Sunday, October 8, 2017

Is It A Battle or A Marriage? Creative Brain vs. Logical Brain

She's in the fantasy of the story. He eats cake.
I always told myself that I loved writing my stories so thoroughly that I would never experience burn-out, or need a break. I told myself that was what other authors did who perhaps had overwhelming things come up in their lives: family concerns, economic downturns or just life in general, and this somehow wouldn't apply to me. Because none of these things would happen to me. I always thought of myself as bullet-proof. Unstoppable. I'm a great one for giving this kind of advice too. Just ask me.

And then June-July of this year happened. I can't say what it was. I knew something was up (still in denial mode) when I knew I shouldn't read my reviews and couldn't stop from doing so, when friends who had phenomenal success suddenly made me feel like a loser, or when I made up stories about the significance of book sales, how fast people got back to me, and on and on and on it went. You know the drill. Your mind goes on a dribble like chasing oversized zucchinis down a hill. These lumpy thoughts felt like my brain was filled with busy little ants trying to make a kingdom of my gray matter.
Seeking vehicular meaning. Not.

Every one of my calendars was still on July, until last week. My desk looked like a hamster was nesting there. I hated to check social media, stayed off Facebook and especially Messenger, but a few got through. When people started thinking perhaps I was dead, I had to laugh. Even then I didn't respond sometimes. I know. It was selfish, self-absorbed, poor manners. But I needed a break.

This December 15th it will be ten years since I started writing. It will be eight years since I published my first little novella, and five years since I published my biggest seller, Accidental SEAL, my first book to take off and begin to make some serious money. I've taken roughly sixty online writing classes, attended about a hundred RWA Chapter meetings, attended probably close to that number of book signings and online FB events. I have a huge following and newsletter list, and lots of adoring fans who fill me with delight. So, what's the problem?

The emergency brainectomy of life.
At first I thought I'm boycotting social media because, after all, this last election cycle had to be one of the nastiest one in our history. I was so disappointed to read how my very good writer friends had positions I thought were crazy, or how they thought my positions were. I stopped talking politics except at home, but I should have stayed out of it there too. There was nothing redeeming on social media and I felt like a mouse in that enormous flywheel, running, running, running to catch up. I still missed things, deadlines snuck up on me, and others I had to just walk away from.

But social media wasn't the reason for my situation. Amazon wasn't the big bad monster interfering with discoverability and book sales. I wondered if my Red-White-and-Blue-Rah-Rah-Love-The-Military themes in my books were getting shoved down in the algorhithms. Was there too much competition? Or, did I not work hard enough? Did I believe in myself enough? Where was God, my family and my friends and how come they couldn't fix me? Help me?

I expected to look 20 when I peeled this off.

Facials and massages didn't work. The soapmaking classes, collage classes, walks in the park, gardening, starting a new business, traveling to Mexico, didn't work. I dyed my hair red, and that made me laugh, but it didn't put the fire in my soul. I listened to music, burned a ton of candles, stayed out in the sun as much as I could stand, and even tried to go vegan for awhile. I tried to read and couldn't get through any of the first chapters. I got more sleep than I've had in years. I cancelled seven events, dealt with a blood clot to my leg and a minor stroke my husband had. Everything is fine. No life-threatening things on the horizon then or now.

So, what was it?

It was my logical mind trying to do a BDSM session with my creative mind. It took special glee in whipping and tying my creative self up with "that doesn't works" and "you are so stupid" comments, humiliating that part of me where all the magic lives. And the longer it went, the more my logical mind tried to be in control. I was trying to figure it all out.

I love the story about the two dogs. One dog is the vicious, fearful one, and the other dog is the excited, loving and creative dog that loves affection, connection and that sense of coming home. That famous Native American story goes that we have to decide what dog we feed.

Word.
The only way through it is to give myself over to the Creative Brain. There is no real control, is there? We don't know why music fills our soul, or why flowers make us happy, or why sun brings us some sort of divine energy from the Heavens. Our creative side has no limits, no borders, no barriers and no regrets.

And it's a choice. That's what I've chosen.

