I haven’t set my alarm clock since mid-March
That’s when we were all told to stay home. Since then, it seems the year 2020 handed us all lemons, but I’m determined to make lemonade (a.k.a write novels).
(Photo by JESHOOTS on Pexels)
Last September, my two adult children left home for the first time in their life. They did so a week apart from each other. I guess it doesn’t help that they’re only thirteen months apart in age. They’ve always stood in line behind each other, doing things back to back. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that they would both move from home at the same time.
It was, though. It was a surprise, I mean. I think the biggest one was when my son joined the Navy. I didn’t see that coming until he told me over spaghetti at dinner one night. My daughter moved across the country, but I saw that coming when the doctor nearly dropped her on her head at birth because she squiggled around, trying to break free of his hold. Thankfully, he was a good catcher and had a secure grip. Every day after for her whole childhood, nothing could keep her chained, and she damned me when I tried.
I took my job as their mother very seriously, staying home when feasible and picking jobs I could do around their school schedule when we had needed the extra income. Before September, I was a full-time fiction writer. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re partially right. It wasn’t easy to make a good income off writing fiction, but I managed to match my husband and have for the last couple of years or so. Between us, we did okay, and I loved my job.
When my kids left, I think I had a panic attack or maybe an empty-nester, midlife crisis. Whatever it was, I decided to get a day job. I told myself that I could work full-time and write part-time. The alarm clock went on for the first time in years.
Because one of my college degrees is in teaching, I naturally ended up inside a classroom as an aide to the teacher. I should have known when I turned down the offer to lead the class that it was a bad idea.
Two things happened that I didn’t expect:
The first thing I discovered was I had no time for writing, and by then, I was a little burnt out anyway. As a prolific writer, Burnout was bound to happen. Why not when I’m having a mental breakdown or empty-nester crisis, right? Sarcasm aside, I barely wrote five thousand words from September to mid-March. By December, my burn-out, empty-nester crisis was over, and I was more ready than ever to get back to it. As someone who uses writing as a way to cope and improve my mental health, you could say I needed to get back to it.
Secondly, I began to enjoy my empty nest. The quiet. The lack of people. Just me, the husband, and our two cats. Peace and tranquility. None of that extended to the classroom. Not. Any. Of it. While I liked being around young people, I discovered small doses suited me better. I still managed to keep a full-time day job until the covid-19 virus hit.
Not publishing something new after so long of an absence doesn’t mean good things for my readership. At least in my genre. But this is mostly the case for self-published authors no matter what genre you write. Consistency is key. And I’m not saying I am a machine who put out a novel every month but six months to a year in between books does not pay the bills. Thankfully, I found out my readers aren’t so absentminded. They’re a great bunch who has stuck by me and seems to be eagerly awaiting my next book, which comes out on July 10th of this year.
The covid-19 pandemic forced my hand and forced me to write. What else is there to do all day stuck at home.
My husband and I have both stayed home since mid-March. No need to set the alarm clock. And, since it’s now June, I wouldn’t have needed one anyway. Summer in America means no school. But I don’t plan on going back in the fall, whether we have a regular school day or not. My empty-nester crisis is over, and so, much to my delight, is the writer’s block.
The pandemic also opened my eyes to a few things.
I’m fine with my kids leaving home. I want them to have adventures and experience life outside of my four walls even though I miss them terribly. Someone else should be in the classroom because my passion doesn’t lie there, which isn’t fair to the students.
I’ll take the lack of an alarm clock. Since the alarm’s been off, I’ve written somewhere over 120,000 words. That sums up two shorter-length novels and the start of a third one.
Writing is what I got. If I’m honest with myself, I’m not good at very many things, and at my age, I’m not eager to learn anything new. But writing keeps my brain active and my mental health strong. It’s my passion and my therapy.
April Kelley is an author of LGBTQ+ Romance. Her works include The Journey of Jimini Renn, which was a Rainbow Awards finalist, Whispers of Home, the Saint Lakes series, and over thirty more. She’s a main contributor at Once and Books. If you’d like to know more about her work, visit her website and sign up for her newsletter https://www.authoraprilkelley.com/.