One of my favourite Twitter-mates is The Charm Quark (aka Isabel Joely Black). Like me, she’s working on becoming a full-time fantasy author, so of course I felt an immediate affinity with her. You’ve seen Joely here before as a guest poster and you’ll also see her again as she’s just come on board to provide a monthly guest post keeping us informed about the progress in her own Someday Journey. Before we start that, however, let’s get to know Joely a little more…
Who: Isabel Joely Black (aka TheCharmQuark on Twitter) from In These Heels? and Amnar: The Awakening.
Joely is a writer and creator of worlds, and she uses her work to bring happiness and positive change into the world.
Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
Back in 2003, I had been severely anorexic and depressive for about 15 years. I was 24, and despite all of this, I’d steam-rollered through life and had a degree and was working on my PhD.
Then my partner began cheating on me. I wasn’t happy with the path my life was taking – I didn’t really want to be an academic after all – and pretty much everything around me began to crumble. I was suicidal for a while, feeling trapped with no money, and unable to escape from the house I’d bought with this man.
Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
My life was going in completely the wrong direction, and I was settling for an empty existence without love and without a passion for what I did in the world. I think I could see, even then, that I was worth more, but I had no idea how to get there.
Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
It all unfolded over the space of about three months, when I finally went back to my doctor and confessed that I was overdosing on my anti-depressants. At this point, I was being ‘maintained’ rather than treated for anorexia. The general belief of my doctors was that I was incurable.
At that point, a bunch of things happened all at once.
He took me off the medication I was on, and tried me out on something else. It didn’t work. I’m extremely sensitive to medications and within a few days had a host of side effects.
Finally, something snapped in my brain. I went to my next appointment and refused to take any more medication. “I’m going to eat,” I said. And I did. I made a confirmed decision not to be anorexic anymore.
I also broke up with my partner, and engaged legal help to get me a settlement on the house. A year later I moved cities, and started my life again.
I’m indebted to the doctor who treated me then, who called me a walking miracle. A month after announcing I would eat, I had shed all my anorexic habits, and lived without any medication.
I’m also indebted to the friend who sat with me one day and listened as I described Amnar, the world I’d created. She pushed me to start writing it out, and for two years, while I wrote the first seven books, read every chapter, commented on the work. She provided endless emotional support for which I’m eternally grateful. She was the first person who really believed my world had a place in this one.
Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
I was both deeply terrified and incredibly empowered. It was like something clicked in my brain and I switched off the ‘anorexic control’ that I’d had for all those years.
A year later, when I had a bit of money and the opportunity, I moved to a new city. I was very poor until the buyout from the house took place but I never doubted that I’d done the right thing. That was really the start of it, getting my life on track and for the first time thinking, “Hey, maybe I can make something of this published author business.”
Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
I’m still trying to get a deal, and still dealing with limiting tendencies around that. I’m very scared by what I’m doing, and for a long time I’ve been waiting for it, as though it’s out there somewhere waiting to happen and I never quite reach it. At the moment I run a business as a contractor, but I hate the work, so even though I’m very capable I work as little as I can so I can devote more time to Amnar.
Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
Last summer I put my foot down with myself, recognising that I was pretending to go after publication when really I was running away. I’ve been engaged in a massive process of healing – more than I did back in 2003 – and opening up to the world and myself. I started small with a few queries, and then took over podcasting the book myself, rebuilt my website, got involved in groups that would help give me the courage to put myself out there.
I’ve trained myself to the point where if anybody asks if I need help, I always mention my books, and can pitch the story in 140 characters if necessary! I’ve got some good leads out of doing this just in the last few weeks. For me the big lesson has been that I don’t need to do this all by myself.
Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Don’t start thinking you have to do it all by yourself. I’ve been trapped by this one for a long time, and the sheer weight of not just writing the books, developing the world, putting out the podcast and website, but also submitting to publishers, writing a decent query and pitch, all of that is impossible for one person. Open up to others and let them help!
If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for?
A hand to hold. I have some wonderful people just a phone call away, but at the moment there isn’t anybody here who can share the joys and the sorrows of what I’m going through. I’d probably also ask for a miraculous supply of income, so I could devote myself to Amnar full-time without worrying about how I live. The trouble for me has always been that I need the risk factor to make me really pull out all the stops to get what I want!