Have you ever noticed it doesn’t matter to a cat where it rests or naps? Or when or on what piece of furniture? Or in what position–belly up, draping its legs this way and that? Oh, to be so relaxed that it doesn’t matter.
We humans live under too much stress to act like a cat. Yet, I’m going to try. I managed to do it once before and then lost it.
In 2005, I enjoyed a three-month sabbatical with my last employer. Obviously, it was to my credit that my temperament improved from the law firm and its lawyers. At the end of my time off, my husband announced he had enjoyed my time at home with him. So much so, he had decided it was time for me to retire.
In a few months, I retired.
I haven’t looked back with any regrets. With one exception, retirement has been everything I hoped for. However, I tend to take on too much too often to enjoy any time for me. I’m learning to say the word “no” more often, but not yet well-practiced at saying the word “yes” to myself.
I’ve enjoyed the time to write, but life has gotten in the way of publishing my memoir. And I’m growing tired of blogging and social media. I don’t find joy in any of them at the moment.
That’s why it’s time to pause. Like a cat–right now–today.
November 15th is the beginning of personal time for a while.
I will not be posting to the blog for approximately six weeks. There won’t be a quarterly newsletter until after the first of 2019. I will not be on social media for reasons other than family and keeping up with church and volunteer activities.
I am hoping to get some work done on my manuscript, but I’ll also be preparing myself for a third spine surgery. I want to be in the best physical state possible as I want this surgery to work in easing my pain to some degree and to experience a good recovery.
Thanksgiving and Christmas
To each one of you, I send Thanksgiving and Christmas greetings. I hope the season of gratitude and the season of His birth bring hope, joy, and love in abundance to you and yours.
Have you ever misplaced something? And then months later or maybe years have passed by, and guess what? You can’t remember where you put that treasured item. Then you panic!
On the evening of September 10, 2018, I found myself in a quandary. Husband Bob had left for his weekly Monday night band practice leaving the house empty save Maggie and me. I knew what I wanted/needed to work on…an outline for restructuring my memoir project. But where was that draft I so carefully wrapped in a bundle with beautiful ribbon back in 2016?
I searched high and low all over my sewing room/office shared space. In every nook and cranny. All this searching suited Maggie’s curiosity and the idea she was helping. My investigation took me nowhere. No folder, notebook, box, stack held my priceless (to me) stack of paper.
Frustration and panic set in.
What to do next? A cup of coffee, a good book, and Maggie in my lap. A calming and relaxing combination to ease the mind from my self-imposed stress. Perhaps I would think of someplace I hadn’t searched.
A half an hour or so later I had finished my coffee and put down my Kindle. As I stroked Maggie’s back, I struck upon an idea. Putting Maggie to the floor, I stood up and headed back to my workspace. I began plowing through standing magazine holders. To my surprise and relief, there it was–my beautiful, beribboned, marked up manuscript!
By now, it was time for bed and the next day other things took priority. However, I now know where that manuscript is, and I will try my hardest to remember its location.
Q4U: Have you ever forgotten where you’ve placed a manuscript, essay, or story you’re working on? Or do you have a nicely organized plan for keeping up with unfinished projects? Please share with us below.
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
A look at the finished project.
After hours and hours of design work plus hard labor building this wonderful space for me, I know Bob is glad to see this day come. We still have flooring to get down and some additional landscaping come spring. But it’s ready for me to spend my writing time there.
Here are a few photos of the Studio now. Clicking on an image will enlarge it and also provide the images in a slideshow format.
Gratitude and love fill my heart.
While Bob worked so hard last summer and then finished the exterior painting and clean up this last month, I was sitting in my recliner or on good days at my corner writing space. Depending on the day, I might have been prone on the bed. At times, I felt guilty he was working so hard to get this additional writing space completed.
I say “additional” because as noted in my previous blog post I don’t have wifi access in my studio. This is intentional. When I’m in that space, with classical or soft jazz music playing and nature all around outside, I want to focus on writing, reading, and/or research.
