I haven’t really read much in the last three years. For someone who wanted desperately to be a writer, a published author, in her youth, this is a terrible state of things. I got lost in the rat race, so to speak. Work is pretty much what I did, with very little leisure time. What time I did have was spent in front of the TV or killing dragons on the computer. Brainless. Boring. As little creative energy required as possible
And then the stress started pouring in to fill any and every possible moment where I might have otherwise been capable of creating anything.
I had wanted to move. I lived in a dry, flat, windy place, devoid of the scenery I felt would be conducive to my writing. I tried off and on, when we lived there, to create. I found myself rewriting other people’s stories once I’d had a chance to go back and reread. I hadn’t meant to do it, but I saw their influences and I didn’t feel like I had my own story to tell (I’m not even sure if I do now, but that’s beside the point) and so I stopped writing. I stopped creating. I stopped reading.
So, we managed to move. My job is the one we took the transfer on. It’s not an exciting or glamorous job, but it was something I felt I could do. For five years I kept wanting to leave, looking at the money, then deciding I could work a couple more years. There was always something else I wanted to accomplish financially before I felt like I could leave, relying on my husband’s income alone. I was being smart, responsible.
And then everything crumbled. Nothing was right.
It doesn’t really matter what went wrong with the job. There were a lot of things. None of them will matter in two weeks when I’m done.
The point is I cracked.
It was like that long list of possible side effects they go over in a commercial for medication. May cause sleeplessness. May cause increased depression or anxiety. May cause suicidal thoughts. I never really thought about it enough to do anything, but I thought about it. That was enough to scare me into analyzing my life. It was enough to scare me into telling my husband that there was a problem and it needed to be fixed. It was enough for me to realize that I had stopped living, I was barely existing, and I was unhappy.
So I quit.
I’m usually not a quitter. I don’t like feeling like I’ve failed at life. Failed at the traditional work life. I almost just quit, no notice given. After all, it’s not like I ever want to work in Corporate America again. But that’s not the kind of person I am. I gave two weeks notice. They asked for two more. I agreed because of who I am and because it needs to be done the proper true way.
My husband has been trying to get me to read. Like I said, I’ve barely read anything in the last three years. Usually, if I’ve managed to read something, it’s only been what I could squeeze into a vacation or road trip. Bits and pieces of some of our favorite authors, like Brandon Sanderson, Elizabeth Haydon, and Patrick Rothfuss. He’d been telling me about The Slow Regard of Silent Things by the latter. Kept telling me I would enjoy it. I never found the time or energy to pull it up on my Nook and read it. Remember, I was hardly existing.
Then, at the end of my third to last week at work, he offered me a bubble bath.
Held captive by the bubbles, he sat beside the tub and started reading it to me.
I could tell, not far in, that it would be a story best read to oneself rather than to have read to you. Patrick plays with words. You can’t catch the nuances when it’s read aloud. So I took it from the bath to my bed to read.
I didn’t read it all at once. I wasn’t ready for that. I had to dip my toes in. I had to nibble at it. I had to take it in the bite-sized chunks that it was given. As short as it is, I don’t think Auri’s tale is one that is meant for straight-through reading. Not for me anyway.
I saw myself a little too much in Auri. She’s cracked. She’s broken. She has a panic attack in the middle of the story that could have been written for me. It was written for me. I felt almost ashamed at the similarity. I’m not supposed to connect too personally with a crazy main character. One that crashed and burned so spectacularly in the “real world” that she has to hide away in her own reality and practice her craft in secret.
I wasn’t going to tell anyone.
Then I read Patrick’s note at the end of the story. The story of the story. The story of how so many other people reacted (in some ways at least) the way I did. The story of how this is a story that isn’t for mainstream. “This story is for all the slightly broken people out there.”
This story is for me.
And it helped me share my cracked and broken bits.
And it helped me to write something.