Last year was difficult for me, personally, on many levels. I discovered an old friend passed away and suffered, as a result, a depressive episode lasting months. I struggled with personal identity and personal happiness. I lost a job and some dear friends (not by death, but other things); I then found the most amazing job I've ever held.
I stopped writing for a while.
I then wrote a book (65,000 words, written, edited, and sent to beta readers) in exactly a month. I'm still floored.
The voices of my characters vanished during that time. Not the characters from the new book, but the ones from my life-long series. They just... went away. I became lonelier than I've ever been. I never want them to leave me again.
I stopped writing... again.
I seriously questioned my art (for the millionth time).
My best friend's life fell apart, and all I wanted to do was pull her close and tell her the world is not as hateful as it seems. I'm beyond lucky she's in my life. She helped me turn everything around. She helped me see the light and breathe anew.
Then, I clicked back into action. I started focusing on things important to me: my marriage, my art, my BFF, myself. These aren't listed in order of importance. They're all important to me. All equally part of my life--the best parts of my life.
A few days ago, I drew something (and someone) I love dearly for the first time in months. I drew Yaranda Aneys (nee Yassla) from The Soulbound Curse and The Soulless King: Part One.
Nothing fancy. A sketch. A doodle. A moment to reflect on last year--on what I want and why. On why life isn't futile and why things are worth doing. Why this story--and my other--is worth writing.
Yaranda is one of those characters who digs into people. She digs in and won't let go. In a word, she's tenacious. She's passionate. She's pissed off, and she has every reason to be. Her rage helped propel me forward, and I cannot be more thankful. Hers is not a story of love and life. Hers is a story of loss and survival, of struggling to maintain what little she has. In the past, I connected with her least of my characters (and I have a lot of them), but when my heart was heaviest, when my soul darkest, when the world lost its luster, she was the one who took me by the heart and squeezed.
"Do you like to live?"
"Then do something worth living for; or else, your flesh is a waste of life. A waste of generations and time. Do something, or forget us all and become mindless--become nothing."
She went quiet after that, but I could feel her seething at the back of my mind, and with her my other characters: Marik, Clae, Eti, Janine... countless, countless others whose lives will be lost if I do not keep going.
So tonight, I stepped back and colored a little. This is a work in progress; I still have a long way to go, but at last, I feel fresh. I feel like things will be okay again. And I can't wait to wake up early tomorrow and really dig into my projects. I can't wait to launch back to Inrugia and her peoples. I can't wait to try something new and exciting and continue this story.
I can't wait.
One day at a time. I'll get there. This picture, this character, is a reminder that when life is terrible to us, we can make it through. We can survive. We can pull out of our darkest moments and breathe anew.
So I will. I will push forward. And this time, I will not stop.