Changes

A Sad Phone Call

I was sitting at my desk trying to find the motivation/inspiration to write when my cell phone rang. It was an old friend I hadn’t talked to in a while. Guilt set in instantly because the last time he called I was lying down and my phone was across the room. I was in too much pain to get up so I didn’t. Later I saw who called but I had to pick up my daughter from work so I put off returning the call.

Since being on all these medication and thanks to some weirdness with my thyroid, my short-term memory is awful. I kept forgetting to call back, for two weeks. I occasionally thought about it but was always too busy until it got to the point where it was completely forgotten, until the phone rang last night. This was bad because we only talk about once every six months or so. I felt awful!

When I answered I planned to tell my friend I was sorry and how he knows my memory is crap, etc, but I never got the chance. I said “hello” and he said “what are you doing”, I said “nothing much how about you” – which is how all our conversations begin. He said “I’m dying.”

I don’t know how long the silence from me lasted before I finally blurted out: “What are you talking about?” He calmly explained to me that he had a tumor and there were words like: ‘surgery’ and ‘chemo’ and phrases like: ‘moved into my lungs’ and ‘compromised immune system’. It felt like his words were bouncing around in my head and wouldn’t settle down enough for me to comprehend. Even now I don’t really know everything he said to me.

I was floored and hardly said anything at first. I eventually spouted out some standard crap, you know, the ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I hope they are wrong’ — junk people say when they don’t know what to say. Most of it I followed up with “I know it’s ridiculous for me to say that.”

I asked when he was having surgery and it turns out he’ll be in the hospital at the same time I go out of town for two weeks. I feel like the worst person ever. Right when he needs to be surrounded by friends I’ll be gone. When I get back I’ll going through the process of preparing for and having surgery myself and won’t be available much then either. It’s been so long since I’ve talked to him that he doesn’t know about any of that and I don’t know if I should tell him or not. He’ll worry but I want him to why I’ll be m.i.a. Lost time can never be found again. I’m completely at a loss about what to do.

I don’t know what I really wanted to say when I started typing this. Maybe I needed to get it off my chest. I do know that I wish I had answered the phone two weeks ago (when he got his diagnosis) or called back right away. I wish when we did finally talk that I had handled it better. By the end of the call I had him laughing, which is good because he sounded determined to stick with his out of character calm tone, but I feel like I should have done more. I guess all I can do now is be there for my friend as much as I can.

Pardon my long winded rambling.

Update

Writing: Not much to say on this. I’ve been editing my newest flash fiction stories and working on and off on the class I’m taking. I’m conflicted about the stories. I really like the remaining three I haven’t posted here and part of me wants to share them. The other part says no, save them for the collection I am putting together.

Writing/Personal: The reason I don’t have much to report about writing is due to medical junk. The problems with my back have gotten worse over the last few days so I haven’t been doing much work. I don’t know why but I have an appointment with the pain doctor tomorrow and hopefully I’ll get some answers. I don’t know exactly what to expect when I go see this doctor. I assume he/she will decide on a plan for me and not much else since it’s my first visit.

Assuming this doctor will explain my MRI results, it will be the first time to actually talk to a professional about it. My regular doctor (actually her nurse) only left me a message saying: “After reviewing your MRI results the doctor wants to refer you to a neurosurgeon.”

Everything I know about the MRI is because I downloaded the report and turned to Google. Before beginning the search I assumed everything I looked up would say I’m dying, no cure and worse, because every illness/injury you look up online garners those results. I was surprised to find actual facts which I then discussed with my mother, who has had multiple surgeries due to the same thing I’m going through. It seems like I’m the offspring destined to go through every negative (medical) thing she did.

