And that “it” can be everything from making a plot or opening scene work to making the current life situation work with your writing. I am finding myself facing both of those challenges right now. I promise not to make this into a “poor me” post. This is a post, hopefully, that will let you know that you aren’t alone out there and that it will work. . . eventually and maybe not in the way you think. But, most of all, with your writing as with life, you sometimes have to be flexible and admit something needs to give.
Just shy of two months ago, Mom fell and broke her femur just below the ball socket. The next day, she had two pins put in and thus began close to three weeks in the hospital and in-patient rehab. She’s been home a little over a month and that has presented a whole new series of daily challenges.
I’m not complaining. Far from it. I know how much worse the fall could have been. I know how easy it would have been for the doctors to look at her age and say she needed to go into assisted living. I know she could have been like so many others at her age who simply didn’t have the strength to not only pull through the surgery–anesthesia is never good at this age–or the stubbornness to fight every day to get back to normal.
Twice a week, PT comes in and works with her. She gets stronger with every passing day. But she hurts and that frustrates her. She wants the pain gone. I want it gone for her. But that will take time. Until then, she has to move every hour or so. She doesn’t sleep more than an hour or two at a time at night until exhaustion finally takes over.
In a lot of ways, it is like having a young baby or toddler again. Everything about the everyday running of the house falls to me. That includes all the cleaning and cooking and shopping, etc. It also means I had to take care of making sure the house was a safe as possible before she came home or shortly thereafter. That included finding a contractor who could come in on very short notice to raise the floor in the family room. (Why, oh why, did builders think sunken rooms were the “in thing” back when this house was built?)
That means my sleep is disrupted because hers is. It also means writing comes much less frequently and for a much shorter period of time than before. It also means my brain and the evil muse have more time to think about the current WIPs. That is both good and bad.
And this is where being flexible comes in. As a creature of habit, I’ve had to relearn how to write when the opportunity presents itself and not when I first get up. For one, she gets up with me now. By the time I get her settled in the family room, deal with the animals (including two Siamese cats we’re cat sitting for the next month as well as our own two cats and our dog) and finally find coffee, I’ve been up at least an hour and she wants to talk.
So writing comes later.
And I don’t mind. There comes a point when you have to realize what’s important and even though writing is my “work”, I can adjust my schedule to do it when the opportunity presents itself. Doing what I can to make Mom more comfortable, make life easier for her is more important than anything else.
What does all this have to do with the title of the blog?
It’s really quite simple. There will be times in your life when you can no longer make the habits or processes you’ve relied on for so long work. Life throws you a curve or your muse does (no, Myrtle, this isn’t a challenge). It is up to you to figure out how best to adapt to the changes and move forward. It is up to you to figure out how to face the challenge and move forward.
Now, to get off the lecture–which I really hadn’t meant to write–and turn this around to the writing. What these last seven or eight weeks have shown me is that I had a major issue with Designation: Frejya. It was a voice problem. It was also a POV problem. My gut was telling me there was something wrong even before Mom’s fall. But having had a lot of time to think and my sub-conscious working overtime much of that time, realization finally dawned on me.
So did the way to fix the problem–something I’ve been working hard to do in order to get the book out on time. It will be a close call, but I think I will make it. . . with some changes in the original plan. More on that in another post.
For now, if you are facing challenges in your writing or in your life, take heart. You aren’t alone. Reach out if you need to talk to someone. Don’t try to carry everything on your shoulders without someone being there to at least listen and bolster you when you need it. That is especially true when you need mental or emotional support.
Most of all, remember that adapting to your situation might be a challenge but it is not a sign of weakness. It isn’t a sign that you have failed. It simply means things have changed and you need to change to progress with the current set of circumstances.
Now go forth, adapt and conquer. I’m going to do the same.
Featured image created using Midjourney AI.
Well stated. It sounds like your mom is making good progress and that’s wonderful. Having dealt with the issue of aging parents myself, I know adjustment and flexibility is necessary. Best of luck, and I hope you have support available to you as well.
Thanks. It’s been a challenge, but we’re both stubborn and determined to get through this and to get her back to as close to normal as possible.
I learned to hold the current scene in the story in my mind while interrupted by young children. And relearned it after my husband retired. Because family is important. And the writing will happen, even if it’s in odd snatches of time.
As you’re finding. Hang in there.
Thanks, Pam, and you are right. A lot of what I’m dealing with right now is similar to when my son was little. In a way, that makes it harder because seeing my strong, capable mother suffering and not able to do what she wants hurts. But she’s determined to recover and that is enough to keep me going even at the worst of times.
Glad to hear things are improving with your mother.
Definitely have not even remotely mastered working routines. Finally decided I need to be back in the building nearly full time at my day job, even though the transit eats a big chunk of time, just because focus and keeping up to speed on our madhouse development cycles just means I need to be in. Still sorting out how that works.
And sure haven’t figured out how to balance writing with family with small kids. But at the same time I have to make things or I slightly go tilt.
And so far nothing I’ve written have been even remotely what I was planning to write either. Which is also trippy. Current WIP was conceived as a space Western type thing. I was trying to work out how a couple of the characters functioned, and started sketching out how they met. She shows up, dominates the scene, steals the story bus and goes tearing off on an insane plot arc. So that’s what I’m writing now…
Bwahahaha! When the characters come to life–you’re doing it right.
And sometimes not be able to write builds up a head of steam, and good things come of it, when it blows. Hopefully for Amanda and you both.
Welcome to my world. This is how many of my stories go. As for routines, don’t get too hung up on them because you will find the happy medium–and don’t be surprised when that changes from one project to another.
One has to remember to reorganize routines and not just drop them. Otherwise, things get dropped forever.
Yes, so much yes!
You just helped me. I needed to know that now is not always and that I am not perfect and not perfect is OK. And to try another tack. Thank you.
I’m glad it helped. What you just wrote is something we all need to remember. Heck, I need to have it tattooed on my forehead so I don’t forget it.
Life makes its own demands and your mother is more important.
I’m still trying to get my head back into the game after my mother broke her wrist, my father’s stint in hospice, and his death.
Once someone dies, there is no going back. Spend time with the living and you’ll have fewer regrets even if you were “non-productive” and “didn’t get anything useful done”.
Best wishes to you and your mother on a good recovery and an end to pain.