writer burnout

(This post first appeared on Substack: Writing Magick with Maggie Sunseri. Click to subscribe.)

Where I’ve Been

I’m back! As I said in my last post, I knew it would be difficult to keep up the weekly Substacks while hammering out Book 4 in The Lost Witches of Aradia seriesThe HuntedBecause let’s be real, being a writer is a full-time job but so is being mentally ill. I can only do so much. Though there’s a deep-seated need inside of me that really, really wants to be able to do it ALL. I’m workin’ on it.

So yes, The Hunted is (mostly) written. I have a few scenes to touch up and an ending scene to complete after my first round of self-edits, but she’s pretty much wrapped up! I think this book was the hardest to write by far. It was difficult to juggle the business side of the career with the creative side, and it often felt like I had a bunch of people in the room with me watching me type. With the first three books, I was writing them completely in solitude. No one had read them. I was free to write what I wanted to write without the feeling of an audience sitting there waiting for me to finish. Now I have one-star reviewer voices in my head, telling me that my world-building is boring, there’s not enough action, and they hate everything I’m doing.

Generally, I can put these voices on mute. But the past month has also been really stressful, and when my mental health takes a turn for the worse, so does my ability to filter through the negativity. It’s a vicious cycle. I had to take lots of breaks while writing, and that’s okay! We aren’t machines, as much as our economic overlords really wish that we were. (haha just kidding Bezos! Please put a good word in for my books with the incomprehensible Amazon Algorithm.)

I’ve had some amazing things happen these last few months. The kindest, most genuine and wonderful people have stumbled upon my books and reached out to me, which I desperately needed. Everything is growing and trending upward, slowly but surely, and I have faith that it’ll all click into place just when it’s meant to. I’ve also had some setbacks. I had a family health scare, I got burned out and overwhelmed, and I’m currently working through some gnarly mental health uglies that cropped up as a result of a gaslighting, retinoid-pushing dermatologist. (More on that later.) But I’m also 7 months sober as of Monday! So as always, it’s been a mix of the good and the bad, the inspired and the hopeless, the messy and the accomplished, and everything in between. Because that’s just life. Beautiful, painful, confusing, and awe-inspiring life.

Where I’m Going

In terms of this newsletter, things are heading into uncharted territory. I’ve decided to do a soft launch of a paid subscription option. This will allow me to write some articles that are exclusive to supporters, tucked away from a general audience. Think anything personal, controversial, or the longer, more in-depth writing that requires a lot of my time and energy. At least half of my posts will still be available to free subscribers. If you want to go ahead and sign up, you can click the button below and change your subscription to paid for either $5 a month, $50 a year, or an extra supportive Founding Member category of $100 a year. In the coming weeks I’ll be showing what kinds of posts will be locked for paid-only subscribers, as well as working on benefits, exclusive content, and community for anyone who makes the switch.

I’ll be going back to writing a post a week. Upcoming topics include deep dives into spirituality & witchery, critiques of western biomedicine and beauty standards (as inspired by Jessica Defino’s Substack The Unpublishable & my anthropology/sociology degree, and more on sexuality and power. I’ll also be writing personal pieces about my sobriety journey and my mental health struggles that will be, you guessed it, only for paid subscribers 😉

If you’re dying to chat about my kinky witch books, you can head over to my Facebook Reader group here.

Physically, where I am going is Europe. I leave June 1st. I’ll be sure to take everyone along for the journey! This will be the first time I’ve left the country since pre-pandemic. It’ll also be my first time traveling sober, which is cool because I’ll actually be able to enjoy my mornings rather than waking up mid-day or later in a hangover haze. Drunk Maggie was excellent at making “friends” in the smoking area of pubs and clubs. Not so good at making it to brunch or morning plans with the people who actually cared about her. Coffee and brunch dates in sobriety have been a REVELATION. Can’t wait to sit in cute lil European cafés and do my author work all June long.

Where am I going spiritually? Right up to the astral plane. Preferably to hang out with my characters, who I wholeheartedly believe are more of my teachers and guides than figments of my imagination. The writing magick was strong in The Hunted. There are always hidden spiritual truths in my writing, but it usually doesn’t feel like it’s coming from me. It feels like a way for wisdom to channel through me, and it often saves my life. Over and over again, these books have taken my subconscious on a journey toward self-realization, cutting away at the negativity of the world and piecing together my own power and agency. Every time I forget what the hell it is I’m actually doing with these books, usually when I see a critical review or start comparing myself to others, the writing process reminds me.

And that’s sort of how I view life as a whole. It’s a process of forgetting and remembering, a cycle that repeats and reverberates through every aspect of our existence. The world tells us who it wants us to be, we internalize that, and we forget our true selves. Then we remember, and we get angry with the world for making us forget. And then we suffer the consequences of authenticity, pressured to conform and contort ourselves back into something more palatable, quiet, or small, and the process of forgetting begins again. Over and over, we shed our skin and assume role after role, we cling to ideologies and communities that help us make sense of the chaos and confusion, and sometimes we get it right, and other times we find ourselves even more lost than we were before.

It’s hard to be a person. Sometimes it feels impossible, especially as the world continues to crawl further into dystopia, casting a collective shadow so tall it’s difficult to see the light. We all deserve a huge pat on the back just for getting out of bed in the morning and trying. Or, for all my depressed friends, just waking up and trying.

You do not need to strive for worthiness or love or completion. You are inherently good enough, at your core. All the rest that you do in this life is merely a bonus. This is what I remind myself.

This is what I so often forget.

(This post first appeared on Substack: Writing Magick with Maggie Sunseri. Click to subscribe, like, or leave a comment. This newsletter is currently 100% free, but if you want a way to support me you could always share my posts with your friends or Buy Me a Coffee. Or you could buy my kinky witch books!)

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