Monday, June 11, 2012

MONDAY MUSINGS: Insecurities Of Rebuilding

~Start where you are because yesterday is gone and tomorrow hasn't happened.~

Writing is something I've always done both in the work force and for pleasure.
Each is in its own compartment. Both come from a different mindset. Writing is something I do and for me it’s always been relatively easy—depending upon the purpose. I can create a conversational tone in my writing or generate a very specific piece in formal or business English.

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I approach writing for business and pleasure in different ways.

I’m very focused and disciplined when working. Most of my professional writing came with deadlines. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with deadlines. I very rarely missed a one. Working to deadlines doesn’t give you time to be stuck. You have to find a way through whatever block there is.

Writing for pleasure has been a different kettle of fish. I’m a bit more freeform—whatever catches my fancy would go on paper. A wisp of a dream I’d developed into a story, something I observed and it created a story in my mind, and what I call my, what would happen if…? When I’d get stuck I’d step away and mull it all over. Sometimes I’d come back to it and write what’s perked in my mind. Other times I’d get bored or lose interest and put it away. Not as disciplined as my professional writing.

Publishing deadlines require focus and discipline. I’ve been a contributor in several essay projects. I've written non-fiction industry oriented manuals. Teaching manuals or creative brochures. Most of these were procedural or writing to capture the attention with a set purpose in mind. Fiction publications were anthologies. Again, I had a deadline. I’ve always found that writing comes with roadblocks and corners to get stuck in. When it’s to deadline my mind finds a way around it.

A few years ago I decided to take my creative writing more seriously and work toward publication. I’ve written several novels. I also have quite a few unfinished manuscripts. Some of the unfinished are experiments in different genres and some are those I lost interest in finishing. I didn’t have a deadline on them so I could play a bit; try different things.

I queried some of the finished work and got some positives back. I had a good writing routine down. I was focused. I had some editing that needed to be done—I hate taking my creative work apart and putting back together.

I had my blog which falls into professional writing, I was attending writing conferences and enjoying the whole learning process. Hey, I even tried an elevator pitch on a story not yet written but I had a preliminary sketch on and the editor said she’d like to see it first before I queried it. That floored me. I was on the top of the world in the beginning of 2010.

Then life went to hell. I mean like a fiery comet zooming for impact. Everything changed in the wake of the crash. Things do come in threes—the tragedy of losing my brother at thirty-nine, my son and his difficulties, then my health self-destructing. Crash and burn, baby. Big time. And there was almost no Phoenix to be reborn.

Some writers are able to write through chaos. I’m not one of them. 
In the beginning of my illness, I would try to write. I’d get so frustrated when the words wouldn’t come. It got to the point that as soon I met with any frustration I’d quit. That became a disturbing pattern.

When writing is something you do without thought, when it comes easy; not being able to write is tough. I’m used to words flowing not hiding like shadows in my mind—you see them, they look real, until you try to touch them and they disappear. Having to stretch or reach for words for even a simple paragraph? You feel like you’ve been amputated.

Things are better. I’m better. But I’ve lost time. I’ve lost focus. The only thing that remains of that positive time is my blog and finished and unfinished manuscripts. Contacts.

I’m working at rebuilding the focus and the writing routine. It’s not easy. The burn of determination hasn’t quite returned but I do see the new growth in development.

I set goals. Baby steps where I was once running. Days of two or three thousand words are replaced with a measly five hundred and some days I celebrate when I accomplish two hundred. I remind myself of those in sports that have suffered a serious accident and what they have to go through to regain lost ground. They have to know how hard to push themselves and that’s a fine line.

Insecurities? You bet I have them. Can I break the pattern of quitting when I get frustrated? Will I be able to regain my joy, focus, and self-discipline? Do I want to? There are days I would tell you no. I don’t want to. Those are the weak days.

One thing I have found is feeling sorry for myself, looking behind rather than forward doesn't get me anywhere good. There is always a choice. I can sit in a huddle and whine or I can work through it and celebrate the success I have. Positive or negative. 

