Getting lost along the way – Heather Skyler

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By Heather Skyler

I’ve been trying to find my way back into writing. Lately, it’s been difficult to sit down and get inside the minds of my characters and the setting of my book because even when I get there, I think, “Who cares?” How can what I make up in my head possibly be more important than doing the work that earns me a living, or spending time with my kids or making lunches or walking the dog or just sitting and reading a good book written by somebody else?

This is a huge existential crisis for a writer, when the internal motor that drives you to carve out extra time for creation begins to sputter – when you start to doubt the point of continuing at all.

My crisis was sparked, in part, by the difficulties of the publishing world. There has been a very long gap between my first novel and the one that is finally going to be published in October. I started with a promising two-book deal, which soon became a weight around my neck as the editor kept rejecting one completed novel manuscript after the other. When your creative life rests in the hands of one person, you can feel a bit trapped.

My writing also faltered with the advent of kids, 15 years ago now. My son and daughter have made me a better writer, in my humble opinion, with a richer understanding of the world, but they have also filled my mind and life to the brim so that any extra time or thinking space can be difficult to find.

vegas-girls-9781510710832Basically, life overwhelmed me with its various duties and delights and I kept thinking as I stared at the screen of my laptop: who cares?

I’m not sure exactly how I found my way back, or even if I truly have. Finally finding a publisher for a book I began almost 10 years ago definitely helped. Encouragement can act as a mental and emotional shove. But what really keeps me going is likely the same thing that keeps many writers on the path: a desire to explain what it means to be alive to myself.

I’m not particularly religious. Without a specific God, the universe can feel gigantic and random and sometimes I just need a better toehold than the one my family alone can provide. That toehold is writing: figuring out human nature, emotional landscapes, love and sex, hatred, grief and shame — all of life’s great mysteries — on the page.

This was supposed to be a post offering writing advice. I find I don’t really have any to give — all writers’ habits are so specific. But I’m guessing many other writers have felt as lost as I have at some point or another, and I hope they can eventually find their way back into writing, too.

Heather Skyler, born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, is the author of The Perfect Age. She has written pieces for the New York Times, Newsweek, GOOD magazine, and other publications. She currently works as the editor for OC Family magazine and as a syndicated columnist for the OC Register. She lives in Long Beach, California. Her latest novel, Vegas Girls, is available now.


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