The year of stress and self-loathing and far-off light.

I knew 2012 was going to be a hard year.

I knew it before it ever started. I had a 2-year window from sale to shelf on THE NEAR WITCH, and I swore I would never let that happen again. Why? Because 2010, the full calendar year between the book’s sale in 2009, and it’s publication in 2011, was HARD. It was useful, in that it gave me time to find my online voice, and to become comfortable with my digital surrounding. But those benefits were things I wasn’t able to appreciate until AFTER my book was on shelves, when I could do signings and smile and chat about the waiting that was finally behind me.

I remember hearing at the end of 2011 that my publication date for THE ARCHIVED was going to be January 2013.

And I remember sitting on the floor, and sobbing.

I could. not. do this again.

But I had to. My agent assured me that I’d be busy, and I wanted to believe her, but THE ARCHIVED #2 hadn’t sold yet and VICIOUS hadn’t sold yet (both were being held until after the holidays), and 2010 was still burned into my memory, and I was scared.

And that might seem silly, in hindsight, unless you know WHY I was scared.

It might seem like I was scared of being BORED. But my agent was true to her word, and made sure I would be BUSY. She sold a total of FIVE books for me this year, and I’ve been BUSIER than ever, juggling two and sometimes even three deadlines at once.

But you see, boredom wasn’t–isn’t–the thing I’m afraid of.

I’m afraid of myself.

Writing/Editing/Breaking/Fixing/Making books is an equation.

One with a lot of variables, so at its best, most elegant, it is still messy. The author’s emotions tangle and create and work for and against their books. Their minds generate and solve and get in the way. I often feel like I’m trying to find the best possible equation, the way to minimize my self-loathing, and love my job.

And I knew that 2012, like 2010, was going to complicate my already-messy equation.

How?

Because in those years off, that tricky emotional balance is upset by increasing the deadlines and decreasing the promotion–meaning the actual, in-person book-on-shelves time.

Some authors, I imagine, love that. Maybe they pine for a few years where they can go into their caves and be alone with their work (and we all need to be alone with it, for a time, to focus).

But I LOVE promotion. I love the part where the book’s on shelves and I get to put on real clothes and travel and talk to people and smile and soak up the energy like sunlight.

I NEED that light.

Subtracting the promotion–really, the CELEBRATION–from the equation means that I end up spending far too much time in my own head. And while it’s an okay place to be if I’m in the throes of a new idea, or if I have the balance of public time, it’s not always the kindest, healthiest place for me to be.

I try to be kind to others.

I’m not very kind with myself. I second-guess everything. I doubt everything. I hate everything. I feel worthless. I feel like a fluke. I feel like it’s hopeless. Like I’m not doing enough. Like I’ll never be able to do enough. I want to hold down delete. I want to quit.

I worried I would find myself back in this place. And I did. Only it had changed. It wasn’t as simple as in 2010, with the impatience and the want. No. This place, the 2012 version of my dark mental landscape, had gotten worse. I’d learned a lot from publication, and all my doubts and fears were able to adapt. I fretted about things I didn’t know existed in 2010. I lost sleep and sanity over things out of my control.

And EVERYTHING felt like it was out of my control. It still does, most days, but I’m trying to find calm. Trying to breathe.

I ended up making myself very literally sick from stress.

2012 has been a strange, busy, hard, productive, destructive, stressful year. It has been wonderful in obvious ways, and awful in less obvious ones.

2012 is finally ending. I do not want to seem ungracious. 2012 has been one of the most important years of my life. And time is a gift. It is always a gift. I have lost enough people to know how precious a year is.

But lovelies, I look forward, and finally see the promise of light. I’ve always loathed the way time trudges on, and under deadline I might want to pause it, but the truth is that right now, I want to cry because this year–this messy, beautiful, hellish, essential year–is almost over.

THE ARCHIVED comes out in January.

VICIOUS comes out in September.

And the relief I feel–still tangled with fear, always with fear, and doubt–is immense. Relief not only because two books I’m deeply passionate about will finally be on shelves, but because I will once again have something to celebrate.

35 days until 2013.
56 days until THE ARCHIVED.

Thank you for sticking with me. You are such a vital part of my equation. I would have lost myself by now without you.

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17 thoughts on “The year of stress and self-loathing and far-off light.

  1. Kiersi says:

    Where there are dark tunnels, there are also always lights at the end, waiting for us.

  2. Kiersi says:

    I sound like a Hallmark card.

  3. Marylee says:

    I don’t actually know you but I love you. Can’t wait to read those books! Sending you lots of good thoughts/ positive energy to have with you on the hard days.

  4. So I’m not the only extroverted writer out there. I love my quiet, do-my-thing time, but I have to get out of the house and BE with people. Especially people who love books and writing as much as me. While I haven’t been in your exact shoes I can appreciate the emotions. Thanks for sharing.

  5. JillC says:

    I can’t even imagine … the querying process is stressful enough. You’d think after all that it would be easy – or at least that it should feel easy. Thank you for your honest reveals about all this. I’m sure it wasn’t easy opening yourself up like this.

    Sending cyber hugs and cookies to get you through the next 55 days!

