Turn the page

Yesterday morning, at around 7:45am, I finished the second draft of hail the pumpkin king –a novel whose first draft I finished almost a year ago today (I wasn’t writing Draft 2 that whole time, I swear, just for about 4 months on and off).

This is the first book I’ve written multiple drafts of while also working full-time. It’s also the first book whose first draft I’ve underwritten. And just when I feel like I’m learning things, I look up the D2 wordcount and there it is: 11,000 words that were not there before.

Still, it’s not all bad. If you recall, this summer I decided I needed a break from blogging and social media to take a f***ing vacation, phrasing brought to you by My Depleted Vocab, you’re welcome. I took about a week and a half off from social (well, social for pleasure; my job is social media management), and then came back… slowly. I haven’t really posted much of anything in the past few months. I’ve stayed off-blog.

I’m here to report that the hiatus really did help my tired, burnt-out heart. But not for the reason I thought it would.

At the beginning of this year, I felt like all of a sudden, I couldn’t keep up. I was feeling left behind in a lot of ways, but mostly when it came to all the tasks and people I had committed to and wanted to complete/be with. I thought I was getting sucked into the do-more-things-anxiety vortex that had kicked up at the end of 2015 and was rapidly devouring my 2016.

But now that I’ve had a few months of slow the freak down, I realized that my feelings from the beginning of this year could be summed up in the idea that the whole time, the little girl I still am deep inside was just sitting on the sidewalk of my soul, crying, “I don’t know how to do this.” Like, over and over. And over.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’m emerging from the past few months with all the adulting answers and a yoga obsession (actually, I’m emerging with a new Netflix account and a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns addiction lololol). But I do feel less inclined to tell that crying little girl to suck it up and figure her shit out, like I did in January, February, March, April, May, etc.

Now… I sort of feel more inclined to just hold her.

That didn’t happen overnight. When I began this summer, I decided that my self-care would look like re-establishing routines that I’d let fall by the wayside earlier this year. I started writing in the mornings again. I started running again (well, sometimes). I started setting aside one day a week to let my introverted self chill (#NoCompanyMonday), because she was overwhelmed with noise and the world is a loud, loud place. And, big surprise, despite all the “progress” I thought I was making, I felt pretty much the same.

And then, at the end of August, I got a letter. From myself.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I posted it on Instagram here.

I’d written it eight months before, in December 2015. I actually don’t remember where I’d written it, or who I’d given it to. But I do know one thing – reading this letter was like receiving everything I’d been yearning to hear but had never told anyone I needed. An excerpt:

“You should be so proud of the woman you have become. You are strong and rooted, full of joy and courage. God has put a unique light in you, and girl, you are golden.

You are worth everything. You are worth love. You were made for beautiful things. Thank you for believing that.”

This came at a time where I wasn’t proud of the woman I was. I didn’t feel strong. I didn’t feel rooted. I wasn’t full of joy or courage.

Hearing that contradicted by anyone else might have felt pretty trite. But hearing my own self, one year younger, say, “You’re more than okay. You’re going to make it,” made me cry. Of course, I cry a lot these days, but weirdly, I’m grateful for it; it’s how I know I’m not as numb as I used to be.

My letter is now folded into the pages of my journal, reminding me whenever I open it that in that time I thought I could fix myself, God was like, Mm, I see you’re preaching a gospel of self-care. When was the last time you showed yourself some grace?

I have a God who calls me on my BS and it’s the best and worst thing, because, to answer the question… I couldn’t remember. No matter how many times my boyfriend or my friends and family told me the truth, I never believed it until I heard it from myself.

You are worth everything.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, next month I’m writing a new book.

And no, I’m not abandoning htpk. Turning the page doesn’t always mean you never ever look back at the previous ones. But I’m gonna turn that page. Because, for me, it’s not about the newness so much as it’s about the fact that I am worth a new page.

There are some things that I really, really love, but while before, I was doing them because I was trying to convince myself that I wasn’t a worthless human adult, now I’m doing them because I know I deserve the joy that weirdly also comes with tears and a 6am cup of tea; cream and sugar and nonsensical ideas that I scribble on scrap paper in the middle of the night; the groaning, miserably thrilling community of NaNoWriMo that I denied myself last year due to burnout; and those words I wrote to myself all those months ago.

I was made for the joy that’s been layered into this crazy, beautiful, glitter-covered shitshow of life.

So were you.

The vortex is still there sometimes, in my head. And it’s still loud and raging and the little girl inside me still wants to run. But today, I’ll take her hand and we’ll stand our ground. We’re strong and rooted. Women of valor, women of light.

We’re going to make it.

Samantha Chaffin

How have you been?




8 thoughts on “Turn the page

  1. R.E. Durbin says:

    Oh man, I’d no idea you were going through all that. *hugs* I’m glad your past self had the wisdom to write that letter (I thought that only happened in movies). I can just imagine your surprise when you got it too.

    A letter?

    FROM ME?!?!?!?!

    *rip open letter*


    *cry with relief*

    Sometimes, it does take ourselves to make us believe it. That old “lead a horse to water” thing. I’m happy you’re doing better now. I look forward to seeing more of your writings. Have a great NaNoWriMo (I’m doing it too!).

    • samchaffin says:

      This is pretty much exactly how it went. Haha thank you, thank you for your sweet words of encouragement. ❤ I'm so happy to hear that you're doing NaNo too! Excited to laugh-cry through November with you. 😉

  2. Jennifer N. says:

    I really felt this post. September was a really rough month for me. There have been people telling me “you’ll get through it” and “you can handle it” when what I really needed is to be reminded that I’m worth it, so thank you for that. I plan on taking time later tonight to catch up on my journal and just reflect on the past month and hope to see that I’ve come out of it all at least a little stronger… It’s always so great to read your blog posts!! Good luck with your new story 🙂

    Also, I don’t know if you heard, but The Books of Bayern are getting new covers!! They look absolutely fantastic and I’m so excited!! I don’t know anyone else who’s read the series, so I had to tell SOMEONE ahaha!! Have a good one 🙂

    • samchaffin says:

      Ah, I so get it. Thank you for sharing this with me, and I’m so glad that you are taking some time to reflect and see all the ways that you are strong. ❤

      OMG waaat, I hadn't heard that!! There is so little that I love more than Shannon Hale and the Bayern series… so clearly now I am stoked out of my mind. *rushes to pre-order/purchase*

  3. Topaz says:

    I needed this today. I feel that every time I read a new post from you, dear Sam, you are growing into your skin & into your soul. It is a good, soft, true thing. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. The universe needs more people like you here. ❤

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