February 07, 2023

The Frustrations of Creative Life

 

In her wonderful book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, which I discussed last year on my blog, Elizabeth Gilbert tells us that handling our personal frustrations as artists is the most elementary part of creating anything, no matter if you’re a writer, painter, or musician.

The first time I read her book, I was deep in a bout of depression (not spurred on by writing or publishing in any way but which was impacting my writing in every way), I remember asking, “But how?”

The second time I read her book, when I was finally back to writing, I still paused at that line and again asked, “How?”

How can someone handle their frustrations, with or without depression?

That, I believe, is the trick and the challenge. Finding a way to handle frustrations, and let-downs, and stress, and writer’s block, and depression is, indeed, the most important part of living any sort of creative life. What works for one person to help them handle these ups and downs—mostly these downs—may not work for others. And finding the solution can be a long, hard battle.

Elizabeth also says that frustration isn’t an interference of our creative process, but rather that it is the whole process, from beginning to end.

I agree and disagree with this, which I believe Elizabeth Gilbert will say is in my right. (Thanks, Liz…if I may call you that.) I agree because frustration is definitely a major part of the process, just as rejections are part of the process, and writer’s block, ideas coming and going, publishing woes, marketing stress, and everything else that may cause a writer headache and heartache.

I disagree because frustration can interrupt your process, if you let it. And it can certainly interrupt the process if that frustration is combined with, or a symptom of, depression.

When I was younger, before my first head-on collision with writer’s block and (unrelated) my first encounter with depression, I didn’t believe writer’s block could happen to me. I also never entertained the idea of experiencing depression because of my frustrations with not getting published. Nor did I think it possible that I would get completely burned out and be unable to write. I used to say that if I didn’t write in a single day, then that day felt wasted. I hated it, simply detested it, if I didn’t have time to write, because it was my joy. Oh, I was so innocent then.

Writing isn’t always a stroll over a rainbow, with unicorns and shooting stars and all things lovely and magical and bright. Sometimes, the going is tough. Sometimes, an idea doesn’t work, or you can’t get two thoughts down on paper, or you feel gutted by a rejection or critique, or nothing you do to market your work seems to be helping. These things aren’t enjoyable, but we put up with them in the best, sometimes the only, ways we know how.

Elizabeth Gilbert tells us that how we handle ourselves during those moments that aren’t so lovely and magical and bright is rather revealing for how dedicated we are to our passion, and it can also show us if we have the chops to handle this chaotic but beautiful life of an artistic person.

Well, I have been tormented by my frustrations. I have fallen into the slimy, greasy pits of depression. In my anguish…perhaps in self-pitying moments, I would say aloud that I should quit publishing, and trying to publish, but I never said I’d quit writing. I never could. To say that would be equivalent to death for me. Even if I had stopped trying to publish, I still would’ve written. But the thing is, the times when I threatened to stop publishing altogether, which I fully meant in that instant, I knew it wouldn’t come true. Mind you, I don’t have to publish, but there will always be a part of me longing to share my work with others that I may never be able to quell. So, seconds after I’d make this statement, I’d be right back at it. Honestly, when it comes to my writing career, and my writing in general, I don’t have a quitter bone in my body. I will continue writing and publishing, even in the face of the most disagreeable aspects of writing and publishing, even in the face of depression.

I preserve. I push on. But that persevering and pushing on can be difficult. I still do it, though. I have no other choice. Not if I want to keep writing and creating, publishing and sharing, and living the life I see for myself.

The fact I do preserve and push on and don’t have a quitter bone in my body, I think means Elizabeth would say I handle myself well in those not-so-bright moments and that I am equipped for the demands of creative living.

Yay me! Yet, I never doubted that I did.

You can preserve and push on, too.

When I am going one-on-one with depression, though, it can be hard to see the other side.

I believe, though, that every state of depression can be mounted, and everyone going through depression can find their way through it.

But how?

There is no definite or single answer to that. 




