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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Under Siege

2010 was a difficult year for my family. Each of my daughters spent time in the hospital for various, serious ailments. Thankfully, they all took turns. Still, things became complicated when my in-laws went into an assisted living facility and my mother-in-law did not want to sell her house. Then my father-in-law, who had broken his hip the previous year, fractured his pelvis at the beginning of December. Finally, right before Christmas, my father fell and broke his hip.

There have been times during all this chaos when writing became impossible—and it’s not that I didn’t have ideas but there were days when I didn’t have the heart or the time, and many more days when I didn’t have the energy. (I still have a "real" job.) I often felt as if I was under siege—being bombarded by doctors’ acronyms.

So what did I do while the enemy was scaling the walls of the castle? I tried a few ways to keep my mind on writing--even if I wasn't writing. Here are some of my ideas. If you have any to add, please add a comment. I would love to know what works for other writers, too.

1. Remember this won’t last forever or as my father always says, “This, too, shall pass.” In the meantime, I asked for help when I could. I am not Superwoman.

2. I kept a pen and paper handy. I wrote blog ideas. I took notes about what the doctor said. I scribbled down a few in-depth character studies. (There are lots of characters in a hospital.) These might be useful later on.

3. I read The Sea Wolf, by Jack London. That's a far cry from the usual romances I enjoy. However, when Dad wasn’t ready to read or even listen to me read to him, my paraphrased version of the plot held his attention.

4. I re-read my last draft from the beginning and I edited it. It's only 29 pages, but that doesn't matter.

5. I made plans to go to a writers’ conference when the siege is over.


Connie Huffa said...

I go people watching and let my imagination kick in, trying to invent characters around what I'm seeing, whether it's at the mall, grocery store, park. There are other things I do to fill the creative well like paint, or draw or read. If you don't have a copy, pick up The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I re read parts of that - but don't follow all of it. The thing I found most important is to make a date with yourself to do something creative every week - even if it's just watching an old movie :). Hope this helps.

Penelope Marzec said...

Hi Connie,

I have The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. However, the most helpful thing I recently bought was The Writer's Toolbox. For me, it really helps to get the words flowing and I can do it in short snatches of time.

But yes, I do need to watch some old movies!


Leann said...

It sounds like you had a rough year. It is difficult to watch your parents health diminish.

I had never thought about doing character studies based upon my daily interactions with people. There are SO many I work with that would make great characters :-)

I hope this new year brings you happiness and well being Penelope.

Blessings, Leann

Linda Strawn said...

Sorry about the challenges you and your family have had. Looking on the bright side, these are the things that build character. My advice for you is to be sure you take some time for yourself. Refocus, rejuvenate, get in touch with God. Also, what helps me get over any writer's slump is to go back to the beginning of whatever I'm working on and read it. Most of the time it's something I haven't look at in a while. Revisiting our own writing does wonders for the heart, especially when God gave us the words.