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February 01, 2022

Oh, For Shifts’ Sake!


No, that is not a typo in the title.

I am going through massive shifts in my life, in my career, and in myself.

Frankly, it’s scary.

These shifts started last year with some major eye-opening situations in both my professional life and personal life.


Life Shift:

December 2021, my mom was diagnosed with inoperable stage 3-B lung cancer. (She was never a smoker.) I was driving home the night of November 28th after my mom was admitted into the hospital and there was Christmas music on the radio. Every song I heard during those two days she was in the hospital made me cry. Christmas stopped being happy. Christmas music did not bring me joy. 

Fortunately, she came home the next day.

My mom is going through once-a-week chemo treatments and five-days-a-week radiation treatments. Her treatments started in January and will last six weeks in all. I am bringing her to all of her treatments and caring for her.

Her last chemo treatment is on Valentine's Day.


Career Shift:

The day my mom had a biopsy done, I received a rejection that broke me.


Background: In 2020, I submitted to an independent publisher (who shall remain nameless) that rejected my story, but one of the line editors gave me feedback that I used—with the help of an amazing critique partner—to make my story better. I was invited to resubmit in six months. 

April 2021, I resubmitted. 

In June, I received an update from the assistant publisher asking me if they could have more time reviewing my submission. Of course, I granted them more time and my hopes rose, but months went by and no response. Come October (six months after I resubmitted), I started to query agents again. 

Then on the day my mom had her biopsy and got her official staging diagnosis and it was confirmed she has cancer (eight months after I resubmitted), I got the rejection from the publisher. A form rejection. After all that. After resubmitting and them asking for more time, I got a form rejection, and on the worst day possible. 


Saying I broke is an understatement.

I shattered.

I asked myself “what’s the point?”

You see, I’ve persevered through a lot. I’ve persevered through poverty and disability and countless rejections and depression and burnout and anxiety, but I felt at that time that I didn’t have anything left.

I had given everything.

“What’s the point in even writing anymore?”

Yes, I had asked myself that.

In the past, when I got hit, I’d say that I was going to quit, but then I’d be back at it an hour later.

This was different.

This was like an internal death. I didn’t see the point in even writing. I didn’t see why I should bother with any of it.

I did not write for the rest of December.

I did not work on revisions for Charm so I could submit it come the new year.


If you don’t read my newsletter or follow me on Instagram, Charm is a contemporary romance with a hero who is my response to romances published in the 90s by bestsellers. The heroes in those books committed sexual assault/harassment against the heroines and that was considered to be HOT. Those heroes were forceful and didn’t listen to the heroine when she voiced her boundaries or said it plain with a “no.” I wrote a story with a hero who is the complete opposite of those jerks but still sexy. More so, even.

 

My muse was still alive, though.

I got evidence of that on December 29th when three words came to me in the middle of the night and right after them, a story idea.

I did not, however, work on that idea then. I had no idea when I would write again.

On January 9th, I created character profiles and decided this project would not be a novel or even a novelette (because I did not and do not have it in my to write a novel or novelette right now). It’ll be a graphic novel, instead. I will not be doing the illustrations, but I will be creating the script and storyboard with the panels. I adore graphic novels and I think I’ll have fun with this. It’s also a new challenge that I need.

I wrote a tiny bit on this graphic novel one day in January, but mostly I was too busy with life and doing some self-care.

I still have no idea when I'll get back to Charm or querying or any of my other WIPs.

And, honestly, I'm not sure where I’ll be by the end of the year in terms of my writing, but I’ll take you along the journey with me.


Internal Shifts:

In 2020, I learned a lot about myself. I spent much of the year dedicating myself to body literacy. I also did a lot of anti-racist work (unlearning, learning, sharing, amplifying). I also healed from old and new wounds. I grew. I grew into myself.

If there’s one thing you can do during a pandemic, it’s to get to know yourself.

In 2021, I stepped even more into myself. I learned that I’m asexual. I did more work as an ally, specifically learning how to support Native peoples and transgender people. I am more vocal in what I stand for and what I don’t. As a result, I’ve created boundaries and stepped away from certain situations.

***

This year, I feel shifts happening within myself because of the other shifts occurring in my life and because I am actively growing and seeking more knowledge about myself.

2022 will be the year that I quantum leap into who I am supposed to be and what I’m supposed to do. I know it, I can feel it.

So, although these shifts are scary and ongoing, I know I’ll get through them and be stronger and wiser on the other side. I know this because my past experiences tell me this will happen.

Knowing this doesn’t make any of this easier to go through, though. That positive outlook (which can be very toxic) is unattainable in the moment of struggle and during massive shifts, but deep down, I do know this. 

I am strong.

I am growing.

