Like most of my writing, I didn’t know where or how to start this blog.
Mental health is a topic that’s so deeply personal. I wouldn’t know how to explain the years of growth I’ve been through, as a person and as a writer. I know I’m not the only one either. It’s hard to be removed from something personal, especially when it’s ongoing.
So I’ll begin with a dream I had two nights ago. Scarlett is more than a brilliant, funny and sound presence on Twitter–I consider her a good friend. I told her I dreamt of a celebrity I deeply admire and respect. An actor. Talking with her, I discovered more about myself and my writing, which has also made it more comfortable to share here.
The dream began with a group; the star joining us for a roundtable discussion. As I sat in the shadows, as my usual introverted self, the star turned his attention to me. He began with personal questions, not at all inappropriate, but the details I don’t share with anyone. To my surprise, I answered. Not every question, but most.
The star joined me on my way back home, continuing the conversation right up to the point of meeting my family. I don’t remember most of the questions. I know I didn’t answer all of them. What I remember is that it changed my perspective. It got me thinking in a way I’m afraid to acknowledge.
Next, I dropped the star to the airport. Inside of saying goodbye, he asked me for my shoes, and to wait a few minutes.
I sat and waited, the first time since these events unfolded.
When he returned, he pointed to the shoe, the heel. The heel was long and narrow. I could see the crack where it had broken was now fixed. I looked at him relieved, and with a smile, he disappeared.
While dreams are always subjective, because this one is mine, I’ll share with you what I thought.
I didn’t recognize it while it was happening, but now I’m sure you can also see, this man was my subconscious. Asking me the questions that are too difficult for me to answer, but nag me on a day-to-day basis. It’s easy to brush them off, or sometimes not so easy, but that doesn’t mean they go away.
The shoe and the relief afterward is no coincidence. It’s no coincidence he was there from beginning to end. I needed to be primed. To see the points I was missing. If I was shown too early, it wouldn’t have made a difference.
What terrifies me is that I couldn’t remember limping or being uncomfortable at any point during this narrative. It was just a feeling. One of disappointment, remorse maybe. Until that shoe was fixed. Until I finally sat down and took a break.
Why is all this important?
Because if you’re passionate and committed to writing, it’s not just thinking about your WIP or career—it’s your life. Literally and figuratively.
The WIPs I struggle with editing and the current one I have trouble drafting, is because they’re too close to me. It’s a reflection and it’s difficult to look at. My writing is half-baked because I don’t explore the topics that are important to develop. Much like the real me, you can’t get beneath the surface.
But this is also my story. My journey as a writer. Yours may be the same, but it’ll likely be different. I’m not here to judge or guide.
I’m also finding I ask all the wrong questions. The idea is not to find answers, but to ask questions, similar to the way my subconscious was guiding me in my dream.
Questions are a tool to build and then keep building. They’re building blocks. You can have them as high or low as you’d like, they can expand in any direction. Once you stop asking, you’ve stopped building.
This isn’t a bad thing. You will eventually need to move on from areas of your WIP. You want to get to those edits. You want to polish your MS for a query. But there’s no rush.
If you have more questions, keep building with them. They’re not holding you back. They’re the path to get you to the end.
It takes time.
I’ll be the first to admit that it constantly seems like I’m running out of time. That I need to finish by this submission or pitch deadline.
But now, I’d rather take the time.
I don’t want to go through life not knowing that my shoe, the protection between myself and the ground, is unbalanced. I want to be secure. As a person, and as a writer. Because this isn’t just about a book.
It’s about me.
Now I know.
By taking the time to break and ask questions, I don’t always need to answer them.
“One should always make time to dance for no reason.”
– Jessa Kaina
Jessa Kaina is sunshine in human form, and has the rare ability to brighten the day of anyone around her. Her work is unpublished at this time, but make no mistake, she’s going places. You can follow her career through her Twitter account, @JessaKaina.