Friday, August 22, 2014

LIFE INTRUDES, WRITING SUFFERS



When I was active in STAR TREK fandom, we used a phrase to describe the need to stop having fun and return to the world of adult responsibilities—“life intrudes”.  As in, “No, dude, I can’t [attend the next con/participate in the costume contest/
practice for the filking performance], life intrudes.”  It meant we had to attend to the real world tasks of earning a living, taking care of the family, feeding the dog or cat. 

I’ve noticed since then that lots of geeky groups use the phrase—fans of graphic narrative (uh, that would be comics to the rest of us), gamers, re-enactors of all stripes and, oh, yes, romance writers.  Not all of us are geeky, mind you, but we all live in some alternate universe of fantasy, where all the women are empowered and all the men incredibly handsome AND sensitive.  We’d stay there indefinitely, except the kids just keep asking to be fed for some reason.  Life intrudes.

In my case this summer, life has intruded in a major way.  Not exactly like Godzilla intruded on Tokyo, because all of the life events I’m experiencing are positive.  I’m grateful for them, truly.  Still, they are all-encompassing, commanding not only my time and attention, but also my emotional energy, which is much more devastating to the concentration one needs for writing.

So what’s going on? 

--I’m moving.  Huge disruption here.  My husband and I are selling the home we’ve owned for 18 years, clearing out the detritus of over 120 combined years of existence on the planet, 38 years of marriage, two kids and multiple pets.  Yes, that’s right, we’re downsizing.  That means a decision must be made about every photo, knick-knack, bauble, tool, piece of furniture and item of d├ęcor.  It’s not only physically exhausting, it’s mentally brutal.  If I were the sentimental type, which thankfully I’m not, it would be emotionally crushing.

Still, we found buyers for our house after having the place on the market for only a month.  We located a nice house to rent for the next year before we move down to North Carolina to start building our dream house.  So, you know what?  It’s all good.  I’ll try not to trip over the boxes in the dark and be grateful the local landfill is just a short drive away.

--My youngest daughter is getting married.  I don’t mean she’s going to a justice of the peace to get hitched.  I mean she’s putting on a formal shindig worthy of mention in the same paragraph with Will and Kate or Kim and Kanye.  But only to say that those couples were extravagant morons when it came to wedding stuff, while my sensible daughter is keeping her special day well within bounds.  Still, formal weddings take a LOT of planning and time, what with multiple dress fittings and cross-state hunts for appropriate undergarments (!).  Fortunately for me, my daughter has things under control.  My main function seems to be Sturdy Shoulder for those times when It All Becomes Too Much.  But, again, she’s marrying a great guy, and they’ll be happy.  Al we have to do is get through October 5.

There are some other long-simmering issues that have finally been resolved this summer, too, which I won’t go into.  Suffice it to say that they needed time and attention, but it was well worth it to accomplish a goal my family has been pursuing for over five years.  Now we’re adjusting to a new, happier reality, and that takes emotional energy, too.

Never for a moment am I forgetting that I have my first book coming out in six months.  Or that a second book will need to be polished and prepared for publication six months after that.  One reason we decided to sell the house now, rather than next spring, was so I could concentrate on promotion, rather than packing, once the book comes out.  But there’s no question, life has intruded on my writing in a big way.  I’m stuck in the middle of the first draft of a short story meant to get out there ahead of the publication of Unchained Memory. Arrgh! Laurie was kind enough to send feedback on my third book that I haven’t even had time to look at. Sorry, Laurie! I’ll get this blog in, but I’ll neglect to respond to comments.  So sorry, dear readers!

I know I’m not the only one for whom the obligations of real life form obstacles to our work.  In most cases, the real world is not at all benign in snatching us away from our lovely alternate universes.  Laurie has shared with us just recently her personal challenges.  Sharon has certainly had frightening, life-altering intrusions to overcome.  Even Stephen King, whose 363-days-a-year work ethic is legendary, eventually had to face reality when a distracted van driver knocked him off the road and nearly into the next world.

The only remedy we have for this inevitable fact of the writers’ life is to recognize the intrusions as temporary, deal with them as best we can and get back to work as soon as possible.  Moving day is September 7; we close on the house September 12.  I should be settled into the new place and back to work before the wedding on October 5.  Then, after it’s all over, my daughter says we deserve a spa day.  Just the thing to get the old creative juices flowing again.

P.S.  Happy First Birthday to my granddaughter!  Little Lana is quite the diva, a delight to all who know her.

Cheers, Donna


5 comments:

Pippa Jay said...

I sometimes think real life is WHY we retreat to a fantasy one! Good luck with the move.

Barbara Elsborg said...

Hope the move goes well! I suspect we'll be doing something similar in the next year or so.

Donna S. Frelick said...

I agree, Pippa. Maybe that's why we start to feel so crazy when we get out of the writing routine! And thanks to both of you for the good wishes.

Laurie A. Green said...

I can so totally relate to life intruding on writing (says the person who's been MIA for the last three weeks due to the trials and tribulations of her day job).

This too shall pass and you'll be back at it soon. But I know It can be so frustrating when life yanks us out of our self-created universes!

It sounds like you've done a fantastic planning job on your upcoming author launch, so kudos on the best possible timing--and hang in there!

Sharon Lynn Fisher said...

Good luck on the move, Donna! I am one of those people who agonizes when packing - what I still need, what I don't - and find the whole thing overwhelming. Therefore I do it as infrequently as possible. But this must be an exciting time for you, as well. Such a major shakeup, when things have settled a bit, could even give you a creative boost!