and Then Life Happened

and Then Life Happened

I was writing a novel – and then life happened. Actually, I came scary close to life ending, sent my family into a panic with a terse text “Help! Now!” and then took a surreal ride in an ambulance, spent a week in the hospital and several months later am still traveling on recovery road. I wish I could report that as soon as my health improved, I jumped right back into writing a novel. Unfortunately, that would be a lie. The truth is, I’m still struggling to get my writing grove back.

I’ve considered several options to help me get back on track: I could print a hard copy of the WIP and read it without making any editing comments; I could just review the last few chapters and see if that will help me get going again; or I could just abandon the 2/3 complete first draft and start on something new. But, that ambulance ride I referred to happened at the end of February – and here it is already a week into May and I’m still procrastinating. An author I admire and follow on Face Book recently had gall bladder surgery. The third day she was home from the hospital, she posted that she had written three-hundred words!?! What? The? What? Here I am months later and I’m still trying to find my groove! I suppose that, in and of itself, explains why she is prolifically published and I’m a wannabe.

My truth is that I’ve found illness a lot more daunting, in terms of recovery, than surgery. I’m a surgery veteran – but I realized recently this is the first time I’ve been seriously sick since I had Rheumatic Fever when I was in the fourth grade. And although I’m on the road to recovery, I’m still months away from actually being well – and it sucks! In February, after months of fighting with an upper respiratory infection and asthma complications, I had a life-threatening episode that sent me to the hospital via ambulance, where I discovered I had major bi-lateral pneumonia. I spend 3 days in IMCU and a couple more in the hospital. During this week an ultra sound was done on my heart. It revealed that I had heart-failure. A heart-cath revealed a weird heart virus – a very scary thought, but with proper care and meds, I’ll be 100% recovered, with no heart damage, in a matter of months—more than three but less than 12.

So, what does any of this have to do with writing? It has provided me an excuse to not write! And the truth under lying that statement is that I’m getting pretty irritated with myself for continuing to procrastinate … I need to write. I want to write. I have time to write. I have stories I want to tell. So, what is the problem? More specifically – what is MY problem?

Well, obviously it’s my critique groups’ fault! Yep, when all else fails, blame your critique partners! (Kidding – seriously, that was a joke!!) Although — we HAVE been on a hiatus for the last couple of months – they’ve all had their own ‘life happens’ issues – and that translates into no accountability for any of us. No impending pie-in-the-face or ice-bucket-dunking – no weekly minimums or meetings – how can I be expected to write under these conditions?

On the other hand, writing is a singular activity. If I ever hope to have any kind of success at publishing my writing, I have to hold myself accountable, without depending on anyone else. Just me. Damn, guess that means it’s not my critique group’s fault, after all.

What is my plan to turn this around – it starts with this blog. Honestly, this is my second blog to write since I got sick – the first one was about receiving critiques and it took me weeks to write. Literally, weeks. I’ve written this blog in just a couple of hours. SO – I’m back in the saddle again! Now, the challenge – to recreate a daily habit! And to kick-start my process, I’m printing out a hard copy of my UN-edited work-in-progress.

Day one – done.

Have you written today?

Terri Rich

Terri Richison (writing as Terri Rich) lives in Clear Lake City, TX with her husband and a giant Great Dane (giant even by Great Dane standards). She is working on self-publishing women’s fiction and avoiding getting a pie in the face if she doesn’t produce pages for every critique session! PIES OR PAGES! Terri started telling stories almost as soon as she could talk – she learned everything she needed to know about storytelling at her grandmother’s knee. Craft however, is something she is still learning – those damn commas give me nightmares!

10 thoughts on “and Then Life Happened

  1. Wow, Terri! I had no idea you’d been so ill. So glad you’re on the road to recovery. Happy Writing!!!

    1. Ah, AMN, you know Terri is just faking it to get out of writing her blog. Don’t fall for it. ;o)

  2. I’m having trouble getting back into the swing of things as well. Maybe I should enjoy my time off instead of feeling guilty all the time. Maybe I’ll take the time off until the end of May and then, come hell or high water, FORCE myself back into the swing. Hmmm. Maybe that’s just what I’ll do.

  3. Sounds like a d cent plan, Lorinda Ann. Shall we hold you to that – pies or pages starting in June

  4. Ladies, I think the heart of our problem comes from the fact that “force” is part of our vocabulary when it comes to our writing.

    Sure, there are times when the writing doesn’t come easy, your characters are trying to take over, or you know you’ve got to write something that your scared of. Under those circumstances, it’s understandable to be reticent to sit down and face our computer, but there should still be a spark of excitement, a sliver of anticipation to get the words, the characters and the scenes wrangled into shape.

    If we dread writing or have to force ourselves to do it, then … what’s up with that? What happened to the love?

    1. The “love” is incompatible with lazy, and I’ve been soooooooo lazy of late. Is there a pill you can take for that?

    2. it isn’t so much that I dread the writing – I dread the possibility of showing up ready to write and having nothing TO write. I hate sitting in front of a blank screen when the words have deserted me. And every time I sit down, that is always a possibility. As soon as the words start flowing, I’m in Heaven – but the possibility that I might not have anything to say is always lurking …

  5. Holy cow, Terri, I’d say that you can take some weeks off to do the important work of healing. I’ve also found playing “compare and contrast” with the progress, work ethic, and success of other writers to be spectacularly unhelpful.

    That said, I suspect you’ve put your finger on it with the idea of a daily habit. A daily habit isn’t running the whole marathon every day; it’s running enough to wake up the muscles and keep fit. And as Julia Cameron is teaching me in The Artist’s Way, marathoners run 1 fast day for every 10 slow days.

    I’ve found as I’ve ventured back into Evelyn that working one scene at a time yields the best results. Thinking about the overall story structure prompts a mild panic attack. But picking up the first scene, getting acquainted with it again, and applying to it what I’ve discovered as part of my writing recovery work has been a godsend!

    One thing at a time, my friend. And someone find Lorinda some anti-lazy pills, quick!

  6. I’m pretty sure I have The Artist Way on my shelf, and I’ve been thinking about pulling it and going through it again … in fact, I’m going to do that right now!

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