Writing Journey

Pre-Mid-Life Crisis

As an obsessive compulsive person, I often find myself in a cycle of crippling stress, obsession, mania, and depression. The obsessing especially gets out of hand because unlike the others, I don’t realize I’m obsessing about something until someone else points it out. And suddenly the light bulb goes on in my head, and I think, “Is that what’s going on? Is that why I can’t sleep?”

Monday, my brother asked me why I had gotten so obsessed with my finances. My first reaction is always denial, but then I thought about it. I knew I had gotten obsessed with it, I just never thought to stop and ask myself why. Change is difficult. Even good change. I had gotten so used to being so incredibly broke that I couldn’t see my life any other way.

It was like someone had taken a bag off of my head, and I suddenly realized the sun was shining on the other side. But still, it’s just weird. I still almost don’t believe it. And then yesterday, I wondered something else, because I still couldn’t sleep. I was supposed to start editing Monday night and I didn’t do it. Last night I told myself I needed to do it, and I started crying.

Granted, I tend to cry pretty easily, but what the crap was I crying about?

It’s true, I’m tired of writing then editing, writing then editing, over and over again like a disc that has a scratch on it. I feel like I HAVE to. I have to edit so many weeks after I finish a draft. I have to query after that. And I’m just tired. I am so freaking tired.

It’s not like I just want to dive into another story and get lost in a new world. I just want to put an end to this endless cycle of writing/editing/querying. Why do I have to edit NOW? Why do I HAVE to be ready to query by March? Like who freaking cares?!

I don’t want to do it. I’m ready to edit. I love editing. I just don’t want to query. I’m tired. Querying takes the fun out of everything. Sometimes, honestly, I want to just give up on my life’s dreams and get a real career, you know.

It’s such a clear picture in my mind. I’ll never be fulfilled, but I’ll be appreciated and happy. Maybe fulfillment is just a pipe dream. One of those things that doesn’t really exist, like romance. (Yes, I’m one of those people.) I like the idea of it, I even write about it once in a while, but I don’t believe it. The psychologist in me sees it as a very interesting, sometimes high sometimes low functioning version of insanity.

And maybe that’s what dreams are — a very pretty illusion.

And ultimately, I know that’s why I can’t sleep. And I know that’s why I’ve been so obsessed with my finances. It’s not just the change from being super broke to finally being able to save money. I hold on to the finance thing because I know I have some control over that. I hold on because I don’t want to deal with the fact that I think I’m wasting my time.

Not with writing in general. But with the amount of time I spend writing. Outside of things I absolutely have to do, writing trumps everything but a small amount of social time so I don’t lose my mind.

And it’s like, it’s not even worth it. I’m wasting my time.

That’s why I started crying.

I have sacrificed so much, and for what? I could have been looking for another job. Searching for another calling. And instead I’ve spent hours and hours and YEARS of my life writing and editing and querying and researching and waiting and losing sleep.

And when you’re crazy, like, you really need your sleep. Because insomnia just makes all of my other problems worse.

I can’t do everything. I can’t work and write AND find a new purpose in life.

I’m not trying to boo-hoo all over the place. I’m not feeling particularly bad or down or crazy or anything. I’m not angry over how long I’ve been querying. I’m not angry when I have to shelf projects. I haven’t gotten any rejections recently. I’ve just often wondered how long I can query before I’m considered certifiably insane, and I’m wondering if I’m approaching that line. I’m wondering if I’m standing on it.

My sister tries to tell me that I can get published any time, I can get published when I’m 50. How is that supposed to make me feel better? Because then my brain goes into, “What am I supposed to do for the next 20 years of my life then?!” mode. Work retail? I can’t do that. Seriously, I think I’m dying inside. I have to find something else to do, and I don’t have time when I’m writing all the time.

I know 30 isn’t old. But I feel like I have to change something now or I’m going wake up and I’ll be 40 and I’ll be in this exact same spot. Another decade gone and I’ll have nothing to show for it.

I guess it could be said that I’m having a career-crisis. I don’t vehemently hate my job, but I don’t like it. It’s a job. It’s fine. But I’m not happy. I thought I would be there for 5 years at the absolute max. I’ve been there for nine.

