29 July 2012

Pain makes you...beautiful?

I'll be honest. The past few weeks have been a little rough. It's not like it's been all bad. In fact, some really good things have come out of the last few weeks. I recently found out that this fall I'll be taking the reins of our highest volume store! What has been rough is the pain that has been undermining everything else.

Four years ago I had back surgery. Prior to the surgery I was unable to walk and I was in extraordinary pain. It's the kind of pain you can't escape and mentally, as well as physically, it takes its toll. For the better part of the year, my life was restricted. I couldn't sit comfortably and eventually I couldn't walk. I suffered permanent nerve damage in my left leg that still affects me on a daily basis. But I have worked hard to take better care of my back. I remembered all the wise and kind words my physical therapist shared with me.

The day I realized I could move and that I was no longer in pain was a very, very good day.

On occasion I would still overdue it from time to time and would pay for it with a little pain and a few aches. Nothing too serious and nothing that would take too long to recover from. A few weeks ago something changed.

The pain didn't go away and the nerve pain got worse.

And I got scared.

I never, ever, ever want to go through what I went through four years ago ever again.

So I went to the doctor and he gave me two choices. Aggressive or conservative. And since the conservative approach only meant another week or so, I opted for conservative which meant a week of steroids.

While I am not a fan of MRIs, I am also not a fan of steroids. And thankfully I have the self-awareness to realize when it's the drugs affecting my mood rather than reality. I am certain my employees and the neighbor children would be grateful if they'd known how many words I'd held back over the last several days.

I'm still uncertain as to what is going to happen next. The pain, while reduced, is still a constant. A few more days and the next decision will need to be made.

I think, perhaps, one of the most heart-breaking pieces of this entire scenario is that it's kept me from writing. Sitting in a chair is really hard to do. I managed to get a few hours in the other day and accomplished some good work, but it's really slowed me down and unfortunately, I don't currently have the resources (or the space) to acquire one of John Green's Treadmill desks...though I am working on a little something I can use so I can at least stand while editing.

There are a million obstacles that can keep us from doing the things we love and the things we want to do. Some are the result of external influences while others are self-imposed. What this set-back has shown me is that I am still as committed to my writing life as I was before and that I will do everything I can to keep pushing forward.

22 July 2012

Getting Closer

Sometimes you don't even know how much you're worrying about a thing, how much it's nagging at your heels, nesting amongst your bones, until that worry is gone and with it the heaviness that held you down.

The last two weeks I've had such a worry extricate itself from my body. I didn't even realize the shallowness of my breath until I was able to fully expand my lungs again. I didn't realize how heavily my feet were weighted to the ground until the act of lifting them became so easy I could nearly fly.

All and all, it has been a strange and good period in my life.

I continue to enjoy the work that pays the bills and I am enamored with the work I do that doesn't.

The time away from my manuscript was well spent and in my first week back I was able to solve a nagging problem with a minor character who was always destined to be a larger player. The answer seemed so easy once I'd worked it out and so perfect I couldn't believe it didn't come to me sooner.

There is still much work to be done, but each day I try to work through a few more pages, think of a few more solutions to problems, ask myself a million new questions.

I'm getting close.

Each day, a little bit closer.

14 July 2012

The Best of Friends

I had a wonderful time last night. A high school friend is getting married this afternoon (along with the sister of another high school friend) and that has brought a great many people to town. Last night, we all went out for dinner at a lovely restaurant with delicious food and refreshing cocktails. We sat on the patio for hours talking and laughing. We remembered old crushes (and poor boyfriend decisions). We talked about siblings and parents, children and marriage.

Sometimes I am amazed at how easy it is for us to pick up right where we left off. Some of these people I see often. Some I see once a year for maybe a couple of hours. But the conversations are always easy. It's been 18 years since we graduated and we still have so much to talk about.

Last night there was some reflection on that, about the people we were and the people we are and why we all still get along. Someone said that even back in high school we all had a pretty good sense of who we were and we were all very comfortable being ourselves. I very much think that's true. I know that personally, the core of me hasn't really changed that much. I'm still very much the same person I always was. There are definitely aspects to my personality that have grown and developed and I'm much more comfortable saying what I mean to say and being open...though I still won't always volunteer information unless asked. I still work better in smaller groups than larger ones.

My WIP (work-in-progress) is about (in part) that transition between high school and college and how that major transition affects these characters. I remember, from my own experience, sitting outside Coffee People on NW 23rd with two boys. One I knew well, and one I knew not quite so well. I remember it was near the end of the summer and I was beginning to wonder if this was it, if this was the end of these friendships. I wondered if time and distance would close the book on these relationships. And it made me sad even though I knew I was going off to college where more friends were sure to be made.

All these years later, I'm still in touch with both these boys. One, because we have always been friends, and one because of the wonders of Facebook.

04 July 2012

Positive Distraction

There have been a few reasons why I've been a bit more quiet than usual. The biggest reason is that I've been feeling a lot more like thinking than writing. And I've had a lot to think about. There are some pretty big decisions I need to make with my current manuscript and I want to give them time to settle so I really know and feel that they are the right decisions. I'm ready to finish this novel once and for all...but I want to do it right and I want to do it best.

Another problem I've had is the TV show Damages. That thing has been like crack and in the last two weeks I've worked through the first two seasons. It's the perfect blend of distraction I've been needing...legal thriller combined with mystery combined with brilliant characters that you love and despise. It's been so good. And since it's been raining/gray literally every day since I got back from my wonderful vacation, I haven't felt guilty at all for the hours spent on the couch.

It's also been a time of research. Every TV show I watch, every novel I read, every movie I see, I think about Story. I think about why the Story works, why I'm drawn in, kept in, and what motivates me to continue watching/reading/paying attention.

I've been reading books about writing and I've been researching the 2012 Willamette Writers Conference in August. Since I'll be working there for part of it, I'm not sure how much time I'll have to participate, but I've been looking into the agents attending and seeing if anyone looks like a good fit for me. I'm not planning on doing any pitches this time, but you never know what might happen in the next month.

The 4th of July has become a day centered on taking care of our four-legged companion. Zelda gets very upset to the point where she makes herself physically sick if she's not medicated and I just don't have the heart to leave her alone so this has become a kind of stay at home type of holiday. Today I really don't mind. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the breeze is gentle and my stack of books looks inviting.

It might just be time to set up the hammock and take a few deep breaths.