Writing Life

When Writers Meltdown

Not too long ago, I lost it.

I mean, I totally lost it.

Clay Morgan of Educlaytion posted a piece “3 Keys to Managing Your Life,” in which he wrote about how he works to achieve balance between his professional aspirations, his need for family time and sanity time, and how he squeezes works writing into his days.

And I felt my lip start to tremble because I had really been struggling with my juggling act. Balls and plates had been falling for days.

Clay instructed:

Get with someone who will both push and understand you, a big-hearted person with a pom-pom in one hand and metal ruler in the other.

I read his words and I went a little bit whacky-jacks. Because, sometimes, I don’t feel very supported. Sometimes, I feel like I am lost in The Sahara, caught in a sandstorm without a guide, alone with this writing thing. Here I am, working on a blog (alone) and a manuscript (alone) and a query letter (alone).

And I thought: Who do I have? Who’s my support person?

I posted a full blown vent, a rant – really – that ended with me wondering if I should just put down my pen and stop writing.

I said I felt like I was wandering around in the desert and that I was floundering.

Lord, I wrote, a little sign would be nice.

I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic.

In grad school, I did a little stint as a back-up singer and — later — as a dancer on a hydraulic lift. In college, I was in some obscure shows. In high school, I had speaking roles in Mame and Hello Dolly! In middle school, I had a bit part in Cheaper By the Dozen. One August, at summer camp, I landed the lead role as Peter Pan after I sang “Happy Birthday To You” to the Drama Director. Another summer, I sang a bunch of cabaret songs including “I’ve got Steam Heat.” I was in plenty of plays in middle and high school. If you you want to go back to elementary school, I was Flower #6, Bird #3, and eventually I worked my way up to Glinda from The Wizard of Oz.

Why am I giving you my acting resume?

I don’t know?

Where was I going?

Oh yes, to Best Buy.

The day I posted that horrible post, I needed to find a new camera because Monkey was taking my old almost totally non-functional one to summer camp. Buying a little camera should have been a job done in under 30 minutes. And it should be noted, the people at Best Buy tried to help me decide between the Canon and the Nikon; I just kept crying.

It was one helluva performance.

Except it wasn’t a performance.

It. Was. Ridiculous.

Later that same day, Leanne Shirtliffe a.k.a Ironic Mom alerted me that my comment had brought a lot of support at Clay’s place. So I went back to peek. And then I really started weeping.

Because I had asked for a sign, and all day I had been receiving cosmic signs.

I just didn’t know.

One sign from the universe came in from Kelly K at Dances With Chaos when she showed up with a post at Red Dress Society about that terrible inner voice that tells you that you are not good enough to be a writer. And I started wondering, “Did she just whip that off for me?”

And Carl D’Agostino just so happened to call me that night. And Leanne emailed and offered to Skype. And Chase McFadden emailed. And Eric Rumsey from I Swear We’re Not Crazy sent me one of those little invisible awards where he said, “Without Renée, I wouldn’t be blogging.” And TamaraOutLoud said something similar. And a new friend, Clay Watkins, from Making The Days Count told me he was inspired by a few of my posts to write two of his own: this and this. And then I saw Kathy English had run a post on Mom Crusades inspired by something I had written, and I figured, well, sheesh, if this many people are digging my stuff, I have to be doing something right. Right? And then Jeff Goins showed up with a manifesto which offered me some major piece of mind.

That day could best be summed up in a scene from “A Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Only I was playing Sissy Spacek playing Loretta Lynn in the scene when Loretta is on tour, running around everywhere, trying to be everything to everyone. And there is a part where Ms. Loretta Lynn kind of looks blankly out at the lights and calls for her husband: “Doo…” she says, “Doo… Things is happenin’ way too fast…” and then she collapses right there on the stage in her fancy blue dress.

That’s how I felt that day.

Only I looked out and I didn’t see any Doo. (Okay, I know that doesn’t sound right, but you know what I mean.)

I read Clay’s blog and realized I have been so focused on writing writing writing that I have lost my balance. I have been on red-alert, code-red, mayday-mayday, “we’re-going-down-with-the ship” mode. Which is not like me. I’m the cheerleader. I’m the happy one. I’m the shimmy and shine girl.

Except on that day.

That day I was an old piece of crap computer that had gone into severe meltdown mode.

And I really appreciated everyone’s kind words because they did help me to feel less alone.

