IWSG February 2021


I am going to deviate from this month’s subject questions and drift off on my own tangent. A bit on the whiny side, so you can skip it if you like. This month’s IWSG prompt is a lot more positive than what’s below.

My writing trends up and down with stress. Unfortunately, it isn’t consistent. I banged out a whole rough draft for a romance novel while a close family member and I were  dealing with a medical crisis, but I never wrote at all while I was a Den Leader for my son’s Cub Scouts for a year and a half.

I complain that I’ve no private space in which to lock the world away so I can write, but I feel like I’m a lousy parent when I do. Aren’t there 8 million other, more responsible and immediate things I should be taking care of rite now instead of deeply pondering how, exactly I can hurt a character and still keep an audience?

Writing is a wonderful release, and it’s getting ever harder for me to do.

Despite my efforts, I have been in increasing pain for years. Supplements, exercises, diet plans, physical therapy, mentally challenging apps, meditation, yoga, cannaboids, journaling, coloring, acupuncture, massage standing desks, exercise balls, the list goes on.

My mental state has gone from “mildly off” to “quite noticeable” My mental focus has been fraying for years, my memory is not what it was even 5 years ago, and learning something new is a painfully long and awkward process, now.

They say that if you’re worried your mental state is decaying into dementia, then you don’t have dementia, because those with it don’t realize it’s happening. But there are times I feel like Robin Williams–He had undiagnosed Lewy Body Dementia, and was aware of his declining mental state, often saying “I just want to reboot my brain.”

“Oh, it’s just the COVID-stress. You’ll feel better when everything gets back to normal.”

Except I’ve got journal entries dating back to 2012 in which I talk about feeling a decline in my mental state, well before COVID.

It’s terrifying when you write and grope for words that were on the tip of your tongue in recent memory.

My feet, knees and low back have deteriorated to a point that there is always something aching, at all hours, day or night, despite my efforts. There are nights during which the weight of the top sheet on my feet is enough to make me whimper in pain.

Structural issues, the vast majority of them. The roll of the genetic dice finally playing out against me.

“Losing weight and exercise will help.”

When you’re always in pain, it’s hard to do. Being in my mid-forties with an endocrine disorder doesn’t help. And when you spend between 30-90 minutes everyday doing some form of physical therapy, some form of exercise, the lacking results and professionals who don’t listen are disheartening at best.

It’s hard to write when every position, sitting, standing or laying down, hurts to some degree. It’s a non-stop distraction.

There are periods when the idea of writing is too depressing, too hard, too painful to consider.

Occasionally there are days in which the Muse whispers sweet nothings in my ear and I sit and work, gleefully unaware of the pain (still aware of my declining vocabulary, but held up by the “word barf first, then polish it shiny” philosophy).

On those days, when I stand up, it’s a frightening process: I use my arms to leverage myself out of the chair or off the ball slowly. The pain in my sacrum screeches at the position shift. I shuffle around the room like an old lady—tiny steps, slightly bent at the waist, trying to tuck my tailbone to counter the over-strong muscles of my back. I bite my lips a lot, to prevent more than a whimper of sound escaping because EVERYTHING HURTS. The balls of my feet ache as though they’re being beaten by hammers. My knees throb and don’t want to bend or straighten. My sacrum protests, insisting someone has seized it and is trying to wrench it out of position.

And that’s only after sitting for an hour.

There are days when the pain isn’t so bad. There are periods for days or weeks when I’m only mildly uncomfortable. Days like that are a challenge—there’s soo much backlog, it’s hard to know what I should focus on. I try to do a little bit of everything so I can say I made progress in every direction, but it’s hard to see it as progress. It’s hard to accept that some of the flitting from chore to project and back again is because my focus is shot.

Doctors aren’t terribly helpful. I’m usually dismissed as a lazy housefrau who isn’t willing to do the hard work involved in maintaining physical and mental health. I don’t want pills, I want solutions, but trying to dig down and show them “We’re missing this issue over here” is a great deal like shouting in the wind.

My only refuge now is writing. When I write, when I really get into the moment of a scene, I can forget the pain, the shitty day, the nagging to-do’s, the failed therapies. My muscle tension is less when I write regularly. I’m calmer when I write regularly. I can pretend like I’m normal when I write regularly—a normal person with goals and dreams that are actually acheivable. I’m not limited by the phrase “I can’t because…”

But it’s so incredibly difficult to do—the distractions of children and the lack of an actual officespace are a part of the problem, but the pain is becoming more and more of a deterrent as well.

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IWSG January 2021

A new year and a new me, am I right?

Well, not really. It’s still the same old me with the same old problems, hopes, daily resolutions—“today I’m going to be productive and—-.”

