I’ve been struggling for over a week now to get life calmed down enough that I can sit down and do more than blog. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy blogging, but I have a list of tasks that are growing that aren’t getting done on Easton’s project and on the Lost River/Matt Kirchner project because I can’t seem to get two minutes of peace and quiet during which to compose some prose. And then there are the other projects that tie into those, and the things I want to do just for fun… Grrrr….

I can blog if I’m stressed. I can blog if I’m not feeling so great. I can’t write fiction so well if I’m dealing with those things. I require quiet and focus in order to create fiction, and that’s both internal and external quiet and focus. We won’t even get into my old-lady (okay, middle-aged-lady) eyes and how hard it is to literally focus these days on anything within arm’s length. That’s a subject for another day.

I’ve considered going back to my night-owl schedule to write. One of the reasons I changed my work schedule was because our sweet Julius had to have medicine every twelve hours, so I needed to be up to do that. Now that he’s gone, if I wanted to go back to the other schedule, I could—at least from that perspective. I’m not sure I could do it from other perspectives, like that of the fatigued, Lyme-disease and autoimmune-challenged, perimenopausal woman who has somehow moved into my body while I wasn’t looking. That chick? She just wants to sleep.

Regardless, as frustrated as I am right now, I’m also extraordinarily grateful. A few months ago, I was trying desperately to finish up Pinecone Trail and was absolutely certain I wasn’t going to be able to do that. I was in the middle of an autoimmune flare, and it had been going on for a long time. This episode was different, however, in that one of the areas where I was affected was my ability to get words from my brain onto paper.

See, I spent about a year not having any new ideas to speak of in my head. There were no story starters, no characters talking to me, no snippets of “what if” appearing to tease at my senses. I was burned out, emotionally wrecked, and I needed time off. So I took it. I managed to eke out Molly’s book, Burning Springs, pry out some ideas that had stuck from a while back to create Letters from Owen, but it took monumental effort. For someone used to churning out on average three thousand words a day, five days a week, this was a departure.

But what happened this spring was different. The ideas had finally come back. They were in my head where they needed to be. They were clamoring for release… and I couldn’t release them. I couldn’t put words together via typing to form a coherent sentence. I was using the wrong words in ways that made no sense in any context remotely close to what I was trying to type. I would try to use something like location in a sentence and the word look or spool would come out. Every sentence became a real labor, and Pinecone Trail was starting to look like the last book I’d ever manage to write.

That wasn’t a pleasant or comfortable realization.

Something was wrong, that much was obvious. But what? On top of the issues with words, I was having issues using the mouse, hitting the links I wanted to, and a host of other things. Desperate, I headed to my rheumatologist and begged him to put me back on Plaquenil. It’s a DMARD, which is a class of drugs that works against autoimmune diseases, and I’ve been on it several times in the past with good results. He agreed, I started the Plaquenil, and then promptly got referred to a neurologist for a checkup. Smart man, my rheumy. He’s worth his weight in gold.

The good news is that the Plaquenil is working, and as far as the neuro consult is concerned, the doctor doesn’t have a clue as to why I had the symptoms I had. There was nothing obvious or not-so-obvious that could cause them, so far as he was concerned, and he declared me to be in working order so far as he was concerned. I can deal with that. Unless something changes, we’re going to chalk this one up to the Chronic Lyme disease and be thankful the meds worked, and we’re moving on.

The other thing that came along and saved my bacon was dictation software. A writerly friend was discussing it in a Facebook group we’re both part of, and I figured it might be worth a shot. I was actually able to communicate clearly via my mouth for once (I have a tendency to talk like Yoda from time to time, and I struggle for words when put on the spot), and I didn’t have anything to lose. Right?

To my surprise, the words flowed. FLOWED. I can’t describe to you the weight that was lifted off my shoulders. Within a week, I went from thinking my writing was over to knowing I had a shot at this thing, that I hadn’t lost it. I could have cried. I may have actually, if we’re being blunt. I managed to finish Pinecone Trail—quite nicely, I thought. And I just moved on from there.

I’m still not typing as much as I used to. I can do nonfiction stuff like writing these blogs with decent ease, but fiction is still a struggle for me. So I’ll type these out, because I do like typing, but most of the fiction, I’m dictating. As an aside, something I’d not been expecting and that amuses me greatly is that I am having to teach Dragon (the software I’m using) to curse. It has a Ned Flanders vocabulary. I’m definitely not as clean as Ned Flanders.

So while I’m tremendously frustrated by the stagnation caused by the craziness of life over the last couple of weeks, I’m also quietly thankful because there’s creativity there to be stifled. I think it’s a common fear for writers and other creative types, that the ideas will someday dry up and go away. I can tell you that the reality of that happening is terrifying.

As for going forward, I feel like I’m almost back on track to where I want to be. The Happy Planner is helping a lot, and so are these daily blogs. Both are exercises, though of a different type, and establishing a routine is crucial for me now. I’m also doing physical exercises religiously, and I’m working on meditation – though in my somewhat sleep-deprived, perpetually exhausted pigeon state, that tends to put me to sleep. zzzZzzzZzZzzzzzz…..

Oops, sorry. I dozed off for a minute. Anyhoo… It feels good to be back on the horse, sitting in the saddle facing the right way, and with my hands on the reins. I’m eager to see what’s next, and to once again believe that there is a “next.” Thanks for sticking with me while I figured all that out.

Happy Reading!

T. L.