I can’t sleep because I keep trying to stay up and find a solution to a problem I didn’t even have a name for. I need to know when I lay down at night that the next day is bringing me closer to something. That’s it not just another day on a track I can’t get off of.

I work for family and there is a lot of flexibility and stability that comes with that. For something temporary, it’s perfect, but for something permanent…

Rambling like this doesn’t fix anything, but I don’t know. I guess I just needed to get words out of my head. Come face to face with reality for a change. Because I can count of one hand the number of nights I’ve slept well since last March. I clearly can’t do what I’ve been doing anymore, but I have absolutely no idea what to do with my life.

I was so sure I would be a writer. I honestly don’t know who I am without it. Truth be told, I outright start panicking. Nothing else feels right. But I can’t just sit here and hope that the agents who still have my story will love it and sign me and sell it and then it will in turn sell well enough to give me enough hope and enough energy to keep at it, or at the very least, that the next project I query will be the one to sell. Because there’s always a next project.

Really, I can’t afford to do that anymore. I am literally falling apart.


  • Randi Lee (@lee_randi)

    Hey Lady!

    First off, I’m so sorry you’ve such pressure on your shoulders (even if it’s self-induced….trust me, I KNOW that feeling all too well.) I’m glad you opened up about it, though. Keeping everything in, especially when, again, you’re resting so much on your own shoulders, is enough to deflate anyone. It’s good that you opened up about it.

    As for the writing, editing, querying cycle–I nearly quit writing last year because of it. We were talking about how I just finished Affected and sent it out to query, but you know–I nearly didn’t finish it because I hate that cycle too and it turned writing into a job for me instead of something I love. I’m looking at it that way now: it’s something I love. And if nothing comes of the queries, that super sucks, but there’s a light in me when I write, a light no one can take away.

    IF writing/editing/querying truly is ailing you right now, it’s okay to step away for a while and give yourself a break, you know? Perhaps that’s what you need. I’d hate to see you give it up entirely, though, so I hope that isn’t your plan.

    And, hey, I can relate to a lot of what you’re going through right now, so if you ever need to talk it out, I’m here. Text, yahoo, email, whatevs…I’m around for ya, sister!

    • krystal jane

      Thanks, Randi! ^_^
      I’m thinking maybe if I take the editing super slow instead of blowing through it like I usually do, maybe that will help. I definitely don’t want send something else out right now. But I do need to keep writing at least because I can’t stop doing something I love that much, you know.

  • Michelle A (@SunflowerRei)

    Aw, Krystal….*hugs* I get it though. I have a few ideas of directions I could go in for a career change, but it’s not like anyone’s really giving me the time of day. I absolutely guarantee that I’ve had every single one of your thoughts here over the last five years. Because I can’t depend on the writing for anything. I can’t even dash a short story together for a magazine, you know? But I can’t keep working retail forever.

    • krystal jane

      ^_^ Finding another job is a lot harder than people try to make it out to be. Plus we have the added fun of finding something we enjoy that won’t suck up all of our time or drain too much energy so we can still write something on the side. I’m not very good at short stories at all. So, I haven’t been able to do that either. Or even pretend to do it. I hope you find something amazing. 🙂

  • Kimberly

    Hang in there, sister. Most Americans don’t like their job and I don’t say that because that’s life and you should accept but most people choose not to do anything about it. You’re smart enough to work it out, there are lots of things you like to do and several things you have lots of interest in other than writing. Maybe both of us need to read 48 Days to the Work you Love and have our own study group 🙂

  • Crystal Collier

    You know, I wonder if you’ve looked into the freelance writing field at all? I’ve debated the same switch before, and my husband says I’ve dumped all this time into learning how to write and communicate clearly… Maybe that’s a good route to look, even if it’s only technical writing or a small editing job at first.

    I’m wishing you direction, clarity, and cheese (of course).

    • krystal jane

      Thank you, Crystal. 🙂 I haven’t done much more than think about it and pull up some websites. I know some people who do freelance editing and I wonder sometimes if I would like that, though I would need something more stable. But it would be a start at least.

