Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Doors & Windows

The last two years, I've written goals on a piece of paper on January 1st and filed them away in a small decorative box on top of my desk. Then at the end of the year, I see just how well I've done with meeting them.

Last year I did great. I exceeded the number of sales I'd set for myself with the confessions magazines and while I didn't finish writing a book, I wrote 50,000 words of it during the month of November.

On January 1, 2009, I wrote new goals, sure I could meet them. This is my list:

~ Finish writing a novel
~ Get my PRO pin
~ Pitch the novel at the RWA national conference
~ Write and submit 6 stories to the Trues magazines
~ Start a second novel
~ Get in shape and lose weight

I did finish the novel but I didn't pitch it at the conference because I had a chance to pitch it online at eHarlequin, where I got a request for the full manuscript. Unfortunately it was rejected, but the experience was fabulous and I learned so much. That opportunity earned me my PRO pin.

Then in July I added a seventh item: Survive divorce and come out stronger on the other end.

In 2005, we moved and our older son got married, and between the stress of those two things, my muse packed a bag and took an extended vacation to the tropics. She came back, though, in 2006 and I started my selling spree to the Trues. Things toddled along nicely until this year and when my world began to fall apart around me, the muse packed a bag, closed out her checking account, cancelled her subscription to the newspaper and applied for citizenship in another country.

Not only couldn't I write, I couldn't even read. Normally I read 4-6 books a month. I've only read 10 books all year. It's hard for me to sit still long enough to watch a one-hour show on TV even when I fast-forward through the commercials. Stress can be vicious. Aside from the mental effects, it has physical ones too. Remember my list above? I lost 15 pounds without dieting. I also lost a whole lot of junk when I cleaned out my stuff prior to moving into an apartment last weekend (thank you Playfriends, Playfriend spouses and Playkids for helping). The thrift store was excited.

Call it what you will -- a vacationing muse, writer's block or creative silence -- but it sucks, especially when you want to write and the words just won't come.

I recently had a small 2 x 3 inch ink drawing framed. My mom gave it to me and it sat in my kitchen window, still in the cellophane, without a frame, for over 25 years. I decided to frame it for my new apartment. It’s not a standard size so I figured I’d just have a new mat cut and put it in a standard frame. Nope. Wouldn’t work and look right. Soooo, $45 later it’s all framed and double matted and ready to be hung in a special place. What does this little thing say?

“God never closes a door without opening a window.”

I try not to focus on the closed doors behind me, and I've tried not to let my own personal drama spill over into other people's lives. But I figured it was time to say something here.

Rest assured I'm focusing on the open windows ahead. It isn’t always easy, but I’m going to do it.

I learned some lessons along the way:

Life is what happens while you are making other plans.
Crap happens.
Don't sweat the small stuff.
There is more than one reality.
Trust your gut.
Good friends and family are worth more than their weight in gold.

And my favorite is from a magnet my sister sent me when the aforementioned crap began to happen.

Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.

I've no doubt the muse will be back in the end.

And so we end on a positive note, how about Donny "Puppy Love" Osmond and the Argentine tango???


Christine said...

PM, windows will open and other doors will as well. Don't worry about your muse -- she'll come back and be raring to go before you know it. Be gentle with yourself.
And you know it really is okay to say life sucks and this sucks and just write that it sucks. I never will understand people who walk around pretending all is well and sweep the truth under the rug when a good scream or three is really the better solution.
Screaming on paper is okay, too.
You will come out ahead, and you will prevail.
Hugs and Prayers!

Problem Child said...

When one door closes, another will open, but it can be hell in the hallway.

You've had a b!tch of a year in that hallway, but we're very proud of how well you've handled everything thrown at you.

The muse will return, and if not, the Playfriends will track her ass down and extradite her.

Playground Monitor said...

...but it can be hell in the hallway.

My sister also sent a card that said "When you're going through hell, keep going." That's from Winston Churchill.

The muse will return, and if not, the Playfriends will track her ass down and extradite her.

The Playfriends rock!

Smarty Pants said...

Not only will your Muse come back, PM, but you're going to write a bestselling women's fiction book about your journey when its done.

Sometimes you just have to focus on other things for a while. I think taking care of yourself is more important than writing at this point.

PM's Mother said...

You go, girl!!!!!!

Instigator said...

We're all very proud of you, PM. I think I've told you before, but you are my hero. The way that you've handled this situation is amazing and awe inspiring. It sucks. No questions about that. But you're going to be okay because you have people who love and support you.

Your Muse will come back (if for no other reason than because seeing the five of us descend with shovels, baseball bats and her passport should scare the shit out of her). And when she does you'll be ready. In the meantime, be nice to yourself. You deserve the chance to settle in.


Lynn Raye Harris said...

Many hugs, PM. I think you are amazing and strong and that you've handled this whole thing with the kind of grace and strength that most women could only dream of possessing. You will persevere. :) No doubts about that at all.

(Loved that tango! Rawr! Just wrote a book set in Argentina....)

Sherry Werth said...

Well PM, reading your blog today was sorta a shock to me, to say the least. I had no idea what you had been going through the past few months. I don't get to spend a lot of time with you, but on the occasions that I have, you are always friendly and welcoming and in general just a darn lovely lady. Hugs to you PM and in the words of your Mom...You Go Girl!!!!!

Angel said...

I think any major issue that comes up in our lives, good or bad, can affect our creative abilities and desires. No matter how much I loved my son, I didn't write the entire time I was pregnant (Instigator and I joked we were growing babies instead of stories) or for a while after he was born. There was just too much consuming my attention for me to have anything left over for writing.

Though this is a very different situation, when your entire living situation is changing and your emotions are put through the wringer, that consumes your attention in a much darker way. The muse will come back. It just takes time.

And I can't say enough about the value of friends in a situation like this. I was reading a news article just today that said one reason women live longer than men is the support systems they set up in their lives, being open with their friends about their difficulties, and asking for help when they need it. Just like brainstorming for a book, talking with those around you about solutions to your problems, or simply venting when you need to, goes a long way toward relieving stress. (a massage and a pedicure don't hurt either!) :)

We love you, PM. And are so glad we could help along the way.


Kathy said...

Your strength and courage is a testament to all of us, PM.

Unto every life a light will shine and every light is a gift from heaven. Where you walk, your friends walk. When you grieve, your friends grieve with you. A friend's heart is a constant source of light to brighten your path. We are here for you, diligent warrior. :)

When my dad died, I buried myself in whatever I could find, writing, the luncheon, deadlines, graduations, etc..., only to hit rock bottom. When the world quieted, I fell apart. Life is dull without a muse, however inspiration comes in many forms. If I had one wish for you now, it would be to give yourself permission to be you. Whether you are reading or not reading, writing or not writing. Time will heal your fractured heart and with that healing, your errant muse shall return.

The voyage you travel may take you round the horn or by canal, my friend. Either way, you'll come out stronger, more resourceful, and empowered in the end.

Much love!! :)

Liza said...

(((Hugs))) PM! You have the strength and the support from your friends to make it through this and anything else thrown your way. I'll keep you in my prayers.

Caroline Storer said...

(((HUGS))) PM - you rock! Take care. Caroline x