Monday, April 15, 2013

When 'Fine' no longer applies

I've reached a place psychologically where I can honestly say I have never been before. When people ask the question 'How are you?' I can no longer respond with 'Fine'. Because I am not fine. No sir, not even close to fine. I've gone so far away from fine that I don't even know how to get back there from here. I hope it is just over the horizon and somehow within my grasp again soon but I'm not sure of that.

Okay, enough of the melodramatics...

My health has taken yet another turn. I thought a pulmonary embolism was the worst thing that could happen - aside from coronary artery disease. But, I was wrong. There I was last week, happily and without complaint following my coumadin regiment and getting my blood tested weekly to monitor my clotting levels, not eating my greens (or at least not cheating too much), not feeling like running yet but expecting it any day now. And I noticed something new. Well, okay, what I mean is that I could no longer ignore something new as insignificant. My legs from the knee down are swollen. And by swollen, think pitting edema (Google it, I dare you). They've been swelling since before Easter now that I think back to the tantrum I had that morning when my cute strappy-sandals from last summer wouldn't go on my swollen feet and I was feeling completely fat and bloated - but I chose to ignore it hoping it would go away. Some things never change I guess.

I mentioned it to the nurse while I was in getting my weekly blood draw and next thing you know I'm having more blood work and urinalysis. Guess what - there IS something else wrong. This time with my kidneys and my thyroid. I feel like I hit the big four-oh and immediately started falling apart. The thyroid thing is apparently unrelated (and hereditary, thanks Mom) but could contribute to why I have had very little energy and don't feel like the coumadin has kicked in as quickly this time around to getting me back on the treadmill/road. The kidney thing definitely is the reason I'm swelling up and retaining so much water. Thank goodness the female part of my psyche that keeps yelling FAT GIRL every time my pants feel tight the last couple of weeks can shut the hell up now. The fifteen pounds of extra weight I've put on the last three weeks is NOT because I'm unable to eat salad and veggies and can't breathe well enough to run yet. So there! *sticks tongue out*

But now I'm back to having more questions than there are answers. Plus more poking and prodding and testing trying to figure out exactly what IS going on with me. Can you say "high deductible met by April"? Say it with me...

Needless to say, I cling desperately to my weekly yoga sessions to reset my psyche. That overworked psyche that is trying her hardest to keep her chin up. The alternative is wallowing in self pity and self-induced panic about what the future holds which I've caught myself doing - very unlike me. I don't feel like myself, I don't look like myself, and some days I have little desire to be myself in this current unhealthy stage of the game. I've grown weary of all this crap and would kill for feeling good with all my energy back. It is a daily struggle to lift myself up and keep myself going. And my family is imploding because the force at the center that keeps it all a smoothly oiled machine is falling apart. But, it is what it is and at least I didn't die. (That's my mantra lately.) While it sucks right now and I'm not fine, I have high hopes that I will be soon.

Camp NaNoWriMo has turned into more shenanigans than writing but I'm still brainstorming and plot outlining whenever the inspiration hits me. Its like going to summer camp and doing the fun stuff like swimming and hanging out by the fire but skipping the hard stuff like cooking and cleaning up. It's enjoyable but it doesn't get everyone fed regularly. My writing can wait while I focus on getting healthy again. And that half marathon I've already paid for? Yeah, who knows if I can even walk 13 miles by June let alone run but I'm still hoping I can participate. We shall see...

If I'm a bit more sporadic on the blog, now you know why. In many ways "I've been better" has become my default where everything used to be "fine". Here's to there being nothing significantly or long-term wrong with me and to a quick recovery back to the land of the healthy! *fingers crossed*

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A new project for Camp NaNoWriMo

I've got a new project I'm working on. A new novel. And how lovely of the folks who run the NaNoWriMo website to offer the same online tracking and motivational tools and shenanigans of November in April to help me bang out the rough draft quickly this month. They call it Camp NaNoWriMo, I call it brilliant.

Wait, what? You want to know what happened with my first novel? I'm getting ahead of myself? Sorry... let me explain.

Last time I talked about my writing I was anxiously awaiting critique from my writer's group on the first draft of my first novel and stressing that they weren't going to like what I'd written. Well, turns out they all loved it and wanted to jump in and make it better and polished and pretty enough for submission and hopefully publication. And while I want that someday as well, I decided that wasn't the novel to do it with for several reasons.

First, it's my first novel. There's a reason the majority of first novels never get published - they are learning curve victims left to die along the path to becoming a seasoned author. Of course there are famous (and not so famous) exceptions like Harry Potter (and Twilight). And I truly believe that if a new author wants to write and re-write a first novel until it is just as good as a second or a third, it is possible to learn enough on your first idea to make it happen. My good friend has done that and is well on her way to publication. I also know she has most definitely written that book more than once.

Second, I'm lazy and I want the learning return with smaller investment up front. My first book (working title "Natural Balance") is a fantasy. And after all the time it took me to finish the first draft I still don't have a fully fleshed out world built and there are still holes in my magic system. My goal is to someday be published which means I need to learn how to write a first draft and then how to edit that rough draft into something people want to read. So, I've figured out my process of completing a rough draft. But do I really want to learn how to edit using an idea that I'd honestly bitten off more than I could chew? Not so much.

Third, I've learned that I am not going to write fantasy for a living. While I love reading it, it just isn't the genre niche that I'm going to be great at writing in. Another argument for not editing this one in hopes of publication. Say I worked my ass off for the next months or years and did sell this book. Then I'd (hopefully) have fans who'd want to keep reading my work because they loved my fantasy novel. And I'd have no other fantasy to give them? It was my baby, my first real idea for a book that panned out into a plot but the fact that all the subsequent ideas I've had are NOT fantasy is something I need to fully acknowledge. Perhaps someday I can pull my baby out of a drawer an abandoned flash drive and publish it under my well established name and hope some of the same people like this completely different piece of work. But I'll never build a career out of one fantasy novel.

So, I'm going to practice my new-found skills of completing a rough draft by starting and finishing another idea. One that doesn't require me to invent an entirely different world with culture and religion and magic different than ours. This new idea is mainstream fiction set in the world I live in and know everything about. All I have to do is develop some great characters who have tragic and exciting events happen to them that keep the pages turning. That's the novel I'll learn how to edit with. 

And where I go from there, I don't even know yet. There's a chance there's still pieces of this writing thing I still don't even know I need to learn before I'm successful. We shall see! In the meantime, my goal is 30,000 words and a fully fleshed out rough draft/outline by the end of April. Wish me luck!