But on the subject of the pain doctor, I’m nervous. Everyone I know that has been to one tells me I’ll probably be getting injections in my back. My sister-in-law gave me a graphic description of what it feels like, which both terrified and comforted me. The only other thing a pain doctor can do for me is give me muscle relaxers and naproxen or ibuprofen. I cannot take narcotic pain relievers. I’m one of the lucky few that gets thrown off-balance by those types. I took one kind after giving birth and I couldn’t sit up or even close my eyes without seeing weird colorful explosions behind my eyes, or at least that’s what it felt like. Another one, given to me by a dentist was worse and I only took half the dose. Both went way beyond dizziness. I can’t even take Tylenol with codeine because I get dizzy and nauseated.

If I do get an injection I hope it happens in the next two weeks because I’m going on a very long road trip at the end of the month. By long I mean Google maps says it’s thirty hours of drive time. FUN! It is usually three days on the way there but I’ll end up at the beach so it won’t be all bad. It may take longer if I need to stop more often to get out and walk around. We are going to see my husband’s family and they will understand if I can’t be super active but I’m still nervous about it.

I’m taking all my writing paraphernalia and since I can’t handle sitting on the beach all day every day I will probably actually get some writing done. I’m also taking my new camera and making my husband take me to all the cool places he’s talked about to take massive amounts of pictures. The beach part of this trip is for a week and then we go to his parent’s house, who live in the middle of a forest, for a few days. Photo opportunities will abound!

For this week my goals are to get as much writing related activities accomplished as I can. I have to either get up and walk around a bit or go lay down after sitting for thirty minutes so I don’t know how much writing I’ll be able to do. It’s likely I’ll stick to flash fiction for a while since I normally start by hand writing them. I can take a pencil and a spiral with me when I can’t sit up anymore. If anyone knows any good writing prompts let me know. I’ll take any inspiration I can get.

One last update: I was recently asked why I haven’t been posting my regular Write Anything Wednesday or Saturday Six Minute Challenge. The short answer is I’ve been too distracted by everything else. I might start posting one of them again soon but I’m unsure which, or even when. I don’t really know how useful anyone else found them. Personally I always make sure I do some writing on both Wednesday and Saturday even if I don’t any other day.

Speaking of writing, I’d better get to it!

Writing & Personal Update

Writing: I finished the five flash fiction stories I’ve been working on. They need some editing but the words are finally out of my head! This was both a win and a fail but in the end not really a fail. Confused? It’s a win because I set out to write the five pieces following the How To Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck course. I did this. It’s a fail because each story was supposed to be under 500 words and only one of them was.

I decided this wasn’t really a fail because most of the stories are fantasy. While I am capable of writing a 500 word fantasy piece, when I have I haven’t been as happy with them. For me fantasy needs more words. On four of the stories I stayed under a thousand words but on one of them I ended up with 1034. I haven’t edited it yet but I think I can get it down to 1000 or less.

Another one, the last one I wrote came in at 573. It needs some minor fixing but I don’t believe I’ll be able to get it under 500 and still make sense. I’m okay with this.

What I’m walking away with is a great way to make myself come up with ideas. I will probably use the method again but only through the first part: idea generation and writing the first part of each story. After that I’m letting my muse do what it wants. I felt a little restricted by not letting myself finish a story until I’d written all the middles. In defense of the course though, I did get the stories completed. I can’t stay it didn’t work. However, there is nothing wrong with me modifying the tool to suit me better.

Mainly I’m thrilled I wrote any flash at all, it’s been so long. I was also happy when I ended up writing a couple of things that aren’t really in my wheelhouse. The first one is only barely fantasy. Another one, while from the perspective of a horse, isn’t really fantasy at all. I wrote three that amused me. Only my husband has read them so far and he said they are funny. He swears he’s not just being nice. After I finish editing I plan on posting at least one of the humorous ones and one of the more serious ones. I’m undecided on which at this point.

Honestly, it’s been so long since I wrote flash when I started this thing I didn’t expect to end up with five stories I really liked. I would have been content with two or three. I don’t know if I should be patting myself on the back or thanking my muse for the bonus (and begging for more).

Also on the subject of writing I hope to do some more catching up on my big class this week. I’ll finish one lesson today and start the next. I don’t know how long it will take for that one. I am trying my hardest not to rush through. I’m super glad I’m not as behind as I was.

