Burnout One Year Later

One year ago, on the feast of St. Joseph, I hit publish on my first book. What a thrill that was!

And what a ride it's been.

Since then I've learned more than I ever thought possible, which is to say, I've probably learned 1% of what there is to know about book writing and publishing.

A few takeaways:

     - Writing a book is harder than it looks. 

     - Writing a book is one of the most enjoyable things I know. 

     - The formatting/cover aspect is like slamming your head against the wall until you pass out. But when you do finally come back to sanity...you slam your head against the wall again until you pass out.

     - Selling a book is the hardest thing to do on the face of the planet.

     - Local is best.

     - It's all addicting.

When July rolled around and I finally had more free time, I jumped into writing a second book. The entire process repeated. More time to immerse myself into a story. More time to create. More time to slam my head against a wall until I pass out.

But here we are in March. What next? It's safe to say that I've reached a personal burnout. I have 6000 words started on a new book and no gas left in the tank to get where I need to go.

I must be clear: I am not burnt out from writing. No. I still love it all. It's the rest of life that seems to get in the way. We have five children now. They're great, the joy of our lives, but life is busy. We have never ending winter too, which is fun, but starts to get at you after a while. Metaphorically, we have never ending winter in the Church and world. With never any Christmas, as C.S. Lewis would say. And my teaching job is exhausting. I used to have energy after work. It's hard to imagine. I read the other day that a school district in Ohio is shifting to a four day school week. The reason being teacher-burnout. I believe it.

If I'm being honest, I do believe I have time to write. Either in the evening, or to pull the get-up-at-4am-new-writing-thing to get words down. I have not the energy for such activity. More to the point, I'm the type of writer who needs to immerse himself inside the story. I can't write a bit and then put it all on the shelf for 22 hours and expect it be easy access later. The story must always be on my mind. "Now class, in today's math lesson we will be working with fractions...because the main character could fracture a bone at some point, but only if it advances our understanding of his suffering and...er, I mean..."

So seriously, what comes next?

If need be, I will have to pick up writing in July. It's not really what I want. Ok, it's not at all what I want. But first things first. It took me thirty-eight years before I came out with my first novel. A few extra months to come out with my third novel won't be tragic.

As for being burnt out with life, I'll bet more than a few of you are reading this and nodding your head. It's just one of those times for a lot of people. I think consistency is a key to getting through. Consistent in prayer, exercise, eating habits, family time, and so on. Nothing lasts for ever. Seasons change. Spring brings new life. And who knows? Sometimes things do change unexpectedly. There might not be any expectations on my part, but there is always hope. 

For everything there is a season.


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