Long time, no write

Sometimes we all need a break to reflect on our mistakes and regroup

Hello there, stranger.

I have been on an unplanned hiatus from the blog after a crushing defeat and months of self loathing. Don’t you love the anonymity of blogging under a pen name? I can just let it all hang out. Since October, I’ve basically been questioning my life choices, whether I even have any skill at all as a writer, and if I should just shut is all down and live out the rest of my days in isolation and emptiness numbing my emotions with Bridgerton and Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Brownie ice cream.

What happened to launch me into a dark spiral of self-pity, despair, and unhealthy dairy products? Failure.

Before I get into the story, you need to understand for the entirety of my life, I have been a perfectionist: a “dotting my I’s and crossing my T’s” kind of girl. I always look before I leap, never leave a stone unturned, and overthink every last detail… of everything. This personality quirk has brought me decades of anxiety and a crippling fear of failure, but also praise, accolades and more over-achieving nonsense. I learned to base my self-worth on the straight-A’s on my report card as a kid, the appearance of having it all together as an adult, and the picture-perfect family and Pinterest-worthy domestic life as a mom. Maybe you can relate.

With each child we added to our family, my perfectionist tendencies wreaked havoc on my mental health. I don’t care who you are (unless you outsource childcare, cleaning and laundry), you cannot do it all. My inability to live up to my own high expectations translated into the belief I was failing at life. All the responsibilities on my shoulders grew terribly heavy and soul-crushing. (Enter depression stage left.)

Was I really “failing?”

By all accounts, I was doing all right. I was the okay-est mom ever… put that on a coffee mug! The average woman, with an average body and an average life. Certainly not the over-achiever or the perfect person I strived for, but I strived anyway. I threw the big parties, did all the volunteering, tried so hard to lose the weight, signed my kids up for all the things, etc. Instead of offering a pleasing smile for my family, I was often grumpy, frustrated and resentful.

On top of all that, I tried to throw my hat into the ring as a writer, cause why not? Gotta chase those dreams, you know. Cross it all off on your list. Being a stay-at-home mom is not valued in American society so you need to have a side hustle, right? That’s what I told myself constantly… that I was wasting away my time and talents. I vowed to make it happen. Over the course of a few months, I wrote my first novel and studied everything I could get my hands on about writing, editing, hiring beta readers, writing a synopsis, querying literary agents, and creating a social media presence. When I sent out the first batch of query letters and all I heard was crickets, I started to rethink my strategy. After a second batch of query letters and no responses, a flood of self doubt washed in.

After months—scratch that… years—of agonizing (and editing and editing and editing), I threw my novel up on a popular online writing platform anonymously to try elicit feedback from potential readers. Maybe by creating a profile and sharing my story I would get an answer to the nagging question keeping me up at night. Was I a decent writer or just delusional? Time would tell.

My coming-of-age novel didn’t get any traction. It was buried under titles like “The Bad Boy is My Baby Daddy,” “Teen Wolf Haunts My Dreams,” and all kinds of fan fiction. So I entered a contest for a shot at scoring a mentorship from one of the website’s successful creators in advance of the annual awards program. From this global awards program from which come ultimate bragging rights for budding novelists, instant fame, publishing contracts and even TV and film deals.

Low and behold, my application caught the eye of a prolific professional writer with experience in traditional publishing, self-publishing and on the agency side. She picked me for the mentorship program!! I was ecstatic and so grateful. My mentor said I deserved to call myself a writer and as far as first novels go it was really good. Goosebumps broke out on my skin when she told me, “I think you have something special here.”

All summer, we worked together to make my novel shine. It grew from 85,000 words to 96,000 words, adding emotional depth and character development I was so proud of. With my mentor’s help, I learned to write in deep point-of-view, cut out filler words, and work with an editor on a deadline. It seemed like it was all finally falling into place, but my stress and anxiety levels should have tipped me off. The process (although helpful and organized) exhausted me and left me feeling hollowed out inside. I was striving again… striving for perfection, seeking awards and recognition, and begging to be seen and acknowledged, just like I have done my entire life.

But this time, I was offering up MY story. A very personal piece of my heart and soul for judgment. Although fiction, my novel is based on real-life bullying I endured as a teen. The painful wounds inflicted many years ago which sting to this day were all out there on display. When it came time to enter the awards, I was hopeful. It seemed like I had a chance at making it on the shortlist of potential winners. This could be my big break to get discovered… or at least gain popularity and readers.

Crickets again. The shortlist came out and my name wasn’t on it. No one is reading my story. I failed. I failed publicly as one of the “chosen ones” in the mentorship program. I let my mentor down. I let myself down. My inner critic raged, “If I couldn’t make it on in an online story contest, how in the hell could I make it with a literary agency? Or future publisher?” It was a bitter pill to swallow, but swallow it I did, and it left me crying in the shower more than once, going through the motions of my life for weeks while living in a dreary black and white world, and questioning all the years of work I put into my novel.

I thought I could do it. It all seemed possible. In my heart, it was meant to be. But it wasn’t. I failed, plain and simple. As a life-long perfectionist, failing is scary.

So, I took a break to come to terms with failure. To rest in it and accept it. You know what I discovered deep in that dark pit of shame? A little ray of light. The hope of starting over again. Although my dream of becoming an overnight success was shattered, I could choose to redefine my concept of success. In failure, I found a little voice inside whose battle cry is “F*ck it all.” There is freedom in dropping the load of expectations weighing yourself down. Letting go of the need for perfection and praise is liberating in and of itself. Sure, my sadness took me away from writing for a while, but maybe that was part of the process. Sometimes you need to step away for a fresh perspective.

Thank you, Failure, for knocking me down. Although you pack a big punch, I’m not so scared of you anymore. Falling hurts but this blog post is proof I will get back up again and keep going. Now that my fear of failure doesn’t have such a strong grip on me, I can explore opportunities which would have previously paralyzed me in fear. There are always new stories to be written, and I WILL write them. Check out my latest work in progress WHEN WE WERE WILDFLOWERS. More details coming soon.

Thanks for reading this and witnessing my big feelings. I wish you all the best.

Love and light,


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