Day 109: Reflections

Back in late 2007, when I began writing Rapture, I was in full writer’s mode.  I was so driven to write and nothing got in my way.  It also helped that I was going through a severe period of insomnia where I was averaging one to two hours of sleep most nights while working full-time and keeping up with everything else in my life.  Some days I was just barely able to function and would drag through my workday with the intention of going home and sleeping but around 8:00pm, I would be wide awake and ready to write all night long.  I was so driven and lost in my writing that everything just fell away.  Finally, I’d look up and it was 4:00am or later.  So I’d force myself to lie down and eventually fall asleep.  But I’d be up at 6:00am getting ready for work and the cycle repeated every night for over a month.  And even though I could barely function during the day, I was writing seriously quality stuff at the time.  My husband finally intervened because my mental health was deteriorating rapidly, I’d sometimes cry because I was so very tired, he was afraid I’d end up in an accident on my daily commutes, and I was just plain pitiful…except when I was writing.  He forced me to go to the doctor who is still my beyond wonderful PCP.  He tried everything to fix me but couldn’t so he referred me to my current amazing neurologist/sleep specialist.  He tried the obvious medications while waiting for approval from my insurance company to do a sleep study.  I went in and did the sleep study and I was found to have delayed sleep phase syndrome so he prescribed one medication after another…at one point I was even on antipsychotics which I loved because I’d tell people at work to go ahead and piss me off but to remember that I did take antipsychotics and wasn’t sure that they were working.  We went through a wide range of medications and cocktails before finding something that worked.  I wasn’t diagnosed with narcolepsy until a couple of years later and let me tell you the Multiple Sleep Latency Test they use to diagnose it is pure torture if you do have narcolepsy.  You go in around 7:00am and they get you all wired up.  Then you take a series of 20-minute naps every 2 hours from 8:00am to 4:00pm.  Before you nap, they ask you a series of questions and when you wake up they ask you another series of questions to determine how you feel and your mental state.  Doesn’t sound too bad, right?  It’s not for people that don’t have narcolepsy but for those of us that do, it’s a nightmare.  After the 2nd nap, you are so disoriented and you aren’t even sure if you’re going to sleep or waking up and the questions no longer make any sense because of that fact.  Sorry, I went off the rails there for a bit.  Anyway, after we got my nighttime sleep regulated, my writing became a bit of a struggle but I continued writing, however, I wasn’t nearly as pleased with my output or the quality of what I produced.  Shortly thereafter my life kind of went to hell and I legitimately did not have the time to write because of my mother’s fast descent into Alzheimer’s and her multiple hospitalizations because of other health issues, injuries, and complications.  I was working during the day and would be at the hospital all night long and because she had sundowners really bad and the hospital wouldn’t restrain her even after she broke her shoulder socket and elbow when she decided to make a run for it one night so I was once again getting no sleep but I had to spend all of my time watching her like a hawk and, at times, pulling my chair up beside her bed, putting my arm between the rails, grabbing the rail on the other side and holding her down so that I could get a few minutes rest.  When it came time to start writing again, I couldn’t.  I tried but it was all so forced and contrived that I wasn’t happy with any of it and I couldn’t fix it.  I completely gave up.  Fast forward almost 10 years to a few months ago when SARK came back into my life and my desire to write came back full force.  I am still having some trouble finding the time and sometimes even making the effort but the important thing is that I want to write.  Before last year, I don’t think that I’d even been able to write this blog but here I am 109 days in and still going.  I’ll get the logistics figured out eventually and finally finish Rapture.  I’ve even been kicking around a few other ideas lately so I am back.  I’m just working on timing.  So, if you’re going through a difficult time and are struggling with your writing, don’t give up on it like I did.  Keep forcing it.  I wish that I had.         

