Why I Quit RWA

The complete answer to the RWA survey that was sent to me when I did not renew my membership.  Why should we be in such seperate h...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Why I Quit RWA




The complete answer to the RWA survey that was sent to me when I did not renew my membership. 

Why should we be in such seperate hast to succeed, 
and in such desperate enterpirses?
If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
 perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music which he hears, 
however measured or far away.  -Henry David Thoreau


I Am A Writer
Triage: Do the next most important thing. Concentrate on that. This quote has been my motto for the last several years. I wish I knew who said it. I found it scratched across a tiny folded, faded scrap of paper while decluttering my files. Had I needed it before? All I know is it speaks more about my life right now than any explanation I could give.

I’ll spare the details. Save them for use later. Maybe, for an essay or blog.

I know other writers go through difficulties and still find ways to write. I try. I still write every chance I can, but the chances are woven thick through with the upheaval of my life. Often, I flounder. Writer’s block, though I’ve never believed in it, haunts me. Chaos block, more likely.

And how frustrating that is when, of course, I write, I am a writer. I have always been a writer. I’ve known since I was eight I was a writer. That sounds as if I learned I had some super power and kept it secret. In some ways, that’s true. As a teen, I knew I looked at things differently than my friends. Worse, like many writers I was, also, an introvert and shy. I wore my disguise and I wore it well.
Back in the beginning, back when The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E Woodiwiss and Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers first appeared on bookstore shelves. I would read twenty or more books a month.  Soon, I set out to fulfill my childhood dream and becoming a published author. I wrote as much as I could knee-deep in cloth diapers and motherhood.

Once my boys were in school, I lowered my standards around the house, used child labor, did whatever I could to write mornings. I could have the writing career I wanted and still stay home to raise my boys. I worked toward my goal with my husband and boys perplexed support. But there was a lot to learn: type, computers, plotting, character development; and life happens.
Life is messy, even cruel, but I kept striving. Through broken arms and computer crashes, through teen love angst and OS changes, through weddings and conferences, through illness and aging parents.  

That was a great time in the industry. The romance genre boomed. Romantic Times came out and had a few pages of instructions and advice for the writer in every issue. Soon after Romantic Times began, Kathryn Falk published How to Write a Romance and Get It Published. I devoured it. Not long after that, RWA formed and produced their wonderful magazine for their members that concentrated on helping romance writers publish. Those first RWR magazines were not the slick magazine we have today, but they covered a ton of material. It still does.

Publishing Now
Here’s the thing. Publishing in romance went from a cottage industry, where novice writers, mostly women, writing at their kitchen tables, got lucky and published. Went from submitting a novel with hope in your heart, to stressing that your synopsis and/or pitch wasn’t perfect. Then it ramped up. 

You needed a group to workshop your novel, you needed near perfect editing before you even sent your work out, you needed a platform, which meant you had to make sure you had a media presence, that was ever more unique or eye-catching. The RWR magazine went from helping you with pacing, plot, character to helping with your synopsis, how best to promote, how to manage your social media, what your numbers mean, algorithms on standings, on trends and on and on.

It’s gotten so complicated, not just competitive, that it’s overwhelming. It doesn’t seem any of it is about writing anymore. It doesn’t seem anyone has the time for even some of it. Oh, yes, the best writers, the ones who can still write beautiful, heart-stirring words with all the back noise going on are going to make it. Established writers who have help with research, online presence and promotion are still going to publish. But wait, there is always self-publishing, right? If possible that is even more time consuming with all its complications and dangers. I can see how all of that is necessary. The ones who have learned to promote, know how to network and don’t mind doing it. The ones who can step up to the new rules for being full members of RWA. The go-getters, the noisy wheel. Are going to make it. I’m not saying that those wonderful, determined writers don’t run into life too. I know they do.