I had asked for a sign, and my Blogosphere Inner Sanctum delivered. I was blessed to have:

8 cyber-friends on one blog offering support

4 different cyber-friends contacted me via email

1 phone call from Florida

1 phone call from Calgary

3 private messages on Facebook

A heckuva lot of tweets

And I would be remiss if I did not mention:

1 best friend in real life reminding me to breathe

1 Monkey who made me a homemade ICEE and let me use the rest of the blue-raspberry syrup, which everyone knows is the best flavor

1 Hubby who brought home an extra large pizza for dinner that night.

That day I learned there is a voice that a lot of us writers have that sometimes is still and sometimes cannot seem to be silenced. It’s a critical voice that whispers in our ears. It’s the voice of judgment and self-doubt. It’s the voice that makes us consider giving up.

But we won’t.

We can’t.

Writing is the closest thing I come to having an addiction.

I can’t not do it. And, as Monkey pointed out, “Even if you stopped blogging or stopped working on your book, you’d still keep scribbling in journals, so why not just keep the blog since you have met so many nice friends there?” (Monkey was careful to emphasize “friends” with air quotes.)

Since that day, I’ve had time to reboot myself. Resurrect myself.

Let me introduce you to the new and slightly improved rasjacobson 2.0.

I now come with state-of-the art anti-virus software that can better detect struggling-juggling and critical inner voices.

So the next time that voice starts tapping at my noggin, I will try to smoke it out. I know now how well-supported I am. Kelly K. was kind enough to let me borrow her duct tape so I can hog-tie The Terrible Voice and bury its dark, invisible carcass once and for all.

That’s one murder I wouldn’t fret about.

And I guess if a person is going to meltdown — at least — summer is the right time.

What do you do when you feel yourself melting down?

92 thoughts on “When Writers Meltdown

  1. This is wonderful! How nice to get all the support when you’re close to a meltdown (now I’m wondering why I don’t have that support, however…). But seriously, I am so lucky that my husband & kids have always been super supportive of my writing, and are willing to listen to anything I write — which is wonderful. I’ve also (much to my surprise, from starting a mere 6 months ago) found so many fabulous friends through my blog and on Twitter. Glad you’re feeling better, and nice to find your blog & another self-wondering writer!

  2. I think that’s totally normal. Any time someone is passionate about anything, there are going to be highs, lows and meltdowns. But I also think writers/artists are a bit more sensitive to the lows than other people might be, it’s almost as if we take them personally. It’s important to remember that yes, you do things alone, but you also do things for yourself and because you want to–no pressure.

    This isn’t me pimping myself out, but have you read my “Dear Abby: Quit It” post? It’s basically the pep talk I give myself in these meltdown moments 🙂

    1. I did read your “Dear Abby: Quit It” post. This has been in the queue for so long that I’ve had a chance to see that so many writers are struggling all the time with these same forces. Your piece was much funnier than this though. You are always funnier. You just are.

      I think actually everyone struggles with these balance, bloggers are just more “verbal” about it because we have a place to share what we are feeling — while others suffer in silence.

      Thanks for your continued support, Abby. I am so glad to have found you. 😉

    1. Aw sheesh, Carl.

      I was so confused I was mixing metaphors all over the place.

      I was floundering the desert while drowning in the desert.

      Cut me some slack, Jack. 😉

      Hey, and thanks for that phone call. It meant the world.

  3. You are never really alone. “I just called to say I love you, I just called to say I’m thererer.” (voice cracking). We seem to think we are alone sometimes because all our friends are not there in that very moment. When you reach out and put down the pen, even for a moment and stop and think you will realize all those folks are not there in that very second, but one call or even waiting an few hours and you will remember that someone….many… care. That sign from the universe is always there; maybe you just forgot.
    Love you

  4. Hi Renee, I didn’t know you ever felt like melting down. You always seem so… together. Whenever I feel like melting down, which is more often than I would like, I like to be alone and just sit there (or lay there) and be with the feelings, no matter how long it takes. I also pray to the universe (just like you asked for signs) too for support, and usually get it in various forms – friends’ calls, email, books, etc. My healer once told me I am a “manifestor.” It sounds like you are manifestor too! Just keep asking for signs and support when you feel like melting down, and I am sure you will receive what you want/need. 🙂 BTW, I have a Nikon and I love it!

      1. A manifestor is someone to whose prayer the Universe responds. The response is not always apparent to you, but that’s okay because you benefit from it anyway. You’re a writer and I’m artistic – I think our prayer comes from deep within, and that reaches whatever out there. It’s the Universe’s interest to support us, so we will be healed and in turn become a healing presence.