In the near term, I’ll be revising my memoir manuscript one last time before sending it off into the big wide world. My studio will be my workroom void of distractions as I want to provide a work as near to a finished product as I can.
You are owed my thanks as well.
Over the past 33 months, as I struggled to stay present online and to write, so many have encouraged and supported me. I can share with you that we thought things were improving recently. For a short while, we thought we had the answers in front of us, but that changed last week with a call from my surgeon. Some days you wonder if it’s ever going to end.
Continue to be the writing community you are, and it will allow each writer here, there, or wherever you spend your social media and reading time the chance to publish a memoir or a first novel or YA work. You never know whose life you have touched.
Memoir writing is often a long and arduous journey. Sometimes it takes a toll on the writer in a variety of ways.
There is the debate over what family members will think or do. The writer questions the truth of what he/she is writing. This questioning brings into consideration just how much the truth may be altered. Use your own name or a pseudonym is another question. And after all this questioning, doubt takes up its place in the writer’s mind.
Self-doubt is an author’s worst enemy.
Self-doubt has a personality all its own. Its abilities can bring down a writer in an instant. Is my memoir good enough to be published? Should I self-publish or get an agent? Have I covered all the bases with regard to truth? What have I left undone? Perhaps I’ll just give up!
A year or so ago I gave in to self-doubt.
I’ll admit it was a combination of things, both physical and mental, that caused my self-doubt. But it became so overpowering, as it can, I thought I had no choice but to stop working on my memoir.
I tidied up my manuscript into a beautiful bundle of pages and tied it with a blue ribbon. Then I set it aside where I couldn’t see it. I’ve not touched it since.
In recent months I’ve read some books, including memoirs, which have encouraged me. Some blog posts have also heightened my desire to move ahead. Included in these posts are:
Kathy Pooler’s post Our Stories Endure: A Memoir Moment reminded me if I don’t share my story, who will. And if someone tries to share my story, it will no longer be just my story.
I advise this when writing about family: Pay attention to details … journals, diaries, photographs, conversations. Don’t paint people in black and white, but offer portraits with insight, based on knowledge, real and authentic. Ask yourself: Would I want someone to tell my story any other way?
We’ve all watched old buildings come down. Sometimes the building is not so old but is demolished in the name of progress. Other times the destruction is caused by forces of nature–tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, fire.
I remember the first implosion I watched on TV. It was an amazing sight to behold! A building falling into itself. Even better here are two buildings at the University of Nebraska imploding almost side-by-side:
Cather-Pound Residence Hall Implosion
University of Nebraska at Lincoln (2012)
This image is a bit drastic in comparison to what I intend to do with my memoir manuscript. Yet, deconstruction of a piece of work that has taken years to write is somewhat nerve shattering.
Will I be able to bring it back together into a cohesive story? Or will I find myself on yet another wrong path? Pondering these kinds of thoughts make me nervous.
I am almost ready to start. A work table has been purchased and placed in the Studio. This is where I intend to sit and begin reading and cutting. Yes, cutting. With scissors in hand, I’ll snip what I want to move elsewhere and let it flutter to the tabletop where I’ll label it with its new location.
Here is Where Reconstruction Begins.
Once those snippets are labeled I’ll begin taping and moving them to their new location within the remaining manuscript. During my last reading, I recognized a missing link. Nothing like the Missing Link believed to be part of the Theory of Evolution.
My missing link may lead my readers to assume the worst about one of my characters, and this is not my intention. So, I need to bring that character into a whole person and not one divided by my storytelling. These words may not make much sense to you right now, but trust me they mean a great deal to me and my story.
What I’ve learned from this phase of my writing is that allowing the manuscript to marinate is one of the most useful tools in a writer’s toolbox.
Another handy tool is allowing yourself time to read your manuscript from the perspective of your unknown reader. Here you’ll find yourself capable of finding construction issues, plot, and storyline errors, issues with character development, and other things that may confuse your readers.
Take your time before you rush to publish your book. It never hurts to give it another close going over with a large magnifying glass. Heed Anne Lamott’s words: