September 16, 2016

Football Season

Can't say I'm much of a football fan, but my husband is. And for that reason, and whoever invented Fantasy Football, I love football season! I also love spending quality time with my husband and kids, don't get me wrong. But when you're a mom, there is no such thing as "free" time. There's collapsing in bed the minute the kids go to sleep and passing out in front of the TV. There's that sweet time in the morning when you know you can press snooze one more time before you get up. There's the brief quiet time in the morning before the kids wake up, but it's spent making coffee, packing lunches, and making breakfast. I don't know if that really counts.

One look at their precious faces makes it all worth it. Until the fighting begins... No one can push buttons like a sibling! My kids are good kids, but they do fight. They use words, they use fists... They still use teeth on occasion... Then there's what the boys call 'punishment' which is essentially retailiation for whatever the other brother did. And usually the one who 'finishes' it is the one who gets in trouble. But they're awesome, really. And, despite the fighting, they're best friends. We have a lot of fun together as a family!

So why am I so excited about the return of NFL? While my husband watches quarterbacks get sacked, running backs run, and tight ends do whatever tight ends do, I have time to write. Time where I'm not emotionally and physically drained. This is my "writing" season.

This season I plan to finish my prequel to Dream Hunter. As you may remember, I was in the process of writing a prequel. Well... I wanted to make it a bit longer and fine tune the POV transitions. So... I cut and pasted the story into two parts. I plan to write the book in two separate pieces, then combine the two to make up the entire book. It might be a little unconventional... But I'm really hoping it works. If it does work, then my next project is a sequel to A Vampire's Tale (set for publication by Tirgearr Publishing in early 2017). All I have is a title so far, but, as I was writing A Vampire's Tale, two of my characters kept asking me to write their story. And who am I to refuse?

That's how it is. You can't summon the muse on command, but mine knows once my husband has drafted his Fantasy Football leagues (yes, he's in two leagues) it means football season is upon us and it's time to get writing!

So start the play... Run the ball... Score the touchdown... And (for me) get down to some serious writing!

September 9, 2016

You can run... But you can't hide

After months of waiting for our backyard to return to normal, our summer finally began. We had a family party with fried chicken and carrot cake eaten outside on the new deck. We planned a (last minute) family vacation. With twelve days left before school resumed, we were determined to enjoy every second!

We packed the car up with suitcases and coolers and drove four hours north to a rented cottage by a beach. Getting ready was a lot of hard work though. Physically. Mentally. I pushed as hard as I could, but the result was me getting very sick and needing more medication. Finally, we were on the road.

A vacation should be fun and relaxing, spending time with your family (or fellow vacationers), a getaway. But I can't get away from my condition, my disability. It doesn't matter where I am, it shadows me like a dark cloud. We enjoyed our time away, but there were days all I could do was rest. Immobilized, trapped in my mind, in a place I can't escape. That's where I am. No matter where I am.

I imagine getting out of town, a change of scenery, will "fix" me (albeit temporarily), but I am only fooling myself. Everyday is a struggle. Everything is harder. This is my new reality. Nothing has worked so far. And I don't know how to find a solution.

Everyone has problems... Some caused by external circumstances, some self-induced... It's how you frame those problems that counts. You cannot allow yourself to be defined by what ails you. You must find the good in each day.

I channel my feelings and experiences into my writing. Whether it's a blog post, copy for my website or my latest WIP. Everything seems a little clearer in print. I've probably written an endless number of posts about how writing is good therapy... But it really is. Every story must contain the right amount of conflict. How better to resolve personal conflict than to write it into a story? Writing (and reading as well) draws you into another world, a fleeting escape from reality. When I'm writing, nothing else in the world exists. It's just me and my laptop (or iPad). I can block out all external distractions and everything around me fades into the background, like white noise. But I can't remain in that void forever. At some point I must return to face reality. But when you focus on the positive, even reality isn't that dire.

September 2, 2016

Summer, Interrupted

It's September 2nd, that time of year when you question 'where has summer gone?' The air is cooler, the days seem shorter, I've been occupied with getting the kids ready to go back to school. Fall is really upon us.

Did you have a good summer? And the classic question 'what did you do on your summer vacation?' Overall, summer was great. The weather was always sunny and beautiful... We had a lot of fun with the kids, balanced with downtime when the kids were in day camp. After a couple of really rough months health-wise, I returned to my mostly stable, new normal. But when I look back on the summer of 2016, I probably won't think about the amazing weather, the fun day trips or even signing a new publishing contract. I'll remember (not so fondly) our semi-disastrous backyard renovation.

It all started in the middle of June... The backyard was prepped and ready for our long-awaited renovation... All we needed was a contractor and a design... After obtaining a few different quotes and contemplating design ideas... We decided on a contractor and a plan. A new deck quickly became a new deck plus tree removal and a new fence... One month turned into two... Unexpected expenses kept arising... All of which added up to a home renovation disaster. When the project started, we were all on good terms. The contractor had a lot of amazing ideas and suggestions... We felt confident that our backyard would transform into our oasis... We provided them with beer and water, made them lunch, and baby-sat their six-year old son while they worked from approximately 10:30 to 3:30... When they decided to show up. To be fair, some of the delays were not their fault. The tree removal was a project all on its own... Completed by another contractor who had the required credentials. And set our backyard project back at least by two weeks...

This summer there were two other backyard renovations ongoing in our neighbourhood (both finished weeks before ours). One backyard reconstruction involved replacement of an old deck. Over the course of the project, we watched with curiosity, as materials were delivered, the side fence dismantled, and the old deck removed, to see what they were building. Their contractor, within three weeks, had completed their project. The old fence, with one new post, was back in place with all traces of construction cleared. The other project was removal of a huge hedge (probably eight feet tall) and construction of a new fence bordering three sides of their property. I saw two guys working on the fence in the pouring rain, digging holes and placing posts. Their project was completed in less than two weeks.

In contrast... We didn't know when our contractors were going to show up... Definitely not in the pouring rain... Or how much work would be completed in a day. They were full of excuses and promises... Both of which we were tired of hearing.

For a month, I held in my complaints... I paid the requested deposits, without ever seeing an invoice, I didn't complain about their hours or when they didn't show up, about watching their kid or the mess they left at the worksite every day (coffee cups, food packaging), just waiting for our backyard (and life) to get back to normal. Then, I exploded. Everything I'd been holding in erupted in an uncontrollable force. We decided to hold on the project. Then they promised us more items for less money and a firm completion date. The date came and went. The project was still not finished. Then we got another unexpected bill. It was the last straw. No more Mr. Nice Guy. With our fury checked, we told the contractor what we wanted completed, less than planned, and told them to finish that week. Good-bye, good riddance.

Venting is good for the soul. Holding things in, holding onto the negativity, is especially bad for me, unhealthy. I don't forget. I don't see recalling bad situations as holding a grudge. I remember. It takes me a long time, at least a year, to let bad things go. I hold on. And I don't want to anymore. I want to lift the burden of all wrongs against me, unfairness and injustice, and let them go. Get it off my chest, put it out of my mind.

I want to remember my good memories of the summer of 2016. I want to focus on the positive. And I will.