  5. Oh Rene, I am just reading about your melt down… And as I’m on my way out of town, YET AGAIN, my thoughts are a jumble. I didn’t read “Why Are Things…” because I was in the midst of my own melt down–mother, grandchildren and their feuding parents, sick dog, carpal tunnel, bad reaction to something growing in my mother’s hayfield-turned-lawn, broken blood vessel in my eye, best friend’s surprise birthday party (I hate crowds of any size!!!), my own home in desperate need of cleaning, my gardens in need of weeding, my psyche in need of breathing…

    Reading your blog is a respite in the world I love–the world of words!!! You have introduced me, directly or indirectly, to a number of other bloggers. At best friend’s party, a couple of folks talked about books they had read. I couldn’t join their discussion. No time to read–see above. I thought to myself, what is it I’ve been reading…I know I’ve been reading some great stuff…Why can’t I remember what it is…Who’s the author?!?! (Interrobang) Then I remembered, I’ve been reading blogs!!! I’ve indulged in the wonderful world of reading brief pieces, short stories of a sort, about what’s going on in the lives of others who live in far-flung places on the same planet as I.

    OK, so now I’m getting distracted because I’m an hour late in leaving for my mom’s, and I haven’t showered or loaded my car. I could just dress and load; it is raining… Here’s what I want to say about the words that whisper, you can’t, you’re a failure, who do you think you are?!?!?! Last week I lay on my acupuncturist’s table, a thousand needles trying to redirect my chi et al.. Most people are able to drift off to the land of healing–aka a nap!! Not I. Never I. I am a failure at acupuncture was all I could think. I couldn’t let go for even an hour to let the needles do their work. I could not trust that the world would go on–even for a short while–without my attention and intervention. One of my writing teachers once told me, or maybe it was a parishioner, or even my own brain, “Once your words are out there, they no longer belong to you/me. They belong to the world, to your/my readers. And the readers hear what their ears and brains tell/let them hear. And you just never know…” Once they have left your pen (keyboard), you can no longer attend to them, change them, or tell others what you really said. The words have to stand on their own.

    Rene, your words stand on their own. Sometimes people are moved to comment. Sometimes we’re not. However, we can’t leave them without having been moved by them and by you. I love that your words make me think. Meeting you a few years ago–now how did that story go???–reintroduced me to the wonderful world of words, where my thoughts come out of other people’s keyboards. Thank you!!

    PS I’m not even proof-reading today–Gotta hit the showers and will “chat” with you and your followers this evening!

    1. D’alta:

      The things you say about not being able to even be able to relax properly so ring true for me. Takes a type A to know a Type A, I guess.

      We gotta stick together.

      I’m proud of you for not proofreading today.

      I’m so glad that we met all those years ago. 😉

      And I so needed all those interrobangs. How did you know? 😉

  6. Um, in one way you are lucky. At least your meltdowns don’t hurt innocent bystanders.

    Mine tend to take the form of me blowing my top. I usually have them under control, but the chronic pain sometimes breaks through. And then there’s the medication. Great stuff when it works. But it also has the tendency to make me dopey, and when I’m dopey I don’t think all that straight, and when I’m not thinking straight I say things that, well, aren’t always what I would say when I was thinking straight.

    Effectively its like living next to a live hand grenade. Sometimes I don’t know how my wife and kids put up with it.

    Oh, and as far as the writing goes – I used to be a salesman before my body gave out on me. I learned how to fake confidence so well that I got to the point where I could even fool myself! Which is great. I never have to worry anymore about that nagging doubt. But…

    Do you know how many people now think I’m an arrogant jerk?


    1. I read two posts this morning that deserved to be tweeted, yours, and Kristen Lamb’s.

      Hers was a great nuts and bolts writing post.

      Yours was a great nuts and bolts pulling yourself together post.



    2. W: I try not to take prisoners.

      I didn’t know that you suffered from chronic pain.

      That sucks. I have some good stuff that I can sell you for cheap. 😉 If you are interested, please send small unmarked bills to my Swiss Bank account.

      Seriously, I have a bad back, so I understand pain. (One day we will privately discuss our “what is your most humiliating moment because you couldn’t friggin move?” stories.)

      As far as the faking confidence thing goes, I was a cheerleader. And a dancer. And a gymnast. And I was in a bunch of plays. I’ve had to fake entire routines that I forgot. I’m pro at that. Plus I teach, where I basically sell myself (and my show) everyday (which is often an exercise in faking it). So I’ve got the confidence thing down.

      Oh, and did I mention that my breasts are still pretty perky.

      Do you know how many people now think I’m an arrogant jerk?

  7. I wish I would have known the day you were having a meltdown because I would have loved to grab my pom-poms… You are one of my favorite bloggers, and you very often make me smile. The only difference between writers who make it, and writers who don’t is that writers who make it push through days just like the one you experienced. Bravo! You are on your way to being a successful writer! I’m glad you had such a great support group.

    1. Thank you, darling. I am so happy every time I read one of your comments. And then I circle back to your blog. It seems, often, we are thinking the same things.

