The Writing Life: Winter Slump

Header graphic: a male and a female detective face off in a darkened office

Readers and friends,

I hope this blog post finds you healthy and happy. As for me, I’m crawling out of my winter slump. Winters can be tough in the Pacific Northwest. Temperatures are mild, but the months of darkness have a way of grinding you down. Add to that our current pandemic woes and social isolation, and it’s no wonder I’ve been feeling slumpy!

I love gloomy skies and rain. I truly do. But five months into Seattle’s “big dark” my body is craving light, green plants, and movement. The pandemic is a marathon, and I’m limping my way to the finish line. It’s been a long haul, hasn’t it?

If it weren’t for the damn pandemic, I’d flee to Las Vegas for a long, sunny weekend and sit by the pool until my body charged up like a fleshy solar panel. I’d head to mountain country to have lunch with my Mom. And Patrick and I would take my father-in-law to his favorite bar and buy him some tacos, then fight over the check. (He’s cheeky! He likes to pay the bill while I’m in the bathroom.) But I can’t do any of those things, yet. So I’ll sit here in the same tiny condo I’ve occupied for a year, using walks and occasional video chats to stave off quarantine madness, trying to be mellow about all the things I cannot control.

Things will get better soon! my intellect says.

Not soon enough! my sulky heart replies.

Scribbling Away

My winter slump may have slowed me down, but the writing is going well. I’m editing The Case of the Red Phantom, and it’s been a fun project. The mystery takes place during a baking competition, inspired by The Great British Baking Show. I started the story with a firm idea of who committed the crime, but things didn’t go the way I expected, and I was surprised at the end! Writing a good mystery is every bit as much fun as reading one. I love all the twists and turns!

And I’ve come up with most of the story for The Case of the Fond Farewell, the sixth Ellie Tappet mystery. That’s up next. ☺️

Deslumpifying

So, how does one crawl out of a winter slump? There’s a physical component, for sure. I’m heading out for walks twice a day, and any day when I get at least 3 miles of walking in, I feel much better. My sleep has been crap, so I’m cutting back on caffeine, albeit reluctantly. No coffee after 1pm! This is a cruel, cruel, way to live, but I’ll endure. 😏

The mental component is trickier. After the last election cycle ended, I tentatively poked my nose back into Twitter after reorganizing my lists a bit. I’d missed the writerly chit-chat, but before long, I found myself zooming down the drama rabbit holes, reading about publishing drama du jour, marinating in the nastiness and performative slamming of one tribe vs another. Ugh! When it comes to Twitter, I’m like baby Yoda eating the frog lady’s eggs. I can’t be trusted to resist temptation! That’s why I’m back to my old rules: I’m allowed twenty minutes of Twitter per day, using a timer. That’s long enough to check in with the writerverse without getting myself into trouble.

So yes, Twitter is my intellectual cocaine. But just a small bump, please! I don’t want to end up hanging naked from a chandelier, screaming conspiracy theories until Patrick has to take me out with a tranquilizer gun.

ha ha. I do amuse myself.

It helps to remember that spring is right around the corner. Pale yellow daffodils are blooming near South Lake Union, the poor neglected grass is growing back, and the deciduous trees downtown have that clean, smooth look they get right before their leaves burst out. The days are getting longer. Vaccination dates are getting closer! And I just got my copy of Ready Player Two from the library, so I know what I’m doing tonight instead of watching TV or surfing the web.

If you’ve been dragging yourself through the last few months by the sheer force of will, know you’re not alone. Because I can work from home, and because I’m very lucky in that regard, I tend to dismiss my stress as unimportant. “What are you whining about?” is my common refrain. “You have nothing to complain about!”

But that’s not the healthiest attitude, is it? Sometimes it helps to say “Yup, I’ve been feeling crappy lately. And that’s okay.” Once you acknowledge your feelings instead of shunting them to the side, you’re in a better place to deal with them. I tend to forget this, but it’s true.

The day is getting late, and I should get back to work. This book isn’t going to edit itself. πŸ˜„ Wherever you are today, I encourage you to do something nice for yourself. For me, writing out this post was that thing, and I already feel better for having organized my foggy thoughts, and for having shared them with you. As always, thanks for reading my blog!

Until next time,

C

Pagination

Previous Winter Writing Update