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Delayed Dreams and Rediscovering My Creativity

an upward view of trees with bright yellow leaves and a clear blue sky above them

But here's the thing, Walt. Sometimes I'm tired of my multitudes.
from You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith

In November 2021, I was feeling the best I ever had about my writing. I'd just published Into the Forest and Wielder, two of my favorite books to write. And my upcoming projects were looking good. I had written 24,000 words in the first draft of Portals and Prophecies from my Animage Academy series and and another 7,000 in Firebrand, the next book in the Gatebreaker series. I had motivation. I had momentum. I was excited for my plans that were supposed to take me running into the new year.

Then, in January 2021—after taking all the precautions and avoiding it for almost a year—my whole family caught Covid. Thankfully, the acute phase wasn't too bad for us. We came through the worst of it in about a week and my son was barely sick at all.

But as I came out of the acute phase, I kept almost getting better, only to crash when I'd try and go for a walk or vacuum the house. Simple tasks like cooking, cleaning, or even sitting upright in a chair for more than an hour at a time became too much for me to handle. I learned the name for it: Long Covid. But knowing the name didn't earn me any help as I bounced between doctors and specialists trying to find something to help me feel better.

The next few months were hard and gave new meaning to the phrase "survival mode." Like most of us, I'm a woman who wears many hats and I had to prioritize some and let go of those that were now impossible for me to wear. I dealt with a lot of grief as I watched these hats slip to the ground, but there was nothing I could do about it.

One of the hats I had to let go of for a time was writing. I adore writing and love being an author, but at this time of my life it's not my main career. I've always, always wanted to be an author. I kept trying to push myself and would send and email or publish a chapter in my serial here and there, but ultimately pushing myself would set me back in my recovery. I knew I had to stop for a time. Letting go and watching the vision I'd created at the end of 2021 turn to dust was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do.

And there's a funny thing that happens when trials come up in life. They shine a light on the people who are willing to be with you through thick and thin—and the people who aren't. Hopefully, the people who expect to come through for you do. But some people don't. And I felt it acutely as people I thought I could rely on left me behind. Silence from people I thought were friends. Betrayal from people I thought were family. All of this on top of failing health and an increasingly cloudy vision of my future.

Life narrowed to only the day-to-day. Survive. Wake up. Work. Eat. Try to be a good mom. Do my best to be a good wife. Sleep. Do it all over again. Do it all over again.

And do it all over again.

Amidst all this strain and hurt, the truth of the matter was—even if I'd had the time to write—my creativity had disappeared.

I remember learning about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs while I was getting my Bachelor's in Psychology. And it reminds me of how I've been feeling these past couple of years. As much as I wanted to write and be creative, it just wasn't coming. And I couldn't force it. While I was grieving my health, I couldn't ignite the creative spark in my brain.

I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.
Emily Dickenson

This January will be two years since I first had Covid. And despite the hardship, God is my refuge and strength. And there has been refuge in the storm. My family and I have drawn ever-closer. I'm even more appreciative of the friends and family who have been by my side through it all. I've seen beautiful places and met beautiful people.

Earlier this year I read the book You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith. Despite the different circumstances between my life and the author's, the book spoke to my heart and soul in a way and helped me come away again. It reminded me that this period of time—where I was just surviving instead of thriving, struggling instead of striving—wasn't going to last forever. I would always carry these years with me, but they weren't the end of my story.

And now—a spark. I've felt it fleetingly in the past few months. At first I didn't want to grab it, afraid I'd snuff it out again. But this time it keeps coming back. Stories are exciting again. And more than that, I'm excited about my stories. I still hesitate to declare that I'm back in the game or tell my readers to expect a new book soon. But I want it again. I want to write. I want to create.

So I will.

And I will work to stoke my spark into a fire and build my momentum once again.

How I picture it: A scar is a story about pain, injury, healing. Years, too, are scars we wear. I remember their stories. The year everything changed....The year I decided not to disappear. The year I decided not to be small. The year I lived.
from You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith


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