      And I am fortunate to have wonderful bloggers to support me. Did you know you were part of that show? 😉

  8. My biggest issue with writing is time. I don’t have enough of it to accomplish all of the things I want to do or all I have to do. Often, I jam my writing in when I can and sacrifice other activities for it. I found a quote to rationalize how I spend my time and included it in a post in December 2010, “Every man has only enough strength to complete those assignments that he is fully convinced are important.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) Goethe’s wisdom often soothes my heart and mind, but doesn’t add any time to my day. As for meltdowns, I get upset that I don’t have a larger audience (or an audience larger than a handful of folks) I get hits, a few views, but few comments. It wasn’t a horrible post, it was a plea to see who was paying attention, who was reading, and who was out there – at least I think that was the post you refer to. What do I do? I sit back and wait, I take my time and think. I have slowed down lately and reduced the daily posts to two or three a week. I walk the dog, swim with my daughter, fish with my son, or help my wife around the house, but I have slowed down. School is only eight days away and that will put an anchor to writing, too. So, as for meltdowns, I am trying to make what I write relevant and focused on how and why the days count, rather than counting them. I try to remember I only have so much time for the things that matter most, thanks for your time.

  9. I try to notice it before it hits.

    Usually it’s one of three things:

    I haven’t eaten.
    I haven’t slept.
    I have over committed myself to various projects or events.

    Then I try to fix one of the three.

    Hang in there!

    1. Ricky:

      And yes.

      You so get me.

      I don’t like having to fix things retroactively. Working on trying to slow down and think before I over commit to more stuff. Trying to remember to pee before I make that phone call. Trying to remember the food thing, too…

  10. I totally get you. There are days when I wonder why I am doing this to myself. As a glass-half-empty girl, I say, “The odds of you being successful at anything are pretty slim. Why bother?” I do what you did. I cry. I wonder if I should quit…and sometimes I get a sign from God.

    I always enjoy your writing, and I know you’re on the right path. Keep on keeping on.

    1. Thanks Catie!

      And thanks for the Tweet today! Much appreciated. I’ve been silently reading your stuff. Been trying to give myself permission to do that since my post on “Why Is It So Quiet In Here.” If other people can do it, I guess I can too.

      Promise I will comment soon!

  11. I so know what you’re talking about. For me, I went through this struggle for a few years, before I was blogging even. I was completely isolated and no one helped me. In fact, I was told that writing wasn’t worth anything and I should spend my time doing something valuable. I’m glad I didn’t quit. But here’s the thing: If you’re a writer you have to write. The words have to come out. Maybe it’s a journal or blog or book, but they have to come out of you. The key for me was to know that and to know that if no one ever read my stuff I would still be happy that I put the words on paper.

  12. —Renee,
    to begin with … I. Love. Your. Honesty.
    You sort of said what several of us think.
    For Example: “Writing is the closest thing I come to having an addiction”
    I think about it ALL DAY LONG. Like a freaking drink I need to gulp. Like a needle I need to shoot up with….
    —-you appear to be doing the same thing.
    Do you sometimes feel crazy?
    Me, too.
    You have support here, girl.
    From Me. From many of us.
    Love love love the post. Xxx
    –You are Faaaaaaaaaaaaaabulous. Absolutely & Completely.

    1. Kim:

      Thank you for your support. As always, your comments make me smile. They are so you. Filled with passion.

      (So two writing addicts walk into a Barnes & Noble. “Hey? You wanna… um… you wanna…” *looks a little twitchy and nervous* “…you want go and write or somethin’? I’ve got some really good pens. And a pretty good idea…”)

      That’s how we writing addicts roll.

  13. You must read the following article in the NYTimes. Gotta get the book and read it!!

    “Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade”

  14. As addictions go, writing isn’t the bottom of the barrell. I happen to know you are still a great Mom. Wife.Teacher. Friend. Cousin. You seem to be doing OK so far. Everyone has their moments.

    I used to write, and was told I just need to “keep writing”. I stopped. The only place I write now is on your blog. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count, since it’s YOUR blog.

    You are doing something you love. Every day. That is more than most people in the world can say. You are lucky. I look forward to your blogs every week, and I can’t wait to read your book.

  15. I’m so glad you found this support! I’m glad, too, for the wisdom of Monkey’s words. They remind me of something an old coworker said when I told him I wasn’t a writer. He raised his eyebrows and said, “You are always writing something somewhere, Deb. You have a really wacky definition of ‘writing.'” This caused me to stop and think how much I write in different forms every day. I realized he was right when he said I would explode if I weren’t allowed to write. Drat. And thus it began that I started tentatively calling myself “writer.” Mumbled really quietly so others couldn’t hear.