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Day 108: Not My Usual Monday

This is going to be short because today wasn’t my typical, insane Monday.   And that’s totally awesome.  It’s sunny and warmer outside after a very cold weekend.  I had a doctor’s appointment so I was out of the office for a couple of hours and that was a plus.  I even got great blood work results for a change…absolutely perfect actually.  So that was pretty awesome too.  It also looks like I’ll get out of here early which means I should be able to do some writing as well as a few other things.  That never happens on a Monday.  I plan on getting out of here in a few minutes to get it all underway.  I have to spend some time with my newest little rescue kitty first, then eat dinner, and then write!  I’m very excited about how things have worked out today.  And I am off to get my evening started!

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Day 107: A Few Things about Me

I am an INFP but I’m more of an ambivert than introvert.  My introversion and extroversion are based on my surroundings, the situation, the people around me.  With friends in a casual setting, I am extremely extroverted.  Most people are surprised that I do identify as introverted in most situations.  I hate talking on the phone for some reason.  I much prefer texts and emails.  If there is a disagreement of some sort, I prefer to deal with it face to face.  And I want to get it settled ASAP.  I don’t want it to drag out and flare up from time to time.  I have always had more male friends than female.  Maybe it comes from growing up a tomboy eschewing dolls for dirt bikes and sports.  I have remained friends with every person that I have ever dated except for one.  I am a very loyal friend.  I’m a bit witchy and a lot superstitious.  My laptop is surrounded by crystals and stones and there are a ton more in the bedroom.  I have just about every essential oil that you can find and afford.  As far as being witchy, I believe that a spell is the setting of an intention so whether it truly is magic or it’s just the fact that you put that intention and affirmation out into the universe and then work towards it…if it works for you, go for it.  I don’t know whether crystals and stones have been imbued with magical powers/energy or whether, once again, the belief and intention make them magical but, again, if it works for you…use it.  Do I believe in things like hexes?  If someone hexes you, I think that you have to believe in the hex for it to work…your mind makes the hex real…not the actual hex.  I believe that our minds are very capable of making things happen.  Belief is a powerful thing.  I read Tarot cards and I’m good at it.  In my 20’s and 30’s, I would sometimes read for money and I had friends that would have me read for them before making any big decisions.  I honestly don’t know how many Tarot and Oracle card decks I have…at least 40 yet 99% of the time I read using my Rider-Waite cards which was the very first deck of Tarot cards I bought.  Pretty much everything about me is eclectic…books, movies, music, art, friendships, beliefs, my Magical Writing Haven, etc…  I get bored with the same old thing over and over.  I like lots of bright colors but purple is my absolute favorite and I like to pair it with red.  I make jewelry, cards, candles, bath bombs, and salts as well as write.  I love electronics…computers, gadgets, gaming consoles, phones, tablets, streaming devices, etc…  I always need/want the latest toy.  I love animals of all kinds.  I care for a colony of feral cats at work and I feed ferals and strays at home.  We just adopted our sixth cat who was formerly feral and we have 3 dogs.  All of our animals were either surrendered by previous owners or feral.  I drive around with 50lbs each of cat and dog food.  I am extremely liberal and open-minded.  I don’t care if someone is straight, gay, bi, trans or doesn’t identify with any of those.  I also don’t care what your race or religious beliefs are.  If you are a good person with a conscience, we’re good.  I support gay marriage and gay adoption because you love who you love and if you have enough love for a child or children, then adopt.  Who or how we love is no one’s business but our own.  I grew up around guns, own a gun, and I was an expert marksman in high school on the ROTC rifle team, but I believe very strongly that our current gun laws are woefully inadequate and endanger innocent people’s lives.  I love Obama and despise Trump.  I voted for Hillary.  My husband voted for Trump…we do not discuss politics for the sake of our marriage.  He voted for Trump because he hated Hilary and even worse, he doesn’t regret it.  I am the only liberal in my family aside from my daughter-in-law and granddaughter.  I am also the only liberal at my job.  Both of my parents died from Alzheimer’s as well as a grandmother, 2 aunts and an uncle.  I am terrified that I will develop it as well. I like silver jewelry better than gold and other gemstones better than diamonds.  I’m an Aries but because I was born a week late and would have been a Pisces had I been born on time, I identify with Pisces.  Actually, I am a pretty equal mixture of Aries and Pisces.  I am not overly happy at my job but I am almost 59 and do not want to start over somewhere…if I could even get hired.  There are perks at my current job…I can pretty much come and go as I need to, I have decent insurance that’s more affordable than a lot of people’s, after 15 years there, I have 3 weeks of paid vacation, 40 hours of sick time and a floating holiday.  The job is challenging and that makes the days go by more quickly.  I get to wear my Brooks sneakers and jeans every day.  I’m only about 15 minutes from home on backroads.  So I think that as long as they don’t lay me off at some point, I’ll stay.  I also really like naps and I think that I will call it a blog and go take one right now.  I was up too late last night and up too early this morning so I’m a little tired.  I hope that after getting to know me a little better, you still stick around.  If not, I understand.                         

