Oh, dear reader. I’m not gone and even though I’ve been absent for a few months, I’m not out. I’m still fighting to get the words down on paper and still struggling to let the stories be given out into the world.
Ad Astra was fantastic. I learned a lot. I met so many excellent caring people who I want to get to know better in the long run, who gave me solid advice and spent time with me to make my stories and my understanding of this business better. I am grateful for those gifts and their advice. I came home ready to write.
Then Life hit with the vengeance of a tsunami and my muse kept her arms crossed and refused to talk to me through the whole experience. I don’t think it was my muse’s fault this time. I think that there is a point when I am so stressed that I can’t listen.
First, our union decided to go on strike after a year of no contract. Teacher strikes are nothing to joke about. As much as I struggle with the concept this time around I agree with the union. It has nothing to do with money and everything to do with the kids. I taught, marked, and wrote report cards and then discovered they were not going to happen. My voice disorder returned.
Eldest called because the man she lives with was admitted to University Hospital ICU with severe dehydration and diabetic complications. He is fine now, but the experience was surreal. I never realized there could be so many IV lines into one human being. I don’t think ICU enjoyed having someone who could argue with them.
Youngest discovered a lump that doubled in size in three months. The surgery was rescheduled five times, and after surgery finally happened, youngest discovered that it is difficult if not impossible to do 16 weeks of learning in 8 weeks. My church choir self destructed. Two weeks before the end of my teaching year, youngest fell and broke both arms. Both big bones in both arms. Two casts.
Our blessings however have been many. Youngest did not break any of the moving parts when she broke her arms, just the big bones. The two interns that were called in to help reduce the break were fantastic; so fantastic, in fact, that she will not need surgery and may only have the casts for six weeks. After school ended, we went back to the surgeon to find out that the lump was benign and youngest was officially cleared of cancer. No cancer. No summer of chemo or radiation. No need for repeated and possibly invasive follow ups. Eldest found a job related to her field and was also promoted to supervisor at her first job.
I think that was the point that my muse decided that maybe, just maybe, she would talk to me again, perhaps because I could finally actually listen to her.
It is remarkably difficult to listen to the muse when life is crashing down around you, to just find ten minutes, to just keep writing. I have the utmost respect for authors like JK Rowling and Holly Lisle who manage to create amazing novels in the middle of life chaos with such stubborn grace and determination. Right now, I am not that author. I am thankful my muse is a stubborn, that she has waited me out over the years. After two weeks of just sleeping, the stories started perking out again. Perhaps perking is too active a description: dripping like water on a stone gradually wearing resistance away is probably more accurate. My writing has more depth and interest than it would have a few months ago. Isabelle, the Finder, is more interesting and opinionated. She has panic attacks, trust issues and serious character flaws.
From this experience, I realized that I need in person accountability to keep writing when life happens. A few of us from writing group are going to start getting together one evening a week and just writing. Even if all we do is sit together with a pot of tea between us, the accountability will help all of us start putting words on paper. We all need that, someone who sits across the table and tells you to start the timer, get out your pencil and start writing.
On the publishing side, I edited a novella, a story that I really love and then with the help of my friends from writers group I pushed through the panic attack and put my novella up on Amazon through KDP. This morning I actually pushed the publish button. I’m sure there is more I can do, more talking, more marketing, more…
Yeah. Always More Stuff. The truth is if the book doesn’t sell well, it will always be because I didn’t do enough marketing stuff. Even if I end up with an agent and a publisher, the reality of the current market is that the buck stops with me, the author. Right now between the deep breathing to keep myself from panicking and the muse poking me to sit down and write, I have to keep reminding myself that when all is said and done, it is about the story. My job is to share the stories that got shared with me.
In the end, good stories will sell.