But we, others, we are of a different breed. We want to write, want to publish, want our words printed for all to see like the others. We just don’t want all the noise. We don’t want to do all the crazy-paced self-promotion, the social media, the networking and the socializing. We don’t have time or money for conferences. We don’t have time to do much more than our beloved writing. So, we write and struggle along with the others, as best we can and we close our eyes to the rest. We pray things change, because things always change. At least, that’s what I do. I have to.

If I look too closely at all the other stuff, I would give up. Give in to the fight I have every day, because I fight giving up enough with the reality of just my everyday life right now. But I’m holding on to my writing, knowing I’ll likely never be published, but I still hold out this little, tiny, bubble of hope because I was born to be a writer, it is the soul of me. This is not something I think, this is something I know.

I understand the world of publishing has likely passed me by and others like me. I recognized the warning sign many years ago when I was dealing with a dose of life. I ranted and railed against it, I cried and grieved. Ranting and railing have no sway with life. I knew. I knew that what was now required of a writer to be published was in all likelihood beyond my capability. Still, I held on to that little grasp of hope, even after they changed membership rules for RWA. I decided, by damn, I’m going to stick it out. Not all’s lost. Not yet. Of course, life laughed and reality whispered in my ear again, that very year. I knew my dreams were mostly dust. They’d been fading for years, because of circumstances beyond my everything, but also because of how the publishing industry has changed. I hung on, but I knew.

RWA is a great organization. It has and continues to help so many struggling, aspiring authors. It helped me. Without RWA, we would certainly be missing a ton of favorite writers who made it, partly by reading RWR. The reader in me is grateful for that.

I use to sit down with the RWR magazine and read it cover to cover. I found brilliant articles, great advice between those covers, advice I use in my writing still. But lately, even those articles have changed and the content now leans more toward that other breed of writer. That is appropriate. There are many more thems than mes. That other breed of writer is having great success and any success helps us all.

For Me, For Now
But I noticed about six months again, I started avoiding the magazine, putting it in my little pile of must read writer’s magazines like The Writer and Writer’s Digest. I started letting the months stack up. Picking the current issues of one of the other two to read when I wanted a dose of writing how-to.
Reading RWR also, depressed me. It brought home how far I’ve been left behind, brought home that I could not catch up. No way, not at my age or circumstance. The whisper of quitting would get louder; the sitting at my desk seemed pointless, and I would ask myself again, “why are you wasting your time?” It was getting harder to find the answer until the wonderful, helpful article’s words faded from my memory. The magazine, through no fault of their own, was demoralizing me.
I am a writer. I was born a writer. That is my truth.

I’m saddened, too, because I no longer belong, not even a little to that organization that I joined when it was in its infancy. I see things were stacked against me through no one’s fault and I won’t go into why here either. That’s another essay/blog for another time. I know I don’t belong and truly, when I think about it, I don’t want to be that other kind of writer. I admire them. I even think I envy them a bit. The time and effort they spend on it all, the writing, the revising, the workshopping, the tweeting, the Facebook paging, the blogging, the self-promotion. The time they put into promotion and networking and conferencing. Necessary time. A fact in the climate of the publishing world today. I know that.

Publishing has changed.

In addition, the changes has opened the possibility to publish, made it possible for so many more writers to publish in new and creative ways. That’s a good thing and yet…

I write. I revise. I plot and research. I hope. But I don’t fit in and can’t act as if I do. I don’t do much social media. Conferencing and networking is impossible in my current circumstance. If I could and I won’t go into detail all the ways it’s impossible, I don’t want to. That is not the career I dreamed of when I was in the 5th grade. It is not the career I longed for when I started writing back in the 80’s when my boys started school. I don’t want to race around promoting, spend hours on the computer getting my name out there or worrying about my status on Kindle.

It’s not as if I haven’t tried. I’ve blogged, might even again. I’m on Facebook. I’ve gone to conferences, I entered contests, I’ve networked. Mostly, I’ve put my butt in the chair, day after day. I’ve taken workshops and classes. I’ve had successes. I’ve published several short stories, a dozen essays, poems. That speaks of me not sucking.