I've always chosen positive.

  • How do you handle life's setbacks?  


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Excellent post to read.
I have had my fair share of setbacks in my life, sure I feel hurt, but feeling sorry for myself is not good.
I try to maintain a positive outlook though at times is very hard.

Karen Walker said...

Sia, such a poignant post. I have been where you are and am actually feeling some of the same things, although I don't have the excuse of recovering from a serious illness. All I can offer you is that you be gentle wish yourself. Understand that you have been grieving as well as recovering from illness and that at some point, the words will flow again. I have to believe that, because I need to believe it for me as well.

Talli Roland said...

What a wonderful post, Sia. I admire your determination. Like you, whenever I'm facing difficulties and I need to write, I try to set goals - even baby steps!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You'll find it again! When we are sidetracked, it's difficult to refocus. Difficult, but not impossible.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Yvonne, it's not always easy, I agree. All we can do is the best we can.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Karen, I didn't even consider the grieving aspect. Of course it would play into the mix. I dunno why I DIDN'T really consider it other than it was a time my life started unraveling.

Meanwhile, I celebrate my little successes.

And thank you! :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Thank you Talli. Baby steps are better than no steps. Still hard to deal with though.

@Alex, than you for your for your vote of confidence. Refocusing is hard at times and I'm not giving up.

Johanna Garth said...

Sia, I had no idea that you'd had those difficulties. You strike me as such an amazing, positive person. Based on the little bit I know of you, you will came blazing's just a matter of time.

Kim Sanders said...

My son, who has an amazing writing talent, used to tell me that all the great writers had suffered immensely in their lives, and that I had made his life too wonderful to be a great writer. Now, he has suffered greatly, and we will see if he was right.

Sia, I hope your baby steps back into the writing world bring you to a level of greatness and depth that only a few writers accomplish. Good luck with the baby steps.

~Sia McKye~ said...

@Johanna. It's not something I talk about a lot, or at least some of the details. Most people know I've been sick but not much beyond that.

Thank you. I've never really thought of myself as amazing but I've always chosen the positive. :-) Thank you for your vote of confidence!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kim, I don't wanna suffer greatly for my art, darn it. But you do take life in stride and keep moving. For sure all of our life experiences find their way into our writing, one way or another.

Baby steps and me. We're like this, crossing my fingers, right now. lolol!

Let me know how things go with your son!

Anonymous said...

Sia, when times are hard, we fall back on what matters the most. Obviously you love writing, otherwise it would have fallen by the wayside. Keep on plugging.

Dana Fredsti said...

Sia, I had no idea you went through all these things the last two years. As an infrequent Wombat, I've missed a lot and feel horrible having done so. That being said, I am also someone who can't write in chaos or during bad times. I used to be able to do so - it was my escape. Now, especially with deadlines and taking it to a new level as far as professionalism, it's so hard. May your baby steps lead to bigger steps and back into running.

Jo said...

Difficult as it is, you just have to learn to pick up the pieces and go on. Tell the troubles you will ignore them, you will NOT be beaten and then kick them in the rear end.

And if you really want encouragement check out Robin Roberts on Good Morning America. Helps to put one's problems in perspective.

Jemi Fraser said...

When life throw comets at you, it's a good idea to take a step back and breathe before jumping in again. Glad to hear you're taking the plunge again!! :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

@Dana. I've mentioned parts of it on the Wombats but you know I don't tend to elaborate on the deets much. Yah,I'm looking forward to running again.

@Jo. Or as they say around here, buck up. I don't let troubles kick me around for long, if I have my way. Humor and fortitude. The thing is, I'm all too aware that there are those who have things much worse than I. I'm alive.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jemi, you cracked me up with that comment of when life throws comets at you. A saving grace for me has always been a good sense of humor.

I'm learning to pace myself. There is a fine line between pushing yourself to your maximum and pushing too hard and undoing progress made. Hard one to learn.

