Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Importance of being Earnest

Hello to all my faithful, thanks for stopping by the blog and taking an interest in what I have to say. Truthfully, I'm not typically this honest with those outside my small circle, but lately, I feel as though I am the only person in my circle so I'm venturing out. At my core, I'm an insecure person who needs constant validation, probably because I've never felt good enough.

I know, sounds stupid right? Well, my issues go way back and I'm too old to learn new tricks, so here we are. Several years ago, before I knew shit about blogs and was the last person to get a MySpace account (just as everyone was moving to Facebook), I used to send out a newsletter filled with my deepest thoughts to my closest friends. Before that, I used to keep a journal. The newsletters were helpful to me because it gave me an opportunity to sort through my thoughts and emotions in the hopes of solving whatever dilemma I was experiencing at the time. My friends used to write me back with advice, affirmations, or simple compliments. It used to get me through the day. But friends move, they get busy, and time takes it's piece out of all of us. When we finally see one another, we don't talk about the bad because we'd rather celebrate our reunion. Soon, every person is an island and they've been there so long they don't bother putting out on SOS.

As a public personality I often feel like sharing myself is outside the bounds of good judgement. After all, people don't really want to know me, they want to know about the fiction I create. And for the most part, that's perfectly acceptable to me. However, the problem I am faced with currently is I can't create. I can't create because I'm living in the real world and its sort of kicking my ass right now.

I should be on cloud nine! The Dark Duet is still paying my rent (thank God), I have a graphic novel in the works, I've made the USA Today and the NYT, I get over 100 new likes on my Facebook page weekly, and in a few weeks I'll start touring - life should be fucking great! So why can't I 'get it up'?

My life isn't glamorous. I do the same things every day. I wake up and get my kids ready for school, drop them off, hit the gym, come home and clean my house, and then try to write something before I have to pick up my kids, do homework, start dinner, and try to be as attentive to my family as I can. In summation, I'm probably no different than everyone else. That said, I have to wonder if everyone else feels as lost and lonely as I often do.

People often ask where my characters come from and the truth is, they are pieces of me. They hurt deeply and hide it well. They fight tooth and nail for the things that matter. They see things in grey because they've learned there is no black or white. They lash out and inflict as much pain on others as they feel themselves. They're assholes. They're funny. They're willing to do anything to be loved, but terrified to love because they fully expect to find themselves alone one day. They don't live in the moment, but in a preconceived and bleak future. They self-destruct.

I'm self-destructing. For months, I've been hiding from my laptop, unable to write anything meaningful because it means I would have to open up a vein and bleed my truth. I don't want to write. I don't want to acknowledge that there are parts of me missing. Because, where did they go? How do I get them back? What stupid thing will I do to feel alive again? Who pays the price for my restlessness?

I spend all my free time with my face buried in books I didn't write. I ignore calls. I don't answer emails. I don't stock my fridge until I absolutely have to. I don't dream. I don't fantasize. I just read other people's words, letting them distract me. I'm ruining what could be a promising career because I cant. Fucking. Write!

I thought posting my teaser for Commitment would galvanize me into knocking out the chapters floating around in my brain. I wrote 500 words and then reached for my Kindle. Pathetic.

In this moment of lucidity, I've written this post for myself. I've put it out to you so that you can kick my fucking ass and hold me accountable. Remind me that what I'm doing is weak and I'm not allowed to wallow in self-pity. Boo-fucking-hoo, CJ! You have one damn thing you do well and that's write! You want to be worth something? You want to prove you've got what it takes? No one is going to give you anything; you have to take it! Stop being a whiny little bitch and put some damn words on paper because otherwise, you're just a sad mess of a girl who would rather read than live out her dreams. Stop being someone you can't stand. You want to be happy? Take your pills. You want to be an artist? Write.


  1. If you need a daily affirmation I'm your daily affirmation bitch. If you need a verbal ass kicking I can do that too. Need someone to talk or to listen as you spew out the verbal vomit ? I can do that too but you have to open the door chick I have small feet and short legs so it'll take me a bit before I can kick the door in. Yeah, when I first reached out to you it was b/c of your work but the person (not the author) I got to know in the months that followed my initial contact is the person I like..warts and all. I am here lady all you have to do is invite me in. :)

  2. CJRoberts! you are probably the most talented writer I've ever had the privilege of reading! I don't know how you do what you do, but you have a gift and it won't go away. Gifts like that don't disappear. So you've hit a little snag... so what? Maybe you need the breather, maybe you need a change of scenery, maybe you need inspiration...the point is, you're writing something today and It doesn't have to be much, it doesn't even have to be good, it just had to be something... and that something will flow into something else and then it will be created into a perfect piece of art. Cause that's just the struggle of an artist.