I’m not abandoning what I’m doing, but I’m no longer chasing. I’m consciously exiting the race and I don’t want to read about the shoulds that I cannot manage. I don’t want to see all the new necessaries.  I’m stopping that madness.

I’m saving my writer self. She needs me to do that.

When I began, I wanted to write. Publish, do a few bookstore appearances, then go back to writing. That was the deal.

I think writers like me, and I think there are a whole bunch, because I’m just not that  extraordinary, are not served any longer by all those shoulds. It’s not RWA’s fault. It’s not our fault. The change may very well mean we never publish. We do not conform to the new publishing and writing world.
So we have to have that other reason. The love for the writing for itself.

And hope.  I can keep hoping. I’ll read The Writer and The Writer’s Digest for my inspiration, for instructions, even for a little reality. Those two magazines cover all the kinds of writing, which gives a writer like me, options, gives a writer like me, a few opportunities. I find that these two magazines are not as commercial or narrow-minded. They acknowledges there is reason to write aside from publishing and encourages writers who are different. Yes, they have articles about social media, networking, alternate ways of publishing, etc. but the two subscriptions are cheaper for a year than the dues for RWR.

 For a writer unlikely be published that seems like a sound budgeting. I’ll keep buying those magazines. I’m well aware that the dues for RWA do more than provide a magazine, but these other magazines serve all my writing, not only my romantic novel writing.

They are a tradition, after all, a gift from my father, in a way, who use to leave those two magazines on my bed each month when I was a teen and my life spread out ahead of me. He encouraged a dreamer, with a heavy dose of reality, when he died when I was eighteen.

As with any break up, there has been tears, regrets, the knowledge that there will be things I miss. I will no longer know what new trend is selling in Romance. I won’t get the latest industries statistics. I will no longer stress about the things I not doing to succeed in the Romance genre. I won’t belong to a community of writers that are the most supportive and kind people I know. I will have to work to find a one someone who I can talk writing with.  

The trade-off: I’m going to write. I’m going to write again as I use to. No more must dos, no more worries about all those things besides writing I should be doing during the pocket of time I have. I’m going to write without any regard to what is trending. I’m going to bury myself in the words I love, the worlds I make up. I’m going to write poetry and essays and short stories. I’m going to write with all the joy that writing can bring when not worrying over too many should.

Circumstances might prevent me from working on my romance novels right now, prevent me from publishing ever, but when I do return to writing, editing and finishing my romances, I’m going to do it all from my heart. I’m not going to listen to the must haves or must dos. I’m simply going to write. I may never publish, but I will have the full joy and freedom I had in the beginning.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

“A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.”
― Joan Didion
                                                                                            
You can miss a place as much as a loved one. That longing can take on an ache deep in your heart just the same. I never thought I’d feel that way about any place but home. I am not a good traveler. I get homesick. I love my home. We’ve put so much into it. I love where I’m comfortable. I feel best with familiar things surround me.

I certainly never thought I’d come to miss the area where my husband loved to camp in the
Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Tolerate maybe, never love.

Maybe, because after my first child was born I started seeing danger where I’d never seen it before, or because I lost my father so young and came to realize early on that life was so very fragile, so temporary.

Or maybe, because I get lost at the turn of a corner. Oh, I know exactly where I am. It’s just I don’t know where that is. For me, I go up a trail and when I come back down, it looks completely different. It might just as well be a different country. Actually, I have to face it. I’m lost. And I’m alright with that.

My husband has been taking me to the same place for camping for almost all our vacations. For me, it is always a different place. I’m a cheap traveler because I will never feel as if I’ve seen that, done that. I’m ok with that. I’m ok because I always find something new, something wonderful, or exciting, no matter whether the place is new or not. And always poems find me.

Oh, there was a time I hated going. I did. It was wilderness and frightening, especially being in charge of three little boys four years apart. Camping just seemed to me like I was doing what I did every day only in tougher circumstances. Growing up I had never been on what could be called a real vacation. Our family never went anywhere for more than two days and usually that was to my grandparents in Salt Lake City.

