“Do it with passion or not at all.”
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.