I’ve been going through a pretty rough period, lately. Wild mood swings, extremes of emotion; fear and anxiety, doubt and depression, passion and drive, optimism and six shades of pessimism leading to the verge of self-defeating behavior. I’ve been stressing out about little things, big things, things well beyond my ability to control. I’ve even gotten into a couple of pointless arguments with people (on the internet, not in person) along the way. I reached, and passed, a mental point of no longer being able to stand staring at my old artwork, and I’ve already sold about a third of it off at prices lower than I’ve had to go in about a decade. I’ve finished the first drafts of two books, and I’ve already managed to spend more hours working toward marketing the books than the raw hours spent writing those drafts.
It’s all been quite mixed and complicated. Quite a bit of good, and a lot of misery and stress and depression, and quite a lot accomplished. I’ve been going through all this (and more, and worse, and better) for months, and in the last few days I’ve realized explicitly that I wouldn’t want it any other way.
The intensity of emotion I’ve had over as relatively simple a matter as trying to get in touch with a couple of photographers or otherwise navigate the legal complications of using someone else’s photography on my books’ covers is indicative of how much I care about what I’m doing. How much I care about the work I’m doing. How passionate I am about my creations. I care so much it hurts. I care so much I’m willing to hurt myself in the process of getting it done right. Even at the worst of the worst of these sometimes quite bad times, I’ve never really doubted that I’m living the life I’m supposed to be. Sometimes I doubt my skills, my talents, and frequently I doubt the quality of my output, but I don’t doubt what I’m doing; if I’m ever to reach the level of skill and quality required, it’s only by continuing the work. By living through the struggles, and coming out stronger on the other side.
I don’t get bored of my work, not really. Even when I’m doing desperately repetitive things, things which a year ago would have made me sick to consider for even a few minutes, there’s no boredom. This week I’ve read about a thousand (no, literally, a thousand – every title across ten Amazon top 100 lists) book descriptions/blurbs, to try to learn by immersion the structure and style of effective book descriptions, especially in the categories Never Let the Right One Go will be listed in. The very thought of such a study (with no mention of its scope) would have made me physically nauseous a year or two ago. (Writing my own book descriptions has always been a painful and difficult struggle, usually with corresponding ill feelings.) The premise of going through a thousand books has bored several people in my vicinity who only heard of the project, didn’t attempt it. Having set myself to the task, and believing fully in the value of it to the success of my current project, I found the whole exercise quite stimulating, and only mildly nauseating.
…The point is, my life -even my depression- is a joy. I have a wife who loves me, and who I love, and we enjoy each other’s company and bring happiness to one another. We have our basic needs met, and we’re making significant progress toward being debt-free, which will give us a lot more freedom than the significant freedoms we already enjoy. I’m free to follow the creative spirit God gave me, to build with my mind and my hands and my heart the things which flow from that boundless wellspring. Importantly, I’m not forced to make myself a slave for the sake of money: Even though I’m hoping and working toward making Never Let the Right One Go my most commercially successful books to date, I’m not doing any of this in pursuit of money. I expect to exceed a thousand hours of work put into creating this duology before I’m done with the First Edition in paper, electronic, and audio formats, and every hour has paid for itself already by being an hour spent creating something I care about. Creating something I hope other people will find as worthwhile as I do.
For as long as I’m able to go on following my heart and my dreams, my imagination and my inspiration, all these apparent “rough times” will be not only worth it, but part of what makes life worth living.