Universal Killer Chapter Six Teaser



Chapter Six is up today with BONUS material. When you’re a patron, you get access to the previous chapters and bonus material as well.

My Romance Reading Journey


Last year, members of the bookstagram community on Instagram created posts to share their romance reading journeys. I loved the posts and had fun checking out other readers’ romance journeys. I wanted to do one myself, but it looked like too much work for a social media post. So, I decided to save it for a blog post. This is that blog post.

Are you ready to go on my romance reading journey from past to present?

Let’s go!


First adult romance - Once In A Lifetime by Danielle Steel. Read at age 15. It was my mom’s book that I’d always seen and was curious about. I loved it and wanted to name my first born Daphne after the MC.

My old copy of Once In A Lifetime by Danielle Steel
Photo by Chrys Fey

Soon followed by - Sam’s Letters To Jennifer by James Patterson

Sam’s Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson
Photo by Chrys Fey

First Paranormal romance book/series - Charmed series by Constance M. Burge. Specific books: Kiss of Darkness, Crimson Spell. Now, these aren’t heavy on the romance, but the little bit of romance in them made an impact on me. This was where I’d first come across the phrases “cupped her face” and “framed her face.” I use both in my writing.

First YA romances - Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series by Ann Brashares
Photos by Chrys Fey

Then: All-American Girl by Meg Cabot and Teen Idol by Meg Cabot

Another memorable YA romance from the same time period - If I Have A Wicked Step-Mother, Where’s My Prince? by Melissa Kantor

Second adult romance book - The Ring by Danielle Steel 

First Historical Romance - Calder Born by Janet Dailey

First Nora Roberts book - Midnight Bayou


Then I devoured nearly every Nora Roberts and several J.D. Robb books (funny thing is I started with Rapture in Death, which is Book 4) from 2007-2011.


Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb author photos.

In Death Series by J.D. Robb
Photo by Chrys Fey

Romantic-suspense became my everything, which is why romantic-suspense is my favorite genre to write. I also read a few Sandra Brown’s during that period. It was Chill Factor by Sandra Brown that gave me the idea to write Hurricane Crimes

Chill Factor by Sandra Brown
Photo by Chrys Fey

January 31, 2023

It's Okay Not To Write

 

Sometimes, we have too much going on and we’re stressed from life. During those times, it’s absolutely okay to not write.

I’ll say it again. Slower.

It. Is. Okay. Not. To. Write.

If you’re stressed beyond belief.

If what’s happening in the world is sucking you dry.

If struggles cropped up in your life out of the blue and have left you shaken or exhausted or beaten.

It. Is. Okay. Not. To. Write.

Remember that. We can’t write every single day, even if writers may say that they do or advise other writers to do that. Occasionally, we will live through periods where writing isn’t possible because there’s just too much going on. In our heads. In our lives. In the world.

Sometimes, other things are more important than writing, like health, safety, equality, and justice. 

If there’s too much going on…it’s okay not to write.

We go through seasons.

Seasons when we’re bursting with creativity.

Seasons when we evolve and grow.

Seasons when we learn.

Seasons when we have to rest.

When COVID-19 first took over the world in 2020, creatives everywhere struggled to create and keep up because of the things they were feeling and the heaviness of the events taking place. But, here’s the thing, you don’t always have to keep up. You don’t always have to post. You don’t always have to write. You don’t always have to do what’s expected.

If you have to stop writing, stop.

If you must write slowly, write as slow as you need to.

Take the break you need.

Do what’s necessary for your soul.



QUESTION: What season are you in as a creative person...as a human being?




Universal Killer Chapter Five Teaser



Chapter Five is up today with BONUS material. When you’re a patron, you get access to the previous chapters and bonus material as well.

January 24, 2023

Are You Prioritizing Your Responsibilities Correctly?

 

A common problem that so many people have is prioritizing their responsibilities incorrectly. I used to have this problem. In Sylvia Brown’s book Soul’s Perfection, she suggests creating a list that answers the question “Where does my time go?” Then create a second list, this time ask yourself "Where should my time go?"


