A Serious Case of Ennui

Ennui (n): a lack of spirit, enthusiasm, or interest.

In other words, boredom.

Welcome to January, my friends.

Ennui brings to mind Parisian pretty boys draped elegantly over chaise lounges, faces slack and skin pale. But here in ‘Murcah, we call it boredom, and that’s petulant suburban teenagers slouched on couches with scowls on their faces.

I. Am. Bored.

Boredom, in my case, leads to Bad Things. Yesterday all I wanted was one of those ginormous chocolate muffins from Costco (they stock them in the break room at the day job) and a Pepsi, despite the fact I wasn’t hungry. I needed that muffin. My life depended on it.

Do you have any idea how difficult it was not to march downstairs and grab the damn muffin? (And I did cave on the Pepsi, unfortunately. My blood sugar was not pleased.)

Boredom means I can’t focus on anything, whether it’s work or a book. I got halfway through Alisha Rai’s A Gentleman in the Streets before I started getting the urge to skip to the end. This reaction in no way reflects on her writing or the book (I didn’t skip around, and it’s really quite good). I’ve got four review books this month. I’ve finished one. Things are not looking good for the remaining three. Or the library books on my coffee table.

Probably the biggest victim of my ennui? My writing.

I managed to finish the first draft of Run (about a young woman trying to find the courage to face her past) on New Year’s Eve. It was about four chapters shorter than I’d hoped, but it was done, and I was going to take that frickin’ win. I’m afraid to look at it, though, because I am quite certain the last five or six chapters are absolute shite, especially compared to the first seven chapters, which I’m absolutely positive contain some of the best writing I’ve ever done.

Then there’s Perfect Chemistry, a (sorta) sweet story about an awkward lawyer and an artisan soap maker. I heart these characters so hard. The hero has the probability of being one of the most interesting and complex characters I’ve written so far.

Writing the past four chapters has been like watching paint dry. As I’m writing this, I’m 700 words into the second to last chapter and I just want it to be done. I’ve been bouncing around between stories for the past month or so, since I finished the rewrite of Touch and sent Fracture to the editor. I’ve been brainstorming ideas for edits in Hidden Scars, I’ve been mulling over plot points for Broken Down (book two in the Hidden Scars series), I’ve started a Christmas novella I may not finish in time for the holidays, and I’ve been considering redoing an erotic romance novella I wrote over a year ago and submitting it somewhere. Nothing’s stuck, nothing’s held my attention, and the longer I pick at things without any real enthusiasm, the more those stories suffer.

I could blame some of it on not wanting to jump into a new project when I’m just going to have to stop in the middle of it (Fracture comes back from the editor next week, and to keep my release date I’ll have to jump into edits soon after). If I’m absolutely, bluntly honest with myself, though, I know what the problem is – I’m bored. I’m bored, and I’m burnt out on writing.

That’s the truly frighting part. Burnt out? At this point, when I’ve got a book releasing in a few months and another one a few months after that? When I have to do something to keep going after that yet-to-be-won contract? Yikes.

It’s frightening because the best solution to this is to just…stop. Stop for a while, a few days, maybe a week or more, and do other stuff. The thing is, I’ve tried to do this in the past, and I’ve so far been incapable of stepping away from the keyboard for longer than a day (and that’s usually because I have no choice). I get twitchy if I don’t get words on the page every day. Even when I’m exhausted or at a conference, I boot up the ol’ laptop and get in a few sentences.

But dear lord I’ve got to do something about this ennui. It could quite easily turn into apathy toward my own writing. And apathy will kill your writing dreams faster than any rejection ever could. So I’m gonna try stepping away for the weekend. I’ve got plenty of other things to do – books to read, a Hawks playoff game to watch, a house to clean. Hell, it’s not supposed to rain this weekend, and it won’t be that cold, so I might even do yardwork. But no words on the page until Monday. We’ll see how I do.

In the meantime, here’s Michel complaining about ennui. I watch this clip and I’m all, “I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL.”

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