The Meek Valley Incident: Part 9
Whoops! Halloween happened and I forgot about my blog lol. Good thing I have the reminder for updating Wattpad, today it reminded me to update everything!
This weekend, my writing update and my wee life blurb are one in the same. I’ve been thinking about / worrying about / stressing over my writing-life balance a lot these past few months and I’ve finally come to an internal decision about it which I feel comfortable with. This decision, and the factors leading to it, isn’t something I’ve blogged about until today. The high levels of Impostor Syndrome and self-created guilt I have around failing to write, edit, and query consistently during much of this past year have been chipping away pieces of my mental health. Adding this to the rest of 2020’s stress load and, I can say with sincerity, inside my head hasn’t been a great place to live lately.
My husband and I have been going through another round of life upheavals these past weeks and… we’re tired. Our kids need us, we have side hustles that need attention, and much of our social network has disappeared in the past years due to deaths, falling outs, blocking toxic from our lives, and the fact that everyone left is running ragged and just as tired as we are. We have outside supports, and we have each other, but outside supports are limited (again – everyone is tired) and we’re tired.
So, with all of real life going on and going sideways (and, for some things, flipping upside down), I’m choosing to step away from chasing professional writing. Running after vapors as dreams fly further away isn’t always a good thing. Chasing after My Dream of a literary agent and publishing my books through “the big houses” isn’t healthy for me right now. Feeling like I’m not doing enough to “prove” I should be awarded My Dream is really unhealthy right now. In five years from now, maybe it’ll be healthy for me to start the chase again. Maybe it’ll take ten years.
I don’t know.
I do know queries and pitches and submissions – plus beating myself up for not doing them all – are bad places for my mental health right now. Plus deadlines (even self-imposed ones) aren’t helping me get where I want to be. What does feel healthy is deciding it’s okay to release the expectation of “making it” so I can get back to viewing writing in a healthy way. Honestly, throughout bad times and bouts with crappy mental health, writing has always been – and continues to be – one of my favorite activities. Realigning the activity so it fits my life in a healthy way again feels friggin’ great!
What does that mean for you? Well, my blog will run weekly updates and story parts, my Wattpad account will continue as it has been, and my website will offer my books and info just the same. If all goes well you might not even notice a change. And, maybe, I’ll get noticed by someone in the right place at the right time and that dream of “making it” will come true for me. Maybe it won’t. Either way, my words will be out in the world to read as much of (or as little of) as you like.
For me, this decision means I’ll stop packing around unnecessary guilt and pressure so I can focus on real life. I don’t have to be sad for missing out on Twitter Pitch Parties, be angry about losing writing days to migraines and physical health issues, and be crushed when my wanted time frames get blown to smithereens by universe-created, mandatory participation, real life events. Overall, letting go of driving toward My Dream means I can dream quietly while still being present in real life.
Enjoying my writing, sharing my stories, and actually being present for my important people and events adds up to a fairly huge win I think. Plus, who knows… right place and right time and all that ;)
I hope you’re safe and well this weekend!
9. Finding Shelter
Tam went first, Justin following warily behind. There were no other footprints in the fresh snow, but he didn’t trust the windowless building. Tor and Tam were the only things inside – it really was just a shed – and Justin hesitated at the threshold. From outside the little building looked solidly built, the gaps in the vertical exterior walls showed only the horizontal interior boards, and the sloped roof fit tightly enough that it was dry inside. Letting his eyes adjust to the dimness, he could see the planks of the interior walls were packed with plaster and sap. He reached around the door frame and settled a palm on each side of the wall, testing the thickness of the planks. Together, including the space between for the framing, the rough plank walls totaled about ten fingersides wide.
“It’s a summer shed the scouts use,” Tor said, setting down the pack he made out of his blanket before each run. “There are panels in each wall that drop inward, same on the outside, so that it’s easier to fill and unpack when needed,” he unhooked one of the seemingly random latches and a large section of one inside wall dropped toward him, leaving only the vertical slats of the outside wall. “We’ll sleep here for the night and get a decent rest.”