I was determined my boys would love the outdoors like their father. I was determined because I knew it was good for them and important to appreciate the outdoors, the environment. Yeah, I’m one of those. A tree hugger. I’m not radical. I just love animals, love wild and want my kids and theirs to know and love it, too. Even so, when I was stressed, tired and anxious about the terrain, the animals sighted, the ‘green’, the scenery spoke to me. I started looking for ways and things I could love about the place. And I started writing about those things. Poems, and stories, and novels. There was so much to inspire me.

Over the years, I learned to love it. Last year when the doctor told me I couldn’t go to high altitudes, it broke my heart. The campground is over 8000 ft. The trails and favorite spots we like to trek over 10,000 ft. Blood pressure goes up at high altitude, sometimes 20-30 points.

But I got the go-ahead last month. We only had four days. I had to be back for labs. Not enough, but I was going to just feel blessed. It was so good to be gone. Away from phones, internet, computers, caregiving.


It was good to be back, to hear the wind in the quakies, smell the pine, watch the hawks wheel the sky, see stars, breath wild, listen for poems. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Weaning Off Prednisone

A poem has secrets that the poet knows nothing of. –Stanley Kunitz

I’ve now been weaning off prednisone since March. Slowly, to be sure. More slowly than I want. I’m anxious, impatient. Aren’t we all when we want so much to be ‘normal’? (It’s very hard for us humans to get the idea that there is a new normal, always.)

There have been setbacks. A staph infection in my elbow and of all things, around my fingernails, a terrible cold. Then, a sore hip/back, so I couldn’t keep up my 2 mile walks, (done for health and peace) but what do you do when you walk and get so sore you’re done for the day, or not walk and maybe, be able to go through your day without too much pain. I fought it, which seems to be my MO and then, finally I surrendered again.

I cuss ‘em all and regrouped. I’ve been doing that a lot. I hate it, I’m learning. I’m too dang stubborn. But, bright spot, as I’ve come off the meds. I’ve actually started writing again. Not typing, but working on poetry.

Though of all I write, poetry is the hardest, it is also the smallest and I needed small. Right now, a novel has just too many details to keep track of to work on. And I have several in need of good editing, which I don’t trust myself to do…, yet. So, poetry has been my go to. My salvation, as always.

That and this blog, that no one reads.

Small, concise contained pieces of writing. And I was right; there was something there, something waiting from all the typing I’ve been doing. It was not wasted time. Much of the little shadow work, which is what I call ideas and notes, are producing poems I’m pleased with, poems that are deeper than I once thought they would be, poems that ease my heart, somehow.

Plus, I’ve been having fun. No stress. No rush to get anything done, no pressure applied to self to be published, prove to myself and everyone else that my time has not being wasted. I’ve just been writing and loving it, so grateful for it, just like I use to before I stressed about publishing or trying to earn a little money with my work.

I’ve decided that idea is banned from this computer, this house, this mind. I’m too old to worry about proof, or acknowledgement. What I think of myself is going to have to do. I know I was born to be a writer. I knew it before I was ten years old. Why else do I see things the way I do and always have? Why else have I always notice the things/details  I do, did? I’ve always been an observer—a stand on the sidelines and witness kind of person. (I reminded myself of that scene from Gone With The Wind, where Scarlett is watching everyone dance, but can’t as she is in mourning, but her feet are playing happy. That is me, only it’s my thoughts doing the dance, my body is just fine watching.


Though I’ve always felt a misfit, I love my view and wouldn’t have traded it for popularity or less angst, then or especially now. It’s just me wanting to find the secrets I know nothing of.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

What I CAN Do


“Her scar tissue, which she seems to amass both physically and mentally, may not be pretty, but they have become tougher than if she had never been wounded at all.”  -Donna Lynn Hope

Writers are persistent and resilient. They have to be. Cowards and wimps don’t survive. I should have this, right? I’ve always been tenacious, too much so.

