As you know, I am a self-employed writer. This business of putting my words on the page is how I bring money into my house. As every author must, I also engage in social media and various marketing and teaching gigs to keep myself afloat.
But sometimes life goes awry.
A week after Thanksgiving, I woke up with my sister’s cold, which she generously shared that family day, with all of us, though not my dad who refused to come to the feast because he didn’t want to risk getting sick.
Good thing. It turned out to be one of the sloppiest, most miserable colds any of us have had in years, lasting weeks and weeks.
But you know, Christmas season waits for no woman, so I dosed myself up with meds and went about my business. I had a back-and-forth schedule of revisions for my new book,The Art of Inheriting Secrets, that would end just before Christmas, and I was eager to have the chance to tweak and smooth and polish, the last shiny round before the book goes off to production.
On December 4th, I was rushing around on Christmas errands when I injured my ankle. It seemed like a low-key injury at the time—honestly, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sprained this ankle—so I hobbled around on the rest of my errands. After a few days, I started to realize maybe it wasn’t just a sprain, so I hobbled into the doctor, who then hobbled me for real by sticking me in a walking boot to await surgery, which I absolutely did not want to have before I flew to San Antonio to see my darling girls for ten days at Christmas.
On December 6, my father went into the hospital. On December 7, my brother was visiting him and had a major heart attack—at the hospital, which absolutely saved his life. *
They live about 50 miles from me, and I was desperate to go see them, but—remember that cold? It was at the very worst level of contagion, so sloppy I didn’t even go out to the grocery store.
Finally my sister the nurse gently said that the worry of contagion was over. I hobbled down to see my dad on December 8, and when I was on my way home, he died. Yes, it was as terrible as it sounds. He was in poor health and had been in and out of the hospital for the past year, but it is still shocking and devastating when it actually happens.
Of course, then family took precedence, and my sons arrived (a great joy to play games at Christmas time, a pocket of happiness in all the chaos). There was the funeral and all that goes along with that, and the strange, loving, and sometimes uneven business of siblings grappling with the loss.
Meanwhile, in the writing world, I had those revisions on my first new book for my new publisher to grapple with. We were on a tight deadline to keep the pub date, so I was faced with either getting them done or pushing the date back, which I very much did not want to do. **
Three days after the funeral, one day after my last house guest departed, I hobbled to San Antonio, for the relief of little girls and the pleasure of forgetting everything.
Except that I’ve been engaged in building a new venture, one that has potential but has been perplexing and challenging to get up and moving, the Patreon teaching platform I’m developing, and I’d come up with some ideas to help engage the group a bit more—a daily post between Christmas and New Year.***
The only thing I could do was switch into what I’ve labeled Emergency Mode.
Every writer faces periods like this. It might be a sick kid or a car accident or a diagnosis or a divorce. A big move. A family crisis. Two blocks over from me, two houses burned when the fence between them caught fire in early December. [Read more…]