In the bio on the back of The Long Road to Heaven and at the top of this blog, I call myself a recovering writer. It has come to my attention that some folks misinterpret that to mean I, myself, have struggled with addiction to drugs and/or alcohol.
I have not. And I'm not saying that because I'm in denial. Nor am I in denial of being in denial.
Science fiction/fantasty author Ray Bradbury once suggested that writers "Stay drunk on writing so reality doesn't destroy you."
I started using the term "recovering writer" a few years ago, when writing became one of the things destroying me.
At the time, there was a great deal of turmoil going on in my real life, and I escaped through writing, as I so often had in the past. When I emerged from that escape, I had the framework of what I thought was a great story that I wanted to get published.
I dove headfirst into the endeavor. I edited, got feedback, rewrote, read blogs, entered contests, got more feedback, rewrote again, read more blogs. I made my list of top agents and submitted.
Each rejection -- and there weren't that many -- and every piece of negative feedback felt like a push for me to go back and rewrite. It wasn't a terrible thing. I received some incredible advice on how to hone the ability to tell a story.
But it eventually became a vicious cycle of shifting and changing and tinkering with my story to please other people.
And in my effort to please other people, I forgot why I'd started writing in the first place.
Those efforts to please everyone ended up making me miserable. It sucked the fun right out of something from which I'd once drew a great deal of enjoyment.
I ended up burning out, and it took a long time -- and I mean a LONG TIME -- to realize why I lost my love for writing and to figure out how to fall in love with it again.
That only happened after I stopped writing the story I thought people wanted to read and started writing the story I needed to tell.
It might seem a bit selfish -- writing solely for myself -- but I'm not going to apologize.
Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. And this girl simply had to say, "Screw it. Since I can't please everyone, I'll settle for pleasing myself."
That's what it means to be a recovering writer.