Posts Tagged ‘progress’

And It Feels Like Home

Posted: March 27, 2015 in Uncategorized
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It feels like forever since I’ve sat down to write something that wasn’t bad news. But finally, after months of torment, I can do just that again.

For most of you, the last words from me that you saw was that despite everything, I’d failed. March 1st came and we still had nowhere to go. It all seemed hopeless. I was convinced that we would be out on the street. It was a long, hard, soul-crushing Sunday. Then Monday came, and with it, the light at the end of the tunnel.

With time running out, Dad suggested looking into mobile homes. I did just that but I was running into the same obstacles as before. We got Dad’s credit debt taken care of, but no one seemed to have anything available before the end of the month—and by this point I was convinced Volunteers of America would sic the sheriff on us first thing March 1st. Then, unexpectedly, one of the communities got back to me.

Both of the managers had family medical emergencies that last week and didn’t have anyone else to handle paperwork. But they both understood that our clock had run out with VoA, and they went above and beyond to get us in as soon as humanly possible. I was still a nervous wreck at this point, convinced that they’d find something to justify turning us away (or VoA somehow screwing us over) despite Dad’s confidence that there was absolutely no reason for us to not be approved.

(As it turned out, he was right. Deep down I knew he was, but after three and a half months of hell, can you really blame me for being paranoid? :))

I got the text from the broker on the afternoon of the 3rd, saying the community had approved us for residency. We made an appointment to sign over the home title the next day, but we hadn’t yet signed the rental agreement for the lot. At first it didn’t look like that would happen until the 5th, but they managed to squeeze us in on the same day. Dad couldn’t be there to sign, but again the community managers understood our situation, and I dropped off all the signed papers the morning of the 4th. I took Dad to the dialysis center afterwards, and when I picked him up that afternoon, I took him home. Moving all of our stuff took me the entire weekend, but we were safe and well. The property was surrendered to VoA, and there was nothing more between us. The nightmare was over.

The house is just about perfect for us. Two beds, two baths, a spacious kitchen and living room, laundry nook (hooray no more laundromat trips!) and a yard big enough to make our little Sheldon happy. The most humbling part of it all is that it’s not in Dad’s name. It’s in my name, bought and paid. It was his savings, but it had been his plan from the start to make it a gift to me, for everything I’d done over the past year. Again, my mind can conjure up a score of reasons why I don’t deserve it, but I know better than to argue. 🙂

There’s still a few things to sort out on Dad’s end, and a long road to recovery still ahead, but we have all the time we need in getting our lives to what it used to be. I can’t say this enough: this wouldn’t have been possible without your kindness, your love and your support. There were so many times I was ready to give it all up, but there were always the right words at the right moments to keep me going. Thanks to you, my friends and family, we are safe and well, far removed from the past horrors. I can finally relax and pick things up where I left off.

And for the first time since I was nineteen, it really feels like Home.

Moving the Spirit

Posted: October 30, 2013 in Uncategorized
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It’s been a good five weeks since I’ve done any writing, and closer to two months since writing anything meaningful. I can’t attribute this span of nothingness to any one thing. Several things all happened in a series of events that led to a long withdrawal from all but the most necessary social interactions.

I can definitely say it started with the completion of Broken. Not the novel itself, that I’m still proud of. If I ever had a bucket list, “write a novel” would be at the top. The editing process, however, was a grind. It left me feeling nothing much beyond, “Damn, I’m glad that’s done.” Once the novel was done and in the process of getting published, I did my level best not to rest on my meager laurels. Being a writer had become a real thing and I didn’t want to stop. But I know me too well.

There were other projects to work on, and for the first couple of weeks I picked up the one I most wanted to do. I drafted an outline, worked out some background and bio information, opened up what I’d already written for the project and… hit a wall. The plan was to expand on what I had previously written as a short into a full novel. And while I was pleased with the short (as were several others, who wanted to me to expand on it as well) every attempt I made at expanding the short into a full chapter I was just plain unhappy with. I made the decision to start over from scratch.

But before I could get going on that, V brought up the possibility of picking up one of our back-burner projects for another collaborative. I was all for the idea. We had a nice, long conversation about it, drafted an outline, took copious notes, and…

And I’m still not sure what happened. I just lost all ambition to write. I kept at it for awhile, but the drive was gone. Not even the Magic Spreadsheet (All Hail the Magic Spreadsheet) could keep the fire burning. That’s when I all but fell off the face of the Internet. I wanted almost nothing to do with social media. I did my ‘day job’, then spent the rest of the time doing anything but writing. Yes, I had broken the number one rule of writing, and I simply didn’t care.

A couple of weeks into this, I got sick as a dog. I’ll spare you the details. It wasn’t pretty.

Then, slowly but surely, I started to de-hermit. I got back in touch with folks that I needed to get in touch with.  I put out a single twit to let people know I wasn’t dead. But my head wasn’t quite back in the game. It’s still not 100% there, but it’s a lot further that it was.

There’s a few things that contributed to this. First, there was V. The first thing she did, after assuring me that she was only concerned that I was all right, was ask, “What can I do to help?” Just asking was enough to give me a boost in the right direction. Second is the guy I know as Wilhelm. I’ve know him and the rest of the MOOMellow crew almost my entire adult life. A few days ago, the conversation drifted towards my writing. Wilhelm commented that he’d read all of my published works, and then added, “You should write more.” And you know what? He’s right. I totally should.

The third boost, believe it or not, was the approach of NaNoWriMo. I’ve made a couple of aborted attempts at it before, and I still don’t know if it’s something I can accomplish. But there’s still that little voice in the back of my head that says, “You can’t do it if you don’t try.” That little voice is absolutely right, too. I am going to try it again, and regardless of whether or not I succeed at 100,000 words, every word I do get down is one more word I didn’t have before.

