Màiri's 19th c miniature scullery inspired by writing her debut novel, To Dream of Langston
What's A Writer To Do?
Sudden surgeries, headlong holidays, wonky workloads and contrary computer programs. What's an author to do when "life" gets in the way of our writing?
Our blog this month focuses on that difficulty. Here are some of the obstacles Beppie Harrison, Lane McFarland and I have faced in the past few months, and how we dealt with them.
Beppie: I've had a couple of rugged years, with three orthopedic surgeries. 2013 was going to be my year, when I was finally neither preparing for surgery nor convalescing, and I could get on with my writing. My goal: publish my Irish regency trilogy, half-written already, in 2014.
Well. Life does not always go as planned. I did manage to do some fun stuff in the early part of 2013: I went to Hawaii, where I grew up, for a reunion with my sisters and cousins, and my English husband and I took our two oldest grandsons to England for a chance to learn about that part of their heritage.
Then came August. My mistake was changing the sheets on our bed. When I lifted the corner of the mattress to pull on the bottom sheet, I felt a pop in my back. Followed promptly by increasingly severe pain. Visits to doctors, then surgeons led to the interesting discovery that my spine had been steadily deteriorating over who knew how many years, and drastic remediation was essential. In September I had spinal surgery lasting 10 hours, and I've been recuperating ever since. My spine has been fused just over halfway up, and the pain is gone. Unfortunately, so is the possibility of sultry, slivering activity. Straight is the new style.
I have read a lot, thought a lot (Queen Elizabeth II in her regular Christmas broadcast to her nation and commonwealth commented on the value of taking time for thought and meditation), and I am at last again writing a lot. I can sit up long enough to do so, and fortunately writing doesn't require standing or walking, both of which I can do now but not for extended periods. My planned schedule for the trilogy is moving back in time, but I can see now how all three books can be finished and I promise they will be published.
I will not be conquered by a bottom sheet and a mattress!
Lane: Obstacles come in all shapes and sizes. Unlike Màiri and Beppie, I’ve been blessed with good health. However, I do have one major obstacle to my writing.
As many of you can attest, a day job often turns into a job and a half. Working as a financial solution consultant selling software across the United States keeps me more than busy. I spend my days traveling from city to city, presenting my company’s software in the context of our customers’ business processes. Hours go into preparing for the events, and too many times I work through weekends to finish.
But, I always manage to reward myself by slipping in a few minutes to write. You’ll find me scribbling a line or two while waiting to board my flight, or penciling in paragraphs at night in my hotel room. I’ve even been known to pull out my iPhone and type a scene while waiting for my colleagues to join me for breakfast before our meeting.
During long days and tiring nights spent on the road, I often receive emails from my wonderful readers. Their messages fuel my desire to escape into my characters’ worlds and tell their stories.
I long for the day I can hang up my traveling work shoes, retire in the North Georgia Mountains and write until my heart’s content. With my readers’ continued support and encouragement, I’ll overcome my writing obstacle, and someday, I will realize my dream.
Màiri: Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to so much pain one is certain one is dying. After what seemed an eternity in the E-room at my local hospital, the doctors got enough dilaudid in my system to make it possible for me to understand what they were telling me. It seems I had a 'hot' gallbladder, and it had to come out - now. A short time later, it was a done deal. [Note here: I love writing about past ages, but I'm sure glad I live today. Had this happened in past ages, barring a miracle…well, you know.]
In the weeks leading up to and following the surgery, I can say with honesty that writing wasn't high on my list of 'things-to-do'. I'd just released my debut novel a short time earlier, but I wanted to finish an Edwardian Christmas novella in time for the holidays. That didn't happen. I lost the desire to write. I couldn't write - the words wouldn't come. But then I remembered why I write: I love it. It satisfies something deep in my very soul. So I did research (which I also love). Hours, days, weeks of it, until eventually, I worked through the issues, and was able to write again.
[It also helped to work on my poor, neglected hobby, dollhouse miniatures. Always satisfying to the hands and the soul.]
Then there was the "impossible upload". I had no trouble releasing my novel on Kindle, but getting the paperback print version uploaded refused to happen. After more frustration and time than I care to admit, I finally admitted defeat and found a professional to do it for me.
In one case, I found a way to work through the obstacle. In the other, I handed it over to someone far more capable of handling it.
So, whatever it takes to keep writing, do it. Don't let life get in the way. As writers, creativity and imagination are our forté. Use them to find a way around, over, under or through those pesky obstacles.
If you've overcome an obstacle recently, we invite your comment about it.