I spent the other night watching storm-chaser livestream footage of Hurricane Laura. It triggered my childhood obsession with natural disasters. I know I’m not the only one who loved tornado documentaries on Discovery Channel. Now, though? You can get all the natural disaster coverage you want online. You can live inside hurricanes forever.
Last night I indulged in my weird childhood need to live on the edge of terror, while also remembering fondly my love of that scene from All That Glitters by V.C. Andrews where Ruby Landry gives birth to her baby in the middle of a hurricane. I specifically remember the eye part. The quiet. That calm. Last night I got to hang out in the eye of a hurricane, eyes heavy, falling asleep on my uncomfortable guest room bed.
Being in the eye still means there’s chaos. Wind still blows. Debris still flies. It’s just not as bad as what came before and what came after. Which is where I’m at with my writing.
All this to say: I’m ceasing Patreon.
It’s time to stop writing. Short stories anyway. I wanted to write them all year long, and admitting that it’s just not in me anymore was tough. I had a mission and I wanted to stick to it. I hate failing.
But fail I must. And maybe you should fail too. If your project is taking the life out of you, then maybe it’s time to stop writing.
It’s Time to Stop Writing When You Don’t Have Time to Live in Fiction
I started this month off with a great story idea. It took place in Tofino. It incorporated some BDSM elements. It was emotionally dark. I also made the best and most kickass playlist for it, which I listened to endlessly on my bus rides to and from work.
I wrote 6500 words of it in about a week. And then? Well, this was the entirety of August:
I have a 6500 word first draft of a story to finish in a four days and literally no desire to work on it. I just can’t. I can’t do it. I hate everything. What the fuck happened to me?— Rebecca Jones-Howe (@rjoneshowe) August 27, 2020
I don’t really have an answer. But while I was excited about the idea, I wasn’t excited about the execution, otherwise known as spending time inside my story.
Writing ceased to feel like an escape. It became a choir. Typically in the high moments of writing, I’m imagining my story constantly, brainstorming while working, hearing my characters tell me things during those quiet moments of the day.
The last few stories I’ve written have been the opposite of that. And sure, I wrote some stories, even one that I really friggin’ loved, but there comes a point where the joy gets completely sucked out and I feel like a fucking husk hooked up to some guilt machine that sucks what little imagination I have left to put on a page.
I need to reinvigorate my brain again, because my ideas are the complete opposite of WAP right now.
It’s Time to Stop Writing When Real Life Sucks Losers Dry
Yes, this is a Heathers quote, but it’s true about life.
Between work and #momlife and dreading putting my daughter into kindergarten in the peak of Covid and actually enjoying my stupid garbage retail job (WHO KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN?!), I didn’t have any time to write.
Maybe not so much to write, but to spend in my head, making up stories. The space did not exist. The end of the night was meant for sleeping. And ONLY sleeping. Because even reading put me to sleep before I could turn a page.
My writer friend Bill suggested I take some fucking time off. I told him that I couldn’t, because, well, August was ending and I still didn’t have a story for Patreon.
And I hate to say it, but Patreon is too much of a commitment. I keep thinking back to the tense moments of the HBO documentary, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, when Michelle McNamara finds herself in the tension of her upcoming deadline, and starts taking drugs to dull her mind from the horrific research she must do to finish her book.
She agonized that she wasn’t spending enough time with her family. She isolated herself. The paranoia got the best of her. And damn if that doesn’t scare me for my potential future of having a legit deadline that I CANNOT BREAK.
That documentary really hit me hard as a writer.
In this case, with Patreon, I gave myself the fucking break. Because I could take it. Because I needed it. And you know, I feel better now.
It’s Time to Stop Writing When There are Bigger and Better Things to Do
So that story I told you about? It became a beast. If you support me on Patreon, you probably noticed that most of the pieces I wrote were longer than my former works. Honestly, I tried to write shorter stories. They just weren’t there.
Maybe it’s the experience of writing my first novel. The format changed me. I wanted deeper stories. More complex issues. More characters. Longer scenes. One day I’d love to go back to shorter forms, but right now, I’m delving deep into writing novels.
And this story, it’s the prequel to what I hope will be my second novel.
I plan on writing it and posting it for my Patreon followers. Then, in 2021, I’ll self-publish it as an ebook. Why? Because Vile Men is out of print and I need something out there for people to buy.
It’s Time To Stop Writing When You Need to Write More
Am I quitting? I don’t know. When I started Patreon, I hoped to really see what I could build. I got myself 8 lovely supporters, which isn’t a lot, but really fucking meant a lot to me, considering that I’m just a no-name writer who published a short story collection over 5 years ago.
I wanted to make money off it, but sadly it didn’t prove a fruitful venture. What it DID succeed at doing was pushing me out of my comfort zone. I wrote some different stuff. I loved most of it. And I want to thank all my supporters for what you gave me, which was a nice stick that pushed me into a mud.
But now? It’s time to stop writing. Short stories, anyway. I love short fiction but I’ve had a novel boiling in me this entire time.
My supporters will get the novella. Then I will move onto the novel. Which is going to be dark. And witchy. And sexy. It will also incorporate characters featured in this story, and a character from this free story, and involves my new obsession as well.
I’ll probably change up my Patreon to share progress on the novel. Scenes. Research. Character stuff. Struggles. Not sure if that’s what people are interested in, but I can be candid.
I need those sticks. Keep pushing me. I hope I’ll keep you entertained.