The last time I posted here I was 26
It was late spring and Nothing Left to Burn had just released
I lived in Olympia, WA on the border of a rainforest
Since then, I’ve experienced absurd joy, kindness
I’ve experienced rejections and bummer news
I’ve heard from the loveliest readers, received emails I couldn’t have dreamed up
I’ve heard from my publisher, good things, bad things, all of it
I’ve felt disappointment, shame, awe, conflict, gratitude
When I last posted here, I was still tapering off clonazepam,
one of the most agonizing experiences of my life
I never had a dependency or abuse issue but was prescribed it for too long
(9 years) (Our bodies are strange and delicate)
I worked as a book coach, an editor, a tutor, a copywriter, an admission essay advisor
(I still work all of those jobs and more)
I’d never visited New York City before, never met my editor
Never met the online, far away friends I did
I had health insurance
I missed teaching fiercely
(and I still do but I’m in the process of satisfying that desire)
I hadn’t yet started and made great headway on the current book of my dreams
(It’s dark and spooky and about sisters in an old house in a forest and more)
I hadn’t started developing what I call the Alaska thriller project
I hadn’t also had the recognition that no, I can’t give up on that summer-rejected bone book
I still lived in Washington. I really do miss it.
Since I last wrote here, I’ve also (re-)come to terms with my being a “slow writer” (but I really don’t like this phrase because it sounds like a negative, especially in the YA community, where it often feels like you’re a dud if you’re not at least doing a book every other year), which is funny because when I received my agent offers in 2014 my first question for each offering agent was whether they’d be okay with my being a “slow writer”–publishing every few years max. I had that awareness, knew my process, was happy with it, but then I got swept up with the standard publishing timeline expectations and it was a mess. After I sold NLTB in 2016, I psyched myself out. Desperate to churn out sellable material–based on industry advice, trying to develop proposals to sell rather than actually draft those books, even though I knew in my heart that I need to write a book to know it, to then revise (maybe rewrite) a book to truly understand it inside and out. I can write thousands of words in a stretch of a few hours, and sometimes I do, but I often need to write a hundred thousand words before I know it as I need to. And that’s okay. It’s how I write and that’s beautiful.
This does not make me a bad writer. There is nothing wrong with my process. I am not a bad writer.
And it’d be easy to regret the past several years spent outlining and developing and synopsis writing and hitting my head at my desk because, oh my god the time, the work I’ve put in. Since 2016, it’s been at a minimum a part-time job, often full-time hours, and some would say I have nothing to show with it. Some have even implied as much to me and that’s really sucked. That REALLY sucks. To those people I say: no. I have so much show for my past three years — perhaps most significantly is the acceptance of who I am and how I write and finding joy in that process again. And then there’s healing from the trauma of bipolar disorder, working toward stable medication management, and learning to be creative on these stabilizing medications, learning to be creative while not manic. And there were the six moves, the unemployment, the exhaustion of being so poor, the new jobs, the debut of Nothing Left to Burn. The hundreds and thousands of words I’ve put down. I’m doing so good. I’m so proud of myself.
And this, too: since I last wrote here, I’ve recognized that I don’t only want to write. That I love teaching too much to not pursue it. And the only way that I to do that is to finish the master’s degree I started in 2015. So, strangely, unexpectedly, perhaps one of the greatest twists of my life, I left my beloved Washington and moved back to Fairbanks, Alaska at the start of January. It’s been odd and hard, but also surprisingly not that hard. At the end of the day, I’m happy to be here. It needed to happen. It’s most difficult when I think too much about my time in Olympia and the magic and simplicity of it all. It’s impossible when I think about Bellatrix. It’s mostly only scary because I’m on week four with no health insurance because transitioning to Alaska’s Medicaid has so far resulted in silence (my several month supply of my medications is my savior). It’s also hard because being a graduate student is just a lot. Plus spring is en route and I’m in Alaska. We’ve gained four hours in the month of February and I can feel it. A discombulation. By the end of March, the sun will set near nine and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this doesn’t give me a little anxious spike. But I also know I’m okay. I’ll be fine. I’m prepared and stable and I’m ready for it: the sun and the second half of the semester. And whatever happens, I’ll be okay. I know what I need. I’ll miss the dark terribly but that’s life. We miss things constantly.
So I’m back in Alaska. And even if this isn’t exactly where I’d most like to be right now (because I miss WA so much, miss that time of my life, miss insurance, miss my friends, miss the rain, miss my dog, missing my savings, miss being an author with a book coming out soon) or what I expected of 2019 and 2020, this is where I ultimately DO want to be, where I need to be to get the shit I want done done. Does that make sense? To not want to be here but also so want to be? Because I don’t only want to write. I also want to teach. And in the next fourteen months, if all goes well, I will be completing three semesters of work, taking a 30+ book comprehensive exam, writing a thesis (a novel; will it the bone one or the sister one?) and defending that thesis, and I’ll come out with the degree that will dub me a master (ha) and will make me, at the very least, qualified to teach college-level writing. I’ll be doing what I need to do and writing, as I have been, and I’ll be cradling the one copy of Nothing Left to Burn I brought with me because, I did that, and I still am in awe that it’s a thing that exists. I am stupidly happy. Basically, it’s been ten months since I last wrote here and I’m all the better for it. ALSO. As of this spring, I’ve been blogging here off and on for ten years. What!
More soon, maybe.