    I’ve been pretty bad about noticing impending meltdown. Meltdown usually hits me in the form of me sobbing uncontrollably because someone uses the wrong inflection to say “good morning,” following which I calm down and go, “There is clearly something else at work here.” I did take a break from novel writing in July because I felt myself becoming more and more on edge by the hour. That took a huge load off, and I’m trying to be cognizant of signs now that are warning me I need to reassess my priorities. Let’s call it a work in progress . . .

    1. Deb: So smart of you to realize that you needed to take a break in some area of your life. You have a littlun — that’s already one big plate that you are juggling, practically all the time.

      I have known I was a writer since 2nd grade.

      But the need for affirmation gets in the way sometimes.

      That’s the stupid writer thing, I think. We write to be heard. Recognized.

      I am learning to let go of that.


  16. Oh how very timely this post is. For me anyway 🙂

    I have learned that when I start to feel a real melt down coming on, I need to let myself melt all the way down to the ground. If I try to put it off for too long, it just gets worse. So as soon as I can, I spend an entire day doing nothing but watching television. I stretch out completely on the couch and watch whatever crap is on the television. If I feel like sleeping, I sleep (which usually happens since I’m horizontal!). I just let myself wallow for the whole day. (Really horrible meltdowns may need more time the next day, but even the worst one was only two days.) Usually when I do that, I’m so sick of myself by the end of the day that I know I have to get up the next morning and DO something about how overwhelmed, alone, untalented (yet unrecognized), or frustrated I might be feeling at the moment. When I get sick of myself, I get pissed off, and anger unfailingly motivates me to pull my melty self off the floor.

    1. “I need to let myself melt all the way down to the ground.”

      L: That reminds me of a Joan Armatrading song that I used to love. I actually think it was called “Down to the Ground,” but maybe not. Anyway, it’s wonderful that you allow yourself to give into it. Sometimes I think a good wail would just be outstanding and by trying to keep things in, well… I prolong the inevitable.

      But I am starting to see that for me, I don’t need to get “down to the ground.” I have to stop taking on extra responsibilities — which is something that I do a lot. I’m a pleaser, what can I say. But I have to learn to say no and be a little more selfish about the things that I need.

      Please know you have a direct line to me if you feel like taking a break between bad TV shows.

      I’m really good to talk to while horizontal.

      Or so I’ve been told. 😉

  17. About once a week since I started blogging in February, I doubt myself. My safety net is my family. They cheer me on when I feel invisible. I believe in signs too! It’s amazing how they come in full force as soon as you ask!!!!

    1. You are so fortunate that you have your family to support you. I don’t have that goin’ on. Hubby is kind of like: “Until some of this writing brings in some cash, I don’t really want to hear about it.”

      I don’t think he gets how much that drags me to the floor.

      Like if he doesn’t care about my words, why should anyone else? Right?

  18. You’d better never, never, never stop your writing!!! Your blogposts are humorous, thought-provoking, enlightening, entertaining along with a list of many other positive adjectives to describe your talent.

    Your blog encourages writers to write, that being a GRAND gift in itself.

    You say that you don’t feel supported…. does that have anything to do with your recent post about “comments”? Seems as though you have quite a few supporters between your cyber-friends, your husband and Monkey. I agree with Monkey and his comment about the fact that you would still be scribbling things down in a journal.

    My little voice usually whispers, “Who really cares about this? Does anyone really give a flip about my opinion?”

    Then my real voice kicks in… and I do the writing-thing because I ENJOY it whole-heartedly, and I’ve had the great pleasure of cyber-meeting individuals like yourself.

    Listen to YOUR voice, look around and realize the supporters that are in your corner, and continue on the wonderful path that is your journey.

    1. Cheryl right? You are a new friend to me, so I want to be sure. I think it is Cheryl. If it’s not, I apologize! But remind me!

      I like your voices.

      I have a pretty harsh inner critic.

      It is judgmental and cruel.

      I know whose voice it is.

      That’s what makes it tough.

      But I’m not putting down the pen. Don’t fret. I’m a slow processor, and I think Clay posted that blog in June or something. I’m past that now, but I still wanted to post my reflection on the event and express my gratitude to everyone who helped through the dark day.

      Now, good things are happening. But on that day. Well, that was a dark day when that nasty critical voice was very loud.

  19. Renee, you are awesome. Thank you for writing this because you’ve given me the knowledge that I’m not alone in feeling helpless with the juggling act. I need that permission from other people that it’s ok to feel like we’re floundering (or withering, Carl!) in the desert at times. I completely sympathize with you and your shopping meltdown. I had the same thing happen driving home from the grocery store today. Tears. I was crying over a frozen juice container! This is so not my life.

