Oh, My Word

Note: This isn’t me asking for life advice.  It’s a state-of-the-author sort of thing, and I was hesitant to post it because I’m sure my long-suffering readers grow weary of hearing me talk about my issues.  But I used to be far more confessional and far braver, so, the least I can do is be honest about where I’m at.  Or not at.  Whatever.

Also I realize there are more pressing things going on in the world right now than my state of mind, but if you think I stand anywhere but against racism and bigotry in all its pernicious forms you must not have read anything I’ve ever written ever.  I feel like other people have much better things to say than I could come up with…partially because of my state of mind.  Hence:

“Disenchantment” is the word I’m looking for.

I keep a timeline of events in my life – a Word file tucked away where I make note of significant happenings each year.  New jobs, new friends, new meds, relationships ending, even a few world events.  Anything that will help me place that year in context later when my long-term memory, damaged by years of Ambien use and mental illness, fails to put things in order. 

Not remotely related to anything, but it’s hot as hell and I thought we could all use a laugh.

I’m turning 40 in November, and it’s already got me in something of a state – not so much at the whole “middle age” concept, as at the realization of everything that has happened in my 30s and how much I seem to have lost or forgotten along the way.

In my early 30s things weren’t perfect.  Depression has always been a traveling companion, sometimes in the back seat and sometimes at the wheel.  My 30s started only a few years after the sudden death of my brother sent everything I knew into a tailspin, but at least by 2007 I felt like I was starting to get a few things right.

The first three years or so of the decade so much happened.  I started it in a coven of amazing women, where I got to work with my best friend to create rituals – as a group we were powerful, devoted, and hilarious.  We had so much fun…until we didn’t. 

I started the decade in a relationship.  It was never perfect either, and over time I realized I just didn’t feel the kind of love I felt he deserved.  I might not be capable of that kind of devotion to a human being; I’ll probably never know.  But I ended it with all the skill of a toddler with nuclear codes, as is apparently my MO.   

But all of that loss was tempered, at least somewhat, by what was beginning:  my career as a novelist.  It was the only dream I ever really had; everything else was just an idle half-assed notion.  When I began writing Queen of Shadows I knew it was good.   And when I sold it, and its sequel, without an agent, I thought, This is it, I’m doing it, I’m on my way, this is gonna be so huge.  I can feel it.  It’s happening.  My life is happening.

I was naïve, of course, and I’m sure any other writers out there are sighing and shaking their heads thinking, “Boy were you in for a rude awakening.” 

Yeah, no shit.

But for the first time in my entire life I felt like I was headed the right way.  Like everything I’d learned and done and been through, even the worst things I was still afraid to write about, was going to be worth it.  The possibilities of the next decade, my 30s, my creative coming of age, spread out before me, gleaming like spires of marble under the moon. 

So I’m about to turn 40 and the only question that comes to mind is, What the fuck happened to me?

I’m not talking about my career.  I’ve got some amazing fans and I’m still writing novels, so, as far as I’m concerned my career is still chugging along, even if it’s not really chugging to anywhere.  It’s not going to be able to move forward until I come up with new stories, which as a matter of fact is part of what I’m talking about here.

Looking back at those early years the one word that keeps coming to mind is magic.  Whether it was Craft-with-a-capital-C or the feeling of life soaring out ahead of me on its very own wings, even the lows of those years felt magical.  There was magic in the world, in my life.  I had power, and I used it, and I reveled in it.

2011 was, I think, when I started to lose it.  Was it related to marrying myself, I wonder?  Did the hate I received over Shadowflame do more than just break my heart?  Did the mistakes I made online, which resulted in a lot of pain involving my family, compound that fracture?

That’s not to say everything after that sucked.  Far from it!  Some really cool stuff has happened since then and I’m grateful for every little bit!  But the last half of my thirties has been…well, kind of awful, to be perfectly honest, and again, not because of bad or good things happening so much as the feeling that none of those things really mattered.  I’ve started 100 new projects, I’ve turned over a thousand new leaves.  I’ve tried to affect my physical health, my mental health, my spirituality, and I’ve even tried doing nothing at all.  Every effort (or lack thereof) I’ve made to figure myself out or move in a more positive direction, or at least to figure out what direction to even try moving in, has met with disappointment. 

I’ve begun to feel like that’s all adulthood is – being tired, disappointed, and in debt until you die.

That’s a shitty way to feel! 

Nothing I hoped for in my tender years has come to pass.  Things I thought were a sure bet turned out to be nothing special.  People I love who should be doing really well are constantly beset with pain and trouble they don’t deserve.  The world is kind of going to shit all around us.

That’s life, right?

Is it?

And above all, there seems to be no magic left in my life.  I still meditate, and it helps me stay on a more even emotional keel (relatively speaking), but I feel no connection to spirit, no sense of the sacred in anything. 

A couple of years ago I opened the floor to any deity who’d have me.  “Hey Anybody,” I said, “Just slap me on the rump and I’m yours, we’ll work it out.”  I wanted to be Someone’s again, to have that relationship, to be inspired.   I was willing to work past the issues I’ve addressed before with mainstream religion if I could just feel something.


Not even at church on Easter.  In fact I found myself fighting tears for the same reason I had so many years ago, at age sixteen:  I wanted so badly to feel something, but there was only emptiness. 

