The Year of the Novel

Before you begin:

Set up writing area, stock supplies of “thinking juice” (coffee, cocoa, etc), inform friends, family and professional contacts you’ll be BUSY WRITING during the day and to please call only after 4pm. Catch up on correspondence so you won’t end up forgetting to contact someone when you’re BUSY WRITING. Pay necessary bills now while you’re thinking of them so that when you’re focused and BUSY WRITING no one turns off your water. Or worse, your electric. (Where would you be without your computer????)

Day One:

See spouse off to work, children off to school, set up small children with fun activities they can do with little supervision and take “thinking juice” to office to begin your eagerly anticipated day of BUSY WRITING. Turn off cell phone, turn off ringer to house phone. Set notepad next to keyboard so you can write down new ideas that come to you while you’re BUSY WRITING your current stream of thought.

Get up and go potty so you’re not interrupting yourself.

Stare at blank page in Word.

Take deep breaths and begin being BUSY WRITING.

Fifteen minutes later stare at first sentence “The…”

Decide these curtains really should be washed.

Get shower curtain from bath because it should be washed too. While in bathroom decide a shower will help you think better. Cleanliness is next to novelly-ness.

Run load of light laundry.

Blow dry hair because you can’t think with water in your ears.

Play with small child who is now finished with fun activity and needs you to entertain her. Make lunch.

Clean up from lunch. Bring small child with coloring accessories into office so she can draw pictures while you are BUSY WRITING.

Play solitaire until you can form an idea, because it’s totally missing from your brain. Your story was great…but how to form it?+

Throw clean wet laundry into dryer.

Stare at “The…” in Word. Delete and start over.

“I am…”

Change pants of small child who said “I have to go potty” as she began to water the carpet at your feet.

Soak up puddle on carpet. Spray carpet. Drag out carpet shampooer and shampoo carpet.

Decide while you have it out you might as well do all the carpets.

Fold and put away laundry, rehang curtains and shower curtain.

Decide while making dinner not to inform spouse you won four hands of Spider Solitaire.

Week Two:

You can’t possibly get BUSY WRITING in this environment. The office feels old and tired and is making you feel the same. How can you be creative and be BUSY WRITING if you’re wishing you could lie down all day?

Put small child in car and drive to hardware store for paint.

When spouse comes home to freshly painted bedroom he does not ask how your writing is going.

Month One:

The entire house is clean, everything that could be laundered has been, all carpets/ upholstery are spotless, kitchen sparkles, bedrooms are tidy and smell good. You sit in office trying to be BUSY WRITING.

You sigh in frustration, although somehow you are at the end of Chapter Three. You decide since it was so hard in coming that you should reward yourself.

When spouse comes home to you trying to LOOK BUSY and sporting new hairdo he does not ask how your writing is going.

Month Two:

Spouse notices small child is happier and can now tell time, count money and recognize some words and does not ask how your writing is going.

Month Four:

Spouse comes home to find new car in driveway, enters house to find you’re the only one there. Does not ask how the writing is going.

Month Five:

You decide it would be so much easier to be BUSY WRITING if you brushed up on your typing skills, and find a typing program online. Spouse hears you tapping away on the keyboard from the other room and smiles to self, proud that you’re finally BUSY WRITING.

Month Six:

Spouse unimpressed you can now type 85 words per minute.

Month Seven:

You’re not allowed to have cocoa or other “thinking juice” until you’ve  written something. Spouse pushes you into office and closes door. You can hear him barricade it with heavy furniture before he yells, “You can come out when you have three more chapters!”

Spouse holds firm when you bang on door and cry pathetically because you can smell the fried chicken and brownies he’s made for dinner.

You yell at spouse through door and call for pizza delivery.

Delivery driver Marco arrives with pizza and you lower your INBOX tray out the window and ask him to put the pizza in it.

Marco becomes one of your closest allies. By month nine he’s parking a block away and sneaking right up to the house under your office window.

By month ten he’s also bringing dessert and the latest Harlan Coben novel.