    I am probably the worst for this. I write a few chapters and then read a book, write a few more, read another book.Then I pretend I'm going to write,spend why whole day on FB and my whole night watch television shows... then I read a book. LOL I'm not disciplined... it's terrible but every day I feel like I'm getting a bit better at taking control. Eventually I know I will get the hang of writing every day and making the minutes count. I have very few spare minutes as a mother and wife and full time deli worker... But those few minutes are slowly becoming more devoted to my writing. YOU are already there as far as I'm concerned. So I think you deserve a little break from time to time don't you?? And with that being said, get back to your writing now! I can't wait to read more of what you have to offer. You are an inspiration and I adore you! :)

    PS I just got my hubby to buy the paperback of your Dark Duet from your Createaspace account. The BEST series I've read in a LONG time bought it in e-book first and I MUST have copies in my bookcase now). I've been talking all of my coworkers ears off about Caleb and Kitten for weeks! they all can't wait to read it! :)

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  4. CJ Roberts ... my dear, you are a great talent! You don´t have idea how good for me to read, I need your books! :) I'm a loner too, books and music are to keep me company these days, so write!! To be honest I'm in the same condition as you, only I'm not a writer, but I am also lonely, but if you let me kick your ass or give to you words of encouragement every day, I´m here!!! : D

    I ´m from Brazil but the words cross the world!!
    (sorry my bad english)


  5. Yourself is right, ya know. No more boo hoo whoa is me bullshit. I hear people around me I love dearly, feeling sorry for themselves all the time, people with incredible talent and genuine uniqueness, with all the tools in their box, to get up, go out and rock this world! Instead they want to find the cute first four their lackadasicality (you are the writer, lol.) I recognize them because I used to be one of them. I sew. I am trying to make it into a business. Lately I just want to sit on this couch, troll fb, pinterest ( "I'm doing research" I'll say.) But having a creative outlet, like writing, sewing, painting, flows through certain individuals like the need for water when you are thirsty. Don't ignore your self's creative need to....Well create. Do you meditate? Even if it's just a few minutes in traffic, a space to reconnect with your true self, hello! How are you?, away from the what ifs, I can'ts, too hards, don't want tos, and have a moment of peace. I believe the best kind of creativity is genuine creativity that bubbles forth from a spring deep inside us. Tap that shit cj and get flowing. You are too talented to fb all day. And don't be so hard on yourself. You just need to find your swing again. Love you!

  6. Oh, girl. Don't we all fucking feel that way. I feel that way right now. Helping everyone else and not focusing on myself. Reaching for my kindle or my red pen and not sitting my ass in a chair and focusing. Because that would be too fucking hard. Distractions in the form of tv or facebook or family or social events...it's just so much easier to read about others doing things...so easy to put my life on hold. I'll do it tomorrow. I'll start next week. I need to do more research first. I'm the world's worst procrastinator, and I feel your pain.

    The thing is...you already know you have this amazing talent. People all over the world can tell you that...and do you hear it? Does it matter? You know you can write an unfuckinbelievable story...you KNOW that...but it's exhausting. It takes effort and mental balls of steel. You sound like you're putting a shit ton of pressure on yourself...maybe you see others churning things out and you've got...nothin'. I know I have to keep reminding myself there's no rush. But when it's constantly in your face, it's hard to focus on what you need to do.

    I believe in you. I fell in love with your words and I'm grateful you put those hidden pieces of yourself out there. I disagree completely with what you said about people not wanting to know YOU. I've met YOU and I adore YOU. Your characters are awesome. YOU are awesomeR. Yes, that's a word. Go with it.

    Now what was it you wanted...? Oh, yes. GET YOUR ASS IN THAT CHAIR AND METAPHORICALLY OPEN THAT VEIN.

