This summer is a little unusual for me. For the first time in a couple of years, I’m taking just a little bit of a writing vacation. Well, technically, I suppose it’s more like a “staycation” – the only immediate things on my plate are a short story with an August 1 deadline and prep for a couple of blog tours later in the summer. I need the breather, as I’m also getting ready to move (pretty much all through the month of July).

Plus, I just passed through a very unpleasant time in my writing life. I hesitate to call it “writer’s block,” because it wasn’t, really. The ideas were all there, I knew where the story had to go, I loved the characters (yes, even Bryce). But writing was almost physically painful. The only physical analogy I’ve ever come across that kind of gets the feeling across is an unfortunately crude one – dry-humping. An activity that’s supposed to be exquisitely pleasureable, that you remember as being exquisitely pleasureable, yet it’s somehow reduced to sheer effort and a lot of pain.

How did I get to this point? I didn’t realize it while I was in the middle of the desert, but basically, I let being a writer pull me away from writing.

It all started innocently enough. I was writing merrily away on my fifth Fae novel, the first in a new series for Ellora’s Cave, but growing out of the SoulShares series. And I started getting a little hung up on finding the right balance between explaining references to the original series and moving forward with the new story. Then I started noticing all the articles and blogs and links on “the craft of writing.”  I saw articles posted by all kinds of helpful people and pages on structuring your story, outlining, research. The appropriate ratio of explicit content to non-explicit content. The story arc of a romance. Tension between the protagonist and the antagonist. Tropes we love. Tropes we hate.

And just as I was pretty sure I’d never written anything correctly in my life, I found help with…  marketing. How to tweet to best advantage – when to favorite, when to retweet, how to create an attention-grabbing profile page, making the hashtag your friend. How to leverage LinkedIn and Google+. Getting the most exposure for your YouTube channel. Building buzz on Goodreads. Optimizing your Amazon footprint to take advantage of its recommendation algorithms. Maximizing my Pinning so as to reach my target audience. (I do have a Pinterest account, born of a night of too much champagne and quite a bit of unfounded optimism… I don’t even remember the password, much less how to pin anything – sorry to disappoint all of you who have started following me there!)

And I wasn’t doing any of that stuff.

And then came… the phone call from my mother. “So how are your sales doing, sweetheart?”

Crash. Burn. Ouch.

*insert uncontrollable sobbing here*

Bottom line, I got completely sucked into other people’s ideas of the “how” of writing, and completely lost my own sense of the “why”. I write because I love it. I never expected to be published; I was lucky enough to be noticed by an editor who loved what I was doing, and I continue to be lucky enough to work with editors who love what I write and help me make it even better. When I forget that, when I stop concentrating on my writing (and, okay, on conventions, I love conventions, I could live at conventions and be completely happy), when I fixate on mastering social media technology and maximizing online presence…. on selling books, instead of writing them, the joy goes out of it. And I need the joy, to make the rest of it work.

I have it back now, by the way. The joy. Rory’s got her groove back. *winks* Wait till you see this story. Hint:  shifters. Yes, shifters. Gotta run, time to write…