I am shifting into my true self and where I should be in my life.

I believe we’re all going through huge internal and external changes because this time calls for it with the pandemic and all our awakenings. Those who are open to it are growing and shifting.

So, be open.

Shift with me.

We can do it together.


QUESTION: Have you been experiencing any shifts in your life, career, or in yourself?


Musical Inspiration:




35 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing about all the challenges you've been facing. I have also experienced a lot of hard, frightening changes starting with the sudden death of my husband. I'm so sorry for what your mom and you are going through. But yes, you're right about us being strong and that we can grow through these major life changes. Good luck with yours.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys - I so admire you ...and those posts you wrote last year meant a lot - all I can say is take care. So desperate to hear about your mother ... you're doing the best thing for you both - being there for her, and for each other. We are strong and we can pull through - writing really helps ... even if for now it's only mulling words about. The idea of your graphic novel will enhance your ideas ... all the best as life takes you along - with many thoughts and thank you for letting us know about your journey - we learn from being here too. I'll be thinking of you both - Hilary

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Chrys, you’re amazing. What you’ve kept going through is enough to make anyone doubt, and I’m glad to see you are still fighting. Your mom has to come first right now. Be with her. As for the growth… well, a friend of mine who is slowly dying of Parkinsons refers to things as another FGO—another um, growth opportunity. The adjective says it all about how much fun it is, and how happy we are for the opportunity to grow through pain. I know I’ve grown as a person during these last two years, but I’d sure chuck it back in a hurry if I could have my old life back. Sadly, that’s not an option, so we go on growing.

Birgit said...

I have not been here in quite a while and, it seems, you have been evolving during a very difficult time in your life. To hear about your mom's prognosis is beyond scary but to hear it during the Christmas season seems to make it even worse. Your mom is blessed to have you by her side even if you don't think this way. I hate the word Cancer because so many must deal with it. I am sending you hugs from afar because a hug can give a person strength to get through that moment, hour or day. To receive that rejection letter was another sock in the gut you did not need or deserve. Trust in your feelings and put it aside for now because you must find the strength in yourself right now.
I, too, am going through a major change. September was horrible. I had to go for a full hysterectomy otherwise I would get cancer and, on August 29th, I found out my operation was Oct. 12th. Now it was set and it put some fear in me. The next day, I texted my brother's child (she is binary) that i wanted to call her before she started university but she texted right back that she didn't want to talk. I was receiving abrupt, curt texts from her and, when I would say something about...whatever, she would rebuke me for not understanding or I said or did something wrong. So I just broke and wrote that i got the message. They replied that they finds I "am insensitive and judgemental in every conversation we ever had" They does not want to talk and needs her space. To say I was upset was an understatement because I only have her..they...sorry. The next day, my hubby ended up in the hospital...huge kidney stone. He had to have laser surgery done on it with a stint placed in. The following week, On Sept. 15th, I had a zoom meeting with work where I was told, "Unfortunately, due to restructuring, we must let you go effective immediately." I had been a Credit Counsellor for over 30 years and was dumped in one sentence. That was another tearful experience. 5 of us were let go that day and we figured we were not placing enough people on the program so they could make money...we were more client focused instead of program focused. The next week, my hubby had to have a hernia operation. The week after, he got the stint removed and the week after that I had my total hysterectomy. Ughhhh....when it rains or, in my case, snows. I am having to find employment but not really sure where I want to go or do.
Be there for your mom but, also be there for you so you have the strength for your mom.

Liz A. said...

Yikes, you've been going through it. I can see why you'd step back from the writing for a bit. I think sometimes life is like a roller coaster. Some times are quick and fun and all that. And some times you're just climbing that hill before the next downhill ride. The writing will be here when you're ready for it. Until then, you need to do you. Good luck. Sending you light and healing.

Jennifer Hawes said...

Rejection is the worst!! I hear ya. I'm praying for you and your mom. I was devasted a few years ago from a rejection. I'm doing things differently now:)

Jemi Fraser said...

That's incredibly difficult timing from that publisher!
I believe we all keep growing and shifting or we stagnate. Keep moving forward and keep being strong!
Sending hugs and hopes for you and your mom.

M.J. Fifield said...

You're the strongest person I know, and you inspire me every damn day. <3

Adrienne Reiter said...

You're a wonderful daughter. That's rough AF. Sending healing vibes to you and yours.

A form rejection after resubmitting all that work? Ugh! Great timing for a lame ending to subjective nonsense. Sending vibes your work reaches someone who recognizes talent. Lots of hugs, Chrys!
Best,
A

Loni Townsend said...