    PS - should we try that mediation/yoga shit?

    xoxox - Candace

  7. CJ as a fellow author, I get it, I get what you are saying 100%. There are no words I can say because I've been there too. Writing is opening your soul, making yourself face truths you didn't want to face, forcing yourself to open up and give something of yourself you'll never get back, even when you want to. I've sat and stared at computer screens for endless hours this week, questioning so many of the things you've addressed above and have very little to show for it. Thanks for expressing what I can't when expressing myself through writing has been all I've ever known. But you wrote this beautifully...now go write some more devilishly torturous characters for us to hate to love and love to hate.

    xx Kristy Bromberg

  8. CJ,
    I appreciate that you shared this. Thank you for being brave enough to expose yourself to your readers personally and fictionally. It means a lot to me because I’ve been writing for 12 years now and after I read this post I felt like I wasn’t alone in my struggle. There are other people, even successful writers (like you) who go through this, and that gives me hope. So as for your post; here is my personally light bulb:
    I think that the true killer of creativity and passion is routine. Personally I know routine is what ruins me. I go through these fits of passion, my fingers can’t type out the words flowing in my mind fast enough and the need to finish a story is so intense it burns! But then I go through long periods of time where I feel I lose myself in the monotonous routines of every day life. Get up, eat, work, cook, clean, sleep; repeat! So where am I in this routine? Where did I go?
    Eventually I start to become withdrawn, pulling away from many, everything I write is lifeless and forced. With each sentence I continue traces of me disappear and in result my characters personalities and situations suffer. Eventually I refuse to try to write because the failure enrages me. So where did the missing parts of us go CJ? It went to the back of the priority list. And of course, the longer we keep away from the pieces we need, the faster we get used to not having them around.
    So I had a long talk with my husband one day, well I should say a total fucking melt down (poor guy) and after all my incoherent rambling and pointing fingers at all of the things that “get in my way” I realized the problem is not that I have to do these everyday activities, it’s that I get so annoyed when I have fallen out of my rhythm that I stop writing entirely.
    Creativity and passion is a flame that demands constant feeding. So what I did to fix this and has so far been working wonderfully for me is I implemented writing into my daily routine. Unfortunately I don’t always “want” to add to my book, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to write. So I’ll spend ten minutes or longer if I have it, just writing about one of my senses. Maybe about something I heard, something I tasted, something I smelled, touched ETC; it connects me to my senses and reminds me that I am here and I am alive.
    The second thing I did was set up weekly creative writing groups at my house. I have a few friends come over every Thursday and we each had written a list of topics to write about, placed them in a jar and when it comes time for our session we pull a few out. One topic we write about during our session and share with some wine, the next topic we take home and bring back our work the following session to share.
    Through this I realized sometimes we need to walk away from what is in front of us so when we come back we can view it in a different light. And writing about different topics, finding the fun in writing again and just exploring different sides of me has really helped me stay true to myself. Yes, I will wander again….but next time not so far. We are the ones that pay for our restlessness, so we have to find a way to keep our inner passion burning because no one else will be able to do that for us.
    I hope I have helped a little, and if not I then I hope someone on this thread does. Take a break, walk away and feed your soul before you come back to your novel. I am certain that when the time is write those fingers will flow with a wild passion ;) -Inessa

  9. CJ,
    We love you and you aren't alone in how you feel. We aren't putting in nearly the amount of soul bearing work like you do to write but we are even in a funk over here at the BSS. We are having a hard time reading and connecting with not only books but our audience too. We just want to let you know that we have deeply enjoyed your works and we appreciate all that you do to bring us such amazing characters. We will continue to support you no matter how long it takes you to publish another piece.
    - Elle
    The Book Slut Society

  10. I am not an author just a voracious reader and huge fan.of.your work. I so admire your honesty and the way you have put yourself out there for all to see. Your blog post touched me deeply. I think you speak for all of us,especially women. I too struggle with not being "good enough" or feeling lonely even just not fitting into the person people think I am.. It seems to creep up on me every so often.(more than I would like to admit ) But knowing that someone else feels these things whether a bestselling author or a woman from a small town in Pennsylvania like myself, connects us all. Thank you so much for your honesty. It moves me and touches my heart. You will get through this. You already made the first step, being so honest with yourself and all of us. I will be thinking of you. Sending much admiration and love to you

