Last week I talked – again – about building a better mental ecosystem. I figured I ought to tell you why the idea is so important to me.

Warning: I’m about to do a crap-load of oversharing here. Read on at your own risk.

I’m going through a bit of an identity crisis at the moment. While it’s been brewing for almost a year, the crisis reached it’s peak in September when I was voted off the RWA Board of Directors. Even though struggled with imposter syndrome for much of my tenure, being on the Board still managed to give me a feeling of purpose. To be brutally honest, I felt like someone. I had an identity beyond struggling series writer, wife and mother. For once, my thoughts and ideas (occasionally) mattered.

But then I lost re-election. The membership decided my thoughts and ideas weren’t as important as those of others. Their priorities were different than mine. Suddenly, I find myself back to being that faceless, nameless struggling series writer, this time with a permanently empty nest.

Where do I fit in?

I’m feeing increasingly out of step with my own world. As a Harlequin series writer, I face an increasing disrespect. From a public that thinks the word Harlequin is synonymous with cheesy romance. From an industry that saves its respect for bestsellers and/or longer length books. From fellow writers who do the same. And, from my publisher itself, who makes it more than clear my particular type of books are of lower priority than others.

As a mystery author, I am again the square peg in the round hole. The author of a book that doesn’t fit traditional parameters, and yet, as an indie novel, struggles to find traction among traditionally published books.

As an indie writer, I feel at odds with the manic pace of promotion and massive output that grips so many of my colleagues. My gut increasingly tells me there is another path, yet my lack of income makes me question my judgment.

My colleagues grow more and more vocal online. I find myself increasingly uncomfortable with some of their tactics, yet say nothing for fear I stumble and say misspeak.  Neither ultra conservative nor ultra liberal, I feel swamped by the sea of never ending opinions. There are days when I think the romance genre has been swallowed up by sex and politics while I simply want to write romantic stories.

I wonder if my way of thinking is obsolete.

I’d bury my head and just write, but that doesn’t make money. I must write to market. Write tropes and hooks. Continually sell myself. Be someone I’m not. Because money lets us do things like replace old cars and pay for upcoming weddings.

At home, I struggle with two halves of my personality. One half wants to be the dynamic successful indie author. I yearn to be someone more than a wife. Someone with a career my husband not only supports, but sees as of equal value.  The other half wants to make apple crisp and have a spotless home. The two are incompatible, and so, fractured, I spend chunks of my day doing neither.

Meanwhile, I watch my friends carve out paths and wonder why I can’t figure out my own.

Enter the Better Mental Ecosystem.

When a garden ceases to be productive, sometimes the best answer is to go fallow for a while. Strip the plants down to the roots and let them start fresh.

That is the logic – the why — behind my quest for a better mental ecosystem. It’s time, I think, to do some cutting back in my garden of self so that I can see the plants for the weeds. To figure out what I should keep and what I need to jettison in order to create a new me.

  1. Barb – Thanks for (over)sharing. I can completely relate. A major career shift (Do I have one now?) and wondering what’s next or is this it has me completely stuck some days. Coffee?

  2. Linda! Absolutely! I’m developing my own personal self care regimen – like you have. We should definitely have coffee.

  3. Barb,
    I could have written this post. You express so clearly what I’ve been feeling. Like I don’t fit, like I don’t matter. This is a tough place to be and I admire your willingness to open up. It’s the best way to find the balance you’re looking for. xo
    In your corner, my friend.


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