Intellectually I still hold to most of the beliefs I always have about deity and the Earth and what matters in life.  Ethically I’ve become even more of a feminist bunny hugger.  But it’s a matter of justice now, not a matter of holiness. 

That hurts.

Thus, my word of the year is apparently one I didn’t choose, but chose me a long time ago and doesn’t seem willing to let me catch a breath of anything but mud. 


The word came to me, oddly enough, in a Tarot reading.  I’ve kept on doing my monthly readings even though I didn’t really do much with them, and last month I got a new deck out of desperation.  My reading for August brought up four water cards, and the interpretation in the deck’s little white booklet stood out in black all caps:


Literally, figuratively.


And until I can find a way to re-enchant my life, what do I do?

I finish Shadow Rising.  I hope it still catches my readers’ hearts.  I go to my day job, I come home from my day job.  I work overtime hoping to eventually have a savings account again so maybe someday I can get the fuck out of Texas.  I listen to the Hamilton soundtrack.  I donate to my causes and pray to Whomever might be listening (or not, how would I even know anymore?) that the world finds its way through its own dark night of the soul.  I take my meds, change my meds, adjust my meds, take my omega-3s and magnesium and rhodiola and B-complex and probiotics.  I check things off in my planner and make more lists in my planner.  I keep trying to be vegan.  I wonder at what point a crisis of faith becomes a permanent loss of faith.   I read.  I meditate.  I talk to birds and trees and don’t expect answers.  I fall in love with TV shows and lose interest ¾ through.  I look at cat videos.  I laugh at bad puns. I make stickers for my planner.  I remember what it felt like to teach, and to have something to teach.  I dust my altar.

And I wonder what it’s all for.

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7 thoughts on “Oh, My Word

  1. CHANGE is my word. Everything changes. I’m also way in a flux of change. Life is change. I’ve felt stuck so I’ve been doing my best this year to CHANGE — even small things. Small things add up. I may not reach the desires I had for this year — I don’t like the word GOALS — the word is just too plebeian and limiting — but that’s okay too. I will move forward. I will make it happen.

    I’m in my 60s. My life began at 40. Things might not have been perfect but I feel like I have done some amazing things and had some rough times. I feel sad (loss of father and had to help 4 of my furKids to cross over) but all-in-all I still feel hopeful. I don’t follow the the societal religions; I have my own belief system … more in tune with your Craft.

    I haven’t been dealing with the issues of pharmaceutical drugs. My body is so sensitive I can’t even take aspirin so adding anything alien to it just leads to trouble. I don’t want to give you any platitudes. Life is challenging. Life hurts sometimes. I’ve dealt with very high highs and very low lows … but I’m glad I’m here on this earth. I’m glad I’m alive. Every day or most days I try to say thank you to the Universe or the Greater Being for my life … and the 8 year old fur kid and the 2 new kittens who entered my life in the last few months.

    Please continue to write. I really love your books. I missed out on any controversy that happened although I was wondering why I couldn’t find any new books of yours. I am acquiring your ebook versions even though I have most of the paperbacks. As I’ve grown older, my eyes can’t quite read the small print that are in books without using a magnifying glass. Sigh. I look forward to your new books. Just keep them coming.

  2. Is shadow rising on track to be out in November yet? I can’t find it on either Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

  3. Hey darling! I love your writing style and I have got to figure out how to buy some of your books, I’d love to support you if I can. I just want to say that I think you are doing an amazing job, doing what you can, maintaining self care, being open to intuition, and trusting your journey and the process is so important – and you put that into words beautifully.

    Kelly Ann Maddox is an inspiring light to me, shining forth bravely on the journey to self love in the face of developmental challenges, trauma and healing, transitioning through creative projects and aging, and self love and witchy goodness in general. Love to you dear and I hope these words find you rested, at peace, and strong in your beautiful and creative core.

    Love and light to you, Darling!!

  4. I have heard other 40-ish women talk about and experience as a 40-ish woman myself similar feels and thoughts. Some 50-ish women have assured me that being 40-ish often inspires doubt, the need for Change and/or general despair. They have also assured me it gets better. Lots. So I guess we just got to hang in there?

    Hugs from another 40 something.

    ps: As I’ve told you before. Those Shadowflame haters really ought to examine their own insecurities. Looking forward to Shadow Rising 🙂

  5. Re: WTF happened to me?
    Yeah, I feel ya. I turned 47 a few weeks ago and I’ve been asking myself that question for years. No advice, just tea and sympathy and grinding on while questioning my life choices.

    Re: stares in Texan
    Very similar to the look on my face a few years ago when flocks of Southern ladies of a certain age would come in to the gift shop, buy all the sweatshirts ever, and ask if it’s always so cold up here. In July. 😎

  6. I’ve started like four comments and now I’m just at “I’m sorry this is happening to you, I’ve been there, I doubt I have any useful advice, since this isn’t exactly something a person can control”.

    Please let me know if something from a fellow practitioner might be useful! A tarot reading? Prayers for reenchantment? Sometimes having someone else do it helps.

  7. As a reader of your books (including Circle Within and Body Sacred, through QoS and The Agency), I love to have a little check in about how you are doing. I always need people to focus on in my attempts at Metta meditation, but human curiosity + my own medication for mental health… It’s good to connect on a basic human level. I’ve had plenty of days of laughter and fun over a background void of “why does any of this exist?” Not identical to you, but I feel that basic vibe of questioning what it’s all for is more common than we realise.
    So thank you for sharing, and know that you are not alone.

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