  11. Wow probably you never get to read this but the thing IS in this bittersweet life everyone feel lost sometime. As a young person i feel lost all the time! im empty and a waste of time. I'm working to get up and shine. It seems a long difficult road but you need to go on. Also youre just fucking awesome if not why im here writting all this crap at 02:34 am? BECAUSE I WANT YOU TO RECOVER!! just count to 10 or 100, take a pen or write on your computer, listen to music, think in the days where you cant stop writting and make love to that feeling. It's okay to cry and feel self pity but just for a while, dont let that overcome you. Start trusting in yourself because we all trust in you. Thanks for sharing this because i dont feel like im the one this lonely (that make us less lonely? mm) And for the record i do want to know about you but who i am? just another fan, a drop in the sea, thats all, Im not that important...well i may go. im writting all this crap hoping you could see... SO GET INSPIRED COME ON COME ON COME ON!!!!!!!! sending good vibes from Venezuela

  12. Oh my, I'm right there with you. Your blog post made me tear up. I'm going through something similar as I attempt to finish my first novel. I think that in order to write words that will move people, you have to write what moves you. That means tapping into parts of your soul that are not easy to get to. It means sitting at the computer and shifting between writing something profound and (or) crying because maybe you've gone too deep. My mom used to say that I needed to stop reliving things in order to move forward. The thing is writers need to relive things in order to write about them. So, how do we write about the things that break us without breaking? Can we come through this unscathed? I have no idea. I just know that if what you write means something to you then it will mean something to your readers. Therefore, only write when it comes to you organically. Don't force it and don't feel bad if you can't write. You have to wait until you can feel the magic. (I know that sounds cliché, lol!)

    Another thing worth noting is that writers tend to be really introspective and that can lend itself to depression. Also writing can be really isolating and we can feel like we're all alone. The truth is physically you are (you might have a special room where you go to write - perhaps, 'A Room of One's Own' like Virginia Woolf) but emotionally you're not. Your fans love you because they can relate to your characters, and thus to your feelings. I write when my husband is gone and the house is quiet. It's lonely but I choose for it to be that way. How else am I supposed to be these other people? How else am I supposed to feel what they feel? Like you said all of your characters are pieces of you. (That's what made your Dark Duet books so great! I stood up all night to read them. Trust me I know some of those scenes you wrote must of taken a toll on you emotionally, and your readers love you for putting so much sentiment, opinion and pain into what you write.)

    Same here, when I can't write I read another authors work or I listen to music. Since creativity can't be forced I try to pass the time doing things related to the craft. I've also started listening to podcasts like "This Is Your Life" with Michael Hyatt.

    Recently, I felt like I had bottomed out. I took a long, and hard look at my lifestyle, and I noticed that I wasn't eating anything healthy, and had put on a lot of weight. I was making excuses for why I wasn't taking care of myself, and even saying things like 'I'll eat better once the book is finished.' I was even sneaking a cigarette here and there (mind you, I haven't smoked in years.) I had no idea - what the hell was going on with me? I still have no idea. I just know that we can't wade too deep in what our characters are going through without feeling stressed to some degree. Taking care of yourself is a gift to your family and to your readers. Put yourself first for a few days and then try writing again.

    Sometimes what I write is gold and other times it's mud. Other times its like all the good ideas come to me when I'm in the shower. Or I get the urge to write when I know I have to be somewhere. For example, I called a cab the other day and when it pulled up in front of my house...my muse started talking. A scene came to me in the form of a conversation. The characters from my book were arguing and I immediately wanted to write out what they were saying to piece together why they were fighting. The writing process can be really exciting or really frustrating. Stick with it! You'll get through this. I look forward to reading anything that you write. You're one of my favorite authors. Take care. ((((HUGS))))

  13. I posted this on Goodreads, but I wanted to post it here too:

    I have been trying to find a way to reply to all of you since I posted this, and honestly, I still can't find the words to thank you all properly - not without crying. Please know that your words have touched me and that you were all friends to me when I needed it. There were SO MANY responses that you don't see here, SO MANY stories of personal struggle, doubt, and fear - but also hope. I felt a real sense of community and I just...fucking THANK YOU.

    And I did end up writing a little, because it's the only way I know to say thanks. Story isn't finished, but it will be and I'm posting it all for your free enjoyment. http://supersexysmut.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-edge-of-world.html