Once I’d stopped struggling to move forward, stopped crying and feeling sorry for myself, (It seems I always have to do a bit of that. I hate it. It makes me feel so weak, a crybaby, but the tears always come despite how I fight them. I do wonder if all the wonderful people who face health and life challenges you see in the news because they are so strong and smile in the face of adversity…I wonder if off camera they have their little time of crying and self-pity. I’ve always told myself everyone does. Am I just making myself feel better?) Anyway, after I surrendered to the side effects of the meds and brain fog, I knew I had to regroup. Had to pull it together. Find a way to hold onto my writing, to move forward, to not give up, not tread water.

Move forward.

I had to stop thinking and fixating of all the stuff I couldn’t do. Figure out what I could do. I had to stop thinking about what seemed impossible and concentrate on what was possible.

So….exactly what could I do? What one thing could I still do to move forward with my writing?
When things get tough, how do you move on? How do you keep moving forward when it feels as if a jungle is closing in on you? When roadblocks seemed to turn up every day? Exactly what could I use as my machete? My bulldozer?

I didn’t know. No, ah ha, moment. Ideas were as dull as my head. I fiddled around in my office for a few days, going through papers and files, looking over the novel I had been editing, sobbing a little at all the work I had put into my novels and all the paper. Well, writing creates paper, even when you have most of your writing on the computer. (And just for the record, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been glad of that.) Oh, and I was falling asleep at my desk (side effect of two of the meds I was on) A few more frustrated tears.

What could I do? I couldn’t come up with words or ideas, or inspiration. My mind and heart and whatever quality brought up words, sentences, writing was blank. Worse, everything in me felt dull. Still, there had to be something I could do.

Then it struck me. There were files and files of ideas I hadn’t yet entered into my computer. Pages of ideas in my journals I hadn’t transcribed. I might not be able to come up with anything new. I might be dull and without one ounce of inspiration, but I had shadow work, and notes, and ideas waiting to be worked on. I could get them ready, so to speak, for when I could do what I loved to do again. I could type.

So I typed. I spent six months typing in ideas from magazine tear-outs that had spark a poem or story idea and journal entries into their own documents. I let my fingers fly and I stop worrying about what I couldn’t do, wasn’t getting down. Stopped worrying about what this disruption might be doing to my writing dreams. I just kept typing and telling myself when I was done with the meds and back to my old self I would have all this material, waiting. Kept telling myself I would trust that I was putting in place the start of some wonderful work, that when I could I would gather up everything worth saving and make something worthy. It meant I had to have faith.

 A little voice kept reminding me, it happened before. That first time I battled MPGN. I’d forgotten. I’d forgotten a lot of what I went through. I wanted to forget. I wanted to put it behind me and never think of it again. I didn’t take serious; the chronic part of this disease because I wanted to believe I’d never have to deal with it again. That was just plain dumb of me. Thinking positive is great, but I wished I had had a battle plan from before and a diary, so that some of the things wouldn’t come as such a shock all over again.


Well, this time around, I am writing down the changes in my mind, body, spirit. I’m recording what I did to combat what. I’m making sure I have a battle plan for next time. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

So, Now What?



A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn. –Author Unknown

So, now what?

I was back on heavy doses of prednisone. At first, 20 mg, which didn’t fog my mind, didn’t give me moon face, didn’t ruin my hair, didn’t puff up my shoulders and neck and back. I was so grateful. I was certain I could fight this battle and win quickly. Then, a month later, we got the numbers back from the lab.  Twenty mg. wasn’t cutting it. I’d have to increase the dose. The one positive was, now we knew. When it comes back again, no messing around. We attack with 30 mg.

Along with this news was the news that it would likely take six months to get the lab numbers we needed and then, another six months to wean off the medicine. With prednisone, you don’t just stop.
A year. It seemed like a lifetime.