Thank you for the laugh and the encouragement. :-)

Kat Sheridan said...

I know that women like you and me are raised with the whole "tough cookies don't crumble" mantra, but it isn't true. We do crumble. What IS true is that when it happens, we gather up all those crumbs and use them as topping on our ice cream sundaes! Hang in there.

Em-Musing said...

You're stronger than you know. Setbacks, health issues, death of loved's all tough. Thanks for your comment on my blog today. I can't enable the link to follow you. Since I moved to Mexico I'm now a .mx instead of .com, and some of the links on Blogger don't work.

Beth Ciotta said...

Excellent post, Sia. Heartfelt and thought provoking. Something I'm sure many of us can relate to at least in some parts.

I had my share of setbacks over the last two years--personally and professionally. The way I deal with them is by pushing through, becoming almost manic with my writing. It gives me focus, a creative outlet that fuels me. It's an escape. That said, I haven't dealt with a physical setback myself. I'm not sure if I'd be able to write through that.

It sounds to me like you have a healthy approach. Baby steps. Celebrate even small accomplishments. I do know that if for some reason a week or more goes by and I haven't actually worked on a story, it's hard to get back in the groove. It's like a muscle that hasn't been flexed in awhile.

Be kind to yourself and rediscover the joy in writing. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia .. great thoughts and you've certainly had your three things - life does knock us at times, then another comes along - but life also helps us pick ourselves up and keep going. I so admire you for coming through ...

You'll sort out the mini writing quagmire you're in and be ready to bloom again as the buds start pushing forth ..

Love your writings ... now it's all the very best for the future .. just doing the now as you go. Cheers Hilary

DL Hammons said...

You've handled things better than I did. Last year when things got tough for me I shut down my blog and withdrew. Yes...I fought my way back, but I would have been better off if I would have at least kept my toes dipped in the blogging waters.

One step in front of the other...that's what I say. Baby steps...or full-grown makes no difference as long as we're moving forward! :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Don, to tell you the truth I think my blog was a saving grace for me. It falls into professional and that helped. I didn't have to be particularly adroit in word choices. Basically intros and the authors did the rest. It did help keep my hand it. I won't say I didn't think about stepping aside when I was so tired but...I couldn't. There's that professionalism again. It made me feel I was still in the biz so to speak.

"I fought my way back..." and I so understand that feeling because I'm trying to do that too.
Congratulations on seeing results of that battle. You, of all people, probably understand the time and frustration an athlete feels regaining lost ground. :-)

Keep on moving on.

~Sia McKye~ said...

@Kat-you bet!Love yah, my friend!

@Em When I saw mx I first thought *mix* lol! Yah, I heard from several in different countries that some links won't work. But thanks for wanting to follow. :-)

@Hilary-friends and support. People caring one way or the other helps us pick ourselves up. Just doing the now. Yep. It's the only thing you have at least nominal control over. Thank you.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Beth, thank you. I'll try not to beat myself up too much.

Seriously, I do admire those who can work through the dreck and who take the setbacks or troubles and can escape into their writing. Through some things I can. Just too much this time.

That's what I'm finding; it's hard to find and ensconce myself into the writing groove. My head KNOWS that but the butt just doesn't always want to sit itself in the chair and DO it. I'm working on it.

Angela Ackerman said...

I'm so sorry for your past would be difficult for me to function in your situation. I can see though through your post that you are a fighter, and you will get back on track! :)


SA Larsenッ said...

'You feel like you’ve been amputated.' Boy, did you hit it on the head with this statement. I completely understand how you feel. I think one way I get through those unexpected hurdles life throws at me is to give myself permission to pause, to fail with the goals I'd preset, and to step back. That is not easy, but it's one way I use to handle it.

Thank you so much for stopping by Writers Ally. ;D

michelle said...

Sia, I admire you!
Through all the difficulties and obstacles, your perseverance and positivity shines through!