling onto my laptop, of course) so having reminders of his much-needed little break time is an uplifting (and fun) reminder.
I have lots of reminders on my desk like this, but I never forget to remind myself of my novels. Photos like the one below are also on my desktop.
If I remind myself of what I have already accomplished, then I’m less likely to tell myself I’m not good enough and I’m more likely to remind that I am already good enough. I can only get better.
Lastly – although this is definitely not my last thing on my computer (I’m just preventing this post from getting too long) – I keep other parts of my life around – parts of my life that are unrelated to novels or inspiration for novels. The photo below may be me at a gun rage, but it is a lot more than that. It’s the time my father taught me how to shoot. It’s the time I received my grandfather’s gun. It’s the time I was reminded that I can do whatever I want instead of the stereotypes that dictate what we’re “supposed” to do. It’s the time I learned something new about myself. It’s possibilities within capability.
To fall down is only the step before you get back up. This is one of the many ways I get back up quickly. I hope you find ways as well. I hope this post might aid you in your times that you fall, so that you can find something in your life to help you stand again. I hope for a lot of things, but I ultimately hope for more artists to continue to pursue their dreams, even if they keep falling down.