As the nights close in over the northern hemisphere, Ali Williams talks about the times it can feel like we're lost in deep, dark woods and may need a little help to step back into the light.
I’ve had a tough couple of months, in the way I usually do every so often.
The same slow drain of emotions which threaten my productivity and allow those all too familiar imposter syndrome feelings to raise their ugly heads, have been back to their old tricks.
What’s that got to do with romance?
Well, there are times when I’m incredibly grateful for romance novels, where each HEA seems like it’s been personally crafted to bring me joy and drown out the fact my attempts to turn off my brain haven’t been all that successful in recent weeks. And there are times when I just can’t write romance. When I’ve been feeling so down it gets in the way of my own writing.
But this editorial isn’t about being stuck in those woods. It’s about finding a way out.
Sometimes you stumble upon a path, completely by accident, and find yourself coming upon a way out. Those paths are really very very nice. Those are the times when you accidentally come across something that gets you out of your funk, which brings you unexpected joy, until things don’t seem quite so bleak and then surprise! you’re out of the woods.
Sometimes someone comes to get you; shining a light on a path through those trees, and then practically dragging you out into the sunshine. That’s not always the easiest path to take; if you’ve got so used to being in the woods, then the sudden glare of sunshine can blind you for a bit. You find yourself needing some time before you can fully adjust to life out in the light. To believe it’s okay to be okay again.
And sometimes finding a way out of the woods means going deeper. It means heading straight into the darkest part until you come across a warning sign you simply can’t ignore, tearing desperately through the undergrowth until you suddenly are out and step back into the light.
There’s no one right way out of the woods. There’s no one right way to break a funk, or help yourself climb out of a depression you may not feel you can break. But having people around you, a support network you can chat to, and confide in, helps. It’s why I love my corner of Romancelandia, why The Pink Heart Society is more of a family to me than simply a webzine.
I am lucky to have people I can talk to when it gets too much, and people who’ll kick my arse into gear when I need it. By the time this issue goes live, I will hopefully be well into (and possibly winning at!) Tasha Harrison’s 20kin5days challenge. But even if life gets in the way of my words, the fact there are a group of writers out there, cheering me on, whether they know me or not, is kind of awesome. And remember, you can always ask others how they found their way out of the woods.
I can guarantee they’ll be happy to lend you a flashlight.
Ali Williams is a romance academic, editor and writer. For more information about Ali and her projects, check out aliwilliams.org and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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