Personal: Physical therapy was a bust. That’s not entirely accurate. I definitely “strengthened my core.” I can’t complain about that. Unfortunately it couldn’t do much for the real problem with my back. Someone finally called from my doctor’s office and all they had to say was I’m being referred to a neurosurgeon. Since I’ve watched my mother go through four back surgeries and I’ve got almost exactly the same issues I knew exactly what that meant. 😦

I also go to a pain doctor next week. My brother’s fiance’ gave me a graphic explanation of what it feels like to get injections in the back. All I can say to that is…well I try not to curse too much so never mind. At least I know a little of what to expect though. If I’m lucky they can do something for me before I go on a very long (30 hours one way) road trip next month.

On the plus side I’ll have many photo opportunities along the way. I can’t do the actual driving for long periods of time so I will have time to work on writing in the car too.

Well that’s all for now. I’ll post one of the new stories soon!

Personal Update

leaf

After three days of physical therapy I really relate to this picture. It hurts but I actually feel decent. Between the medication the doctor gave me and the exercises, I’m pretty sure I’m getting better. So I feel more like myself but still a little broken, like the poor leaf.

I have two and a half more weeks of these deceptively easy stretches and stamina building exercises. I hope that’s all I need. One bonus here: It takes 21 days to form a habit. So when I’m out of the woods, I’ll already be in the habit of exercising so I’ll just keep doing so. Maybe I’ll get in better shape.

Something else that happened during all this doctor-ness. I found out my thyroid is messed up. I jumped for joy when I got that call. No really, my kid thought I was crazy! I wasn’t happy there was anything wrong, it was more of a relief to know there was a reason I always felt so icky. I started taking medication for it yesterday and I’ll probably be taking that for the rest of my life but I’m okay with it. I feel lucky there is a fix for the problem.

I have so much hope now, I already feel better. A good attitude makes all this much more bearable, as I’m sure my poor husband will attest to. I’m much more pleasant company since finally giving in and going to the doctor.

As for writing, there is not much to report. I am rethinking certain plot points of my fantasy trilogy and I’ve made some firm decisions on what I want the main character to go through, but I haven’t written anything down besides some notes. Plot cards are my next step, once I can move around more easily.

Since I’m doing a lot of sitting and lying around I hope to come up with some new flash fiction stories. If I am able to sit and write any, I’ll be posting them soon.


Blog-ish Update

Just a tiny update. I haven’t been able to sit at the computer much lately so I’m behind on responding to comments (I have been reading them) and actually reading blogs. I’m not the type to follow someone simply because they follow me. If I follow you, I read your blog. If I hit the like button it’s because I actually liked what you wrote. I am sorry I haven’t been able to do these things as much lately.

With all these pain issues I now spend as much time laying down as I do sitting up. It’s hard to type when you’re laying on your side but it’s not hard to read, so I should be able to catch up. There are so many interesting blogs out there! I’m excited to read as much new content as I can handle.

I apologize in advance if I overload anyone with comments, likes and/or ratings!

Writing Update

Sadly, for me, I don’t have much writing to update you on. I somehow managed to hurt my back. I didn’t do anything spectacular or fun to cause this. Over the last two weeks the pain I’ve had on and off for several months has gradually gotten worse. I can’t stay in any one position for longer than a couple of minutes. Bending forward, even a little, is awful and I’m a slumper so sitting at the computer for very long is out of the question. As my mother would say: I have to pain tolerance of a piss ant.

It’s gotten bad enough that I am going to go to the doctor tomorrow. That’s a pretty big deal for me. I never go to the doctor unless I find there is no other course of action. To give you an idea of my dislike for being seen by medical personnel: A couple of years ago I think I broke my tailbone (for the second time). I never went to the doctor because I had the first time and there was nothing they could do for me besides give me pain pills. I can’t take narcotic pain relievers so basically I paid a bunch of money to be told I would heal in time. Why go back just to be told the same thing?