    I recently read Kristen Lamb’s post about Are Writers Born to Create, and after reading it, I felt so lost. I haven’t made any progress on my WIP in months. I’m feeling overwhelmed between work life, home life, and writing life. I admitted on Kristen’s blog my big fear: that this writing thing won’t work out. That I will never have the time and creativity to finish my projects. I asked for help. No one responded personally to that comment, but what I got was this post by you, another writer, Linda Cassidy, saying they were trying to overcome meltdown, a few check-in/hi/how you doin emails from my Life List Club co-founder, and I walked in the door to see a hand written note from my honey saying he missed me and we could cook dinner together and have our own wine tasting and cuddle.

    My rambling point is thank you. You asked for a sign, and so did I. You are my sign. That things will get better. That we have support in the writing community. That we can make our dream of writing happen. I may not be moving as fast as I’d like to, but I’m still progressing. Thank you again. I’ll definitely be sharing your post and my more collected thoughts with the Life List Club because I now know I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed.

    1. Oh no! Jess! Today in the grocery store! With the juice. I’m so sorry! I totally get it.

      Kristen Lamb is a powerful voice and sometimes powerful voices can (unintentionally) make us doubt ourselves.

      I hope you saw my Tweet to you. And I hope you see this. And I’m coming to try to see your bloggie now. Because sometimes we just really do need to remind each other that we are here for each other. You are a great writer. You are not alone in your overwhelmedness. Kristen started #MyWana, but people always sound so together. It can be intimidating.

      I am here.

      And guess what, sometimes I’m not even writing at all. 😉

  20. I talk to my dog when I feel a meltdown coming. He often has the very best advice, and always offered in a gentle way. A good nose-nuzzle works wonders.

    I also repeat, “Nothing lasts, everything changes.” I know that whatever is overwhelming me is temporary. I also know that whatever is good in my life is temporary. I try not to focus on that part when my nerves are rattled.

  21. I write when I’m having a meltdown. ;} I remember going into the semiconductor fab at the usual 5:00 a.m., murderous beginning of my shift. I had been off for three days and EVERY single one of my reactors was DOWN! I printed days worth of data and spread them across every available surface. I concentrated so hard that I never left the cleanroom (during a 12 hour shift) to go to the bathroom or eat. I concentrated, sweated, swore, and railed against all things Epitaxy. All of my reactors were up and running by the time I left that place, and I was being hailed as a miracle worker.

    I was relieved but had a great deal of tension to work off by the time I dragged myself through my front door. I was scheduled to have a coloscopy at the end of the week and it was preying on my mind. I sat down and wrote a funny piece about my expectations of the procedure. My greatest concern was that they would find all of things people had told me to stuff up my bum in piques of anger (throughout the ages). They would find a pair of groovy shoes I refused to lend to my sister, a Hickory Farms giftpack that did not arrive within the customer’s impossible time frame, a few specifications, a wedding album, and various and sundry large items that really should never see the inside of any human orifice.

    You were ultimately very pragmatic during your meltdown, Renee. You reached out to people who share your love and gift for writing. You knew they were there but you weren’t certain they were THERE. Writing is an art. All artists doubt themselves. Writing can be a burden just as life can be a burden. I could have sworn you were going to covey that you reset yourself by joining a local theater group. You might want to consider that as another artistic outlet. You are an extrovert caught in the domain of introverts (since writing is such a solitary pursuit). I think this may be where you are missing a bit a balance. You need to get back on that stage and shine.

    Having said that, I cruise blogs of your fellow bloggers and I have subscribed to a few of them. I witness how you all inspire each other. That is fantastic. What a great gang to hang with. (Grandma T throws the writer’s gang sign, grabs a can of spray paint, and heads out to graffiti Facebook grammar pages.) ;}

    1. Uh oh. One of the Grandmas suggested I clarify the bum thing. ;} I was speculating that their wishes could come true. I make it a habit to never consume anything other than by mouth. (Still doesn’t sound right. Now I’m going to Hell!) ;}

    2. T:

      I’m so glad that you have checked out some of my fellow bloggers. I only post my faves. And they are a talented bunch. I feel so fortunate to know them.

      (I kinda don’t get why you aren’t blogging. You are such a great writer.)

      I definitely do a lot better when I have my classroom. I need my audience. I need my show. You are intuitive to recognize the extrovert in me. Or was it the video of me dancing? 😉

      I don’t like to be alone behind the keyboard. Which is probably why I am not as productive as some people.

  22. Renee – I have felt everything that you’re experiencing and so appreciate your candor. I find that when the scales are tipping in that wrong, wacky direction, I step away from the computer and carry my notebook outside and sit by a tree, or water or a patch of flowers and then I remember why I write – why I love to write, and feel not quite so alone. Love to you!