Will I go back to being a social butterfly? No. I'm going to be careful. I'm going to pace myself. I'm going to be careful who I hang around, who fills my day. But I'm going to make most of it filled with my characters from the books. I've been missing them.

And unlike real life, I can have as many lovers in my fantasy life as I choose. I guess what I found, after all this wandering is not my brain, but my heart. Writing stories is the most enjoyable activity in my life. That's the dog I'm feeding.

What do you think? I'd really love to hear it...(kiss, kiss).



29 comments:

  1. Sharon, Yes! I am so with you. Feed your heart. And thanks for all the wonderful feels! Hugs, Beth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beth, you bet. We've been down the same path and one of my first writer friends, you've been true with your wisdom. Thanks so much!

      Delete
    2. You're so welcome! Hope you're safe!

      Delete
    3. Let me know if you need anything!

      Delete
  2. Oh my sweet friend, I'm so distressed to hear you have suffered so much self-doubt. I'm not a writer and can't begin to understand the pressure of others options, when this is your chosen career. What I can say is be true to yourself. I offered this same advise to another author friend who was bullied into changing her writing by a so called 'author critique' and was struggling as she loved her story and the characters within. So my words of wisdom (LOL) to her were, "Stay true to what you believe in and remember that you are the one who has to be happy with the work you submit. You can't please everyone, and even the most loyal readers will dislike something or someone you write about". I don't know if this helps at all, but I hope you will always do what is right for you. As long as it does't hurt anyone else, that's really all that matters in this life. Sending hugs from down under, Karen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bless you, Karen. I've got to miss that place Down Under sometime in the next few years. Saving my pennies, and in the meantime asking my dreams to become real.

      So glad you understand. There's no long-lasting pain here, just a discovery of the way I was trying to "think" myself out of it. Wrong way. The heart. The story. The love. That's all that matters. Thanks so much for your support!

      Delete
  3. Oh Sharon...I am so with you on this. I wondered where you were and missed your humor and little comments. I too, started to cut down on social media because it got too depressing and too political for my taste. yes, I'm still there but being very selective with posts I read or groups I'm still in. I'm happy to hear you are taking care of YOU and doing what you love. Your books continue to keep me company on chilly evenings. :) There is no crime in cutting back and know that your true fans are still here with you. Hugs, Barb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Barb. The space between the projects is a rich and fertile place, for sure. And sometimes it comes with a little too much introspection. But I'm feeding the right dog now. Thanks so much for your support.

      Delete
  4. I have so missed you! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love you to pieces, Nicole. But I'm back. I really am. Better than ever...Thank you so much for your friendship.

      Delete
  5. Sharon, I'm so sad that you have gone through such a depressing time. These episodes in our lives though are a learning time, a pushing through of a negative, a breaking down then building up, a re-working of our inner self to arrive on the other side finding our most important selves. Stay strong, my dear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like two steps forward and one step back, right? That's the right of it. The path isn't straight, and God, it's not narrow! Thank you Cheryl!

      Delete
  6. My dear friend you were missed but after reading this I totally understand how it can be so overwhelming. I'm not a writer either and even though I have ideas running around in my head, I'd rather read someone else's. Take all the time you need to rejuvenate yourself we'll be there when you can come back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Missed you too, Teresa. Thank you so much for your wonderful words. They always say how can I miss you if you won't go away? LOL. But I'm back, trust me.

      Delete
  7. Feed the heart and soul.Since I found out I have MS, I had to make many decisions. Do what you love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My heart aches for you, Nancy. I have several writer friends with MS. It's a long battle. Makes you appreciate life, doesn't it? I pray that you and I can play and tell stories for many decades to come. Much love, Nancy.

      Delete
  8. Sharon I'm so sad to hear of your struggles. Your not alone in your ponderings. I to have had a dreadful few months . Pulling your self up and back together is not easy but, worth it in the end. Like a friend said to me recently hey your alive to moan about it and housed and fed. Stay true to yourself and your writings, enjoy what you write. Believe in your self again. Rest and enjoy your family. Wishing you all the very best

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goes in waves, right? I'm giving you cyber hugs and lots of warm wishes, Julie. You've been such a kind and gentle soul and a wonderful friend. Readers like you make me love what I do. I wasn't far, but I took the time so I could do this for a long time to come. Take care. We'll toast 2018 and call it done. On to the next...

