Let It Out.

“Do it with passion or not at all.”
~Anonymous

It has been a tough few weeks.

Anyone who knows me knows that I always try my best to be optimistic, to search for the ray of light in the darkness and the glimmer of positivity hidden amidst the challenges. But this past month or so … it has been one thing after another. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, then you know that one of those things has been my sweet bunny boy. GI stasis is a relatively common issue in rabbits – basically, they develop a blockage that prevents their digestive tract from functioning properly – and if not caught quickly, it can have dire consequences. So when, right before our family Hanukkah party, I noticed that Jasper was just kind of moping around and refusing to eat anything, even his favorite foods, I leapt into action. It was a Sunday, which meant his regular vet was closed, so off to the emergency vet we rushed, my poor little guy huddled in his carrier and his Ma terrified beyond belief. And when the doctor confirmed my suspicions? I nearly lost it. I did lose it when the vet tech got ready to take Jasper back to be admitted. He’d have to stay at least overnight, maybe longer, and I was a ball of nerves – fright and sadness and anxiety all rolled into one. The tech was kind enough to wait a minute so I could say goodbye to Jasper for the night, and, well … I sobbed. Huge tears. Crocodile tears. Tears that gushed down my face and inside my coat. I literally could not control it. It was so bad that the tech actually left the carrier with me on the exam table while she searched the room for tissues to give me. In the moment, I didn’t care. My only focus was on Jasper. On the drive home, though, I thought about how ridiculous I must have looked, bawling my eyes out like that in front of a stranger. But when I went back to visit Jasper the next day, the tech couldn’t have been sweeter. And I realized something: showing such deep emotion isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t something to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. It’s the opposite.

Despite me watching him practically 24/7 and doing everything in my power to take care of him, my Jaspy unfortunately had another stasis episode last weekend, and, again, I melted down while trying to get him into his carrier to go back to the vet. This time, though, I made no apologies. I was less of a mess when dropping him off, but only because I knew what to expect this time and inherently trusted that he’d get the same wonderful care. He’s home again now, thank goodness, he has been since Monday, and I’ve adjusted his diet and bought a fancy new brush called the Furminator (because that’s one of the causes of stasis, when the bunny ingests too much fur while grooming, which is what the vet thinks happened with my boy) to hopefully avoid him ever having to go through this again. Knowing he was in pain broke my heart. Having to leave him temporarily shattered me. How could I not have cried? That bunny hopped his way into my world and I never looked back. I love him more than words can say, and so, even though I felt like a fool after that first breakdown, I also understand it. We cry, we smile, we cheer, we sing and dance and clap (all of which I’ve done since Jasper has been home, because I am just so thrilled and relieved to see him back to his energetic, mischievous, binkying self) because we care. We should never censor that. Caring is a good thing. A wonderful thing.

That got me thinking: the same is true for writing. I talk so much on here about how querying is a roller-coaster ride, but in actuality, the climbs and drops begin way before that. From the very moment I crack open a fresh journal to start planning a new book, my heart is in it completely. I become invested in my characters and their stories. When they hurt, I hurt. When they make bad choices, I feel for them. And when they triumph over the odds, I swell with pride. Sometimes, when the words don’t flow easily or the plot seems to smack against a brick wall, I get so frustrated. I want to scream, or flip the lid of my laptop closed, or reach into the screen and ask the characters for help. That’s the thing about writing: it is full of highs and lows. They are tied together, a delicate balance we perhaps don’t even realize we’re weaving, and it’s probably impossible to have one without the other. But, again, I’m really coming to learn that this is actually a positive. That I feel so much because I adore these book babies. One of my favorite things about writing is watching a character grow. I love when they put their hearts on the line, when they stand up for what they believe in and fight to make their own luck. I love when their emotions flow from their souls to mine. So why shouldn’t I love it when the opposite happens?

I’m not going to be apologetic anymore for wearing my heart on my sleeve. Sometimes we all need to keep things inside, but letting it out is so cathartic. I needed to cry when my Jaspy boy was sick. I needed to get frustrated with my last book, because that pushed me to rework it, to revise it four times, and to be truly proud of the finished version. I’m starting to plan a new novel next week – more on that soon! – and, I know, I will need to get emotional over that story, just as I have with all those that came before it.