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Day 106: Random Thoughts from My ADHD Mind

Saturdays are difficult for me because there is a part of me that wants to just be lazy and do piddly things…or nap and just completely decompress from the work week.  Then, there’s the other part of me that really wants to get things done.  I have a few things I’d like to accomplish this weekend but the first side is reminding me how good taking a nap or binge-watching a series is.  And even now, while writing this, my eyes keep being drawn outside because of the movement of the tree limbs in the wind and the way the sunlight is coming through the trees.  It’s cold outside and the wind is howling which makes me think about the horror novel I’d love to write but my mind tells me that I have to finish Rapture first before starting a new project.  So there’s a disagreement going on in my brain and I’m trying to not pay any attention to it but it’s a bit difficult to do since I have access it to be able to finish this post.  My brain stays very busy all day, every day.  I’ve tried so many different times to meditate but apparently, my brain doesn’t want to be quieted and centered.  It wants to run free, darting this way and that and the more that I try to wrangle it, the more it struggles to be free of any and all constraints.  I have been diagnosed with ADHD by two different therapists, not that I needed their expert opinions.  I have developed some ways to deal with it but most of the time I just give my brain its head and let it run.  At work,  I sometimes struggled with staying on task so I decided that maybe my right brain needed to be kept busy so that my left brain could work.  From that thought came the idea of listening to audiobooks while working…so I tried it and it worked better than I could have imagined.  I have tried to figure out a similar way to help me when I’m writing but so far there’s nothing.  I need my right brain fully engaged when I write so I can’t distract it.  Sometimes music helps a bit or having a show or movie that I’ve seen before playing in the background but nothing keeps it completely focused on the task at hand.  So I will continue my search for full concentration when I write and, if I have any luck, I’ll let you know because I know that I’m not the only one with this problem.  Well, I need to bundle up and go out to feed my ferals.  I worry about them in this cold weather and wish that I could take them all into my home.  So I feed, water, and love them while praying that they all stay safe.  And, after I take care of them, I think that I will take a little nap.  So, if you’re in a place that’s affected by this freezing weather…stay warm and I’ll see you tomorrow!

          

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Day 105: Did I Choose Writing Or Did It Choose Me?

I honestly cannot remember a time in my life that I didn’t want to be a writer.  I began reading when I was 5 so I think that it all springs from that.  I had a very active imagination as a child and as soon as I could compose sentences more complex than “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” I began to write poems and stories.  It helped that I had no artistic talent other than that, I suppose.  Having an extremely musically talented dad and brother, I just knew that I had to have that gene but sadly I didn’t.  They both could pick up any instrument and within a very short time, they’d be playing it like a professional.  I took piano and guitar lessons and failed miserably at both.  My piano teacher told my parents that they were just wasting their money.  I would try to draw and paint over the years and that didn’t go any better than my musical endeavors.  So I don’t know if I truly wanted to be a writer or if I chose it by default.  Either way, it really doesn’t matter because I am a good writer with a vivid imagination and I love writing.  I can paint with words so my poetry and prose are my canvases.  I also don’t know if we are born with certain creative abilities or not but I think that we definitely are influenced by our experiences and surroundings when we are very young.  It doesn’t matter if being a writer was my destiny from the second that I was conceived or not because I have made it my destiny.  I think that my desire to be a writer is much more important than being destined to be one anyway.  I have worked hard at being a good writer and I’m proud of that.  I also have an overwhelming desire to write and that is what keeps me writing even when the words and ideas aren’t flowing…it’s why I keep sitting down in front of my laptop and scribbling notes and ideas down on scraps of paper.  I have a need to create and writing is my outlet.  So I don’t really have an answer to the who chose whom question but I’m glad that it worked out the way that it did.          

