Sabbatical

You guys get the update before YouTube subscribers this time. I tried to do a video about this, about goals and taking advice and deciding what really makes you happy rather than just thinking you want what everyone else thinks will make them happy… and it just didn’t work out.

I can’t talk about it coherently yet.

But I did manage to post about it in my Facebook group this morning, and it seemed like a post that was worth sharing here (with slight modifications).

For quite a while I’ve been putting pressure on myself to do everything quickly. To follow the rules that say “publish or perish.” To have less than a year between book releases in a massive trilogy, to hold myself to deadlines that are supposed to be helpful, and to do it all with a smile while achieving my absolute best work.

It’s insane. It really is. For some people all of this works. Tight schedules. Multiple series. Cranking out books, drawing from the creative fountain without needing a break. But I’m learning that for me, it’s wrong. Everyone is unique, and has unique needs, gifts, and challenges. I have a family that doesn’t get the best of me when I’m buried under stress. I have physical pain that cuts me off from work, family, and life, and that’s made worse by tension and stress. I have depression and anxiety, and thanks to the pressure I put on myself to finish the Bound trilogy on time, my writing has become a real trigger for that.

I used to write to heal myself. Now I sit at the computer and feel like crying because I’m scared of not living up to my own expectations, because the words won’t come, because my brain wants to focus on ANYTHING but that blank screen.
And that’s wrong. This is not what stories should be for me. I shouldn’t feel like I need to hide from a part of my spirit.

So I’m taking a bit of a sabbatical.

I’m cancelling edits I had scheduled for a book that’s been suffering under my inability to let my imagination loose. I’m clearing the decks. And for a while—maybe a few weeks, maybe a few months—I’m not going to be “a writer.”

I’ll still be here.

I’m still going to write. I’ll post more on my blog. Maybe I’ll pick at that long-suffering book or my B project, but only if I feel drawn to them. Maybe I’ll take on flash fiction challenges that have no chance of making money, so they can be purely creative enterprises to share. I’ll read about writing craft and take time to apply the lessons. I’ll research whatever topics float my boat on any given day, and try to learn a new language. Hell, maybe I’ll try poetry. You never know.

Maybe I’ll learn to love reading again when there’s no reason to be competitive or to compare my work to anyone else’s. Maybe I can learn to lose myself in other people’s worlds.

Basically, I’m taking time to get healthy. To turn writing back into a playground rather than an assembly line. When I get back to “for real” writing, my hope is that the books I create for you will be filled with more magic, more surprises, more love, and more generous stories than I can even imagine right now.

It’s scary. Deadlines and publishing schedules feel so essential when writing puts food on the table. But my work deserves me at my best, and so do my readers. So here we go. A fresh, unexpected adventure.

This blog will be more active as I try to recover my creative spark and my will to write, as I get my headaches and brain fog and ongoing attention issues under control (or learn how to live and work with them. Sometimes you have to embrace what you can’t change, right?). I’ll post any new fiction stuff here, let you know how things are going.

For readers, this won’t make a huge difference in terms of when the next book comes out. Waiting for me to get better and do my best work shouldn’t work out to a longer delay than a miserable me forcing out junk and having to repair it. And the end product will be so much better.

The stories are there. I just have to get myself ready to welcome them into the world.

Hold on tight. It’s going to be a crazy ride.

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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 a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

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