      Delete
  9. You are not alone. (((Sharon))) I've missed you and am glad to see you back. I've published one book and one novella so far this year. I'm going to publish the current novella this month or next. I'll dive into writing next year. It's been a rough year all around, lots of changes. I just returned from 10 days disconnected from the phone, computer, television, radio, at a Lord of the Rings event. I traveled 2700 miles with friends I know online and haven't seen in 9 years. We talked about family, work, our love of learning, and all things LOTR. Most importantly, we laughed and laughed and laughed. I didn't know it was possible to be happy for days at a time. It all started with me determining "I'm going on an adventure!" It wasn't perfect; adventures aren't either. When my friends picked me up in Austin at the airport I told them, "We are not going on vacation. This is not going to be peaceful, relaxing, or laid back. There are going to be problems, and it's going to be messy sometimes. We're going on an adventure!" Off we went, and it was awesome! Take care of you and your precious heart. Love you. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What an amazing story, Judy. Exactly the right thing to do, too! Wow. You do things in a big way. Looking forward to talking with you about it one day. Hugs and thank you for being such a loyal reader, and friend. I know your writing must sparkle now...

      Delete
  10. I really missed you. Your books have brought me such joy. I love everyone of them. You are truly one of my favorites. I too stepped away from social media because it go too political and nasty. I’m just glad you’re back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awwww. Thank you Therese! Know that I'm working to bring you more laughs and tears with stories of my heart. It was something I just had to do, and I'm glad I did. Nice to be missed, though. Take care. Can't wait until my next book is out for you! Bachelor SEAL on 10-31!

      Delete
  11. You have to be true to YOU. Haters gonna hate...potatoes gonna potate. I struggle every day to drag myself to my job (that I used to love) because my creative mind is screaming "LET ME OUT NOW!!!" Unfortunately, with a disabled hubby, that option is not viable at this time and each day I feel like a part of me dies a little bit inside. I,too, have found myself withdrawing from social contact, social media, and the outside world in general. THANK GOD there are wonderful authors like you who are willing abd able to give me a welcome escape from my day-to-day reality. As with all things - this too shall pass. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Laura! Yes, it will pas. In fact, it blooms into a beautiful flower. We have to guard the tender and magic inside us all. Not everything can be given away. My stores are recharged and I'm back big time. It's hard when your loved one is sick or disabled, and I faced that too. But the best thing I can do is to bring light and joy, and the rest of the healing will have to come from inside him. You take care too, and thanks for understanding...

      Delete
  12. Sharon, I really appreciate you sharing your story, especially as I have been feeling the same way for months and it's been hard to find stories/inspiration to get back on track. (Everything I find seems to lead back to how to feed the muse and stuff like that.) Anyway, as a fellow writer, I just wanted to say I understand. I've been there. Heck, I'm still there for the most part. I've been calling it a mid-life writer's crisis. :) But I have to believe my purpose will become clear eventually... Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Anne Marie. I know I'm not the only one who ever feels this way. I'm better for the whole experience. Sometimes missing what you love so much is exactly the right medicine. It works with love, especially loving characters and those who are not physically close to me. I write best with that shade of blue and moves the red heart. I'm glad you understand and have experienced the same thing. Sisters, right?

      Delete
    2. Exactly! And I hope some day to be able to help others move through this tough space.

      Delete
  13. Sharon, I LOVE your writing style and your yummy alpha military males. If you need a break, take a break, give yourself time to rest. Maybe your muse decided to visit someone else for a week or so. You are definitely one of my favorite authors. I met you two years ago at the RT conference along with JMMadden, Elaine Levine, and several others and had a blast talking to all my book heroes. Hope all goes well with you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Lynne! I'm honored to be among your favorites. I promise you're gonna love the next one coming out on Halloween, Bachelor SEAL. Thank you for your loyal support. You guys are the reason I love to write. Take care!

      Delete