#IWSG: I’m going on hiatus

woman lying in bed reading next to a stack of books

It’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group day! For those who don’t know, IWSG day is a time when we writers gather together on the first Wednesday of the month to share our goals, our insecurities, our successes, and our fears and offer a word of encouragement to others who may be struggling.

Participants can answer the question of the month or be inspired to post anything related to writing insecurities and triumphs.

March 1 question – Have you ever read a line in a novel or a clever plot twist that caused you to have author envy?

They shoot the white girl first.

This is the opening line in Toni Morrison’s novel Paradise. It captures you immediately and leaves you asking a ton of questions:

Who is the “white girl”?

Who is “they”?

What provoked this attack?

You have to keep reading to find out. And that’s the whole point, right? That’s one of the first things they teach you in fiction writing class: Hook the reader. Give them a reason to want to continue reading to paragraph two, page two, chapter two.

Another rule they teach you is to start in medias res, or in the middle of the action, preferably after the inciting incident that kickstarts the plot has already occurred. You can always backtrack and fill in the details gradually as the story progresses, which is what Morrison does in this slow-burn novel. It feels almost cruel—getting emotionally invested in these characters’ stories, knowing that a massacre is brewing. But if you’ve ever read Toni Morrison, you’re probably used to it. She knows how to pinch your heart with her storytelling and the often triggering themes she uses in her novels.

“Cocksucker motherfucker” was my favorite expression and at eight years old, I used it defiantly.

When I heard this was the first line in Viola Davis’ memoir, Finding Me, I knew I had to read it. Because, first of all (and this is probably my sheltered upbringing showing), where on earth did an eight-year-old learn those words and why is she saying them?? I haven’t read the book yet, but I plan to—it’s on my “To read” list.

And that brings me to my next point in this post…

Once again, I am faced with a blog hop prompt that forces me to admit that I’ve been severely slacking in my reading goals.

That’s another thing they teach you in fiction writing class: To be a good writer, you have to be a good reader, and I haven’t been a good reader for a while.

That’s where the majority of my author envy comes from. The shocking first lines inspire me, but what makes me truly envious is the fact that these authors have finished and published their books while I’m still sitting on a 10-year-old WIP, allowing my insecurities to get the best of me.

But that’s all going to change this month because I’m going on hiatus!

woman sitting on window reading book
Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

Now, I know what you’re thinking…

Nortina, when you go on hiatus, you’re gone for years

I promise that won’t happen this time. And aren’t you at least happy that I gave you a heads up before I up and disappeared? I haven’t always been so considerate.

Truthfully, this was a preplanned (and much-needed) vacation, and although I had initially planned to blog while on holiday, I decided last minute to leave all work (both professional and personal) at home because I need a break.

When I first entered 2023, I had three main goals I was hoping to accomplish by the end of the year:

  1. Finish my WIP
  2. Lose weight for the final time
  3. Cut down on screen time (i.e., spend less time on the internet, read a book rather than watch TV)

Somewhere around mid-January, I lost sight of those goals, and I’ve been in recovery ever since. I think what veered me off course was committing to back-to-back month-long blogging challenges right at the start of the year.

Although BlaPoWriMo is a challenge I created and I was always planning to do that (especially given that I haven’t published a full month of BlaPoWriMo posts in several years), in hindsight, I probably should have skipped Bloganuary (especially as only 1 out of every 3 or 4 prompts truly inspired me).

I’ve said before that spending too much time on the blog has distracted me from working toward my other personal goals, such as reading more, working on my WIP, exercising consistently, and eating dinner at an appropriate time. Add to that the fact that my day job involves me reading words on the screen for eight hours, and then when I get off work, I get on my blog, which means I’m back on the screen reading and writing more words in the evening.

In short, I’m exhausted, and my eyes are tired. So I’m taking this month off to rest and reevaluate my goals. What do I want to accomplish going into the next quarter of the year?

