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  • Writer's pictureSydney J. Shields

Oh no...I have another book idea

I knooooooooow. I know. I KNOW, OKAY?!?!?!?!

If you follow me on tiktok (@sydneyjshields) you probably saw my story the other day where I was having a teensy little mental breakdown about feeling completely burnt out on both reading and writing. Many of my friends gave some excellent advice (looking at you, Meg and Elizabeth, love u both so much) and I took some time to recharge.

No reading. No writing. Just vibes. I learned how to make homemade lavender syrup and I've been using it in Earl Grey lattes. I worked on some acoustic covers of my favorite songs at the moment. I went on many walks with Ponch (my dog). I marathoned the following shows: The Boys (10/10, my new favorite show of all time), Gilmore Girls (a classic that I'm basically always watching in the background), and Dead To Me (another 10/10 that I've seen a few times but I love it).

And during all of these activities, one comment on my tiktok really stuck with me. It was from @Deathbatkayla, and she said something akin to, "Enjoy the little things in life, because you never know when it will be the last time you do it before all of your dreams come true." Her example was "This could be the last coffee I drink before I get the email with an offer to publish my book."

This mindset was a huge game-changer for me. It served as a perfect reminder that even if I'm not writing 10,000 words a day every day, I am still making progress. It also reminded me that I'm at the point in my career where progress is being made, even on the days when I do absolutely nothing. I have queries out. I have fulls out. I have a million book ideas that never stop coming to me, even in my literal dreams.

All of this brought me to a realization: I am in my before era. Before she got a literary agent. Before publishing her first book. Before she moved to New York as a full-time author (that's the dream). This is the age of before.

!!!!!!And I'm going to fucking romanticize it!!!!!

These are the days that I want people to ask me about in interviews one day. "What did you do before you became a published author?" Well, I definitely don't want to say "I wallowed in self-pity and egregious burnout until someone offered to publish my book." EW! NO! I want to indulge in this before era where I write for me and only me. I have no creative restrictions, no deadlines, and no real pressure to release anything before I'm ready. The before era is still a great place to be, and to thrive.

If you take anything from this, especially if you are another writer, remember that you WILL make it to the after era. You WILL be a success story. The odds are not stacked against you. The only people who don't make it are the ones who stop trying. Do not stop trying, but don't confuse giving yourself a break with giving up entirely. They are different—one of them pushes you further towards your goal by protecting your mental health, and the other takes your goal off the table.

I took a break, and it was glorious. After just 1 day of chilling out, the inspiration came over me like a college frat boy (can I say that? idk I couldn't come up with another metaphor. let's move on). I have so much creative energy, and I have a new book idea that might possibly be my best one yet. Seriously, it's everything I want in a book, and it is very much aligned with my research in rhetorical theory.

In case you don't know, I do have some publishing under my belt, but it's all academic. In 2020 I released my work regarding metaphorical criticism of the horror genre, and essentially argued that conceptual ghosts and the act of haunting can be used as vehicles to describe tenors of grief and trauma. My first book deals a lot with this, but I've always wanted to write a real ghost story. So that is next up on my list!

Well, that, and maybe a little project that could teach you how to write your own novel in a week....there may be a very helpful book coming out....that could help you do that....using a method that I created....maybe. I CANNOT CONFIRM OR DENY!

ANYWAYS, thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting me through bouts of burnout. Catch you on the flippity flip.

- Syd

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