Always Starting Over

Photo by Christian Joudrey on Unsplash

I know a post about fresh starts during the first week of spring is a cliche, but sometimes we need to embrace the cliche if it fits. And honestly, I’m doing a little wishful thinking and hoping I can manifest some spring beauty in my life by writing about it. February was another lost month to meds that didn’t work and a personal life that continues to be a reigniting Dumpster fire.

Not only were my current meds still making me sick, I found myself in a deep depression almost every night and sometimes for multiple days in a row. It was not great. I think we might have found a mix that works by adding an antidepressant for the first time. Well, the first time in a while at least. Back around 2001 I started on an antidepressant that did seem to make a difference in my mood, but didn’t do crap for the rest of my noise-addled brain, so after a few years I stopped taking it.

But I saw two things recently that should been reminders of my biggest failures, but I’m going to choose to see them as prompts for the next new beginning in my life. First, I saw that the new guy working the co-author gig I lost has his first book coming out as the solo author, which was a massive gut punch because that was what my dream scenario had been.

I still have a lot of feelings about that whole gig I’ll be working out with my therapist(s) for years to come, but this one time at least I want to focus on a positive aspect of it rather than a negative: I’m writing my own stuff in my own voice rather than molding myself to another author’s voice and style. And I really need to embrace this because I do have my own voice and my own style and too often over the last decade or so I lost track of the and kept trying to be someone I’m not.

Which brings us to the second gut punch that I’m choosing to look at positively. The publisher of my first two novels is going out of business, and it also marks almost 10 years since my first book came out. Ten years. And I’ve only published two novels since then, one of which is kind of crap that I wish I had kept in the trunk. I haven’t finished a novel of my own in more than eight years. So there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to revive my career, but I feel like that publisher closing also closes the chapter on my attempt to be a noir writer. It was never a natural fit for me, but I was more concerned with being respected and being seen and “important” or “serious” that I forgot to have any fun. And fun is what I’m in this for.

Starting over again is exhausting, but I’m genuinely looking forward to this new era of my life where I’m freeing myself to be the writer I should have been a decade ago. I’m writing fun puzzle mysteries and romantic comedies and having a blast. My plotting skills have leveled up substantially since I first took a crack at a novel and the new meds and new coping skills keep me from panicking when something doesn’t work and give me the focus and patience to dig through the mess of a manuscript and fix the issue.

This is the first book I’ve started with a really strong foundation and I’ve been updating that detailed synopsis as I go along. I also go back when I can’t move forward and make sure once again that the foundation in the first half of the book is solid enough to support the second half. That’s what I’ve been working on the last few days. I’ve been outlining all of the chapters to see where all of the clues and suspects are (FYI: there’s not enough of either yet) and make sure that the backstory is coming out organically. I’ve also been working on a timeline of all of the events in chronological order, so I can make sure I’ve got everything buttoned up by the end.

I used to just plow forward on a draft until I was finished and that always made me so miserable. I got to the point where I dreaded getting to the end of a book because I knew I had a page one rewrite ahead of me and all of the work I’d just done felt like a waste. No longer though, by the time this draft is done it will have been revised quite a bit.

I hope spring is finding you with a fresh beginning creatively, personally, or both if you need it. Failure sucks and it can be very hard to get over and move on from. But I know first hand that if you don’t look for these opportunities to learn and be inspired by failure rather than just wallowing in it, you’re only going to create regret and resentment and grief. This world already has plenty of that, it doesn’t need us creating any more.