The Seven Year Hitch

I stopped writing this year’s NaNoWriMo novel 10 thousand words in. And I’m not only putting that one on hiatus, I’m putting writing itself on indefinite hiatus. I’ll reassess things in the new year.

Truth be told, I’ve been struggling for a couple of years now. The amount I’ve produced has gone right down. The two novels I have had out in that time, Assumed Dead and Bring Me the Dead were both a slog to write. I took a few months off this year, hoping I could come back refreshed and work on something I already had outlined, for NaNoWriMo, which has usually served in reinvigorate me in the past. Not this time. Every word was agony.

Having had a long think about this, over the summer and since, I’m starting to understand what’s going on. There isn’t just one factor. There are two big ones and a couple of smaller ones.

Reason number one I’m calling the Seven Year Hitch.

If I look back at things I’ve been into, they seem to go in seven year cycle. After seven years of writing fanfic I was done with it and ready to move to the pro-fic. A TV show that runs for more than 7 years, even if I like it a lot for a while, will eventually fail to hold my attention. (I’m looking at you, The X-Files.) And guess what, I’d been writing erotic romance for around seven years a the point I started to feel I was just repeating myself and was losing interest.

The other big factor was that around the start of last year my ability to concentrate and focus for any length of time was suddenly shot to hell. It’s a common effect of perimenopause So it’s hard to write a novel when you can’t concentrate for long periods. Hell, it’s har to read one. Thank god for audiobooks, that’s all I can say. I’m trying to figure out a way to deal with this, or just to get through it, since by definition this is a temporary phase. I hope it passes soon. According to things I’ve read, once that’s all over all kinds of interesting things happen. Maybe I should blog about it in the mean time. Writer versus Menopause. If I can concentrate long enough to write a blog post a week…

Other things getting to me would be constant dramas in the genre. The general collapse of ebook sales thanks to factors like Kindle Unlimited subscription models, and the disadvantage real writers in placed in compared to the book farms and scammers taking over this and other genres with wallpaper books. These factors make writing a poor return on the investment of time. Which wouldn’t matter too much if it was fun and I was still enjoying it. But without that there’s little incentive.

So what now?

I have no pending new releases. I’ve got a release of a short coming in February, but otherwise, nothing. If I do start writing again, when I conquer the concentration problem, I’m pretty sure it won’t be erotic romance of any variety. I think I’m all done there and need new pastures. I may return to purely sci-fi, though I’m sure I will always have queer characters who might sometimes have romances. I’ll look at that more next year. Got to get some solid ideas first.

Alongside that I have to keep on getting through this “change of life” business. I’m also on a weight loss journey, having found the only program besides Atkins that has ever worked for me. Down 20lbs since September. With more free time, since I’m not writing, I can try to establish an exercise habit and try to get my reading mojo back.

I think I will start writing again eventually, because writing is what I always wanted to do and I wasted too long not doing it. Then I did write, a lot for the last fourteen years, from fanfic to pro. Maybe it’s only natural that I need to allow myself a break on this journey, to make a choice about which road to take next, rather than slogging on down a path I no longer want to be on.


16 thoughts on “The Seven Year Hitch

  1. Never thought about the seven (or whatever) year lifetime thing, but it makes sense. Perimenopause does fade into menopause eventually so it is a journey with a destination and a certain end – not the best journey that I’ve ever been on but good luck with getting there quickly. I can’t vouch for the interesting things coming after because for me it morphed into Type 2 diabetes which has a lot in common with perimenopause and no hope of an end or significant improvement. I suspect self-pity might be a symptom too.

    Good luck with the upcoming mystery tour, may it lead you to wonderous places or at least some interesting byways.

  2. You won’t give up, it’ll come back to you. You probably do need a break from it, but the concentration will come back. There are lots of women well over their 50s writing! Real life just gets in the way sometimes, so don’t fight it.

    Take a break, enjoy life, read, get your health sorted (which sounds as if you’re doing a fab job – but this can affect the mind as well as the body) and maybe those plot bunnies will start breeding again. Just write ideas down, and well, I know you’ll be back 😉

    Definitely should blog Writer vs. Menopause lol!

    Good luck!

  3. Huh. I hadn’t heard that about perimenopause, but now I’m wondering if that’s affecting me too? I haven’t done any significant writing on anything novelish in… at least two or three years. I’ve published shorts, under my other name (genre SF/fantasy/crime/historical) but I can write a short story in a day or two if I’m motivated, and someone waiting for a story from me is great motivation. [wry smile] Romance novels? Not so much. Or SF-etc. novels, for that matter.

    It’d be awesome if this were just a phase, and it passed. Soon. :/

    Re: the weight loss, good for you! Best of luck keeping it up. [crosses a set of virtual fingers for you] Success is helpful there — losing some weight makes me enthusiastic about a diet/exercise program and more likely to stick to it. Sort of a positive spiral, for as long as it lasts.

    My husband and I got each other fitness bands for Christmas year before last, and that January I started Kathy Abascal’s anti-inflammation diet, on my doctor’s recommendation. The diet helped my arthritis a little, but I’ve lost just over 90lbs so far, so I’m sticking with it.

    Luck and good wishes for the holidays, and into the new year. 🙂


    1. Awesome 90lb loss there! I lost 90lb on Atkins years ago, but eventually regained. ::sigh: Maintaining is tough. Anyway the best diet is the one you can stay on, I say. And I like your point about the positive spiral that good results bring.

      I’m reading an interesting book called The Second Half oy Your Life, which was a real eye opener about symptoms of perimenopause and menopause and afterwards. Definietly worth checking out. And not expensive on Kindle.

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