Well, since I have a combined 36-hour flight to and from my destination coming up (not counting airport layovers), I figured that’s plenty of time to read. So here are the books I’ve decided to pack for my trip:

Black History Month remnant

Last month, while shopping in Target for something else (anyone else have this problem?), I found myself in the books section and decided to buy a couple novels by Black authors that I had intended to read for Black History Month. Obviously, we know how my February turned out—I only had enough reserved energy to commit to BlaPoWriMo. But in March, I have nothing but time, and given that I rarely sleep on overnight flights, I could probably knock both of these out one way.

Finishing what I started

There are a couple of books I started reading but never finished. And that’s not because they weren’t good. Children of Blood and Bone is Book 1 of a series, so I have to finish it before I can move on to the next book. For some reason, I simply lost interest, which is weird because I stopped at a chapter that was action-packed. Hopefully, I can pick up where I left off with ease because if I have to re-read it from the beginning, I may never finish it.

The second book reminds me why I have a love-hate relationship with the romance genre. I initially purchased The Christmas Wedding Guest to seek inspiration for my own Christmas wedding story. That story has since been published on Kindle Vella, so I guess there’s no need to finish the book. Unfortunately, despite how boring it’s been, pride won’t let me completely give up on it. And who knows—maybe I’ll read something that triggers my author envy and makes me wish I had thought to do that in my story.

A Word from God

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

One thing I’ve noticed about my inability to finish anything is that the culprit is usually a busy mind. My mind is cluttered with so many things, whether serial daydreams or political turmoil or conflict at work or endless scrolling on social media or worrying about whether I’m at the place I want to be in life.

I really want to empty my mind of these thoughts, and I know the easiest way to do that is through prayer. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” That’s something I can say, but I often struggle to do it. But as we enter the Lenten season (the period of 40 days leading up to Easter/Resurrection Sunday when we fast and pray and remember the gift of Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross for our sins and rose on the third day), I want to use this quiet time to pause, reflect, clear my head, and immerse myself in the Word. I’m also using a book that was recommended by another Bloganuary participant to help me.

A guilty pleasure

And lastly, a guilty pleasure! I’ve been following A.C. Melody since I started blogging. She was actually one of the first blogs I followed, though I was a silent follower for many years. A couple Sundays ago, I let her take over my blog to promote her latest release, Hearthstone Alpha, so of course I’m going to read it! If The Christmas Wedding Guest is the reason why I hate romance, then Hearthstone Alpha is the reason why I love it! I need more action in my romances, and A.C. definitely delivers!

My trip is a little over a week long, so I likely won’t finish all of these books on my vacation, as our itinerary is jam-packed, but five books in a month is feasible, right? I was reading much more than that in school anyway. All but one are paperback to help me keep my screen time to a minimum. I’ll also be using my journal to find writing inspiration. Sometimes it’s easier to get those creative juices flowing when you’re staring at a cream-colored page you can touch and feel rather than a backlit white screen.

But I won’t leave you completely alone. I plan on reposting my Buried series during the month of March while I’m away. If you’re a new follower, Buried was my first serial. It’s a story about a pair of toxic romances—one that leads to murder and the other that’s forced to deal with the aftermath—and a young child caught in the middle. Part 1 will go live Monday, March 6, and subsequent posts will go up every Friday and Monday and every other Wednesday (starting the 15th).

If all goes well in March, I’ll be back in April refreshed, re-energized, reinvigorated, and ready to dive back into blogging, but at a limited compacity because I really don’t want to wear myself thin again. That may mean I’ll have to skip the April A-to-Z Challenge this year, at least until I reach a better work/life/blog balance. I hadn’t settled on a theme yet anyway, and StoryADay kicks off in May, so it’s probably best that I don’t do A-to-Z and risk back-to-back month-long challenge burnout again.

One thing’s for sure, I will return with Morning Inspiration, Sunday Morning Tea, fiction, and poetry in April! Until then, I’ll be flying high, reading books that hopefully don’t wake the dead (probably shouldn’t read them out loud though), and chasing mummies…

(a clue to where I’m going 😉 )

logo: cartoon of girl with glass and her hair tied in a bun reading a book



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