I’m learning this decision was probably a mistake because I’m pretty sure all the things I do to keep my tailbone from hurting have contributed to whatever is happening with my back. I only hope that they don’t say “Here, have some pain meds.” But I’d love to hear the doctor tell me all I need is a little recuperation time. My mother has had many back surgeries due to pinched nerves and various vertebrae issues. I’m crossing my fingers this isn’t some ‘run in the family’ thing. I know I’m scaring myself unnecessarily but I’d rather be prepared for the worst than surprised by it.

On the bright side, all this pain has greatly influenced some horrible things I’m going to do to one of my main characters. I’ve been taking notes and running scenes through my head constantly even though I haven’t written them yet. This poor guy will be in almost constant pain for a good portion of the first book. That was always the plan, but now I have more detailed plans and I certainly know how to describe it better. One friend told me when he reads a book he wants the protagonist to suffer. Another said “Everything is writing.” I’m taking both of these things to heart. If I can’t sit and type it, I can always imagine it for later writing. It sounds odd but I hope I can hold onto the negative emotions swirling around long enough to write some of these planned scenes.

The big class I’m taking is temporarily on hold but there is a smaller course that I work on periodically I can concentrate on for a while. It’s mostly reading and I can do that whether I’m sitting up, laying down, pacing, etc.

I may or may not be able to do my regular Wednesday and Saturday posts. If I don’t and you would like a prompt, I went back and numbered all the Saturday challenge posts and the Wednesday ones are dated so you can use older prompts if you’re so inclined.

Hopefully my next update will be less complaining and more writing!

Flash Fiction – How Addie Became A Horror Author

One day Addie sat at her desk writing, or at least trying. Virtually every time she started to get a thought on paper someone interrupted. First it was her husband. It irritated her but he truly needed to speak to her before leaving so she got over it fast. Then one of her children had a very urgent request for juice.

Following on the kid’s heels was the family dog. He didn’t understand why playing fetch wasn’t more important than the chapter his master was working on. Next came a mouse, causing Addie to scream and climb on top of her desk but giving the dog something to do.

She was able to get a few unexpectedly scary scenes written while the two animals destroyed her office around her. If only she’d hadn’t been writing romance. The doorbell stopped the frightful stuff and it was the mailman delivering printer paper that Addie was praying she’d be able to use that night so it was an acceptable interruption.

The kids’ toilet overflowed, because of course it did and the doorknob to the bathroom miraculously locked itself. Half an hour later her husband came home and saved the day leaving another thirty minutes of cleanup time for his wife to handle. She was a little angry at being stuck with the messy part but was so relieved that he’d arrived before she could kick the door down that she didn’t complain.

Addie asked everyone to leave her alone for a while since she was behind at that point. They all agreed. Until her five-year old twins decided to fight over which game controller was the coolest to use. After settling that dispute there was a Lego disaster that proved painful to her feet for hours afterward.

Her least favorite neighbor stopped by saying she desperately needed to talk about the new couple down the street. Addie’s mother called, then her brother. And on and on it went until she finally gave up. She put away her laptop, packed up her notebook and put her pens, pencils, note cards and highlighters in a drawer. The journal and book on character development went on a shelf. She washed the ink stains from her hands and oddly her nose and walked into the living room.

Addie asked her husband if he wanted to watch a movie but he was in the middle of some crucial sporting event and barely shook his head. She inquired if any of the kids wanted to play a board game but they were busy with the Legos. She tried throwing the ball for the dog but he was chewing on what might have been a dead mouse.

Sighing she went back to her desk. She opened her laptop and waiting for the first person to come in and stop her. Nothing happened so she pulled out her notebook and index cards. Still silence. She pulled the drawer out slowly so no one was alerted and she grabbed a pen. Finally, she thought.

She thought for a few moments and after remembering where she left off, put the pen to paper. Her husband walked in the room stating that the game sucked and asked if she wanted to do something. A yelling match erupted from the other room. The doorbell rang. The dog started barking. Her oldest kid began screaming about bloody dead mice.