    1. Thanks Kasey!

      Sometimes there is just so much interference that I can’t even stop to find a tree. But ultimately, once I calm down and drop all the plates — let them smash into bits on the floor — well, then I feel better, and I just keep writing.

      What else can we do, right?

  23. BTW, did you know that your Word Press install is messed up? What you need to do to fix it is open the Control Panel.

    Select “Settings”
    Select “Comments”
    Look for “Enable threaded (nested) comments”
    On the left of it a box will be selected. On the right a drop down box will show the number “3”, change it to “10”, and everything will be fine.


  24. I hope this is not a duplicate….. My biggest issue with writing is time. I don’t have enough of it to accomplish all of the things I want to do or all I have to do. Often, I jam my writing in when I can and sacrifice other activities for it. I found a quote to rationalize how I spend my time and included it in a post in December 2010, “Every man has only enough strength to complete those assignments that he is fully convinced are important.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) Goethe’s wisdom often soothes my heart and mind, but doesn’t add any time to my day. As for meltdowns, I get upset that I don’t have a larger audience (or an audience larger than a handful of folks) I get hits, a few views, but few comments. It wasn’t a horrible post, it was a plea to see who was paying attention, who was reading, and who was out there – at least I think that was the post you refer to. What do I do? I sit back and wait, I take my time and think. I have slowed down lately and reduced the daily posts to two or three a week. I walk the dog, swim with my daughter, fish with my son, or help my wife around the house, but I have slowed down. School is only eight days away and that will put an anchor to writing, too. So, as for meltdowns, I am trying to make what I write relevant and focused on how and why the days count, rather than counting them. I try to remember I only have so much time for the things that matter most, thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Clay:

      I think you were putting a lot of pressure on yourself to try and produce something as often as you were. That’s the fast road to burn out.

      I’m glad that you are enjoying life more.

      Don’t feel like you are missing out. Feel like you are gathering material to write about later.

      But you are right, there is always that nagging feeling.

      I, too, often wish I had that extra hour in the day. It takes a long time to develop a following. And a lot of networking. Visiting other people’s blogs and commenting. Linking up to theirs. Be patient. I’ve been blogging 15 months, and I’m thinking about resurrecting some of my early posts because I realize no one saw them.

      So just think of those early posts as material you’ll get to recycle later. 😉 For all the new readers you’ll acquire you won’t have seen it. It’s like money in the bank.

      (Okay, maybe that is a bad example these days… but you now what I mean.)

  25. Grocery stores are my Best Buy, Meltdown-Place-of-Choice (note: I typed *Bust* Buy).

    I think the best thing about social media is that we can help each other. We are writers who all struggle with this. I found comparison tends to lead to my meltdowns (i.e. If I were really good, I would do/have/whatever like so-and-so does). I’m grateful I know great peeps (like you!) who I can call or email. I also keep a Pick-Me-Up file on my desktop. Whenever someone writes/comments something overly nice to me, I cut and paste it in there. Egotistical? Yes. But it’s enough to remind me in times of despair that I’m better than that voice says I am.

    And, by the way, I have a strong voice. Next time your voice is giving you trouble let me know. I’ll send my voice to kick the butt of your voice.

  26. Renee – this is beautiful.

    I am always here, ready and waiting with duct tape. I am but a tweet or email away.

    Never forget that.

    We all hit those points. I’ve teased writer meltdown off and on for most of the summer. I’ve hardly had a chance to work on what I hope to turn into a WIP. I’m barely able to keep up with blog reading/writing/commenting.

    But like you, I can’t not write. It feels so very wrong. So I hug my children, I laugh with friends, I flee to Canada for six days to heal me and hope this writing balance thing will eventually work itself out.

    Knowing people like you are out there for me, should I hit bottom, gives me comfort and actually keeps me afloat.

    So thank you my friend, for being there for me as well.

    1. SIX DAYS. You got SIX DAYS.

      Okay, now I am really bitter. 😉

      Seriously, Kelly, I adore you and the Bitches.


      If I were up there in Canada I would snuggle with each of you. Even those of you I don’t know.

      (I think my blog just became rated PG-13.)

      But you know what I mean, right? I have that much faith in you and Leanne.

      That you two have good hearts. And good hearts make for good friends — and the best blogger buddies.

      And the writerly things will happen for each of us because they just will.

      When it is the right time.

      PS: I think it’s @ClayMorganPA’s turn right now. 😉

      1. They weren’t a full six days. Sadly, it takes a rather long time to travel from Texas to Calgary (about seven hours) so I only had a partial Thursday, and I’ll only have a little bit ‘o the morning tomorrow before I have to hit customs at the airport (damn two hour before international flight requirement).