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Day 104: Sometimes, All You Can Do Is Give Up

Inspiration is a tough thing to pinpoint.  What is inspiration?  What exactly is it that triggers inspiration?  Where does it come from…from within, a muse, or outside stimuli?  Why is something that is supposed to come in a flash so difficult to grasp and make use of?  Those and a thousand other questions could keep all of us up at night for a lifetime just pondering them.  I have literally sat at my desk for hours and hours waiting for that wonderful moment to spring forth and bless me with an idea only to be completely disappointed.  I have listened to music, read poetry, looked over my older works, talked to other writers and creatives, looked at paintings and photographs, tried to will it, force it, threaten it to appear but all to no avail.  When did it finally show up?  After I had given up on it ever happening.  Apparently, inspiration doesn’t like to be threatened or forced.  It wants you to quietly sit and wait for it to appear…just like Santa Claus does on Christmas Eve after all the little children have fallen into a deep slumber after waiting so impatiently for him.  Some say that good things can’t be rushed and inspiration is definitely one of the best things, at least for a writer.  Of course, there are also those times when the last thing on your mind is writing or inspiration and an idea just pops into your head out of nowhere.  So, I’ve decided that the best way to invite inspiration in is to ignore it.  Don’t try to force or lure it into appearing.  Now if I can only figure out how to do that.        

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Day 103: An Idea That I Had

In the Retreat that I attended on Saturday, we had break out groups where we had to tell the others about our lives after our dream had come true. Basically, we were to act as if it had already happened. It was a little strange at first telling them about my life as a bestselling author…coming up with all the details and answering their questions. But it got easier and easier to do and it began to feel more real to me. So today, I was thinking about how to prolong that feeling and came up with the idea of writing a letter to a friend and telling them about my life as the aforementioned bestselling author. I’d write at least one letter a week in a notebook and they’d be full of details about book tours and dealings with my publisher and agent and about my writing schedule and the sequel I’m writing, etc… Not only would it keep me in touch with my dream, it would also shew me how my dream evolves over time. I posted it in the retreat Facebook group and SARK said it was a brilliant idea. So I’m a happy writer tonight. But the idea can be used by anyone for any dream that they might have. And it’s fun and kind of addictive. Give it a try.

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Day 102: Monday #2

Do you ever have those days at work where you feel as though you’re in a sequel to Groundhog Day because today seems alarmingly like yesterday?  The only thing different about today is that I didn’t get a ticket on the way work.  It’s still cold.  We still had phone issues that I had to deal with for a good portion of the day.  The computer issue I was working on for a salesman is ongoing.  I’ll end my list there because it just makes me question my life choices.  One thing that it does make me question is whether my life would be different right now if I hadn’t put Rapture on the backburner for all those years.  I’m not talking about becoming a female Stephen King or James Patterson, making millions upon millions of dollars.  I’m talking about whether I’d be published or would I have an agent.  Traditional publishing or epublishing?  Would I have made some money from the book?  Would I be working on my second or third book by now?  Maybe I would have been able to afford to add on some space to my Magical Writing Haven.  Those are just a few of the things that I wonder about now that I’m fully committed to finishing my book.  And they are also things that you should think about if you are putting off starting or finishing your writing project.  There is absolutely no reason that you can’t write.  There are things that might limit your time but there are so many ways around them…writing at lunch, getting up earlier or going to bed later, using your phone or a voice recorder during your commute, etc…  Start with five minutes a day and work up from there.  Be innovative.  Just make the time.  Don’t do like I did and just give up on your project.  I will never do that again and I advise you to not do it either.  You know how badly you want this, so go for it.  And do it now!       

