Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lazarus Has Risen

Welp, it took three years, but I seem to be back on the horse. Last time I was here, I was in a dark place getting darker. A few weeks after my last post, I was given my 14-months notice at work that I hadn’t been ‘mapped’ into the new Post-Merger organization. Did I give a crap? Nope. I was still awash in the throes of acute grief, trying to ignore the chronic physical and emotional toll awaiting me. It took over a year to get the house cleaned out and sold, along with getting the estate closed. Even though my writing took a back seat during that time, I was somehow able to get through two drafts of The Killing Stones, but until recently, that’s been sitting in a drawer gathering dust. Meantime, I got THIS close (hold your thumb and forefinger half an inch apart) on landing an agent for Healing Chiron (v4.0). She sent me a note in July 2008 telling me why she was passing on it after sitting on fence for close to a year.

That, too, got tossed in a drawer.

Luckily, a much better company bought the company that bought my original company and in Fall 2008 I found myself with a new job – a promotion in fact. I also found myself in way over my head with two huge projects…Just in time for Angie to lose her job in the Spring of 2009. In the back of my mind, my original plan of walking away with a huge severance and focusing solely on getting my two novels published (while being supported by a Sugar Mama) was now a pipe dream. Healing Chiron and The Killing Stones sunk deeper into the trunk.

Work-wise, everything was going well. Nice bonuses, decent raises, 30+ vacation days a year. Who could ask for anything more? I could, apparently. In Spring of 2010, I basically hit the emergency shut-off valve when a health scare struck my immediate family. My mind defaulted to ‘worst case scenario’ and I not only had trouble focusing at work, but just staying emotionally stable was a challenge. After more test results showed there was basically nothing wrong, I realized I needed to talk to a professional. Because something was wrong with ME.

The psychologist scored me for moderate depression, theorizing my traumatic childhood (watching my brother die over the course of a decade) had conditioned me to believe Life Only Dishes Out The Worst. And apparently, Survivor’s Guilt had infiltrated me to the point of altering my genetic make-up. It made sense. Just realizing these two things has better equipped me for handling the next helping of brussel sprouts Life serves me.

As for the root cause of my depression? It dawned on me this January I wasn’t doing what I loved. I wasn’t writing. Sure, I could blame Dad for dying, or blame Wachovia for putting my career on hold, or blame Angie for getting laid off. But what it came down to was this: If I really wanted to write, and if I’m really supposed to write, then the only thing stopping me was ME. Even if I’m working my tail off at work. Even if I only average five or six hours of sleep a night. Basically, it was time to Man Up.

So, in February, I re-read the feedback I got from two of the agents who had read the 93,000-word tome Healing Chiron (v4.0) and came up with an inventory of changes that would make it (gasp!) more marketable. I set a goal of re-approaching both agents with Healing Chiron v7.0 by mid-May – I want to hit them before the publishing world goes dormant for the summer. As we speak, a few friends are beta reading v6.0 and I expect to have an 80,000-word v7.0 polished up in time to meet my arbitrary deadline. Meanwhile, I finished v3.0 of The Killing Stones last night, chopping out over 5,000 words from the 95,000-word v2.0. Realistically, I need to get this, too, down to 80,000 words (v5.0) before shopping it around.
The best thing about it? Before I broke the emergency glass three years ago, I had to give most of my beta-readers printed manuscripts. Now I can provide readable versions for the Kindle, Nook & iPad.

Meanwhile, two ideas (one is a fake documentary and the other is another paranormal) simply won’t go away until I at least map them out. I’m not getting much done around the house, but one thing’s for sure: The fire’s back.