Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hitting the wall

by: Joelle Charbonneau

As some of you might know, the past 6 or 7 months have been a challenge for me.  Not that good things haven’t happened.  They have!  In fact, some really amazing things that were on the list of “Wow, I hope someday….” happened.  Book 4 of the Rebecca Robbins series sold!  My amazing agent sold my young adult trilogy to a spectacular editor.  (She’s not just spectacular because she bought the books, but because she pushes me to be a better writer.)  Since that time, I’ve learned those books will be published in French and German and will also be made into audio books.  Cool right?


I should be on top of the world.  I should have energy to spare as I write this current manuscript.  Everything should be coming up roses.

And yet, life doesn’t work that way.  Just because there are really cool things happening doesn’t mean I feel on top of my game.  It doesn’t mean that the personal things that aren’t so great are balanced by the news that I get on the work front.  In fact, while each piece of good news makes me smile, I find that smile disappears quicker than it once did.  I sleep less easy.  In short…I’ve hit a wall.





Yep.  That was the sound of me running smack into that wall.  No, I’m not talking about writers block.  I am still writing every day.  Rain or shine, I put my but in the chair and I type because that’s my job.  I’m talking about an emotional wall.  One that makes me feel less optimistic about the world, my work and my life.  The wall is tall and dark and really, really tall and when I think about having to scale it, I want to sit down on the ground and cry.  Does that sound girly?  Probably?  But I’m a girl so I’m allowed. 

The point is that on those days where the wall appears, it is easy to think about not writing.  I come up with a lot of excuses as to why I should step away.  The writing won’t be as strong.  A nap would make me feel better.  I deserve a break.

But while those reasons are all valid and in many ways compelling, the days that the wall appears are the most important days for me to write.  Because I prove to myself that I can.  Rain or shine, I show myself that I can scale that wall.  And hopefully, greener pastures are lurking on the other side.


Unknown said...


Can't tell you how much I appreciate this post. I won't say that I enjoyed it because it's so painfully familiar. I could have wrote something similar myself. Maybe I can't relate to some of the writing pressure you have because franky I'm not on your level of success (but I'm trying).

Everything else you talk about though? I'm wearing it. Work, Time, Family, Energy, some kind of a life outside of all that. Oh, and a very loud, relentlessly clicking, game clock. I'm older than dirt.

I've stared up at that same wall and it isn't a girl thing believe me. I'm not exactly a sensitive little flower but sometimes when I'm alone and think about everything and I mean everything,I get overwhelmed.

Anyway, a sincere thank you. That was a Brave post and honest as the day is long. I'm not sure too many would be as open about it. I really mean that. Just like your books, that was truly great writing. I appreciate you putting it up. - Jim

Nancy Kay Bowden said...

You write, Joelle... I read. :) Sometimes I don't have time to comment. Today I do!

Another great post. And you know me, Marathon Wall-Hitting Woman. I get it!!!! The key is to NEVER QUIT AND NEVER GIVE UP.

I fight for quality writing time in my mad, mad life. I've been writing a while and I'm not published yet, but whatever. I explode with joy for those who cross the finish line before me. They may have to pull me across it someday!I try not to forget that if it wasn't for all my "wild" (imho) experiences, I'd have less to fuel my imagination.

Crying never hurts unless it burns your eyes or washes out your contacts lenses and you lose them... or you cry too long and submit to the Q word. Some heroines weep, so perhaps this can also be considered research.

Is there such thing as Wall-Hitters Anonymous where we learn to overcome?

Kathryn Craft said...

I agree with Jim—a brave, honest post. Career success does not make the world go away, if anything, it increases the pressure. If the pressures of a creative life/business aren't enough, as women, we have hormonal walls as well.

To all this, on a good day, I say, thank goodness. Life is complex. Challenging. If the good weren't ameliorated with the bad we'd all puff up like helium balloons and float off to La-La Land. I'd rather stay anchored in the real world, where my stories have relevance.

To all this, on a bad day, I say: maybe, instead of cranking out word count today, I could improve this one paragraph... :)

Nigel Bird said...

Inspiring. I want to say something super to lift you to wherever you need to get, but would probably only seem trite . Best wishes and good vibes. X

Michael Parks said...

I so appreciate your frankness, Joelle. It hits a familiar mark and reminds me that being human is a high and low affair. You're not alone in that and I'm inspired by your strength in working despite the wall. Thank you for sharing.

Bonnie Staring said...

Thanks for being so honest, Joelle. It's easy for those on the other side of the publishing fence to assume that everything gets way easier once you have a contract or two. ;) Please keep at it so I can enjoy more of your work!