“You are soon going to change your present line of work.” — my fortune cookie
“…in bed. Hahaha!” — my teenager
My brain has been stuck in a creative neutral as of late. It froze right when I fell to my knees beside my mom during her subarachnoid hemorrhage six weeks ago and it hasn’t quite kicked back into full power. Character arcs, witty dialogue, and plot points took a backseat to matters of life and death. The brutal nature of real life trumped my creative play since the mortality for SAH is between 40 and 60% up to thirty days after the rupture, and nearly half of those who do survive have cognitive impairments that affect their quality of life. Phrases like “advance directives” and “power of attorney” floated around my brain as the neurosurgeon performed surgeries on hers. While the physicians were hopeful, the truth was her prognosis was uncertain.
Fortunately, through either good luck or amazing doctors or an act of God or all of the above, she is doing well, all things considered. She is home and is even attempting to return to work next week for a couple of hours a day. As her health gradually improves, I feel myself relaxing and trying to sink back into a writing routine, but it’s proven difficult. Our lives are now altered and we all have a new normal to which we must adjust. I have daily check-ins with her, remind her of things, and try to make sure she has healthy food in the house because my step-dad is a junk food addict. I am just beginning to fall back into a daily rhythm and regain my energy, which, in turn, is arousing my hibernating creativity.
However, after this hiatus I began to question my ability to craft a good story. Did I have the ability to begin with? To be honest, I’ve never completed a project to the point where I could say, this is as good as it’s going to get. Nothing has been nor is ready for any sort of submission, so I haven’t yet received a boatload of rejection slips, except in my mind. I started thinking, if I couldn’t write well in the first place, should I even begin again? Do I attempt to pick up where I left off?
I thumbed through a script I was working on before my mom’s brain malfunctioned. The act of reading was a tad painful. Too many blocks of boring dialogue tethered to a story slow to get off the runway. My mind was editing as I read and I couldn’t get into the story itself. It needs a complete renovation.
I dove into Scrivener and skimmed through character sketches for a story idea I’ve been toying around with. A few characters seemed fully alive, ready to break free of their cyber restraint and run amok through the real world. I wanted to set them free just to witness the mayhem sure to ensue. On the flip side, other characters were merely letters pushed together to form words. Dull.
Then I came across a story I started to write for NaNoWriMo a year and a half ago. I recalled writing it as a lark. At the time, I already had an idea for the title of a story, The Critical Eye of the Legless Hooker, but that was it. I thought about characters and plot for about an hour and then started writing it, with no clue as to what would happen next.
I opened up the story the other night and began to read. And I read. For forty-five minutes, I was absorbed in my hastily written, first draft of a novel (what I wrote of it, at any rate). Now, I’m not saying it’s Pulitzer material, but it was far better than some recent best-sellers (Fifty Shades ring any bells?). The story had intriguing characters, a quick pace, and decent dialogue. Obviously, it needed a lot of work, but the story had promise, and it was just a fly by the seat of my pants draft.
This is a good thing, my friends, because I am ready for change. The knowledge that I can craft a story when I apply myself, heart and soul, makes me soar. I know that I am blessed to work for a great company and I love my boss (and my new boss to-be), but I don’t love my work. I tolerate it. But I want my work to uplift me, not diminish my light. I know I’ve discussed the lack of love before, but fully admit that I haven’t really done much to change the situation. I convince myself that it’s fine, that there are worse things I could be doing and that the pay is acceptable and I have job security, and for brief spells I can quell my urge to flee.
I kept thinking that there is all the time in the world for me to get my act together. In light of recent events, I clearly see how time is flying by and tomorrow might not be here. I witnessed it and it shook me to my core.
I want to feel awake and alive all of the time, not just when I’m away from my office. I want my daughter to see that she can do anything she wants, including switching careers at any age, because some of us blossom later than others. All she must do is focus and try.
I have to be the example.