Monday, October 31, 2016

Never Give Up--Never Surrender

This blog post title came from the movie Galaxy Quest starring Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, Tony Shaloub, and Sigourney Weaver. I have always loved this movie. I guess it has to do with the character arcs that happen within the space of two hours. If you've never seen it, you should take the time to watch it.

Galaxy Quest

Never Give Up--Never Surrender is also a catch phrase that one of my main characters--Henry Wade, Marquess of Dunbury, utters throughout the stories I am currently writing. As a former military man, I think it's fitting for him.

As a writer, I think it's fitting for me. 

The Truth Hurts

Many times over the course of my writing career I've had people tell me "you can't write that" "this isn't good enough" "ugh!" "Really, you wrote that?". I've told myself countless times, they don't know what they're talking about, this is fab!

Of course, this was my inner child speaking, trying to assuage the hurt that I've felt by listening to their words. Eventually, my inner child shut up long enough to listen and realized that constructive criticism (ie. editing) is good for the soul.

After ten years, I'd say I have a pretty tough hide. I send out work all the time that comes back fully loaded with red-line, and I'm like, "Bring it on."

However, over the course of the last couple of years, there's been a storm brewing in my personal life that I knew was coming, but never really wanted to acknowledge. It's hampered my writing, cramped my style, busted my bubble, and pretty much devastated me. There's no getting around it now, I cannot put off the inevitable. My life will never be the same again.

My Mother Has Memory Loss

For the last several years, I've noticed my mother slipping away. Now, it shouldn't be any great surprise--her father had dementia, her sister has Alzheimers disease. However, my mother refused to believe it could happen to her. About four years ago, I discussed it with my brothers and they basically told me, her care is all on me. (There is more to this story, but I won't share it today.) So, since the incident that started me down this wicked road, my life has taken a sharp downhill turn.

Unfortunately, her doctor refuses to diagnose her. Oh, he's run all the tests, and they've all come back negative--no protein strains, no plaque build-up, arteries are clear, B-12 is good. We now have to wait until the end of December for a final psychoanalysis. (Really, we have to wait four months for a freaking writing test that will determine that my mother can't remember. Just come to dinner one night and try to have a conversation with her. Her coherency is now four minutes before the loop picks up again and we repeat the same answers to the same questions.)

Time Management Skills

Now, I'm sure for those of you who've stuck by me (love you so much) throughout the course of this blog, you've seen me whine about how I can't get any work done, how there's not enough time in the day, I have obligations that are weighing me down...those were all true. I suck at time management. Always have. I have always worked best under pressure, so everything I do comes down to the last minute.

When I finished my last book in July I gave myself the timetable that this next book would be finished by Thanksgiving. As of today, that leaves me a little over 3 weeks. I have written 30k words so far, hoping to bring it up to at least 80k. Fifty thousand words is no small feat in three weeks, but I'm confident I can do it. I have no choice if I want to keep my fan base. (And the money rolling in. Writing is my full-time job and you know the old saying, Publish, Publish, Publish.)

Problem is, my phone rings now. 

Ma Bell

When I was kid and we lived at the beach, we never had a phone. Actually, we didn't get a phone at the beach house until I was 23 and I needed one for work. I never had a cell phone until I became pregnant with Monster. To this day, I don't use it. All my friends are like, "I tried to call you, your phone's not on." No, it's not. When I'm at home, I don't answer the phone, the machine picks it up, because usually/always when I'm actually at home, I'm writing.

Unfortunately, now when the phone rings I have to pick it up. And it's usually right when I'm in the middle of writing something great. My mother is on the other end. It's always either one or the other "My television doesn't work" or "I can't find my car keys."

Mind you, my mother hasn't driven in about three months. When she got home from her trip this summer, the day after she returned, someone hit her car in the parking lot of the gas-n-go and she's been freaked out ever since. I am now her chauffeur. Problem is, she was so used to just jumping in her car and running to the market up the street every day for whatever it was she needed, she tends to think that I will do this for her as well. And I do because I'm a good daughter.

As for the television, she can't remember to wait until the HDMI2 box goes off before she changes the channel, so the TV gets funky. "Give me five minutes, I'll be right down."

No Rest for the Weary

I've been wrestling with whether or not to give up this blog this for awhile now. Whenever I was crunched for time before, the blog was always the first to take a hiatus. I've been seriously thinking of giving it up for good. I mean, this is the first post I've written in six weeks. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I've had to make three trips to Wal-mart in the last 6 days. (Each trip lasts two hours because we have to walk down every aisle to make sure she doesn't forget anything. Even with a list.)

Since school started, I am exhausted. With my volunteer duties at school (which have since slowed to a very basic minimum), volleyball and now basketball for Monster, (believe me I really tried to not let her play basketball but she's such a good kid, and a great team leader I kind of had no choice), my mother's daily drama, not to mention Robert's ongoing recovery (remember he fell off the roof in March and broke both of his feet), and let's not forget the housework that all falls to me (including now cleaning my parent's house) and cooking for five people (who live in two separate domiciles and eat different things every night -- the restaurant is now OPEN), it kind of is a wonder that I'm still standing. 

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Thanks, Katy.  

Never Give Up -- Never Surrender

So, why did I tell you all this? I don't really know. Purge my soul maybe? I'm dealing with some heavy duty shit right now and therapy is supposed to be good for us. Right? I probably should be in real therapy with a real therapist, but I don't have time. I haven't had a drop to drink since the day I found out I was pregnant with Monster, but let me tell you what--Jack Daniels is looking increasingly sexy to me. (And no, I have no desire to drink, but it makes me feel better to talk about it.)

Yesterday I eked out a mere 409 words on the latest WIP. I thought that was fantastic. A couple of years ago, I thought a 14,000 word Saturday was the height of achievement. When I checked my word count, I was surprised I had written 29,976 words so far. How did I do it? I didn't remember any great word count Saturdays in recent weeks. I grabbed an hour here, a couple hours there, in between the assorted trips to Food Lion, Panera for lunch, and shopping for basketball sneakers for the Monster.

I'm not a quitter by any means. I never give up until I get my way. It may take awhile, but I'm tenacious. However, this microcosmic world that I am now currently living in is pushing me to my limits.

My father doesn't want strangers in the house, so I can't get any help. My mother doesn't understand why I go to my own home for supper every night. (She's starting to think I still live with them because I'm there so much.) Monster rolls her eyes when I say, "I can't help you with homework right now because I have to fix Yo-Yo's tv." (Because fixing the television is literally a 30 second job, but it takes an hour to get out of the house.) And my poor dogs don't understand why Mommy doesn't come down and sit with them in the office every day.

So, why did I tell you all this?

It's about the passion. The passion I feel as an artist to bring to life something someone else will/might enjoy. A long time ago I told my father I wanted to be a writer instead of becoming a computer programmer like he wanted me to. He thought I was stupid to throw away my life on "writing books that no one will read". (Remember, when I was in high school, computer life was just starting out. Oh, for the love of Microsoft stock!)

Well, I know a lot more about computers now than I ever did before. I also know how to write code, format documents, make book trailers, create covers, and design newsletters, not to mention brand recognition, marketing, promotion, and social media. No, I didn't really want to know how to do all that, but with zero budget, I learned. It's part of the "writing" process these days. My creds looks great on a resume, but what good does it do me? It's not like I can get a "real" job these days even if I wanted to.

Funny thing is, my father is now on board with my writing. He even gave me a couple of suggestions when I started killing people in my murder mystery series.

I am a Writer, hear me ROAR

I am a writer. I tell stories. It's what I do. It's what I've always WANTED to do ever since I was little kid. It's my PASSION. It's like breathing to me. Sure, I don't write every day now. I can't. But I'm always thinking about it. ALWAYS thinking about it.

So, when the fit hits the shan in your life, never give up, never surrender. No matter who tells you you can't do it. Prove them wrong. It may take awhile, you may get sidetracked, you may get plowed over by a bus, but get back up and get back to it. 

There's nothing worse than regretting your dreams.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2016