The latest boost came just a couple of days ago, in the form of another invitation to contribute to an anthology. The editor and primary author/creator have both been a joy to work with in the past, and I gladly accepted. This will be a short I’ll have to do some heavy research for, but I want to give it my absolute best.

I sat back and tried to glean something from all of this, weighing my past performances and self-expectations against this new path as a “real” writer. I realize that I don’t owe anyone another word. I have nothing that says one novel isn’t enough. It’s not mandatory for me try to get back into my lost groove. But I know I would disappoint a lot of people if I didn’t. More importantly, I want to do it. Even if it’s not something I want to do every day.

Many years ago, someone shared with me a quote about writing attributed to Terry C. Johnston: “You can’t always wait for the spirit to move you. Sometimes you have to move the spirit.” I’ve held onto that over the years, and while I do still hold to it most of the time, it’s been my experience that sometimes you can’t move the spirit no matter how hard you try. Sometimes it behaves like a stubborn child that refuses to pick itself up off the floor; all you can do is sit there and wait for it to get the tantrum out of its system and start moving again. Still other times call for a ‘stone soup’ approach, coaxing it into life with a little bit of this and a touch of that. That’s where all of those ‘boosts’ above came in. Any one by itself wouldn’t have been enough to get me to want to start writing again.  But they added up, and now I’m well on my way to getting back into doing what I love doing.

     There are places in the world where it’s hard to imagine anything is wrong.  It’s merely an illusion and only the foolish would think otherwise.  But even more foolish are the people that cling to that illusion as if it were reality. They are the ones that stand to lose the most when the illusion fades, like so many stars in the morning sky.

When I think back on it, these words were the catalyst for everything that’s happened in the past year. They’re not from some lofty intellectual or philosopher or anyone famous in any way. They’re my own, written in a burst of… well, I really can’t call it creativity or inspiration. They just kind of happened. And for a long time afterward, nothing happened at all after them.

Veronica has been one of my biggest fans for some time now. I’m not exaggerating when I say that everything I’ve done creatively for at least the past three years (and a good deal before that) was because of her. She has this ‘push without pushing’ way about her when it comes to motivation. Anyway, up until two years ago, we’d talked about doing various real—and by real, I mean published, non fan fiction—writing projects together. We even got started on one, which is sitting on a back burner. But it got put on the back burner for a project we got more enthusiastic about pursuing.  If you have been following Veronica at all, you’ll know that the work is titled Broken, a full-length novel we’ve been laboring on.

But for a good deal of time, V was doing most of the laboring. We’d talk about what we wanted to do, had an outline partially drafted, and experimented with different software platforms for collaborative writing. V had two or three chapters written. I had nothing. I procrastinated all day every day, but V never pushed. She waited patiently for me to do what she believes I can do, which is be a brilliant writer.

When I finally decided to make an attempt at Broken, I got as far as the paragraph at the top and got completely, thoroughly stuck. I knew where I wanted to go with the thought, but I’d blown all four tires as soon as I’d hopped in. But it wasn’t all for nothing. I showed them to V anyway.  For whatever combinations of reasons that day, those four sentences made her day.  This was, as I said, the catalyst for things to come. That catalyst would remain dormant for some time to come, though.

In the mean time, I put out a short story. I’ve been friends with Mercedes Lackey for a few years now, and she invited me to write for an Elemental Masters anthology she was putting together. It was a bit of a risk, including a complete unknown, but in the end I like to think I didn’t disappoint. My piece was accepted, the book went to print in December of last year, and there hasn’t been any overtly negative reviews of my contribution.

But getting back to Broken. It was still going nowhere fast. Then V introduced me to the Magic Spreadsheet. I’ve talked about it before, so I won’t go into it in detail here. Suffice it to say, it has worked its magic. I got started on the Magic Spreadsheet, and the first thing I did was go back to that paragraph and knuckle down. Three months and change later, what had been nothing more than a couple of chapters from V’s hand and my one paragraph has become twenty-ish chapters and over 60,000 words… and we’re only just now starting on the final chapters. Last night, we had a two-hour Skype call (the first we’ve talked directly in a long, long time) about the direction we wanted to take the finale in. I won’t go so far as to call it epic or groundbreaking, but it’s definitely something we will both be sinking our teeth into.

Yesterday (June 8th) also marked a huge milestone. Because of the Magic Spreadsheet, I have written something every day for the past 100 days. 57,600 words, over twice of the minimum word count that the Magic Spreadsheet encourages for that amount of time. Over 30,000 of those have gone into Broken. It wasn’t easy; the last half of May I was dragging myself along, most days just barely getting the minimum. But I did it.

And this is just the beginning. There’s a lot more to come. In those 100 days, I’ve written for and been accepted for a second Elemental Masters anthology. That should be out sometime in November or early December. I’ve also joined a writer’s community called Writer’s Carnival, and entered into a sponsored contest for Dark Futures. The response I got from that piece was unexpected, and has inspired me to expand it into a full series. I’m still working on the details, but there will more than likely be a podcast to go along with it. Then there’s the back burner project I mentioned. V has been busy starting some novels that will serve as a backbone for that ‘verse, and I’ve got the seeds planted for my own as well. There’s also the seeds for another novel in my head, also thanks to years of collaboration with V, that will take place in the same ‘verse as Broken.

I have no idea what will happen after that, but these alone is enough to keep me busy for some time to come. I can’t guarantee when you’ll actually get to see any of it, but you will get to see it. As Magic Spreadsheet as my witness, you will see it.

—C