I will let my feelings show, and I’ll be okay with that. But hey, Universe? I’ll also be okay with you chilling out now. Sometimes peace and happiness are awesome emotions to feel, too.

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24 thoughts on “Let It Out.

  1. I really believe you need your heart to be open and raw if you’re a writer, even when people say you need a thick skin for all those rejections. I don’t know how you could write well if you could close yourself off like that. Some people probably can, but I couldn’t, and it takes a lot of strength to face those strong feelings. Don’t apologize!

    • Agreed! (Oh the contradictions in a writerly life…)

      “I realized something: showing such deep emotion isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t something to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. It’s the opposite.”

      So true. Sometimes it seems like emotion has become taboo in our society. As if feeling deeply prevents you from also being intelligent or strong. *rolls eyes* So I love when people help me to remember that it isn’t true. That feeling deeply can be a sign of great strength and great intelligence. That feeling deeply is something to be proud of.

      • Exactly! It makes me sad that society has become that way, because truly, where does it get us to hide our feelings? Sure, there are inappropriate ways and times to express it, but beyond those, I definitely think it’s a good thing to let the emotions out. If we expect people to relate to us, to understand us, then why not speak our hearts?!

    • I couldn’t agree more. I mean, I do think we (for the most part) develop a thicker skin over time, but on the other hand, it’s so important not to close off our hearts. Feeling those emotions will only help us be stronger writers and stronger people, right?!

  2. I’m glad Jasper’s okay and I hope he doesn’t have any more episodes! Stay healthy, Jasper! Stop freaking Shari out. I totally understand how you feel, and it’s totally okay.

    After Jack the dog’s cancer diagnosis, our vet sent us to a nearby animal hospital for further X-rays and tests, which meant leaving him there for the day. My mom and I thought it would be pretty straightforward– drop him off, they do the tests, we pick him up later that day. Normally, Jack was a sociable, friendly goof, even at the vet’s office. He’d try to make friends with everyone, even a potential burgler. Well, the tech comes out to the waiting room to collect him but all of a sudden, he doesn’t want to go with her. At all. He parked his 100+ pound butt on the waiting room floor and wouldn’t budge (which isn’t like Jack at all. He was also Mr. Obedient). So the tech told Mom and me to start heading towards the exit because then Jack would probably be more willing to follow her to the back. So we did and he does finally let the tech take him away.
    I still remember, vividly, the look on Jack’s face when Mom and I got to the exit and he realized we were leaving him behind (if only temporarily, but dogs don’t know that. They’re dumb).
    Mom and I get into the car and we both had the same reaction: we were never doing that again. We already basically knew the cancer was terminal anyway– the tests were to determine how advanced it was and therefore, how much time he had left.

    Oh man, that was almost 10 years ago but thinking about it just now got me teary-eyed.

    • Oh goodness, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I remember when everything happened with Jack. It must have been terribly difficult. I don’t think we realize at the beginning just how quickly we’ll grow attached to our pets, how much a part of our hearts they’ll take up, and it’s just so, so hard to see them sad or in pain. I know you gave Jack such a wonderful life, though. You filled his home with such love! <3

      • Thank you! And I hope they can figure out what’s going on with Jasper and that it’s not too serious.
        I got attached to my sister’s cat too, and now that they’re both living with my sister’s new husband (that is so weird), I find myself occasionally looking for Amber. Or I’ll think that I can hear her collar jingling. Darn pets :P

        • Thank you! The vet thinks a dental issue may be contributing to it (two of his teeth have gotten long and need to be trimmed down), so I’m taking him on Tuesday to get that fixed. Hopefully it’ll help and there won’t be any more episodes!

          Aww, Amber! Would you guys ever consider getting another cat now that she’s with Maggie?

          • Good luck at the dentist!
            My parents have declared this a pet-free house now that everyone’s out and I can’t say I disagree with them. If I get my own place again, I might get a pet. But I don’t know. Sometimes, the surprise vomiting (and worse) gets old after a while, you know? Plus I am technically allergic to cats, dogs, and horses.