The first time I did it, possibly 2016, this was what I came up with:


Where does my time go?

1. Blogging

2. Marketing

3. Procrastinating

4. Writing

5. Reading


Where should my time go?

1. Writing

2. Learning/Reading

3. Relaxing

4. Marketing

5. Blogging


Years later, in 2018, I tried it again.

Where does my time go?

1. Marketing

2. Blogging

3. Reading

4. Editing

5. Writing


Where should my time go?

1. Writing

2. Reading

3. Blogging

4. Editing

5. Marketing


In 2020:

Where does my time go?

1. Writing

2. Editing

3. Learning/Reading

4. Marketing 

5. Artistic Pursuits


Where should my time go?

1. Writing

2. Editing

3. Learning/Reading

4. Marketing

5. Artistic Pursuits


Did you notice that in 2020 I finally had my priorities right?


In 2022, my priorities were different, though. Throughout our lives, things change. Our responsibilities change, which means our priorities and their placements also have to change.


Where does my time go?

1. Caregiving

2. Blogging

3. Learning/Reading

4. Resting

5. Writing


Where should my time go?

1. Caregiving

2. Resting

3. Writing 

4. Blogging

5. Learning/Reading


Did you notice that in 2022 writing was at the bottom of where my time was going? That was because of my caregiving responsibilities impacting my writing, as well as my ability to rest.


Now, it’s your turn.

Where does your time go?

What should it be like instead?

Now, adjust accordingly. What do you need to do to start prioritizing your life correctly? 

Take small steps. Don’t try to create radical change so suddenly.

Your first step today is to notice which item you are prioritizing lower that needs to be higher and creating a plan to change that. Baby steps. Implement one strategy to shift this more important priority higher. It may take some time to get there, but in the end, when you have your responsibilities in the correct order, you will feel much more balanced and happier. That is the goal.



QUESTION: What is the first item on your "Where my time is going?" list and should it be the first thing you prioritize or not?




Universal Killer Chapter Four Teaser



Chapter Four is up today with BONUS material. When you’re a patron, you get access to the previous chapters and bonus material as well.

January 17, 2023

Forget TO-DO Lists, It's Time for DON'T-DO Lists


If you make daily/weekly/monthly to-do lists, consider tossing out the TO-DO list and replacing it with a DON’T-DO list, because, honestly, we need more reminders not to do certain things, especially when it comes to ourselves. We do things to ourselves and our creativity all the time, easily, without even thinking, and usually those things are damaging. It's time to stop obsessing over creating to-do lists for never-ending tasks and time to honor ourselves and our creativity with DON'T DO lists.


Consider These Items for Your DON’T-DO List:

Don’t beat yourself up for not writing.

Don’t work until you drop. Take breaks. Listen to your body and mind.

Don’t rush. Go your own pace.

Don’t put off important tasks. Do them first.

Don’t try to do everything. You’re only human. Get help. Outsource.

Don’t try to please everyone. Please yourself.

Don't get pressured into doing what everyone else is doing.

Don’t dwell on the past.

Don't punish yourself for not meeting a goal.

Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from moving forward.

Don’t accept anything short of what you deserve.

Don’t believe someone else’s lies about you.

Don’t remain silent.

Don't overthink.

Don’t be who you are not.


Create your own DON’T-DO list and focus on one item every day, or one item for a full week. Put your list where you can see it throughout the day: at your desk, beside your mirror, on your fridge, etc.

Take this list seriously, because learning not to do things that harm you mentally, creatively, and even physically is more important than any to-do list of tasks you may have.

Don’t give in. Don’t give up. Don’t sit back. Don’t hide. Don’t fight the moonlight.

Okay…so that last one was inspired by the song “Can’t Fight the Moonlight,” but you get what I mean.




QUESTION: Is there a DON'T-DO I shared above that you need to add to your own list? Is there a DON'T DO I didn't think of that you want to strive not-to-do?






PATREON:

Universal Killer Chapter One Teaser



Universal Killer Chapter Two Teaser



Universal Killer Chapter Three Teaser



Chapter Three is up today. When you’re a patron, you get access to the previous chapters as well.