“What about your troop?” Justin asked, still in the doorway.
“I’m the only one from these mountains,” Tor said with a shrug. “Jin can keep up on the roads, and will guess this is where we went, but he won’t be able to find it. For him, all the trail markers either are or will be hidden in the snow.”
Justin frowned back at the knee-deep trail that they’d left behind as Tor relatched the wall. He looked at the shed more critically than before. He didn’t like being boxed in, and this building in particular left his skin crawling.
“We kept a pace they can’t because they have to double back and check in with reports to the General,” Tor explained. Justin stared hard at the interior, seeing nothing out of place, and then shook his head to the negative and backed down the few stairs so he was resolutely standing on the ground outside. Tor watched with growing confusion as Tam strode out to stand beside Justin, both men equally shocked at her actions.
“You weren’t with him on the road for getting past your rope traps,” she stated calmly. Tor bent to pick up his bundle with a sigh.
“We’re not going to find anything half as good with this storm moving in,” Tor cautioned as he straightened.
“That’s fine,” Justin replied.
Movement beside the door grabbed Justin’s attention as Tor took his first step. A knothole had shifted. Not a knothole, an eye! Justin drew his sword and lunged forward in one motion. Suddenly two of the vertical planks by the door’s hinges broke along almost invisible cuts and the person wearing them stumbled out onto the small porch. That person was bleeding badly from having Justin’s sword embedded high in his torso, but he was still gurgling to form breath and words. He fell away from the wall into the snow, leaving a hole right through to the interior, a column of horizontal planking affixed to the entire back of him.
There was a metal-on-metal clang behind him as he dropped beside the body to retrieve his sword, and Justin turned to see Tam deflect the attack of someone in white clothing that blended perfectly with the snow they’d been lying in. Tor leapt from the door to defend his sister from the three people springing up to their feet around her as Justin pulled his sword clear of the wood-wearing man and spun to face the two white-clad attackers bursting from the snow nearest to him. Two more came out from the trees and joined the short fight, staining the snow around them as they also fell, their ambush ruined by only having had surprise in their favor instead of skill.
“Are there more of you?” Tor demanded, scanning the tree line.
“Not that will come out while we’re awake,” Justin muttered. “We need to go. I still don’t want to be here,” he added after a glance at the hole in the wall of the shed. He cleaned the blade of his sword with snow and then dried it as best he could on the clothes of one of the bodies before sheathing it. Tam did the same.
“We’re being hunted by scouts because he deserted,” Tam stated loudly toward the forest in general as Tor cleaned his sword. “If you’re thinking of following, our path is the pass through Meek Valley.”
She nodded at Tor and he set off on a direct route around the shed to a narrow trail that had a definite down slope to it. Tam followed, and Justin took up his usual place at the back of their small line as Tor finished tying on his blanket bundle and started to jog again. No one tried to pursue.
The trio stopped a couple of hours later, the sky was darkening and the snow was getting too thick to see through. The place Tor led them to was near a cliff that rose as a black shadow against the grey evening. A few evergreen trees at the base had branches thick enough to provide shelter.
“This is better?” Tam asked Justin after checking under the branches of the largest tree to be sure they weren’t barging in on any animals. Justin nodded, too tired to bother speaking, and they all started pushing snow to form burrow walls under the spread of branches Tam had chosen. He ate the food and drank the water Tor pushed into his hands once they were nestled by the tree trunk.
“How did you know there were bandits at the shed?” Tor asked as they wrapped in their blankets.
“I didn’t,” Justin replied. Tor curled back-to-back with Tam, how they usually slept. “You didn’t set your chime clock,” Justin stated, yawning.
“I don’t need to,” Tor answered, his voice just as tired. “Sleep until you wake up. It’s going to snow for at least a whole day. We’re not going anywhere until the storm stops.”
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A weekly blog updating on Fridays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!