It sounds like you've had a rough ride there, Chrys. I have experienced shift, changed my goals and focus toward other things I've deemed more important. But all my experience pales compared to the trauma you're dealing with now. I hope you heal and grow stronger.

emaginette said...

Every morning, I'm someone new. I grow each day. Learn something. It'll change me, and that'a what I want. Even if it hurts. I never want to be stagnant where all kind of ugly can eat me up.

Take care of your mom and remember to take care of yourself.

Anna from elements of emaginette

Mark said...

So sorry to hear about so much heartbreak. These past few years have just kept taking it seems, but your resilience is inspiring as well. Sending good vibes your way :)

J Lenni Dorner said...

Sorry you and your mom are going through this, especially at this impossible time. And that rejection timing, yikes! And with a form? What? They don't deserve you, your work, or the money you would have made them.
I hope the joy of writing comes back to you when you're open to feeling it again. And I hope your graphic novel goes well.
Consent is definitely hotter than 90's-forcing-it stories.
I was under the weather earlier this week (not the C👾vid, don't worry), but I'm much improved now.
I've been scheduling debut author interviews at Operation Awesome. If you know one, please tell them to reach out to me.
Over at the a-to-z challenge, plans are hatching for April 2022, including a big event this month (starts Feb 4).
Plus, WEP has the "All You Need is Love" flash fiction challenge on February 16 - 18.
Quote for February: “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” -John Bunyan

Jeff said...

I am so sorry about your mother's cancer. It is good that you can be there for her. Keep writing. you tell a good story.

Change has always been a part of my life, it seems. I have been blessed to live all over the country. My latest change was unexpected as I accepted a much more laidback position in the Virginia mountains.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I'm sorry about your mom's cancer. I hope you have support while you're helping her, as well. I'm also sorry about that rejection. Somehow it hurts more when it's something where they've given you hope.

Toi Thomas said...

Shift is a good word to describe my current state, though I haven't thought it out as concisely as you have.
I noticed your shift, at least in terms of your blog, and I like it, but I understand that my approval of your actions is irrelevant.
I enjoy watching you, what you so bravely share with the world, in terms of triumphs and struggles. I truly feel you are an influencer in ways you may not realize.
I feel for you and your mom right now as you guys go through this tough time. Whatever results from it, I know you will be glad you were there for her in this moment.

Lisa Thomson said...

Chrys, I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. What a terrible diagnosis to go through. And you're there every step of the way, which of course is taxing. I'm also sorry to hear about the rejection. That can be devastating and I don't blame you for questioning everything. In spite of it all, I'm glad to hear that you are taking time for self care. Your 'shifting' sounds fantastic yet painful. I think any stage of personal growth is scary. Thinking of you always and wishing you well in your creative endeavors. Your graphic book sounds awesome. Sending hugs!

Chrys Fey said...

My blog is one of the things that shifted for me last year. I know there are others who don’t like the changes with my blog, so I do appreciate and am happy that you like how my blog has shifted, Toi. Thank you for letting me know that.

And thank you for your comment and kindness. ❤️

Chrys Fey said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Sending you prayers and hugs.

Chrys Fey said...

It’s nice to hear that my posts last year meant a lot to you. Thank you for letting me know that.

Chrys Fey said...

There’s definitely things I wish I wouldn’t have to give through, but I also am happy (happier) with the person I’ve become because of those hardships.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for visiting, Brigit! I hope you’re healing well from your surgery and your worries have lessened. I also hope your hubby is well after his surgery. I’m so sorry you were let go. Just remember that the work you’ve done for those 30 years was valuable. As for your loved one, the best thing would be to listen to what they have to say, take it in even if it’s uncomfortable, sit with it, adjust, do your best to use the proper pronouns even if you don’t understand it, and send them love every chance you can get.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you for your comment, Liz,

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Jennifer!

Chrys Fey said...

Some people are resistant to growing and shifting because to uncomfortable and scary. Some do stay stagnate in life and within, unfortunately.

Thanks, Jemi!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Patricia!

Chrys Fey said...

I’m going to get tear-eyed now. Excuse me.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you so much, Adrienne!

Chrys Fey said...

Let’s not compare anything we go through with what others are going through. All trauma is trauma. They may be different, but none are easy. I am sending you good vibes to get through what you’re experiencing. Take care, Loni!

Chrys Fey said...

That’s good. We should all seek to grow every day, but daily growth is small. (We may not even recognize daily growth at first, but over a large period of time we’ll be able to really see the growth and benefits of it.) It’s the sudden growth of leaps that can knock us off our feet.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Mark! Thanks for visit!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, J!

I’m glad you’re feeling better.

If I think of a debut author, I’ll let you know. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I hope you enjoy the laidback position in the a Virginia mountains. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Shannon!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Lisa. ❤️