Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What Do You Do When Life Gets In the Way?

Oh where, oh where, has my writing spark gone? Oh where, oh where, can it beeeeeeeee?

Since el lightning strike-o, things have gotten a bit overwhelming at my house. The hubs and I had already been in the middle of adding a new car to our household, with all the requisite new car paperwork, insurance modifications, and much-eagerly-anticipated trips to the BMV - or the License Branch, as we call it in my family. We had also been in the beginning stages of refinancing our house to take advantage of a MUCH lower fixed rate than we already had, which meant we were having to gather a diaper-load of financial paperwork for that, as well. The new car and the refi are going to save us hundreds of dollars per month, though, so it's worth the trouble. But, yes, we were already butt-deep in paperwork when lightning mistook our tulip tree for Ben Franklin's key-toting kite and officially pushed me into the state of overwhelmed. The loss is in the thousands of dollars, so until we get the check from insurance, the situation is a bit precarious emotionally and mentally, being that we didn't have the money to spare to replace all that we've lost.

At any rate, the ol' brain-a-roonio and all my creative juices went on holiday from the overload and emotional straing and left me stranded on an island of despair. I had been on a writing frenzy and suddenly blanked out and went dry. That's pretty disturbing to an author, so, understandably, I freaked. I'm still freaking, to be honest, but I feel better today after taking a few days "off." 

I mean, what do you do when what you consider to be your livelihood abandons you? Heck, my writing desire had gotten up, waved goodbye, and walked out the door, leaving me to stare in disbelief. No! Don't go! Come back! ACK!

Feeling like a bird with no wings, I fumbled about, stammered a little...and threw a fit. How could my insta-fiction mind and my characters leave me? ME! The one who can set their worlds right and solve all their problems by writing them out of the hole they're in.

I needed to get them back. I needed to find a way to make my characters speak to me again and for my creative juices to begin flowing once more. So, what did I do? I shut off everything. Facebook? Bye-bye. Twitter? Has to wait. My blog? Sorry, but it, too, needed to be set aside. And I read. I pulled books from the stacks of to-be-read piles and started reading. I finished Jeaniene Frost's Once Burned and started reading Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon (despite some disruptive head-hopping, it's quite good). I also began reading a book on the Crusades. Fascinating reading, that one.

After a few days of reading and not much else, guess what happened last night? One of my characters poked his head out from behind the tree where he was hiding and said, "Is it safe?"

"Safe for what?"

"To come back out?"

Of course, this was Micah. Micah and I are likethis. We'recloserthanpeanutbutterandchocolate. He and I are symbiotic. One can't live without the other at this point, and I think he will go down as my favorite character EVER! I love him with all my heart, even though he's a product of my imagination, and I can easily see me continuing to write about him for decades to come. With that said, of course I told him it was safe.

So Micah sits down with me and starts telling me more of his story as I read about the bloody battles to take Antioch and Jerusalem during the first Crusade. Micah was all like, "Yes, that's how I remember war back then. I remember sitting after a bloody battle like that, my hands filthy and covered with the blood of my enemies, my body weak from lack of food, listening to the dying moans of those around me. I remember we were so hungry that we ate the flesh of our dead like the Crusaders did." And Micah and I talked. He went on to show me how he had started off as such an innocent child but that war had hardened him more than the natural maturation of growing older, and he showed me how going home to Katarina healed his hardened heart after the relief of hearing a truce had been struck.

I smiled, letting my imagination run with what he was showing me. I knew that if I just walked away from all the distractions vying for my attention and pulled out my books, I would find my way back to Micah and his world, which is where my writing mind needs to be. Reading always seems to light my creative spark. I will keep reading, with Micah by my side, and eventually the rest of his friends will slink out from whatever hidey-holes they've disappeared into. Before long, they will all be clamoring once more for me to tell their stories.

That's my cycle. Reading is how I get back to zero. It's how I find my characters when they've gone off to play Hide and Seek without okaying it with me first. Losing them was terrifying and disorienting, but for the first time in over a week, I feel hope again. Micah coming out to talk to me last night eased my mind and made me breathe more easily again.

How do you find your way back when life gets in the way? What is your grounding rod (pun intended)?

Happy reading and writing.

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