For the past five years, I’ve had a sore back off and on,
but I thought it was just a part of living and getting older.
However, two years ago, while I was about four months pregnant with my first child, something in my back gave out while I was rolling over in bed. From that point onward, I’ve been on a journey to get my back into shape.
At first I did nothing because I thought it was just one more ache and pain from being pregnant, but now I know better. After re-injuring it three times (!), I had an MRI done and discovered that I had three bulging discs and what they call degenerative disc disease.
My osteopath explained that one condition puts pressure when I’m sitting and the other puts pressure when I’m standing, which leaves me in a catch-22 for maintaining its health. Our backs are all going to deteriorate if we live long enough, but I have the back of someone twenty years my senior due to genetics.
In short, I inherited a bad back.
My day job requires me to sit at a desk for long periods of time, and as a writer, it’s the same, of course. So my biggest challenge now is keeping my back healthy.
Dealing with Back Pain: Time is My Enemy
I’ve been seeing an osteopath for a few months now, and my back is finally healing. I have to be careful lifting my toddler—or anything, really—so I’m very conscious of the proper way of carrying heavy things. (Back straight, lift with your legs!)
He’s given me an exercise routine, but I’ve always hated to work out. Add that to a 19-month-old, a full-time job, and a three-hour round-trip train commute, and time is my enemy.
However, I’ve challenged myself to exercise every day for the next four weeks for a reward. I absolutely love the t-shirts from DesignByHumans.com, so I get five of them if I don’t miss a day.
I can’t make time for an hour of exercise, so I’m not doing all the exercises he gave me. But the core muscle ones are strengthening everything around the injury, which will protect against future strain.
Breaks? What Are Those? It Has to be Done Right Now!
My biggest emotional challenge is my desire to do everything all at once right now.
I’m constantly pressuring myself to do more—more marketing, more short stories, more plotting for my next novel.
Breaks? What are those? I can have a break when I’m a five-time NYT Best Seller and have won all the Hugos! (Yes! All of them!)
Writing Makes Me Feel More Connected to My Soul
I’ve always been a spiritual person, and writing makes me feel more connected to my soul and the universe.
In my twenties, when I wasn’t writing, I was out of balance and yearning; now I feel like I’m fulfilling my purpose. To counteract my desire to do everything, I write—because that is what I feel called to do, not market or goof off on Twitter (as fun as that is) or work on my website.
Sometimes I even have to tell my writer friends no when they need something beta read; however, I try to make them my second highest priority because I need them, too, to keep me balanced.
The piece of marketing advice I believe in most is “Write your next book.” And that’s what I do. I make time to write. And that’s when I feel most fulfilled.
The Darkest Moment: Selecting a “Sensible” Career
[What has been your darkest moment?]
This question scares me because I haven’t hit a writing rock bottom, and when other writers talk about theirs, I’m afraid that mine is in the future.
On the other hand, the first three decades of my life were my denying that writing was my calling and selecting a “sensible” career that I had no passion for. I suppose that’s pretty bad, right?
Writing and Pregnancy: Too Drained to Put Fingers to Keyboard
The biggest struggle in writing came when I was pregnant. Early on, I read an article about a woman whose pregnancy gave her a huge creative boost. The words just flowed and she felt at peace with her muse.
Let me tell you: that did not happen with me.
I struggled to write anything at all. And since pregnancy-as-creative-inspiration is the story everyone tells most, I thought my lack of writing motivation was unconnected to being with child, which of course meant I would never write again.
Of course, that was just the hormones making me melodramatic, but at the time, I despaired. I barely wrote or revised anything for months, too drained to put fingers to keyboard.
I finally forced myself to do a Camp NaNoWriMo in July to get the final three-quarters of the first draft of Reaping Angel written. And Morrigan was born in August. So yeah, writing 60,000 words in one month while seven months pregnant—I did that.
Now I’m back at the same creative level as I was before. I was just exhausted from, ya know, creating life. I also had preeclampsia, so I imagine that didn’t help at all.
My message to other writers is that you shouldn’t buy into any “you should / will feel this way about your writing” in general, but especially in relation to being pregnant. Everyone is different. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re fine.
Stories Exist that Belong Solely to Me
I spent a decade not writing, feeling lost, and not knowing why. When I write, I feel connected with myself and the universe. I feel like stories exist that belong solely to me, and it’s my duty to channel them out into the universe when I’m ready to tell them.
Hopefully the universe has tons for me.
Advice for a Young Writer: Keep Going Even Without Validation
The hardest part is continuing when you have no external validation.
Even if your mother, your husband, and your writing friends tell you that your writing is great, you’ll go huge amounts of time with no one else telling you that what you’ve created speaks to them. That doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t, it simply means that there are a lot of writers vying for attention.
And, quite honestly, even when you get external validation, it’s never enough.
Someone wrote a good review of my book. Did she mean it? Does he have bad taste? I won an award. Is it prestigious enough? Does it really mean anything? No one is buying my short stories. Should I trunk them all? Should I even waste time writing more?
It’s all tied to your own self-esteem, too. Although I’ve talked about spending ten years ignoring my calling, those ten years weren’t wasted. I’ve grown as a person, learned things about the world that have strengthened my writing, and become confident in who I am. Self-confidence alone has carried me through some of the longest, hardest, rejectiony-est days. I believe in my underlying talent, skills, and calling, so one those days, I remind myself of them.
And then I go write some more.
* * *
Samantha grew up in a small town in Iowa but became an expat for her Canadian husband, whom she met in an MMO. She holds a B.S. in Physics, which qualifies her to B.S. about physics and occasionally do some math for her sci-fi. Her dark, thought-provoking fiction contains flawed, relatable characters and themes that challenge the status quo.
Her short fiction has been included in the weekly webzine Urban Fantasist. Her debut novel, Guarding Angel, received an honorable mention in the 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards, and the sequel, Reaping Angel, is out now.
Guardian Angel: Guardian angel Enael can’t seem to keep her human Wards in check. They’re the ones who choose their paths before reincarnating—she’s just there to help make sure they stay on track. But it’s not as easy as it might look.
When she meets and falls in love with charismatic Kaspen, a fellow Guardian, Enael’s feelings about Heaven, Hell, demons, and the life she’s known are turned upside down. Worse, angel-turned-demon Yasva, Kaspen’s former love, still holds him in her clutches.
Now Enael is forced to face her past (which is centuries long and bursting with secrets), her present (which is terribly unfulfilling and full of questions), and her future (which becomes more uncertain as time passes). Armed with a newfound love and fear of losing it all, she must figure out how to save the world—-and the angel she loves.
Guarding Angel received an honorable mention in the 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Reaping Angel: After the battle at the Bastille, the Council of Seraphim offers reluctant demons Enael and Kaspen a chance to return to Heaven—but only after they’ve completed sufficient penance. Ready to move past the ugly chapter in their lives, they settle into their assignments.
Until Enael’s former lover, Voctic, a powerful demon, interferes.
Voctic seduces and demeans, taunts and entices Enael, stirring centuries-old longing in her while infuriating Kaspen. Caught up in the demands of their duties, Kaspen and Enael drift apart until she finds herself isolated.
Fed up with Voctic’s harassment, Enael prepares to fight back. When he targets the new human she’s responsible for protecting, she creates her own plan. His self-proclaimed “gala of the century” will be the perfect cover for her revenge. But will a hasty decision cost her Kaspen—or even her spot in Heaven? Available at Amazon.