My mind has been a bit scattered for the last week. I alluded on Twitter to a general, vague illness, but . . . menstrual cramps, you guys. The worst of my life. The kind that leave you bedridden, the kind that only Jane Austen can soothe.*
*Persuasion. The Rupert Penry-Jones version.
But I'm out of bed today, and I'm working again. Yay! Little victories.
I don't talk about my work much online anymore. I'm not sure why, other than a general desire to keep more of my life private. It's not that I'm doing anything extraordinary or secretive. It's that I'm doing lots of very ordinary things that happen to feel rather sacred now.
I love my home. I've missed my home. The only job I've ever truly wanted is one that allows me to work from my home. There's a reason why I've ended one novel (Anna) and two short stories (the anthologies) on the idea of home.
I am obsessed with home.
Over the last few years, I've traveled in carousel-like circles to events and conferences and festivals and retreats—grateful to be invited, scared to miss out. Miserable in attendance. I love meeting my readers, and I love seeing my friends. But I have never desired a life away from home, and, suddenly, that's what I had.
I had hotels. I had airports. I had strangers.
I missed my husband and my cat and my bed.
More time was spent recovering than writing. I don't travel well. Much like my cat, I'm anxious and prone to stress-puking. I can't even begin tell you how many airport and bookstore bathrooms that I have thrown up in. (Answer: Most of them.) As an introvert, it takes a lot of effort for me to play an extrovert for a few hours. It goes against everything that I know to be true about myself.
Last year, I had coffee with an online author-friend who was passing through my hometown. (Hometown! I love that word, too.) When I remarked how odd it was that we'd never met in person before, he laughed and said that it wasn't. He explained that he rarely does events. When I pressed him further, I discovered that he maybe does one or two per year. Basically, he's really, really good at saying "no."
His career is healthy. He seemed happy.
My mind exploded.
Since that moment, I've begun to reclaim my life. I'm better at saying "no" to the things that bring me anguish, and I'm rediscovering how to make this a sustainable career. I'm learning—try, fail, try, improve—how to write regularly while keeping my work from becoming everything.
This Saturday, April 9th, will be my first event of the year. I'll be interviewing my longtime friend Jeff Zentner about his fantastic debut novel The Serpent King at Malaprop's in my hometown (!) of Asheville, North Carolina at 7:00 pm.
Jeff and his wife and son have eaten Thanksgiving dinner in my house. We have a fondue-themed Oscar party every year. We exchange texts about good Yankee Candles (Harvest) and bad Yankee Candles (anything blue or black), and we get psyched about corn mazes.
This is why this event matters to me. This is why Jeff got a "yes."
We'll be discussing his work—a friend only debuts once!—but if you purchase or bring any of my books, I'll be happy to sign them. I hope you can make it.