Addie slowly turned her head and…well no one will talk about what happened next, but within ten minutes the rest of her family, including the dog, was loaded up in the car and driving very fast away from the house. They seemed nervous when they came back five hours later, or so neighbors, who no longer try to visit, said. The mailman always leaves packages on the porch but doesn’t knock and her mother waits for her to call.

To this day, when it’s writing time, she is left in peace. The downside is no one she knows has the guts to read her work.


My family may or may not have inspired this piece.


The lovely art was done by my daughter.


Flash Fiction – On Becoming A Monster

Everyone knew the stone creature was alive, though it never moved, because of its living eyes. Once, perhaps, it was a dragon. For ages it stood in the middle of town, as a reminder it was said, though no one knew what they were supposed to remember.

No one looked it in its eye, at least not the left eye. That eye was the most beautiful eye in creation. Multifaceted and gleaming, it was an artist’s dream. But it could only see the bad. The tales told of people turned to stone themselves or they became hideous monsters. The tales grew as the years went on. No one appreciated the magnificence of that orb.

The other eye was not so lovely. Surrounded by scarred skin, broken scales and bulging sores, nothing about it was attractive. But it could only see the good. Everyone was willing to look into that eye for they could see their inner beauty reflected back at them. One went away feeling confident, worthy, and perfect.

This continued for years until a small child with a misshapen body dared to look into both eyes. Limping up to the statue she stared for several moments then fell to the ground in tears. Other townsfolk watched in horror, waiting to see her punishment, not daring to help her. The girl only stopped crying when she heard gasps and screams from the people as they fled.

“Why do you weep?” asked a raspy voice.

The child sat up and found the statue towering over her. “You’re like me. Everyone pretends only part of you exists. They are only interested in what you can do for them.”

“And you are not?”

The girl wiped her nose on her sleeve and shook her head. “I think you’re beautiful. May I just sit here and look at you for a while before you kill me?”

“Yes.”

So she peered deep into the creature’s eyes. It stared back. As they watched each other a transformation began. Pieces of stone flaked, shriveled and fell from the statue’s body. The scales underneath were the color of the vanishing stone, only brighter, full of life. The eyes didn’t change. When the shedding was complete the dragon shook out his wings and stood tall and proud.

He gazed down at the girl. “Only you truly saw me, allowing me to evolve. For that, I will grant you one wish. Would you like me to fix your body?”

The child shook her head. “No, I like me, just the way I am. Would you let me ride you instead? Just once.”

“Yes.” He stayed, working as the girl’s trusty steed until she was too old to ride.

Just before death she made one final request. The shocked dragon granted the wish. He stared deep into her eyes as the metamorphosis occurred. When it finished, he lovingly carried her to the town square. To this day when people see the dragon statue there, they only look into its right eye.


This piece was inspired by a writing prompt I came across from talyabeyers. I was going to use my prompt about rain, and I still will, but this one really caught my attention so I went with it first. I haven’t written much flash fiction lately so it’s a bit rough. I planned on it being only 100 words but it kept growing and I had to spend a ridiculous amount of time paring it down to 500. Does that sound like complaining? I had a wonderful time writing and tweaking it! I’ve missed this, which I’ll remind myself of when I revise at a later date.

I was going to wait until Friday to post it but this one is a bonus for me and I plan to write more flash this week.

Writers Are Weird

I was working a lesson in the writing class I’m taking and I had a moment. You know, one of those breakthrough moments. I was making a mind map about why I want to write. I came up with many things that surprised me but one in particular struck me.

I wanted to be able to justify my weird. I’ve been odd my entire life. I’ve always seen things just a little differently than the people around me. I over-analyze everything (I don’t advise this). I add theme songs to daydreams. I bring up books constantly as examples of…well everything.

I often came across as distant. I wasn’t really, but when you’re in the middle of making up a cool fight scene it’s a little difficult to give others your full attention. I’ve lived more in my head a good portion of the time.

