On Roadblocks, Ruts, and Walls: or, Did Anybody Get the Number of That Bus?

It’s been a…week. Aside from the general mayhem of a constantly changing three-and-a-half month old baby who refuses to nap during the day (which equals, no productivity time), I managed to sprain my ankle while out hiking with the hubby this last weekend.

Awesome. (Smell the sarcasm?)

What this equates to is so far, a week stuck on the couch, immobile–which is seriously difficult with a little one. We’ve got the whole living room set up like a cluttered tiny house, trying to squeeze everything I could possibly need for me and the Little Guy during the day into a ten-foot, reachable space. Needless to say, I’m quite ready for the foot to be good again. Scooting down the stairs on my butt is not so much fun as I remember from my childhood.

Having even the remote chance of productivity shot down (the Little Guy also doesn’t *really* like sitting still, and in my able-bodied days, typically requires me to carry him around to keep him moderately appeased, and therefore, this lack of walking is proving particularly challenging) hasn’t stopped my inner self from beating the crap out of my psyche about writing. Because, hey, why not kick myself while I’m down?

My mother is a mental health councilor, and over the past few days, I’ve started to really appreciate the impact of what she calls selective-thinking. Basic example? Imagine you’re standing behind a screen. Outside the screen are thoughts, good thoughts and bad thoughts. The bad thoughts get through the screen no problem, but the good ones are blocked, unless they can be twisted to seem like bad thoughts. “Hey! I got into an awesome anthology!” becomes “Yeah, but my story’s probably the worst one,” or “Yeah, but it’s a reprint, so it’s not like it counts as a real sale.”

Or “Hey! I have a healthy baby!” becomes “Yeah, but not making eye contact with him continuously will probably give him abandonment complexes later in life.”

Seriously, Brain? WTF?

Beginning to recognize the ways my own brain sabotages my day-to-day happiness and sense of self-worth is at least a step in stopping it. We always talk about the “inner critic” or “inner editor” as only a part of one’s writing life, but truth is, there’s an inner critic inside our heads all the time. Some are just better at silencing it than others, and that’s definitely something I’m working on.

Because you know what? This last year has been pretty awesome. I wrote the rough draft of my first original novel. About a year ago today, I finished a fabulously fun fiction project that wound up being about 250,000 words long (whoa). I edited and got two new stories out doing the fiction rounds, which is more than I’ve gotten out in the past two years. I *did* sell a story this year, and even if it’s a reprint, it’s an amazing anthology and I’m thrilled to bits to be included in it among all these rockstar authors who are infinitely more published than I am to this point. I had my ridiculously adorable son this June, and *still* managed to post a bunch of fun interviews with my fellow authors (with one left to go!), and have even begun the process of setting aside time every week with a sitter so I can put in some dedicated writing time. And while it may only be once or twice a week for two hours, that’s two hours I otherwise wouldn’t have, and that’s enough to make at least a little progress on my upcoming novel project. I’ve also learned a lot about plotting and structure these past few months, which will only help me become a better, more conscious writer. I formatted a new book project, too, on top of that. And the boy is happy, healthy, and growing! We moved, I’ve read eighteen (Wait! Nineteen!) out of the twenty-five books I wanted to read this year, and am still plugging along nicely on that after rediscovering my Kindle.

Are there other things I wish I could get done? Of course. But this past year doesn’t look so shabby when I spell it all out. And even acknowledging that is something to be proud of.

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