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Day 101: Reminders

I was driving into work this morning, taking my normal route when I see a motorcycle policeman about 2 seconds before all of his lights lit up.  I looked down and, yes, I was going 12 miles over the speed limit.  So I got a ticket…first one in 37 years.  Let me set this up for you…Northgate is one of the best roads in our city…great paving job, smooth, no potholes, 1 big hill, and a 30mph speed limit for about 5 miles.  My commute on this road is about a mile and a half and the last tiny bit of that road goes right in front of the Catholic University which has crosswalks from the townhomes that a lot of the students live in.  Just as you turn onto Northgate,  there is a big hill that will have you up to 40mph by the time you hit bottom unless you use your brakes.  Well, this morning, I wasn’t really paying attention to my speed…until I saw the motorcycle…so I didn’t apply my brakes like I usually do every day.  I’m usually a couple of miles over the speed limit on that road but as soon as I can see the university, I am going 30mph…partly because of the crosswalks and partly because that’s where the police usually station themselves.  Except for this time.  I’ve already printed out my form for requesting to take defensive driving and found an accredited online class.  I don’t have to pay the fine but I do have to pay $114.00 in court costs and $10.00 for my state driving record.  That hurts!  So, with the driving course, it’s going to cost me about $150.00 which is better than the fine plus court costs would have been.  It’s a costly reminder that I need to watch my speed.  Honestly, I speed too much and it’s a miracle that I haven’t had a lot of tickets over the years so I guess that I’ve gotten off pretty cheap if you divide $150.00 by all the times I’ve sped…pretty much every time I drive.  We all need reminders to stay in line and on task.  Maybe it’s stepping on a scale and realizing that we’ve eaten too many burgers lately.  Or it could be getting blood work done and finding out that your cholesterol is too high or some other result is abnormal.  There are thousands of reminders that we receive throughout our lives…some life-changing and others that are barely a blip on our radar.  We pay rapt attention to some and absolutely none to others.  Where I’m going with all this rambling is that, as writers, we need reminders too.  Reminders to sit down and write, to proofread and edit, to learn more about our craft, to submit our writing for publication, to interact with other writers, etc…  Unfortunately, there are no flashing lights for these things.  We alone are responsible for that part of our writing life.  Maybe put Post-It notes up all around the house or write it on the mirror with dry erase pens or put random notes on random days in our planner, on a wall calendar or on our phone, leave a voice mail for ourselves…there are so many ways to do it but we need to figure out the ones that actually trigger us to write.  And we need to change it up occasionally so we don’t get too used to seeing and then ignoring them.  Be innovative.  And the really great thing is that none of these reminders is going to involve $150.00 court and defensive driving fees.                       

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Day 100: How I Spent My Sunday

The majority of my day was spent making my publishing clock. It isn’t a traditional clock or a timeline. It’s more about things you’ll do on the way to your goal…it’s from the SARK retreat that I attended yesterday. I spent so much time on it because it is important to me so I wanted to think about it and then I wanted it to look perfect. About halfway into it, I realized that it was perfect in its imperfection so I left all the stray marks and mistakes in place. That was hard for me to do. One thing that am not is an artist so what I picture in my head is never what ends up on the paper but when I write, what’s in my head flows right into the page. So there’s kind of a disconnect that occurs when I draw…my brain can’t quite reconcile my vision with the finished product. But this time, I didn’t let myself judge it. I just drew it, wrote my information in the spaces, decorated it, photographed it and then hit share in the retreat Facebook page. I’m going to hang in the Haven so that I’ll see it every day. This was a really great process. The final product is meaningful but the work that I put into the clock really helped me to internalize it. Everyone should do this.

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