I like Lifetime movies…some of them anyway, so don’t get me wrong. But lately, what I and my family have been going through the past few months has been so surreal, I sometimes feel like I’m watching or taking part in a Lifetime movie.
And I guess I'm still waiting for the happy ending.
I ended up taking a long break from writing for about ten days this month, from the 15th through yesterday. Now, my reasons are all pretty solid…I’m working the day job, took part in an on-line writing conference from the 15th through the 17th, and spent my birthday weekend combing the beach, visiting seaside towns, attending a wedding, hanging out with friends and taking a chance on long shots at the horse races. While I did my best to push down the guilt of not getting in my word count, my birthday weekend was some much-needed time away and I enjoyed every minute of it.
This past week I could have easily made up for the days I missed writing except that an event occurred which nothing in the world would keep me from missing. I’ve shared very little about the incident surrounding my dad’s death and I don’t know if there ever will be a time when that subject is something I’ll feel I can freely speak about. It’s just too raw and too emotional to share right now, as the loss of my dad has affected me and my family in ways I still can’t comprehend. But this past week we were finally able to close one more door in our attempt at moving towards healing and while nothing will ever bring my dad back, I feel a little better knowing the person responsible for his death will not be able to heave another family into such a tragic set of circumstances.
Sometimes the difficulties we face in life do leave us feeling as if we’re stranded in some Lifetime movie. The way of getting through the tough times is to take care of ourselves and try to find time to focus on what might give us rest or raise our spirits, if even for a little while.
And sometimes, that’s difficult to do.
You can freeze a movie on television to take a snack break but it’s certainly more difficult to freeze life if what you need is time to catch your breath. The trick for me that I’m still learning is not to be so hard on myself when I have to make a choice that results in both a positive and a negative. During my birthday weekend, I had to choose between giving myself that much needed time to catch my breath or spend the weekend at home writing to reach my word count. I knew that the weekend away would screw up my word count, especially when the following week would involve even more pressing family matters. However, while I love to write and I’m doing my best to focus on my goals, I also know that setting aside time to unwind is good for the soul and is especially important during the most difficult of times.
Until yesterday, I honestly hadn’t realized that I spent so little time writing during those ten days but due to everything else I had going on, my writing (except for journaling) had to take a back seat. Even if I had made a small attempt at writing during this past week, I just didn’t have the emotional energy to focus on anything other than the case surrounding my dad’s death. The fact that Camp NaNo is continuing with or without me and will end only four days from today meant that when I finally got back to my novel yesterday morning, I was a little disappointed in myself for getting so behind in my word count. But then, writers tend to easily disappoint themselves, even if everyone else continues to believe what they do is amazing.
So what did I do?
I broke out of the fog I’d been in for over a week, dusted off my keyboard and read over the last chapter in my novel. This novel has been enjoyable to write so it didn’t take long for me to get back into the story and for the characters to get back into my head. Then I began to write…and I continued to write all afternoon and into the early evening. I took a break here and there but by the end of the day, I’d added over 5,300 words to my novel and if it weren’t for the pain I was beginning to feel in my back and shoulder blades, I could have added more. What I accomplished yesterday doesn’t make up for 10 days of big fat zeroes, but it’s a good effort and leaves me a manageable word count requirement for the next few days.
In addition, the results from yesterday remind me that time spent replenishing my soul also feeds the source of my creativity and ultimately, gives me the focus and energy I need to take on even the toughest tasks. Right now, my toughest task is to complete Camp NaNo with the word count I committed myself to…so I guess it’s time to get back to it!