Typically, I have no idea what my topic will be the following week, life having a way of providing the topic. Tuesdays I draft, Wednesdays I edit and upload. This week I’m doing it all on Wednesday because on Tuesday morning I went for groceries and my world tilted.
A series of triggers, and not all bad, collided that morning and led me to the difference between doubt and self-doubt, two words we too often use interchangeably. One is often healthy, the other not.
I’ve been managing my mental health issues quite well on my own with a combination of affirmations, biking, meditation, yoga, walking, and other methods (I can’t take medication). Since taking my self-care more seriously in mid 2020, I’ve been doing excellent.
This is NOT a tale of how all that failed me. Quite the contrary.
Those small triggers, coupled with minimal sleep Monday night, caught up to me moments after entering the store. Waves of despair washed over me. It was if all the world had become distant and me disconnected. All I wanted to do was kneel on the floor and weep.
I hurried while repeating encouragement to myself on a loop. Once in the car, I sobbed. It continued once I reached home.
It’s the positive triggers, though, that are important today.
One was the book I was reading. My highly sensitive self was emotional over the best book I’d read in three years. Ironically, it’ll be near and dear to my heart forever and was a reminder of my third point.
A second was finishing the continuity edit on Books 1-5. I was overjoyed. Still, a novella and two novels remain to be edited—for the first time. Reality, in an instant, reminded me that publishing the series remains a long road.
That third point linked to the book I was reading? I’ve mentioned my steps for managing my issues. There’s also a list of emergency choices I choose from depending on what sounds good. Realizing I was in a bad way on Tuesday, I made the choice I most often make, and which isn’t on the list.
I spent the entire rest of Tuesday—wait for it—performing a light edit of Protecting the Pneuma Key. Zephtasha Barcaine’s story about the most insecure heroine I’ve ever written is frequently my refuge when I’m really in trouble. My highest quality first draft ever, I’ve further honed it with minimal effort because I turn to it so often.
*Number two on the list? Its sequel with Talma Loyal, Case of the Deadly Stroll.
I’m most of the way through Pneuma Key in less than two days, the changes few. The word count has barely changed (at 112K, it’s the shortest novel I’ve written). Compare to that Book5, which was written 2.5 years before Pneuma. I just finished cutting a whopping 9K from it. Most of the series suffers from my inexperience at the time.
So, now we’re to doubt.
My plan has been to publish the series and move on to the Pannulus stories. Yes, I’m doubting that decision as it was based on chronological drafting order and nothing else.
Self-doubt is the lack of confidence in myself and my abilities. In truth, I’ve plenty of confidence in all my stories. Doubt, on the other hand, means I’m questioning. That can be healthy. For me to dismiss an alternative course out of fear of self-doubt would be self-defeating.
Two different forms of doubt, one coming from a fearful place, the other from a place of reasoned examination. Too often they’re used interchangeably, but to refer to healthy doubt as self-doubt is harmful.
Unless, of course, one is masking their self-doubt with doubt. That’s where examination comes in.
My worldbuilding for Pannulus was intended to make writing women’s/LGBT fiction set in an otherworld historical setting possible. I succeeded beyond expectations. One way I know that is because—wait for it again—I turn to Pneuma Key for reassurance.
If an adorable mess like Zephtasha can have so much bad happen to her and still be alive there has to be hope.
One look at my (yet again revised) chart and it’s easy to see how Pannulus draws me. Except for short stories, I’d written nothing for Pannulus until 2019.
In truth, Carrdia was the worldbuilding of someone who used to be me in 2000. Pannulus was MY worldbuilding in 2018.
I often tell people on Twitter who are doubting, to follow inspiration, to follow their heart. It’s interesting, too, that I’ve long ended my update tweets on Twitter with a simple phrase: Be everwell. That’s Zephtasha’s parting. I’ve also altered my yoga practice, personalized it, to make it more like ilyana pneuma, a form of yoga developed in Duskspell in Deadly Stroll.
Pannulus has become integrated into my life.
I’m not making any decisions yet, nor am I going to cease work on the series. In fact, it might be a kindness to the series to not rush. Meanwhile, waiting in the wings, is Anthology I, a collection of historical tales from—yup—Pannulus. Whatever course I take, though, it’ll be a measured response to doubt and not panic over self-doubt.