  • Michelle Tran (@michelletwrites)

    Oh Krystal, I just want to give you a big giant hug, eat a pint of ice cream with you while watching a rom com, and go on a long walk to talk about meta things. Following your blog this past year, I know you are crazy dedicated to writing, which is so inspiring to me, but know that it is okay to take a break. You may be entering a burn-out phase, so sometimes it’s really good to just take a break from writing. That’s what I’ve done the last 2-3 months. I know there’s a want and deep desire for you to be validated through publishing, and it WILL happen, but there’s no rush okay? The first priority is to keep yourself healthy and that means mentally and physically (i.e. you gotta get some sleep). I struggle ALL THE TIME about my career and wondering if I’m doing the right thing, or if I’m wasting my time. What I’ve concluded is, I love to write. I always will write, even if I get published or not. That’s what a writer is, a person actively writing. You are the epitome of a writer Krystal. Don’t give up now, because you never know what’s going to happen down the road. For all you know, the finish line could just be around the corner. I know the uncertainty can drive us insane. It’s like walking through thick fog unable to see what’s out there, but eventually the fog will lift and things will start to appear in place. But some steps you can take before the fog clears is to be happy in that small space, navigating the small areas of your life like work. I used to work retail and I hated it, so I can imagine how you must feel. Maybe try finding a non-exempt full-time job that’s not too stressful can be good for you. It’ll be a nice change. I work a full-time job that has it’s high and low times, but it gives me stability to support my writing endeavors which eases my mind and financial stress levels. Obviously I can’t build a career that I would like at my job, but it gives me a sense of balance in the meantime.

    Oh dear, this is such a long post! My apologies, but I hope you do feel better soon! Many higs and positive thoughts from Seattle!

    • krystal jane

      Thanks so much, Michelle! *HUGS* Long posts are totally fine. ^_^ I probably am burned out. I always want to recover faster, but then I’m sure stressing about it only makes it take that much longer. Plus, I really think retail might be one of the worst kind of jobs for a writer to have. But really, thank you. I needed to hear this. It’s nice to know I’m not losing my mind quite yet. 🙂

  • Yael Itamar

    *hugs* I think the important thing to remember is that if you’re writing consistently, you’re NOT being stagnant. You’re actively pursuing your dreams, which is a lot more than almost everyone else does. (Think about how many people you met growing up who called themselves writers or talked about writing a book someday. How many of them have actually finished the first draft of a novel?) Just because you don’t have all the milestones that look good on paper, it doesn’t mean you’re staying in one place. All writing, even bad writing, is progress.

    If you don’t feel like querying now, there’s no reason you have to. It’s really tough when you feel like you have to depend on writing/publishing success in order for your life to move forward, especially since that success is often finicky or hard to come by. Maybe you should take a break from thinking about querying and come back to it when you feel more refreshed.

    Also, it sounds like maybe a new job might not be a bad idea. (Nine years is a long time.) I know some people who try to find a new job every couple of years in order to keep their minds fresh (new responsibilities, new people, new learning opportunities). I’m not saying quit your current job, because financial stability is important, but maybe spend a couple hours each week filling out applications at new places (or see if the place where you work now has room for you to expand or get promoted). Worst case scenario, you don’t find anything, but at least you gave yourself a chance.

    I hope you feel better.

    • krystal jane

      Thank you so much. ^_^ I really like the idea of dedicating a couple of hours a week to job hunting, because I can do at least that much without stressing myself out. Plus keeping it to a couple of hours would fend off this really bad “all or nothing” mentality I have. I really appreciate this, so much. 🙂

  • sandiedocker

    *bug hugs* from Down Under. Take a step back and breathe. It’s ok to break the write/edit/query cycle. Querying isn’t fun for anyone and it can really get you down. But in your own words “Nothing else feels right”, so writing is for you, so never give up. Taking a step back to regroup isn’t giving up. It’s giving yourself the time and space to be a better writer.
    All the advice above is brilliant. Be kind to yourself, the time pressure is coming from within so release it, get some sleep and BREATHE.

  • Tonja Drecker

    The cycle is never ending, isn’t it…kind of like house cleaning. Ugh! (sorry, just popped into my head.) It does feel like the writing is for naught, especially with all those dumb query rejections. Seriously, it’s awful to be turned down hundreds of times. I can’t think of many other ‘careers’ that put a person through that kind of rejection either. So we’re not only wasting hours and hours and hours writing (when we could be doing something else), but we’re willingly letting ourselves be trampled on again and again and again. See what a strong, amazing person you must be to survive all this? – and you are surviving 🙂
    Nope, this isn’t a race (I have to keep telling myself that too), and you’ll get there someday. I’m personally shooting for 75+ 😉 Plus, doing something you love can never be seen as a waste of time.
    If you ever want an extra pair of eyes on anything, shoot me an email. This isn’t a battle we can or must face alone.

