Birthday Breakdown and the Rest of the What’s-Uppage

Caution: Here be self pity. SLAP ME ALREADY.

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been sort of kind of a little bit not here so much lately.

No hard feelings if you haven’t.

I haven’t done a ROW80 update in a while, haven’t participated in WIPpet Wednesday for a few weeks. Mostly it’s because I have nothing to share or update. I’m stuck. Frozen. Dead in the water. THE THINGS THEY ARE NOT GOING SO GOOD IN MY BRAIN-HOLE is what I’m saying. I can’t write, can’t even make sense of my own work when I read over it, can’t focus, can’t brain today I have the dumb, what have you. Can’t think of much to write about here, obviously.

Maybe it’s the pressure. My editor was sick, but he should be ready for me to send my manuscript soon (hence the reading over for continuity issues after I made changes). I’m honestly terrified that I’m going to get this thing back with nothing but a message that says “this is crap, try again.”* Now, that would work out to be less expensive for me than an actual edit, but it might not be the best thing for my spirit. Or my career. Or my sanity.

I can’t read blogs about publishing right now. Thinking about formatting is giving me stomach issues. Celebrating friends’ successes is still making me happy, but I can’t think about my own work right now. I’m thiiiiis close to saying screw it, I didn’t need to follow that dream, I’m fine, it was a stupid idea anyway and wasn’t likely to come to anything because I lack guts and persistence and other good stuff.

I won’t, because momentum, but it’s a thought.

Oh, and I’m looking at eighteen-year-olds on Twitter who finished a draft of a novella and are like “I AM THE BEST WRITERER EVER AND AM GOING TO MAKE A BRAZILLION DOLLARS WHEN I PUBLISH THIS NEXT WEEK WHO WANTS TO PHOTOSHOP ME A COVER LOLZ” and wonder where I can get some of that confidence (if not some of that business sense, because that sounds like a bad plan to me). Because I feel like a bad writerer right now.

I’m going insane, basically.

On top of that, AJ is going through a really bad time at work. He doesn’t take it out on me or the kids, but it’s still one more thing that I’m worried about, and it means that I can’t really talk to him about my self-imposed issues. Because really, I’ve brought this all on myself, so what right to I have to gripe? Well, except here…


In other news, I turned 33 yesterday. I can’t really take credit for this achievement, as I wasn’t responsible for bringing myself into the world and I’m fairly risk-averse, so survival was likely… but I’m still really happy about this turn of events. Another spin around the sun is definitely something to celebrate, and too many people don’t get to enjoy lives as long as I’ve had. I got to see both of my parents on my birthday for the first time in years, got a FaceTime call from my extended family in Ontario (and they sang “Happy Birthday” to me, which made me cry), spent 6 hours driving (not the most fun part), saw a juvenile bald eagle (which I count as a gift from Mother Nature, because why not), had a lovely evening… good times. OH, and epic cutie-pie Sidney Crosby scored a goal in the final hockey game of the Olympics, and I’m pretty sure that was just for me.

On every birthday I declare that THIS is going to be my year, the year when I do things and make things happen and yadda yadda. Maybe this is it. Or maybe every year just builds on the one before, and there is no one year.

Time will tell, I guess. Until then, I’m going to keep on going. I’m starting an online course today about using Scrivener. It’s my favourite writing software, but I only understand its most basic features and would like to know more. This won’t help with the fact that I need to learn how to use Word and track changes for editing (Help? Anyone?), but it will help when it comes time to publish. I have a friend’s book I promised to look over, and I’ll get to that once this ms has gone to the butcher editor. I’ll have a cover artist starting soon, which might be a nice distraction. And there are projects lined up, begging for attention…

It’s not that there’s nothing to do, it’s just that I can’t do it.

Except that I will. I’m just going to keep going and trust that things are going to get better. That’s a good plan, right?


*To be fair to my editor, he would probably phrase it more nicely, as a shit sandwich. You know, where you frame the harsh bits in niceness. Like, “This was an interesting effort. But it sucks. Hey, I saw a picture of your cat and she’s really cute.” BECAUSE THOSE ARE THE NICEST THINGS HE WILL BE ABLE TO FIND TO SAY.


About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with five cats, two dogs, and just the right amount of humans. USA Today bestselling author of the Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy), Into Elurien, and Vines and Vices. Writing dark, decadent, and deadly Urban Fantasy as Tanith Frost. View all posts by Kate Sparkes

7 responses to “Birthday Breakdown and the Rest of the What’s-Uppage

  • Charles Yallowitz

    Happy belated birthday! Don’t worry about the 18-year-old confidence. At that age, I was imagining movie deals, action figures of my characters, and the lap of luxury by the age of 21. Such confidence gets whittled down and you become more realistic. It’s hard work with highs and lows, but the trick is to push through the lows.

  • L. Marie

    Happy belated birthday! This is your year!!!!

  • sknicholls

    Happiest Birthday Year ever! I wish for you much success this year. You have excellent writing abilities. Confidence my friend! The Scrivener course with Gwen Hernandez was awesome. I still thumb through my lessons from time to time. So much valuable info.

  • Camilla Kyndesen

    Right! That is a good plan! Thank you for sharing – and happy birthday 🙂

  • Amira K.

    Hey lady. I know where you’re coming from. Writerly self-doubt is one of the most talked-about problems of being an aspiring writer, and self-confidence is something I struggle with constantly.

    It feels as though you’re constantly fighting everyone else’s opinion, right? When i was writing my WIP, and I told friends of mine how passionate I was about it, I got these kind of nonchalant looks. They smiled at me kindly and nodded but didn’t engage. Like they were thinking “Oh, awesome, another star-struck writer who thinks she’s going to make a million dollars but will probably never sell more than fifty books.” And others who thought “I bet the book’s not that good, anyway.” I had to fight against that subtext, whether it was real or imagined, the whole time I was writing and editing.

    It can be demeaning. It can get you down. Real or imagined, that blow to your confidence is hurtful. But at the end of the day you have to have faith in yourself. You have to believe in your dream. You have to know that, however many goddamn birthdays it takes you to get to your goal, you’re going to get there eventually. It might be this one; it might not. It might be five years from now. It could have been last year, maybe, had circumstances been different. It doesn’t matter when it happens. It never does. It only matters that you keep walking, sauntering, or trudging towards that goal, every single day.

    Be strong. Keep writing.

  • wendyalowden

    Amira….thankyou! Just what I wanted to say!. I can only imagine how terrifying it must be to be at the stage you are at…you are about to let your baby go…for someone else to critique and pour over. Someone who is not heart invested in the project…Someone who hasn’t lived and breathed the characters for years and loves them like their own family. I think writier’s (including YOU) are among the bravest of the brave. You put your creative “children” out in the world, sit back, and see what happens to them….hmmmmmm…This sounds a bit a mom who let her daughter leave for Newfoundland with her new husband and who sat back and saw her grow and become an amazing wife, mother and AUTHOR, doesn’t it? YOU CAN DO THIS! You will get over this hump because you are amazing! Once your book is gone for editing, concentrate on the cover, because you are going to need it!!!!
    You have been living and breathing this book for years now, and I’m sure there is quite a bit of “empty nest syndrome” working away at you….Trust your Marmee….Once your masterpiece is out of the house, it will leave you free for new ideas to percolate and come to the surface and take centre stage. Your book will fly on it’s own, because of the amazing author who poured their life into it.

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