Sorry I didn’t have a post last month, folks. I came down with the worst case of strep I’d ever had. So bad that the doc checked me for diphtheria. Seriously. But no, I didn’t make the news. It was just a nasty case of strep. Put me down and out for a good five days.
That and some other things have made me think about writing during adverse times. Adversity comes in many shapes and forms. Sometimes it’s health related–you get sick, you have a chronic illness that keeps haunting you, you break something, etc. Sometimes something happens to the people you care about: death, illness, bad relationships, and more. Then you have the unexpected financial crisis–job loss, books fail, publishers drop you, a sudden unexpected expense that you don’t have the ability to cover. Or maybe you’ve had the wear and tear of a job that’s soul-destroying and you can’t leave it. Or maybe you’re desperately trying to have a child and find out you can’t. There are so many varied possibilities of adversity out there, each one personal, that I can’t even begin to cover them here.
I’ve faced a lot of adversity this last year. Some highlights: My dad nearly died, I had a neck fusion, I had whooping cough, and I had a publisher cancel a contract on me. It’s been pretty devastating. The thing about adversity, it is so easy to let it all soak up our attention and time so that we don’t write. That’s dangerous. Not only for deadlines, but also for sanity. Writing keeps me grounded and happy and sane in a way that nothing else can. Without it, I’ll go off the rails. When I turn in a book, I have a week or so of happy relaxation, and then I’m itching to get back into the saddle. I need to put words down. I need to tell stories.
Recently, when the book contract was canceled, I mourned for about 1/2 an hour. Then I started writing on the book that was still going to be due and let myself dissolve into it. I didn’t let myself wallow for long. Not that I didn’t mourn later and not that I still don’t ache for the book that won’t now be born, but you have to move on. One of the things I like about my character Max in my Horngate books is that she keeps going no matter how bad things get, and they do get bad. I want to be like her. I want to not lose time and energy in the what ifs or the crap of life, I want to keep shouldering on and find my bliss in my writing and in the good things in life.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but I think there’s a compartmentalization that has to happen when you write. You have to learn to shut down all the other crap and work if you can. You know it will raise your spirits, your self-esteem and your level of happiness, so just do it.
How do you deal with writing adversity?
Oh, and let me just add, but way of Shameless Self Promotion, that Crimson Wind was released at the end of December. It’s the second in my Horngate series and I think you’ll really like it.