I was/am one of those types I like to call fringe people. You know, the kind that like to be in a group but stay on the edges. I’m not anti-social but I’m too busy watching everything to truly participate. I enjoyed this a lot but everyone else tried, unsuccessfully, to get me more involved. Every time someone came to the realization that I was content where I was, they thought I was weird as hell.

One guy thought I was the strangest person he’d ever met because I really truly listen to lyrics in songs. It probably didn’t help that I said things like: “This song talks to me.” Another said only weirdos and the British drink tea!

I’ve been accused of being strange because I read science fiction and fantasy. Or even just for preferring reading to whatever it is that someone else wants to do. My coworkers at previous jobs never could understand that reading IS doing something and no I really didn’t want to stop to talk about nothing with them. The readers out there get that one. Ever heard this while reading: “Since you’re not busy….”

No matter what anyone thought or said, I stayed weird. It’s part of me. It is me. However, when you hear something in a negative light for years and years it eats away at you. I didn’t know that until this lesson. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wondered if being weird was good. There was some guilt insidiously hiding there. Sometimes it made me stupidly put down my pen. I got over that but there was still a need to prove myself.

If I was this weird then I damn well better be a writer or the weird was for nothing, unjustified. Well frack that! I am weird, and I will wear that title with pride. I will write because I want/have to, not just because I feel like I should just to prove something to someone.

It boils down to most people think you should be exactly like them and if you’re not then you are branded with these terms: weird, strange, odd or bizarre. I looked up the definitions and I fail to see how of these things are bad.

  • Weird — fantastic; bizarre
  • Strange — unusual, extraordinary, or curious
  • Odd — differing in nature from what is ordinary, usual, or expected
  • Bizarre — markedly unusual in appearance, style, or general character and often involving incongruous or unexpected elements; outrageously or whimsically strange; odd

I don’t need to justify my weird, I need to embrace it. I’m a writer and writers are weird. We have to be and if we weren’t then there wouldn’t be so many books out there to enjoy.

So I’ll keep reading and getting way too into music. I’ll continue writing and I’ll always be weird

If you’ve ever been saddled with these labels, well it’s probably true, and so what? What exactly is it that you have to prove? All you have to be is you. Be weird, embrace strange, believe in bizarre. Normal is just a setting on a washing machine anyway.


I’ll call this my six minutes of writing for the day, but it took much longer. Now I’m going to do some writing in 10 minute bursts for a while. I love productive days!

Sidenote: When I did a spell check, frack didn’t come up lol!

I Committed Reader Infidelity

Okay, I admit it. I cheated on a book. I didn’t mean for it to happen, I resisted for as long as I could. I was reading the novel I meant to review this month, The Blade Itself: The First Law: Book One by Joe Abercrombie, but another kept catching my eye.

Joe’s book is good, but I was having a bit of trouble getting through it. It’s on the grim side. So was the book from last month, and the one before. That was the problem. Too much of the same thing wears thin, eventually. It got to the point where I was plodding through instead of enjoying myself.

Not helping matters, book one of The Iron Druid Chronicles — Hounded by Kevin Hearne was sitting on the shelf, metaphorically showing me leg. I don’t even know what made me do it, hell I don’t normally like first person narrative! There was just something about the book I couldn’t resist. So I gave in to temptation and read it.

At first I felt guilty putting Joe Abercrombie to the side, but not for long. The first line of Kevin Hearne’s book took away all remorse. Before long I didn’t consider it an indiscretion, it was more of a needed separation. Plus I loved Hounded so much, I am unable to regret reading it. The review will be posted soon.

Now I can go back to Joe with a more open mind and lighter heart. Sure I’ll be reading grim stuff again but it won’t feel like I’m reading the same old, same old anymore. I can give him my undivided attention and the appreciation he needs.

Oh look, Brandon Sanderson’s The Alloy of Law is sitting on the shelf winking at me.


Sidenote: I will be buying the rest of the novels in The Iron Druid Chronicles, so there might be more posts like this forthcoming.