  3. Shari, that was so beautiful. I’m glad Jasper is okay, also! You know, I’ve never loved a pet like that before. I wonder if it’s a good preparation for caring for elderly parents, children, saying good-bye to loved ones. Anyway, I really enjoyed reading. :)

    • Thank you!

      I had guinea pigs growing up, but they were family pets. Having this little guy who’s mine, I’ve just grown so attached. The way he follows me around the room, falls asleep between my feet, “kisses” me with his nose … I love him so much and watching him be in pain hurts my heart. After three episodes, he’s schedule for some dental work on Tuesday that will hopefully stop this from happening anymore!

      Thanks again! :)

  4. So glad to hear Jasper is okay. My dog is my baby. My first dog was, too. It breaks my heart when they’re sick or in pain. I don’t think that’s ever anything to be ashamed about–in fact, it’s something to wear with pride. I think emotional writers make the BEST writers. We feel and empathize and create characters who connect with readers.

    • They really are our babies, aren’t they? It’s tough to understand unless you experience it yourself. And yes, I agree! To me, one of the best things about writing is that it IS such an emotional outlet. I’d rather read about someone who wears her heart on her sleeve than someone who doesn’t have all that emotion put into her character!

  5. We cry, we smile, we cheer, we sing and dance and clap…because we care. We should never censor that. Caring is a good thing. A wonderful thing.

    Yes. THIS. So much this! We are encouraged to be cool and aloof and not show we care, to cover up all of our emotions, but is that a good way to live? I don’t think so. And it’s GOOD for the people we love to know that we care, too.

    By the way, my 4yo mentioned someone she knew who had a bunny at the very moment I turned to your blog to comment. (This was several hours ago; we did bedtime shortly afterward, and I didn’t get back to the computer until now, in case you were looking at the time stamp.) Anyway, I told her I had a friend with a bunny, too. Then I showed her the Jasper pictures on your page, and the video as well. She loved the video and cracked up at his trick. So thanks for having those available for me to share with a very eager child. Also, she thinks you’re pretty. Jasper, too. :-)

    • Oh, she is the sweetest! I’m so glad she enjoyed the pictures and video — I always feel like I’m bombarding everyone with Jasper photos, so it makes me happy to hear that she loved them! :)

  6. I’m so sorry it’s been a tough time for you, and I’m sending all my love and best wishes to you and Jasper! <3 I know all too well the heartbreak of querying. I think sometimes we just have to step back. Writing should make us HAPPY, not sad, so it's time to just stop thinking about getting published and just focus on the writing when the dejection sets in. I'm telling this to myself, anyway! Keep your chin up, Shari – you deserve such wonderful things and I know they will come.

    • Thank you! After three episodes, we’re beginning to think there’s some kind of underlying issue causing it. I’m taking him for some dental work on Tuesday, because the vet thinks that’s contributing to it. Hopefully that’ll fix things for good! In the meantime, I’m trying to lighten the stress by stealing time to work on queries and planning my new book. Thank you for all the sweet words and for always being so encouraging. It is deeply appreciated!! <3

  7. It is totally okay to let it out- sometimes we have to, and I find I feel loads better afterwards. your poor little baby has been through a lot, and, in turn, you have too. I hope things get better <3

    • Thank you so much! It has been such a trying month and a half. It broke my heart to know he was in pain, despite everything I’d done to prevent it. I just felt so helpless, and for it to happen three times was horrible. The vet thinks his teeth might be contributing to it (two have gotten too long), so he’s scheduled for them to be trimmed on Tuesday. He’ll have to be there all day and I’m super nervous, but I’m hoping it will fix the problem for good. That little bunny boy has my heart and I just want him to be better!! Thanks again, friend! <3

  8. I’ve got one story I’m struggling to write because every time I start into it, I’m blinded by tears. This is the only time that’s ever happened. Ever. Don’t know if it will ever make it past the drafting stages, but if it does, there will be so much heart in it that it will be impossible to overlook. Emotion is definitely a good thing.

    • Oh goodness, don’t you love stories like that? I mean, of course it can be tricky when the emotion is overwhelming, but like you said, it’s also a good thing. I definitely think a reader can tell when the writer is so fully invested like that. Good luck with the drafting!

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