What’s Next for Me

Hey friends. I’m typing this on my phone because I feel stressed out by my computer.

To be honest, I’m stressed out by just about everything right now.

I’m starting EMDR therapy next week because I’m reacting to emails with the symptoms of PTSD. It’s not ok and I’m not ok. But I WILL be ok.

Some mornings I can barely get out of bed. Some mornings I can’t. It’s so hard to explain to someone who has never been in such a situation, but when it feels impossible to take five steps to the shower, it’s UNFATHOMABLE to consider the drive into work.

I have a stack of mail that all requires action. I have book events coming up that I’m not prepared for. I need to write a synopsis of Salt Novel for my editor and I’m putting it off because I need to talk to God about some novel stuff first and I keep thinking I’ll find a swath of time to have that conversation and work on it. Not so far.

I’ve been getting headaches, even some migraines, and that is rare for me.

The ambien works. About 80% of the time. I still wake up repeatedly throughout the night, but it’s the best med available to me for sleep right now.

My office is going through tremendous turnover, and I’m grieving. The two coworkers I share an office with are both leaving the university and, frankly, I’m a bit devastated. These two have become MY PEOPLE. I spend forty hours a week or more with them, can tell them just about anything, and we spend our days laughing, counseling each other, and discussing theology, the world, refugees, our lack of love lives, and gargoyles. I’m kind of a mess over their imminent departures, even though they are each pursuing their dreams and I’m proud of them.

Pursuing dreams. I could have never ever imagined how hard publication would be. Had I known, I would have better treasured the days pre-contract, when I wrote only for myself, God, and John Green. I’ve written other posts about this, but I can’t stress it enough.

I connected early on with a writer who was signed for a trilogy but whose panic attacks and personal struggles prompted her to drop out of her contract after the first book came out. I identify with her so much. I have wanted to run away a hundred times from the anxiety of publication, but I always come back to wanting this writing life. The EMDR is actually in regard to this part of my life. It has nothing to do with OCD, thankfully.

I’m so grateful to have resources available to me. My therapist is a gem. Same with my chiropractor, my psychiatrist, my doctor. I started seeing a nutritionist too. But everything makes me cry or want to cry.

I’m in a rough spot, and when I look around, especially at other YA authors, I feel like everyone else has things figured out while I’m still on square one, wondering if it was a fluke I wrote a publishable book.

I always want to be honest about where I’m at and what struggles I’m facing as a writer, which is one of the reasons I wrote this post. I also wrote it to feel less alone. I also wrote it because I’m a writer and it’s how I best process things.

Thank for reading. You guys are great.

20 thoughts on “What’s Next for Me

  1. Oh my gosh I’m so sorry to hear this. My mom is also an author and she struggles with lots of what you’re desribing. I’m positive you will get through all this and be just fine. I’m praying for you. And I totally understand about migraines, I’ve suffered from them since I was 11 years old. Hospitalized a few times. I hope you find the right medication if needed to help you through it. I know how debilitating they can be. Well I’m sure everything will come your way and you will be back to your normal productive happy self. Thank you for sharing your own struggle. God bless.

  2. So sorry to hear this, my dear. I would not have known that you are in a dark time of stress and discouragement, and am glad you are transparent and can share about it. You will be in my prayers. I am happy to hear that you are going to undergo EMDR treatment, as it is well documented that it leads to relief from PTSD. It sounds like so much is happening at once, the deadlines and publication commitment, the departure of beloved co-workers, and insomnia and more. I must say that this stress has not affected your ability to be a more than formidable Words with Friends opponent. Please PM me over Facebook and I will give you my phone number. I’d love to chat, my friend. God be with you at this difficult time. It’s always darkest before the dawn.

    • Carol, you’re such a gem. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I’m very hopeful for the EMDR, though I’m nervous for it too! (I figure it CAN’T be harder than ERP!!)

  3. ❤ My husband is home again, and since he's not working right now, I can come to you ANY TIME, wherever you are, and help you brainstorm or troubleshoot your synopsis or story if you need it. You can stay in bed, and I'll pull up a chair, and you can dictate to me if that's what you need. Or we can go to Caribou and chat there. Or we can build a fort to cry in.