Month Eight:

You emerge from your office after having actually been BUSY WRITING with your hair disheveled, your clothes rumpled and your small child asks timidly, “Mommy?”

You hand finished novel to spouse and fall across bed where you sleep for two days.

Month Nine:

Spouse approves and you send novel to agent. Agent sells book to publisher who assigns editor to tell you everything you’ve done wrong. Editor calls with requested rewrites.

Month Eleven:

You begin the process once again…on the book you’ve already written.

Month Twelve:

You find yourself wondering how you thought the new paint matched your old carpet…and you really do need some new bedding….

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Update and LIFE

Some people say LIFE is what happens when you make other plans. Some people say God has a weird sense of humor. Some people just shrug and say “sh** happens.” Whatever the case, it happened to us and that’s why I haven’t been here for the past couple of months.

On November 11, 2012, my health food nut-herbalist-wilderness expert-martial arts loving-fire breathing (no, I’m not kidding) husband had a heart attack. After I managed to get that to somehow fit into my head (“He eats fresh foods!” “He’s physically active!” “He’s in better shape than I am!”) I got stuck on “He’s only thirty-nine!”

Thirty nine. I mean…really? The past year or so he’d had higher blood pressure (not enough to be on medication). He has a family history of heart issues but he himself didn’t have a history of cardiac issues (that we knew of…more on that later). We figured eventually…someday….when he was older (sixty? Seventy?) he’d have trouble of some sort…but now? No. Now we are young (ish), we have a three year old we’ve only been together five years…we’re just starting out, really. Now?

He was transferred to a hospital in Georgia because our local hospital doesn’t have cardiologists. (This isn’t unheard of. Our local clinic doesn’t even have doctors.) Abigail and I stood in the parking lot of our hospital and waved to the ambulance as it was whisking Matt off into the unknown. Abby cried. I only wanted to.

When I caught up to him at the big hospital he was stable and didn’t look at all better. He was a strange shade of pale grey that just shouldn’t be seen on human flesh. There was no sign of his sarcastic personality or gleam in his eyes that let me know he was about to make a joke about something that was going on. He had no expression on his face at all. But he was stable. We’d take what we could get.

The next day he had an angiogram/angioplasty, angio-something. They blew his artery up with a balloon, promised to “unclog” any blockages found and possibly insert stents to get the blood flowing where and how it should.

What actually happened was that the cardiologist he had saw that some vessels had rerouted blood to that blocked off section of his heart. This told him that since his body had time to do that Matt had apparently had a heart attack already, years ago. The cardiologist stopped because “Hey, there’s blood getting over there somehow, so, we’re good.”

After talking to his sister we discovered that Matt had probably had his first heart attack shortly before meeting me. WHEN HE WAS THIRTY FOUR.

There is so much that just wasn’t fitting in my brain. Thirty four??????

He regained some strength and a bit of color and was released from the hospital after four days.

One month later he wasn’t any better off than he was the day he had his heart attack. He made some calls and switched cardiologists. The new doctor was appalled at the actions of the first doctor and scheduled Matt for stress tests and a new angio-whatever procedure. This guy actually opened up the blockage and inserted stents.

Yes, there was blood getting in, but it was a trickle carried in by blood vessels and not at all the amount that an artery had been providing. Matt felt much better almost immediately, although he had chest pain for another month or so, and still feels it when stressed/upset or exerting himself.

He’s got a new job (one less physical and less emotionally taxing) and is taking night classes to get the degree he didn’t finish (because he fell in love and moved to the Great White North to be with this crazy chick). He’s back to living his life instead of lying around the house worrying about whether or not he’s got a life, so it’s time I pick back up too.

Times were tight without him working and we don’t have internet at home right now, so I’ll be writing at home and posting whenever I can get to an internet connection.  Thank you and SO MUCH appreciation goes out to those of you who’ve been following along via frantic texts or rare Facebook postings. Neither one of us could have gotten over this particular hurdle without knowing how many of you were out there caring. We love you!