January 03, 2023

Who Is Avrianna Heavenborn? Find Out On Patreon!

 

This is Avrianna Heavenborn:

Artwork by Loni Townsend


Avrianna Heavenborn was featured in my short story Ghost of Death.

Review for Ghost of Death:

“Avrianna is an intriguing character, not only because she can see ghosts, but also because at times, her eyes glow green. She was also found at sea, abandoned as a baby. I think readers would want to know more about her.” – Sherry Ellis, VINE VOICE

Well, almost eight years later (OMG has it really been that long?) you can get to know more about Avrianna now! 

I started writing my “Secret Book Baby Series” (not the official title) with Avrianna as the main character when I was twelve. Yes, twelve-years-old. I wrote through to high school before deciding to rewrite the series from Book One, when I hit writer’s block. That first book has seen countless revisions since. Decades later, I’ve completed the four-book series and am working on spin-off stories in the same book universe.

I am actively seeking representation for this series, but in the meantime, I’d love for you to get acquainted with Avrianna Heavenborn and to step into her world.

On Patreon, I will have novellas featuring Avrianna just for you as she fights to save her world from criminal activity. Discover her secrets, one novella at a time.

Here’s a sneak peak at the first two titles:
Universal Killer
Cocky Killer

Become a patron for just $5 a month.

10% of all earnings will be donated to StandUp for Kids, a charity that helps homeless American youth, a cause both Avrianna and I support.




As a patron, you’ll receive:

⭐️ exclusive novellas that follow Avrianna Heavenborn as a detective. Every Tuesday a new chapter will be released. Each novella builds up to the beginning of Book One to my “Secret Book Baby Series.” These stories will be in their rawest state, only edited by me, not seen by anyone else but you. 

⭐️ access to all previous content

⭐️ an invitation to a special Discord where you can chat, get to know each other, ask me questions, and name characters

⭐️ behind-the-scenes content

⭐️ patron-only giveaways (hosted on Discord)

You’ll also be supporting me as an artist, disabled writer, and caregiver. ❤️


As if all of that’s not incentive enough, when I reach 10 patrons I’ll do a patron-only giveaway (hosted on Discord). All patrons on Discord will be automatically entered for a chance to win.

Pledge now and get your Interplanetary Passport to New Vida. 💫

The first chapter of Universal Killer is up.


QUESTION: Do you want to get to know Avrianna Heavenborn? (That’s a rhetorical question. Of course you do! 😘) Patreon is one adventure I'm embarking on this year. What adventures are you planning for 2023?



December 06, 2022

Best of Write With Fey 2022

 

Another blogging year has come to a close for me. I will be back January 2023 to start my 11th year of blogging. This year, my focus was on book recommendations and highlighting good causes to support. 

Next year...well, you'll just have to wait and see. 😉

To make sure you don't miss my blog posts, sign up here to get email reminders.


BEST OF WRITE WITH FEY 2022:


Book Recommendations:

A Look Back At My 2021 Reading Challenges

My Top 25 Reads of the Past 125 Years #25BetterBooks









Books For Writers:

Year Of Yes

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

The Five Second Rule

The Big Leap

The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook

Affirmations For Writers


Causes to Support:

I Donated My Hair

Stand Up to Cancer, Protect Trans Youth, Stand with Ukraine

World Elephant Day

My Favorite Nature Documentaries

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Homeless Care Packages

I Adopted a Turkey


For Writers:

What Is BOOKSHOP.ORG?

Spotify Playlists for Writers (and Readers...ANYONE!)

Knowing Your Human Design Can Change Your Life, How You Work, and How You Sell

Dear Stuck Writers


History:

Honoring the Victims of the Salem Witch Trials


Other:

Oh, For Shifts’ Sake!

Disaster Crimes Series Playlists with Scene Breakdowns

My Date with Thorn from A Fighting Chance

Meet Thistle the Fairy in Human Form


HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!