  • Karla

    Hi Krystal.

    lol, jk. Just wanted to make you laugh. Hope it worked. AM not so funny when I try to be.

    Phew. Okay….so. Big HUGS to you! I know how you feel. When I was working full-time with lawyers, I was like, “Okay, okay, I can save a lil money.” (Most of it, btw, goes to a sickness I have so I can’t ever truly save much). But law is soo not my field. I felt like I was wasting my time. Months and months and it was a cycle. Obviously I learned a lot, for which I am very thankful, but I am glad I work part-time now too where I told you I currently work. I may not be writing or acquiring, but it’s the world that is fun for me. And being around it gives me light. Have you thought about perhaps doing remote internships with literary agencies and then hopefully climb and climb. Or would you just like to write?
    I think you definitely cannot give up. So don’t. But Michelle T. has a point. You might be burnt out. Why not just relax? Read some great stories?

    • krystal jane

      Lol! What? ^_^
      Thanks for that. Lol! Being wrapped up in books all weekend sounds great! I’m pretty sure I just need to slow down in general. I’ve been getting burned out a lot lately. An internship actually sounds like something I would enjoy. I haven’t done more than just think about it, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to look into it. Which I’ll have time to do when I calm down and start making time to breathe.

  • Jodi

    Krystal, this entire post so clearly expresses some of my deepest darkest fears. It’s funny, I just came across a journal entry I wrote two years ago (almost to the day), and there’s a prompt in there that says “Today the voice inside my head is saying…” and I responded with “You need to do more. This can’t be all.” I can’t state what was going on at that point of my life, but I imagine it was a lot of what you’re expressing here. The idea of being stagnant, wondering WHY haven’t I MOVED FORWARD by now, has slapped me in the face many, many times.

    You’re 30. Add 6 years and you have me. But I think it might be worse for you in some ways. Because really, I chose the profession of teaching, and I’ve been doing that chosen career for nine years, and it does have its rewards. Yes, I’m pulling my hair out, and it’s not my dream job of being a full-time writer, but there are little glimmers here and there where I feel like I’m making a tiny bit of a difference. If you’re working a job that never gives you that feeling, it’s hard not to fall into depression.

    The thing you’re not giving yourself credit for though is the fact that you’re following your dream, and in the end of it all, just doing THAT is what living is all about–whether you reach that dream or not. Yes, you work a passionless job so that you can pay your bills, but it’s so you can pursue your real passion: Writing. Yes, it’s been nine years now, but it’s NINE years of striving. Don’t you get how amazing that is? Look at how many friends you went to high school with who are working menial jobs, and that’s all they are doing. They’re settling. But you are actually reaching for something, and that is so special. It takes so much bravery and perseverance to do what you’re doing. My grandpa penned several novels when I was little…he had these big dreams of becoming an author. Now he is 85, still writing, and still unsuccessful as an author. In the meantime he has worked every job under the sun, from being a photographer to being a health inspector and everything in-between. He STILL BELIEVES in his writing. It was sometime last year that a light bulb went off, and I realized I wanted to be my grandpa when I “grow up.” Watching him never give up has been the biggest source of inspiration in my life. I decided that I would rather die reaching for my dreams than live never striving for them.

    Whether you decide to look for a new career is up to you. But just know that what you’re doing know IS worth something, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

    (*end lecture*) 😉

    • krystal jane

      JODI!!! Best lecture ever. ^_^
      Thank you so much for taking the time. That’s amazing your grandpop is still writing! I hope to God I’m still writing (and sane) when I’m 85. *hugs you* ^_^

  • Michelle Wallace

    Krystal, don’t think I’ve ever seen this side of you before… you are usually so upbeat and energetic with thousands of ideas bubbling around inside that fertile imagination of yours… 😀
    Hang in there! You can’t let it get to you!
    I like Crystal Collier’s suggestions…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: