Monday, June 12, 2017
For the last year or so, I've felt like a deep sea diver, descending into uncharted territory, a shark spear in one hand, flailing for the guide rope to the surface in another. My mother's diagnosis has left me nearly paralyzed under the routine of housework, Monster, and writing to keep my feet on terra firma. But paranoia swims at the bottom of that endless ocean and the question remains --what state of mind will I have in ten years?
Alzheimer's disease is a nightmare to live through. Blinding frustration, overwhelming panic, incredible sadness, and just plain helplessness are a few of the more colorful adjectives I can think of. My grandfather had dementia. My maternal aunt has it (has been suffering from it for the last 22 years). Technically, my aunt shouldn't even be alive, but she is, which frightens me even more that my mother could live with this horrible affliction for the next fifteen years. And that if she is still alive in fifteen years, she will be 90 and I will be 70. Chances are, I will be fighting that same disease. Monster will only be 27. I do not want to leave her with that legacy.
I've begun to seriously consider the next ten years. Something I don't often do. I live in the present, have tried not to plan ahead more than a few weeks. Plans change and I hate to be disappointed. It's that Taurus thing. However, when I first started blogging I read that every writer should have a five-year plan. Same as a small business model. I achieved my five-year plan, albeit with an extension to finish The Reluctant Grooms Series. (By this time, my mother's illness had begun to show its ugly head.) Somewhere in the back of my mind I had thought to write the next Regency romance series, Ladies of Dunbury, within the next five year plan, which is where I am now at two years in. I have written and published three books, contracted to write five more, hopefully within the span of the next two years, which will leave me at year four of this five year cycle.
Having said that, last year I began writing a detective/mystery series. What was supposed to be a lark, has actually turned out to be an interesting opportunity for me to stretch my wings as a writer. It's also turned out to be a massive project. I have finished 6 of the 24 novellas, and started on five of the others.
I also have a contemporary romance in the works with 24k words on that. Those words took only eight days for me to write. I could probably finish the durn thing in three weeks if I had a mind. But since the day Monster got out of school, I have been spring cleaning and moving furniture, and trying to keep up with the yard work. I bushwhacked through a jungle of overgrowth three days ago and am still paying for it.
Taking all that into consideration, I look at where Monster is in school- 7th grade. Two more years until she graduates, then high school (four years), then hopefully, college at Wake Forest (four more). Equals ten years. Monster will be 22. I will be 65. And my mother will be 85. I know what all the Alzheimer's doctors say-- they only give the patient five years from the diagnosis. Well, my family throws that theory out the window.
So, here I sit contemplating the next decade. The five remaining Regency romances will take at least two years to finish. The massive detective/mystery project will take a year to finish, at least, and then another year for edits. And not only do I have one contemporary romance that I want to work on, I have several unfinished manuscripts lying around in the bowels of my hard drive I'd like to work on again. I think I have enough work to keep me busy for the next couple of years.
In ten years, I will be sixty-five. What state of mind will I have? Will I still be able to write? Will I still be able to function? Will they have found a cure by then? Will my books still sell? What is the legacy I'm going to leave for Monster?
I know, heavy thoughts for a Monday morning. With the looming idea of Alzheimer's disease added into the equation, it's not looking good for me. But I'm ever optimistic. As cynical and jaded as I am about the rest of the world, I have faith that some human spirit will break through the mysteries of the disease and find a cure. Not just for me, but for every single person who's suffering right now.
As for me, I intend to just pound the keyboards until my writing looks like this
[m/d w gjwoudn gjou njowrspw.
Maybe by then I'll be so famous, those words will be worth a zillion dollars.
Tell me -- Do you ever think about what you're going to write next? Do you have a five-year/ten-year plan?
Anne Gallagher (c) 2017