  6. I can relate in so many ways. You’re not alone–even when you most feel it. And yet we do shoulder much of it alone, in the privacy of our caves, in the chaos of doubt. I’m grateful for your honesty. It reminds others that they’re not alone. It reminds me.

  7. hrose2931 says:

    I know you have deadlines and lots of them with that many books coming out, but you have to also have your sanity. You need to schedule a date with people every day. Yoga, lunch, shopping, just an hour or two. Yes, you can. (I know you’re saying you don’t have time that you can’t). Mental health is not something to f*** with. If it’s only you and the cats at home, you will go mad. Just going to the bookstore to do your edits and have a tea or coffee to be among people. You can’t be a hermit. It isn’t healthy. I really know what I’m talking about. How will you enjoy writing, your chosen profession if you hate the largest part of it? Get out every week. Feed your soul with what you need.

    Heather

  8. I think that every writer out there could accuse you of stealing the words right out of their mouths. I know I felt like I was looking in a mirror, reading your words.

    So that’s the first bit of good news, even when you’re alone in your head (I understand your fears) you’re not alone in your thoughts. If only science had found a way for us to group Skype in our own minds, then we’d be gold.

    Second bit of good news is that The Archived is just brilliance–it is the light– I cannot wait to see it beam like a pair of headlights in the midnight hour (and subsequently blind us all with its awesome. Same goes for Vicious.)

  9. My analysis: You’re an extrovert; you can’t get by just talking to the voices in your head, even when they belong to other people, because those people are also you.

    I imagine some people find a way of dealing with this without being a famous author, but I’m the wrong person to ask. (I’m an extrovert, but I haven’t figured out a way of dealing, either.) I’m always willing to provide a voice that isn’t you when you need one, though.

  10. Brooke says:

    Ever day is a learning experience. You have ups and downs. You go forward. You are doing great.

  11. “I’m not very kind with myself. I second-guess everything. I doubt everything. I hate everything. I feel worthless. I feel like a fluke. I feel like it’s hopeless. Like I’m not doing enough. Like I’ll never be able to do enough. I want to hold down delete. I want to quit.”

    Although I am not where you are in the journey of author…have not crossed what I thought would be a finish line at SOLD TO A PUBLISHER, the words above are my struggle as I go through each day, trying to write my 6th novel, checking to see if my agents has emailed with a THEY WANT IT THEY WANT IT, and second guessing my decisions and sacrifices over the years.

    I am envious of your position, and yet you and I feel very similarly about being a writer. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  12. senelson22 says:

    I can relate to the self doubt when I started the process of looking for a job after graduating it was scary.I found something part time but I kept thinking did I settle should I have held out longer after seeing friends find better positions.I am still looking and making an effort to maintain my optimism.Sending lots of love and hugs your way.I cannot wait for The Archived.

  13. Leigh Caroline says:

    *hugs* There’s always another mountain to climb. Every book is as frightening, as complicated, as terrifying as the first. And yet, we writers can’t resist it. Yes, it’s enormous, yes, it’s fraught with peril, yes, it’s got all the things we most fear in it.

    And yet we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    FWIW? I love your writing, and I am constantly amazed by how sweet, honest, and open you are. The book I’m working on right now I can very clearly see your influence (along with Cat Valente, Maggie Stiefvater, and my CP KT Hanna) in it. I’ve been deliberately studying the way you weave your words together (both in the partial arc of the Archived, and in the Near Witch), to try to do the same, because you do it so concisely and so well. And I don’t want to admit how many things you’ve said have gone into my writing motivation/morale file. It has a scrivener folder for them, we’ll just leave it at that. But this file is so helpful, for me, to be able to collect scraps of encouragement and advice on the writing life in one place, and on the days where my dark side rears her sour head, I just look through there. Then I read a REALLY poorly written book, and it makes me mad enough to keep going. Because if the drivel can be published, then mine will be too. <3 *hugs and loves*

  14. You are AMAZING, Victoria. I will always be here to remind you of that. <3

    A note on extroversion: I am the SAME WAY. I enjoy being holed in my cave, working away, crafting my latest project. But I have to take time to talk to people, to see friends, to get OUT OF MY HOUSE, otherwise I dissolve into a self-defeating, depressed-in-bed, sleeping-all-day mess. And that just…doesn't make for good writing.

    Here's hoping 2013 offers a little more balance. ^__^

  15. I wish I could be happy/excited about a release more than anxious. I think it’s great that you look forward to next year and see it as a celebration, though I’m sorry this year has been difficult for you. I suppose we each have our own demons to battle.

    I will happily clink virtual glasses with you, as I can’t wait to read THE ARCHIVED. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things!

  16. I love the sheer honesty that comes across in this post. It’s surprising to me to see that you enjoy the release of your books and interacting with the audience more than the creative process, though I can see how that’s possible (especially on days when I want to toss my WIP into a fire). I love that you gave us a great vantage point of what the experience is like for you, and I truly respect and admire you even more as an author.

    That being said, I hope I get to meet you soon! I’m still sad I missed out on Comic Con :(

  17. Wow. Just wow. I totally get that. I fight those kind of demons all the time. Sometimes I want to curl up in a ball, but there is a part of me that refuses to give in. You are an amazing and inspirational person to me. The words you use, so touching and powerful.

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