Last week ended up being a week off for me. It's not something I planned or even wanted, but it was something I apparently needed.
The 19th was our first event of the year, and I woke up the next morning with a cold. Between the spring pollen bloom and a day spent leaning close to customers to hear and be heard, I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. I felt better Tuesday morning, but after a day spent outdoors, I came down with a migraine. It stayed throughout the day Wednesday, and a good portion of Thursday was spent dealing with the "migraine hangover." I was pretty much back to normal Friday, but I ended up tending to things around the house to set myself up for a normal week this week instead of trying to jump back in like nothing happened.
Weeks off are something I don't usually allow myself. A day or two here or there, okay, but I start getting twitchy if I take more than that in a row. I have a set timetable for myself. I have a routine, and I do best when I keep to it. I start becoming preoccupied and distracted when fall behind where I think I need to be, and my productivity takes a dive because of it.
I do try and keep from overworking myself, however. It's taken a lot of repeated "beatings," but I've finally learned to pace myself. I used to just work, work, work until I dropped. I'd have a week or so of "enforced time off" like I had this week, and then the cycle would start all over again.
Then C. L. got laid off a few years back, and I had to go back to working onsite full time and running my store and writing on the side. The business I went to work for was housed in a building riddled with mold spores, dust, and cat dander from an office cat, all of which cause me serious allergy symptoms. I didn't have a choice though, so I routinely overdosed on antihistamines to survive my workweek and pushed through. I finally learned to pace myself because it was do or die, and there were times it seemed more literal than figurative.
I published Right of Succession while working that job. I made the switch from only selling on an Etsy storefront to running Contented Comfort's own website while working that job. I built a local reputation for fandom inspired fragrances and good soaps, but overall sales stagnated. My health went down the tubes. I gained fifty pounds over the two years I worked there because of chronic asthma and constant illness making exercise near impossible. With the hit sales were taking because I had no time to market, it looked like I wouldn't be able to keep writing and soaping while also working.
C. L. found another job, and while I was terrified of giving up my regular day job, eventually I had to make a choice. First I tried going part time. My health improved a little, and I was able to focus more fully on writing and running my store. But the strain was still there. Eventually it became clear I'd have to leave the day job behind completely. I did that about six months ago.
My health took a turn for the better. I got back to regular exercise as my breathing improved and dropped almost twenty pounds over two months because of it. Then the regular fall pollen bloom struck, and I got hit with round after round of sinus and ear infections before my system normalized again toward the end of December. Until now, I've been pretty healthy this year, which I credit to this new determination to pace myself and the cumulative effect of following an anti-inflammatory diet over the past year and a half.
This is why I try to avoid more than a couple days off at a time. Even with C. L. at home to help keep the housework from backing up too much, there was a lot I needed to catch up on once I healed. I've been trying to be very careful to avoid overdoing it as I try and get back on schedule. I'm taking it a couple of tasks at a time, but it's so tempting to put in a couple twenty hour days and be done with it. I know I'll end up sick or in a bad arthritis flair if I do though.
A. B. England is a novelist, all around geek, avid crafter, and the home-schooling mother of two.
She is an autistic creator with a love of mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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