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A Message From Avril | April 2021 Update

I'm not exactly sure where to begin this post, but my typical style of intro doesn't feel fitting so I'll just cut to the chase.

I will be taking the next few weeks off from blogging.

This was far from an easy decision and something I deliberated for a good while before making the call, but it is ultimately the best for me at this time.

I didn't want to just seemingly drop off the face of the earth, but instead share a bit about why I'm taking this leave of absence.

I think that this has been hibernating in the back of my mind for a while but has become increasingly louder. The past year has been rough for obvious reasons. Among this, I was initially furloughed before being laid-off when my workplace closed permanently at the beginning of 2021, and the period of limbo between that, filling out applications, and job interviews left me with a lot of time to myself. Much of this has been spent reflecting and making realizations.

Lately, I've been coming to terms with the state of my mental health. TLDR; it hasn't been great.

There are some things I've been dealing with by tamping them down rather than confronting them, something that has taken a gradual toll on me for likely longer than I truly know. Addressing them is well overdue.

I have been trying to.

It's hard. It's draining. It's overwhelming.

As the quip often attributed to English majors goes, "there's a lot to unpack here."

I'm slowly easing my way back into therapy and figuring out medications with my doctor, the latter of which includes some trial and error and side effects that had me sleeping for roughly sixteen hours a day at one point. The next attempt had me bouncing off the walls, unable to sit still and at one point awake for approximately thirty-six hours straight—while dealing with hot flashes out of nowhere.

I'm exhausted in other ways, too.

My attention span has been poor lately, in part related to the aforementioned prescriptions but also the problems those prescriptions are trying to resolve. It has been so long since I curled up with a book and spent an afternoon reading for fun.

Despite its taking over pop culture and bringing Regency romance into the spotlight, I've yet to watch Bridgerton. I want to. I've been looking forward to it since its being in production was announced a bit after Poldark aired its final episode. But it's something I'd want to savor and enjoy while at the same time taking notes because my Regency romance-writing brain is in a constant state of research mode.

That feeling of having too many mental tabs open is just another reason I need to step away. There are so many stories I want to write, with many getting pushed onto the backburner to pile up. I've been holding off on doing anything with them beyond scribbling down a note here and there like a scene idea or a character name because I'm already bouncing between things.

I started querying one novel late last year, sending materials to a few agents. Hindsight is the greatest mentor, and after reevaluating the project after a few rejections, I realized a few changes I wanted to make before sending out another round of submissions. I'm about 3/4 of the way through the current round of tweaking it, but know it's going to need at least one more pass before I'm ready to dive into querying again (possibly more).

In some ways, it's exciting because of the new perspectives after not looking at the manuscript for so long and seeing previously unrecognized potential, but it's also a lot to tackle. There's a bit of I guess what I could call embarrassment in it, having sent out what I thought was ready to agents I had hoped to work with after hours researching profiles and databases but realizing that I wasn't as ready as I thought. Like stepping up on stage at karaoke night thinking you're going to absolutely nail a song but end up sounding flat and walk-of-shaming your way back into the crowd to sulk with your drink of choice.

Rejections sting for a number of reasons, but few are as impactful as the disappointment in myself and feeling like I've let myself down.

It's just another layer to the mess that is my brain as of late.

Amid all of this, I've been attempting to be consistent with the blog and make sure I have some content prepped in advance, but rather than sit down and write one post an afternoon the way I would a year ago, I find myself with a folder of half-written drafts, none of which are remotely close to being publishable.

This past week, I've been trying to get back into a groove, starting on another new medication, logging on for virtual sessions with a new therapist after a few bad experiences in the past, and settling in at a new day job. Part of that was trying to catch up on blog posts.

For the first time in two years, my scheduled posts folder was empty.

And I felt at a loss.

Additionally, I haven't been able to focus on any of my fiction projects for a long time.

There's a peculiar entanglement of guilt that comes with this, and I started today by attempting to write a blog post about that.

Instead, I started making some realizations that led me to the one you are reading now, noticing things about my mental health and anxiety that have been simmering beneath the surface—some of which I'm not ready to talk about yet and may never be.

I know it's okay to not be okay. Accepting that is another matter.

Taking steps to work through that is daunting but so, so important. It's not always comfortable or pleasant, and certainly not easy, but it's sometimes all a person can do.

And some of the steps a person takes might be steps taken back.

If there is one harsh lesson I've learned about writing, it's the need to step back and reassess your WIP. Leaving the document unopened or tucking the notebook in a drawer for a period of time before coming back to it with fresh eyes.

Sometimes, that Work In Progress is simply yourself.

The fact is, I've been posting on this blog every week without fail for over two years now. I've not fallen out of love with it or don't enjoy it anymore, but I need to give myself some space from it the way I would with any other ongoing writing project.

I'm not burnt out completely, but feeling a little singed.

I want to believe my writer-self is experiencing what any phoenix would, going through a period of feeling weakened before being able to rise from the ashes (despite how pretentious that might sound) but doing so requires healing.

And healing often means distancing oneself from what is causing you pain, physically or emotionally.

I considered a number of factors before deciding to take a break from blogging, including the fact that the idea of taking a hiatus stirred some anxiety of its own.

The last time I took a hiatus resulted in my losing about fifty followers on Twitter, and I've yet to come close to where I was before in the six months since coming back. Social media, in a way, has conditioned us to be a constant presence online. To always be sharing and uploading.

It often has me feeling like I'm back in high school trying to find my way among the cool kids and not really belonging to any clique despite my efforts. Always on the outside of an inside joke, if not the brunt of it.

Always too little of something or too much of another.

Just floating.

Now, I need to step back and ground myself.

So what does this mean?

I'm not going anywhere, exactly. I'll still be relatively active on Twitter, popping in and out. I intend to repost old favorites or popular posts, but my writing focus is going to be on fiction, be it polishing one project or drafting another.

But, more importantly, I'm going to be focusing on taking better care of myself and regrouping.

I'm not entirely sure how long this break will be so I'm not going to declare a return date, but instead a hope to be back by June for the annual mid-year check-in.

I guess that's everything for now.

So, like my struggle in starting this post, I'm not sure how to bring it to a close.

This is not a goodbye. It's just a see you soon.

In the meantime, be excellent to each other.



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