        So I was gone for six days, but wordbitch contact was more like five.

        Still, it was totally worth it.

        My husband just asked me “You are coming home, right?”

        It would be a lot easier to say yes if it wasn’t supposed to be 107 tomorrow in Austin.

        The heat and no rain is getting a bit ridiculous.

        How about we pool together with some others and buy a “cottage” in Canada for a summer retreat? Monkey is about old enough to watch the little ones, right?

  27. No problem. You need help, ask 🙂

    I would have happily done it for you, but most people don’t like letting other people into their Word Press installation. That’s why I described it in detail.

    I don’t know if I mentioned, but Sam, the dog in my profile picture died. He was chasing a rabbit, and it ran across the road. Sam didn’t look.

    You mentioned wanting a doggy hug. I’ll have to show you a picture of Kleopatra. She’s a 12 week old beagle. Can we say terminal cuteness?


    1. You did tell me about Sam. The day it happened. I think you were still in shock. You said you had been crying all day.

      I’m so glad you have a new someone. 😉

      You are a brave man to bring on the puppy.

      Totally want to see her picture.


      I might have let you go into my installation, except I fear that I might somehow have become unintentionally linked to The Great Star Trek Wars of 2012 — which, of course haven’t happened yet… but which began as a result of your recent post. 😉

      1. There’s pictures of my cute little lady in your inbox. She’s a work in progress. We really have to break her of her habit of chewing on ethernet cable…


  28. Oh my goodness, I am humbled to be counted among those who encourage others to greatness!! God has great plans for you and your writing. I am confident that as you continue to seek His plan, you will find yourself fulfilled and successful.

  29. LOVE your blog, glad you are not giving up…I do absolutely horrible things when I am having a meltdown. Yours sounds much more healthy, believe it or not… Sending long-distance support…

    1. SuzyQ: Thanks for the long distance love. The day has long since passed, but I am grateful for the support. The next time that voice shows up, I am ready to kick it in its head. Or butt. Or vocal chords.

      You know what I mean.

  30. Hi Renee,

    Glad to hear that you received the support that you needed when you needed it most.

    Writing a blog can be difficult because the process can suck up so much more time than we allocate for it. We love it, but it doesn’t always seem to love us back. In your case, you receive a lot of comments, and since you reply to them all (which is the only way to do it in my opinion) that’s another block of time dedicated to your blog. It can become overwhelming. And I haven’t even talked about the idea generation and the actual writing yet!

    For me, weekdays are almost impossible to manage, so I’ve settled on blogging once or twice a week or three times if I’m really inspired. A while back, I decided that that was the best I could do for now, and that took some of the pressure off.


    1. Balance is definitely a challenge. I know you get it. Things will absolutely have to taper in the fall. That’s why I planned those regular Wednesday guest posts.

      Another little something I learned from Kristen Lamb.

  31. Apparently, I dash off a post-it on my blog to explain my silence, and then color myself surprised and touched by the support I receive. It was like a blogger brigade to the rescue. I’m glad you shared your story here, and thanks very much for your kind words to me!

    1. Hi K:

      So glad that you are doing okay. You get the blogger brigade when outstanding peeps (and tweeps) start wondering all those existential questions. Glad you didn’t totally meltdown.

      Leave that to the chumps. Like me. 😉

  32. I have had a number of meltdowns this summer. Summer has been much more demanding than I imagined.

    It’s good to be honest, real, raw. We grow so much closer as a result. 🙂 Thanks for your honest meltdown. It makes the rest of us who struggle realize we are normal.

    1. This has definitely been the summer of meltdowns. The pace has been so dang fast. Thanks for your support and compassion, Annie. Especially when I know you have way more going on with your Circus on any given day than I ever do with my one Monkey.

  33. I suck at the balance thing as well. I’m either working and relationshipping all the time and not writing, or I’m relationshipping and lifing and not writing, or…No balance. When I melt down, I close the office door and force myself to write something. That doesn’t usually work, because I’m melting down, and so I read. That works. I look up, it’s awhile later, and I feel better. But I still don’t balance. Not much writing is getting done. I’ve got to get better at that.

    1. Hi Steve! Welcome to my joint. I think it is really hard to find balance these days. There is always another screen calling to us. Another bill we could pay. Another dish to wash. A load of laundry to do. A trip to the grocery store. A kid who needs new shoes. So many things and I didn’t even mention writing or reading or social media. Or friends!

      When I meltdown, I call my best friend. She lets me yowl like a baby and when my screaming turns into more of a whimpery-whine, she reminds me that I am loved. And that somehow it will all get done. And she is always right. 😉

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