We all know the chorus. But there are some glimmers of hope: I’ve got a part-time job that I enjoy, I’ve settled a desk at a friend’s house and I use it (still have a lot of mixed feelings about that), and, ummmm, yeah. We’ll see how it goes.


January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

I find your lack of accuracy disturbing.

If you pass out on a hill of fire ants because of dehydration in high summer, you’re not getting up again 20 minutes later.

You said in a previous book Grandpa Bob won the Medal of Honor, but in this book, you said it was Grandpa Jim.

You used the word “corticobrachialis” to described part of a human leg.

Your 1970’s private detective smelled cordite upon entering a crime scene.

Your bad guy can shoot a .45 off-hand, while driving at 65 mph with accuracy at a vehicle some 25 feet in front of him, but can’t hit a stationary target less than 5 feet away.

Your story is set in 1300’s France, and your character, a woman of lesser nobility, is upset that Dad sold off the gold-trimmed porcelain dishes.

You state that pure fairies are incapable of giving birth to male children, then state that the only way a fairy can breed is to mate with a human. How is it that there are any pure fairies left if there is no other way to produce fairy babies?

My greatest desire when I encounter things like the above mentioned is to find the author and end them.

But murder is wrong.

So I research. I do crafty things. I write and obsessively fact check everything that I’m not 100% certain about.

I know things still slip through the cracks, but it’s usually pretty obscure stuff, not anything that could be solved by a 10 second search on Wikipedia.

At least, I hope so.

Check out the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to see more writers dish about their concerns, their solutions to various problems, or their latest vacation pictures.

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IWSG December 2020

So… This has been a year, hasn’t it? Perhaps our apocalypse outfits weren’t awesome cool badassery with knives and guns and bandoliers with military issue pants and boots scrounged from an army surplus store, but to be fair, we weren’t fighting zombies or aliens or killer robots either.

No, our opponent for world domination is this itty bitty cootie that can make your life absolutely miserable. Perversely, trying not to get the cooties also made our lives miserable, forcing us to do battle with bored children, our waistlines, depression, loneliness, catastrophic boredom, and that asshole who snagged the last of the soup, pop tarts, and toilet paper, who is now throwing a hissy fit in aisle 7 because he insists wearing a mask supports a deep state conspiracy theory.

End of the year reflections. Ain’t they awesome?

But in theory, we all learned something about ourselves. Maybe. Hopefully.

My sister-in-law introduced me to this idea of instead of New Year’s Resolutions, to pick a single word instead. A word that you can hang on to, be inspired by, or just stare at when it’s scribbled at the top of every page in your planner like some weird memo that you keep around, but you’ve forgotten the purpose of (or am I the only one who does that?).

The word I picked for 2020 was “Courage”, totally unaware of how much I was going to need before I hit June. I meant it more in the context of ‘Have courage to make mistakes”, or even “Have the courage to try new things.”

I certainly did not mean it in terms of “Have the courage to hold your shit together while your children are having mental breakdowns of their own because of everything” or the now tried and tired mantra of “Have courage enough to try writing tomorrow, since today went down the crapper.”

Although, by June I had already picked 2021’s word: “Persistence.”

To be honest, it was a close call between “Persistence” and “Fuck It”, but I chose to stick with the more classy “Persistence”. “Fuck It” might be 2022’ s word. Or 2027–you never can tell.

“Persistence” is what I hope to hold onto this coming year. Just putting one foot in front of the other to get the job done, whatever it is. Looking at each problem and finding and trying another solution to it, like my utter lack of anything even remotely resembling writing this year. I’ve tried several solutions, but what I think will work best will be a complete removal of myself from my home environment during the writing hours of the day. A friend has offered me some space in his home during the summer, now all I have to do is be stay on target and persistently show up on schedule.

It’s interesting how being persistent, realizing the changes that need to happen in order to be consistent and persistent, can be frightening.

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IWSG November 2020

Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

Urf. I have an answer, but I think it’s a bit of a downer.

I write because I want to escape.

I want others to read it because I want to help them escape (and, of course, stroke my ego, which helps with the whole escaping my current life problems thing).

Writing is a lovely vacation from reality, but I don’t have to worry about missing a flight or dealing with a jerk while waiting for my turn at activity X or whatever.

Not writing is more like the 9-5 job you hate, has shitty benefits, a dick for a boss and no chance of advancement, but can’t quit because there are these nasty little things called “Responsibilities” that must be fulfilled otherwise the Bank of Life forecloses on you and you end up on the streets.

Unfortunately, not writing seems to be my things right now. Which is irritating.

There really isn’t much more to it than that.

I suppose I could expound more to increase my word count, (I think IWSG postings are something on the order of minimum 150 words required or somesuch)

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