I tried to write. Between falling asleep at my desk and brain fog I struggled, failed, then stopped. I had to regroup, rethink everything. I gave up the editing I’d been doing, too afraid of losing threads of the novel. My mind was less than sharp, to say the least. I was tired, depressed, fog-brained and feeling very vulnerable.

I hate that.

Ashamed to say, I wasn’t excepting any of this well. There were tears and anger. Frustration seeped through me. I kept asking, why me? Why again?

Truth was we’d been barely holding our own on the caregiving front up to this point. Each week brought more things we had to take over or deal with. All of that was affecting my writing, of course. Oh, hell, my life.

 I was mad…angry…furious. At…at life, at fate, at MPGN and its little dog, too. That was exactly how I felt: Wicked Witch of the West—black-dressed, hand-rubbing, ready to send out the flying monkeys witch. 

I was scared and sad. I felt guilty, too. Caring for my parent was affecting my husband’s retirement. We didn’t dare go anywhere for more than a few days and even then, we needed to check in, at least, once a day. That put boundaries on what we could do, where we could go. Now, my illness was grounded us even more. Grounding us from my husband’s favorite place. Dr. orders, no high altitudes, so no high Uintah camping/fishing, at least for me.

In the scheme of things, none of that was important and yet, it was. To me.
Foremost, was the guilt I felt. My parent, my illness, after all.

Worse still, the one thing I’d relied on to work through stress, emotions, the one thing I always depended on was writing. It had helped me through my youth, my angst-heavy teen years, my father’s too-soon death, kids, railroad widowhood, loneliness, losing pets, raising 3 teen boys, empty nest, caregiving. And I couldn’t seem to hold one thought, word, idea in my mind long enough to type it into the computer. And worse, my mind was dull gray, as creative and sharp as London in the fog. All my creativity lost in muck.

I felt lost and wrong and wronged. Done for. Everything felt ripped away. Yet, that was so, so wrong, too. Because I knew, I was so very lucky. I saw that every single day. There were those who had it so much worse, who were sicker, more desperate, with no support. I couldn’t look around and not know how very lucky and loved I was. I really had no right to be angry or sad, did I?

(Yet, I was.)

How in hell was I going to turn this around?

How was I going to make the most of the next year? And if I was honest, many other episodes through the rest of my life. I didn’t want to waste time feeling sorry for myself or woe-is-meing. I wanted something…maybe, even, everything of the next year to be positive or good. As good as I could make it. It was my life, frustrating as it was.

How could what I learned help others? Goodness knows, there were others going through similar situations? Worse situations. Couldn’t I help someone, somehow? With my voice? With my experience?


Because one thing I learned many years ago was helping someone was the best way to help myself. That didn’t mean I wasn’t charitable or kind. It didn’t mean I was selfish. It just meant I was being proactive. Right?  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Changes



Life happens while you are busy making other plans. –John Lennon

Where I’ve been

Two years ago, I stopped posting. There were many reasons, mostly time and hope. What I hoped was to dedicate time to editing, then have my work professionally edited, then submitting. Time was becoming more precious as the caregiving aspect of my life was getting more and more complicated and involved.

Truth was I felt like I was drowning. I had to try to save myself.

I had to rid myself of my jetsam and flotsam. The blog seemed a bit of a failure, a waste of time. No one would miss it if the blog weren’t there.

Still, it was a difficult choice. Writers are told we need a presence on social media, even before we publish. You know, a ‘platform’ but I find that is a double-edged sword. Social media is great but it is a time thief and maybe, even a big waste of time. I’m not sure. 

Besides, hope of publishing was shriveling a little more everyday. Every writer’s magazine I read, every change to the publishing world vs mine took me farther and farther away from that goal.

Oh, plenty of writers become successful in part because of their attention to social media. But time is time. How did I want to spend mine?

When I started the blog, I thought the journey I was on might help someone else. I like the idea of helping another writer, like me. You know, some someone dealing with caregiving, illness and trying to be a successful writer.  After all, the journey of caregiving and illness is universal, right? Throw in trying to have a little writing success—I was navigating obstacles and pitfalls. Learning. My mistakes and successes with all three battlefronts—maybe, I could help one someone else.

