Real Life, Reflections, Writing

CANCER

I debated whether to blog about my latest personal trial. This is not a writing instruction blog, but I’ve also not often blogged about my non-writing life—my life as an ordinary human. Funny thing is, I’d been thinking of doing just that before my current ordeal began. I just never expected to start with such a biggie.

beach-8-15My forty-eighth wedding anniversary was 31 August. That’s certainly something to celebrate. My husband quickly arranged a day trip to the ocean for an early celebration because we didn’t know what our situation would be in the coming week. Unfortunately, I spent our actual anniversary day in the hospital. Two weeks earlier I’d been diagnosed with cancer. Now, I’m home recovering from major surgery and a bit shell-shocked at how much one’s life can change overnight.

Before 17 August, I was focused on daily promoting my latest novel on Facebook and Twitter, and I was elated to see its Amazon sales rank rising to levels I never expected to hit with a full-priced book. The renewed interest in my first two novels was the cherry on top. Life was exciting and good.

Then a doctor spoke the word cancer and none of that mattered. Suddenly, my thoughts were on whether my husband could handle my death, whether I would live to see all my grandchildren grow up, whether I would die before my elderly mother, whether I would be alive at Christmastime. One night I was disappointed to realize I might not see the third season of Sleepy Hollow.  Yes, you go a little insane when you know you have a large time bomb inside you. Thankfully, I had an excellent surgeon who moved things along ASAP.

I believe we live many lives, so I wasn’t afraid of death, only of the process of dying. I shared my “news” with only close family, two childhood friends, and two writer-friends who have maintained close contact with me. They were, of course, all loving and supportive. Then, at every turn, I was amazed at the kindness of strangers: doctors, nurses, and technicians. I think only the best of the best were chosen to care for me.

So here we are, twenty-three days after the diagnosis. The surgery went well, the pathology report was reassuring, and I may not need any chemo. I’m healing normally, though slower than I’d like. I’m happy to be surrounded by so much love and caring, and I hope to return it more diligently than I have been. I’m looking forward to eating real food again. I’m anxious to get back to my “social life” on Facebook. I’m back to thinking about marketing High Tea & Flip-Flops, which fell sharply in sales rank while I was in the hospital. And I’m itching to write the next book. My family says that one of my statements while I was still half doped after surgery was, “How am I going to make a romantic comedy out of this?”

Life goes on. 🙂

Linda

Life, Musings, Reflections, Time, Writing

Fitting the Pieces Together

After my father’s sudden death four years ago, my mother spent nearly every waking moment working jigsaw puzzles. For more than a year, she sat sorting, moving, fitting piece after piece to create the final picture. Hour upon hour. Like a Buddhist monk creating a sand mandala. As soon as she fit the last piece in one puzzle, she tore it apart and reached for another.

Her life was in chaos. She created order out of a thousand one-inch pieces because she could not, was not ready to create a new order in her life. As her hands worked, her mind let go. As much as possible, she ignored the present, even listening to WWII music, the music of her youth, the music she danced and sang to before my father entered her life.

Gradually, her puzzle obsession waned. My father was gone. She was not. Life would go on.

The death of a loved one is surely the most severe disruption of our lives, but no matter what has knocked us off kilter it takes time and patience to get back on track. We have to sort out what went wrong and then, piece by piece, form a new picture.

Time and patience. I need them both.

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Update: After a couple comments, I see this post has caused some unintended concern. I am all right.

Advice, Doubt, Goals, Life, Motivation, Publish, Tips, Writing

A view from the train of eternal optimism …

In a typical week, I may spend as little as 30 waking hours in the company of another human and 14 of those are on Sunday. I might live on the extreme edge, but it’s the nature of writing that requires we spend a good deal of time alone. Some of you are able to write in Starbucks—I stand in awe—but I must write in isolation, and yet, I don’t feel isolated at all.

Through a kind of magic I don’t attempt to understand, I’m connected to The Internet. That situation is both good and bad for a writer. Good because I’ve found a lot of other writers more or less as isolated as I am, which is a joy; I’m able to do a lot of research for writing projects without leaving my seat; and I can learn about the publishing business—but  that last one can also be a bad thing.

When I started writing seriously, I did so in a state of ignorant bliss. My train of thought rumbled along this track: I love books … I can write … I’ll write a book … I’ll get it published. As simple as that. And so it began. Sometime during the writing of my first novel, I realized I didn’t know how to write as well as I thought, so I bought a book on writing, then another … or six. But still, I didn’t know anything about publishing, and though I had an internet connection, I never thought to research that aspect. Or maybe at that time, agents, editors, and publishers had not yet availed themselves of the technology. Whatever. I remained blissful.

Then, real life interrupted and I, for the most part, let my writer’s life slip away. When I returned to it, I discovered that agents had blogs, editors had websites, and magazines published digitally. My writer’s world had opened up. Unfortunately, this new fount of knowledge informed me it doesn’t matter how much you love books, or that you can write—or even write well—your chances of getting a book published are slim to none. POP! My bliss bubble burst.

And yet, I continue to write with the goal of publication. As you may know, if you’ve followed this blog awhile, it’s not easy for me to maintain a balance between adequately informed and blissfully ignorant. (Witness: Beware the Blue Muse.) In fact, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But what else can I do? My train hasn’t reached its destination. I love books … I can write … I’ve written a book … I’ll get it published. Miracles happen.

If you’re riding this train with me, how’s the view from your seat?

Photo credits: Richard Heeks – Richard Heek’s photo stream at Flickr

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Characters, Fiction, Life, Poetry, Writing

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Life is all about choices. If there is a common theme in my writing, it would be that. In fact, my curiosity about why people do the things they do, is why I write.

Left or right?

Certainly, the three main characters in my novel The Brevity of Roses must each face a major choice presented to them. Ironically, one of my characters, whose field of study was cultural anthropology, least understands herself and becomes emotionally imprisoned by letting others make choices for her.

A few days ago, I looked through an old file folder and found this poem I wrote in 2005. It’s theme? Choice.

Risk

I have stood on the brink,
but did not leap.
Could not.
I have stepped back
and fled to live
in fear.
To exist.
Forgetting.

 

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