    I'm so glad you are seeking resources and getting help when you need it. I'd be happy (blessed, even) to help you reduce peripheral stress.

    • Thanks, Janet! I know I’ll be okay … just wish it was easier! As I commented above to Carol, I’m nervous about EMDR, but I figure there’s no way it can be harder than ERP!! 🙂

  4. Those people that look like they have it figured out DO NOT have it figured out. They are just sharing the good stuff. I think it is AWESOME that you share how you really feel and how tough this is. You are very brave to do so and I think it makes everyone, your friends, family and readers, connect with you.

    Here is a story to encourage you:

    At Independent Bookstore Day, we gave away A TON of ARCs.
    Earlier in the day I was just in the front greeting people and directing them to the prize cart, where they could pick out an ARC.
    Later in the day the books were moved closer to me.
    When they came over, I saw the ARC of Truest and nearly screamed.
    I also made it a mission to hook your book up with a kid that needed it.

    The next family that came through had two teens.
    The first won a book and picked something immediately and moved on.
    The second won a balloon, but I know she really wanted a book,
    so I said, “You get a book too.”

    “Ok,” she said, “Do you have any good books for me?”
    I grabbed Truest, and here’s roughly our conversation.

    “So this is a book by my good friend and it’s REALLY awesome. I’m not just saying that because she’s my friend; I’m saying that because I LOVED this book. I read it a while ago and I STILL think about it and the characters.”

    “Ok,” says the girl, “What’s it about?”

    “Oh, it’s about this girl Wes who’s trying to figure things out in the summer and this boy Silas who comes in and falls for her and they both have significant others at the start of the book…”

    “Oooh!” she says.
    “And they end up working together and Silas has a mysterious but awesome twin sister and Wes has a friend who’s like a real life version of Dumbledore…”

    “Whoa, DUMBLEDORE?”

    “Totally like Dumbledore.”

    “What else did you like about this book?”
    “I really liked that Wes was trying to find herself and where she fit, while trying to figure out who she wanted to be with, and wrestling with her faith.”

    At this point the girl gave me a sort of look.
    “I’m not really religious,” she said.
    “I’m not super religious either,” I said, “but in the book, Wes is a pastor’s daughter, and Laurel, Silas’s twin, often gets grounded in faith and communion. It’s not preachy at all; faith is part of Wes’s life and she explores it in a way that feels really authentic and real. You’re gonna love it, trust me.”

    “Oh, you had me at Dumbledore,” she said, and snatched it up.
    I warned her she may not be able to read anything else after for a while.

    I hope that story cheered you up.
    I’m sorry that things are tough right now; tough times hit us all, and I’m glad that you are figuring out ways to cope and move forward anyway. You absolutely need to keep writing though, because you write BEAUTIFUL stories and the world needs to read them.

  5. Glad I stopped by today. You are so real, and THAT is what the world needs—not more glossy status updates. Saying a prayer right now for God to help you sift through the really important and set aside the less important to get you through the stress and the season you’re in.

    • Thanks, Nancy! Freedom, for me, has always come from being vulnerable, so I try to keep this space pretty transparent. I wish everyone felt that they could be– when I see everyone else with their lives all “put together,” I worry I’m the only one who’s a mess … even though I KNOW that’s not true! 🙂

  6. Jackie. Just read this. Sending you so much love. Also in regards to other authors you are definitely comparing your insides to their authors. You are way more honest and vulnerable hear than many people are willing to be.

  7. I understand this, Jackie. it has been my battle and journey since I was 17. You are not alone. You will make it. Look Jesus in the eyes everyday and hold his gaze – it will change you. Love you x

  8. Reblogged this on JACKIE LEA SOMMERS and commented:

    Reblogging my post from one year ago today. I am so happy and so grateful to be in such a different place: sleeping great with no sleep aid needed; feeling healthier; having crossed off so many items on my long-term to-do list. Am I still working on the same novel? Yes. But these things take time to grow. And so do I. 🙂

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