I could not deny writing the blog did help one person-me. That wasn’t a bad thing, but maybe, that time had passed.

Before I began writing my blog, I did look for other blogs about caregiving and writers, about MPGN and writers, about side effects of prednisone and writing. I found nothing. I could have used the help, the experience of someone dealing with those things. So why not? There had to be others like me. Fighting similar battles. Others living/struggling with chronic illness, caring for an aging parent, trying to write and have a little success. Maybe, my blog could help, maybe….

I began the blog. I enjoyed writing it. I blessed my son for the suggestion and help. I kept at it, despite the small following— until—I couldn’t help anyone anymore. Because I was floundering. Floundering to find things to write about. Floundering under the changes in publishing and other things.

And then some things…the caregiving things suddenly became impossible to share. Too private, too heart hurting. And that, stymied other things. It became another battle. I could not find the wherewithal to defend another front.

So, I stopped.

I missed it. A little less each week. I took the time and made huge strides with my Work in Progress. I started to feel a bit hopeful again. My disease was under control, had been for six years. I felt good. Able to handle the caregiving (the emotion and family drama, not so much), though it was getting more involved and complicated.  I worked on poetry in small pockets of time, which fed my soul, took some classes and spent time on fun and family. I felt I’d made the best decision.

So, Here We Go Again

Of course, the bottom fell out. My disease flared, which really took me off my feet, emotionally. Why I don’t know. I was well aware there would be flare-ups, that I would never be cured, that the disease would progress. Yet, even knowing that, deep down, I must not have believed it. I must have thought/wanted that none of that would happen. Not to me. (denial 101, ya think?)

The one good thing was there were no symptoms. I didn’t feel sick, just a little tired, but I was caring for an elderly parent, a home, husband, two cats, a dog, a yard.

The worst part is the cure. I wanted to cry when I saw the lab results. I did. Dr. directions: Prednisone for six months and another six-month weaning off period. I wanted to shake my fist, yell at…something.

Dealing with the side effects of prednisone again sent me into a down ward spiral of depression. Yet, as my Dr. and Husband reminded me, (damn ‘em) it was much better than dialysis. I should be thankful. And I was. Truly. And frustrated. And angry. I wanted to rail and rant. (I did) I was thankful we caught it early. And depressed and angry and sad. So many emotions flooded me, I couldn’t hold on to a one.

Worse of all, I knew what that medicine would do to my writing. (and hair, and face, and body)

As if the main line tap has been turned off. Nothing comes. Nothing. Blank. I can analyze while on prednisone, so you’d think I’d be able to continue the edits, but I was afraid. The creativity part is so gone and without it, what could the just analytical part do to my work? And my memory was shot. How could I keep the threads of a novel together? Could I lose what is unique about my writing? Would I take a chance of losing the best of my work? I just couldn’t take that chance.

Of course, about this same time things went a bit south on the care of my elderly parent front. Stress (or as my Dr. explained, how I handled stress) exacerbates my disease. This was not good.

 (Another ‘side effect’ was how vulnerable I felt, anxious and vulnerable. How much of this was the medicine? How much was just the return of this illness?

My writing would be derailed. For over a year? Stopping writing again would kill me. I was depressed enough. I wasn’t as sick this time. We’d caught it early, so I wasn’t sleeping all day, barely able to function. I had to keep busy, work at something. Something for myself.

I had to fight—I had to Do something.

I wasn’t sure what. I floundered. I’ve floundered before, but not like this.

(Finally, I surrendered—so I could fight.)

For the last eight months or so, I’ve been on a journey, fighting battles. It’s not the same journey I traveled before. I don’t really know what I’m doing. The battles are different, my response more complicated. I’ve floundered, and sunk and risen. I’ve failed and railed, crawled up, slipped down. I’ve learned some stuff. A whole lot of stuff.

I got my fight back.

Sometimes

On good days.

So, now what?