Inner Worries of a Novelist

Nearly ten weeks have been spent on lockdown for self quarantine of the Covid-19 virus for Washington state. The lockdown began for us in Washington state on March 17th, if my memory serves me correct. (The next day my 40th birthday celebrated as best I could) Before then, about early January 2020 I was already watching and learning of the virus online through creditable YouTube channels. Following practicing and licensed doctors that understood how pathology of viruses works. I enjoy studying and keeping up on scientific changes as things like Covid-19 progress. This also made me hyper-focus on nothing but the ever changing findings of the virus as I watched my boyfriend worry about finances in late March as his job slowly closed up shop. This meant he would be in the house every single day starting in late March, early April.

As the changes to the lockdown continued of what we could do to keep active and what we could only do in keeping safe as time passed. Wearing masks and gloves became the norm for us. As the weather got better, with a few days to a full week of sunshine and clear night skies, I was able to take my nightly walks. The walks I call: Writing Walkies. A priceless and cherished time to let my mind focus on the stories I’m writing or trying to write.

With my boyfriend at home all the time, taking his time to be in his office to play video games mostly Sims 4 and at times coming to sit together watching YouTube videos and our favorite shows on Hulu…it has now come to my attention (now that Phase 2 of reopening Washington state begins), I have not had a full comfortable mental process of focuses on Soul’s Little Lie book 1. The times I took to write when my boyfriend would be at work were perfect for me. I was able to think clearly without the mental pull to talk with him, sit next to him on the couch or to do yard work together. (We were able, with help from our neighbor, to attack and kill off the blackberries for seven days worth of hard labor. We are not done by far to make the backyard the way we want it, but those seven days saved us a comparable month or two worth. Thank you Shane!)

Since this revelation has come to the forefront of my mind, this got me to thinking of the psychological aspects to myself of what makes me truly focus as a writer in a healthy way.

First and foremost, growing up in a household that constantly kept me on edge due to my narcissistic, mentally ill abusive mother and the chaos my mentally ill brother brought into our lives and coupled with the few to hardly no friends throughout most of my school years, it was difficult to concentrate on any writing or painting at all. It was only once my mother went to work or when my brother was away from family for monthly stretches or a few years at a time for countless reasons, was I able to do the work I wanted that made me happy. As for my father, who enforced the rules of the house with threat of a belt across my ass (yet mom was the one who beat me) and following the whims of my abusive mother, his wife, I didn’t have much stress over him fogging up my mind.

Once they were all out of the house, even for a weekend trip for themselves when I was old enough to be left alone in the apartment, it would take me a day or two to reset my mind to focus on my arts. This focus would continue for days or weeks until the chaos of the house of my mother’s ravings and gaslighting would flare up again. Then the cycle would continue. I would have to wait until it was safe to concentrate on my work.

The process continued again when I was married to a mentally ill abuser who gaslighted me at every turn. Even when I worked a retail job I wouldn’t calm down to focus until I had a day or two to decompress. Once the husband (now ex-husband for eight years), would be off to work, while I did not work, I was able to focus at will. I would paint, draw, dance or write to my hearts content. It was after all what spawned the first manuscript for Soul’s Little Lie that later was published for a time in 2015.

Now, here it is nearly ten weeks of lockdown quarantine for Washington state and my boyfriend of four years has been in the house constantly cause he can not work at the ice rink until the coast is clear. I’m not pulling my hair out or throwing fits over it. I’m calm and busy studying about the virus and the political changes in the world. Off and on I have been watching YouTube videos about writing, querying, publishing, etc to keep up, but the mental focus to work on rewriting/editing process for book one has slipped away.

All I have to do is type up a new chapter 2 and rewrite from scratch chapter 18 to possibly chapter 20, all these chapters are strictly the point of view of my Frankie Bellington character. Frankie has been difficult to talk to though. It is almost as though my subconscious does not want to see what he has to offer to the story of Soul’s Little Lie of the heartache he feels of what happened. I understand it’s a part of me that’s afraid of failure in a way, but it is also a personification of my inner lack of focus that stems from the past of abusive family and ex-husband’s abuses.

My boyfriend has never been abusive toward me in any fashion, so why am I not able to focus? The full truth could be that – the uncertainty of the future scares me to the core. I’m not alone in these uncertain times of fear and worry. Though, in a way this fear is unfounded. The great saying, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself”, comes to mind easily to me, but that inner part of me has been through so much, it makes me hunker down to survival mode.

And yet, the true survival mode that got me through all the years of abuse was directly connected to writing and painting. Writing more helped me flesh out my feelings; my thoughts to the full ability of the English language in which I speak. Though, still, why am I not able to focus on the few chapters I have left in book one during editing draft 3?

Am I yet still afraid of critique partners and new beta readers to come after this? Do I fear what they will say about my work since I was so terribly burned out by my first publisher of the editor they gave me did not help worth a bit.

I linger so in my goals to become the future published novelist I’ve always wanted to be. Even still, Frankie Bellington’s words must be heard, must be spoken at all costs.

Here I am, seated at my computer and I have typed at least this on my author site for all to read. A feeling of relief escapes my lips as I end this entry.

Happy Little Accidents: Lost Chapters

For those who watch Bob Ross’ show – The Joy of Painting on PBS and YouTube, you know his signature saying – “Happy little accidents.” Such a thing happens to me a lot, but in my novel writing.

Currently, I’ve gone through a bout of happy little accidents since 1996 and just late last night I stumbled upon another. Happy little accidents for me as a writer can work like this –

  • Not saving the file I’m working on and the computer glitches to where that section is gone.
  • The whole manuscript (my very first manuscript actually) saved on an old hard floppy disc from 1996 and the whole file is corrupted and disappears cause of technology upgrades or that it’s pointless to try retrieving the file. (Side note: the original first manuscript was printed before it died in hard disc)
  • The printed prologue rewrite is missing some pages and I can’t reprint the missing 5 pages cause the original file is gone due to a virus that also killed the computer.
  • Your favorite laptop dies, but you were lucky to transfer everything over onto thumb drives three months in advance, but you may have still lost some original chapters, but that’s okay because….Happy little accidents.
  • Brooding about the chapter I wrote for weeks and then wanting to rewrite, but that file isn’t on the main computer cause I forgot to transfer it from the laptop so I have to start from scratch.

Now, once I’ve realized that chapter is gone I happily start from scratch, believe it or not. I don’t brood about it any further like I had before when working on that chapter. I lose precious time if I fuss over a lost file that is only 5 to 15 pages long. Don’t get me wrong though, if I’ve lost a total 300pg manuscript, oh you bet I’d be upset.

When I originally lost my first manuscript of 370 pages from the hard disc floppy and then the continuation of it on the desktop computer years ago, I was in such a panic that I had a hard time sleeping. It would usually take me a few weeks to almost a month to get over the shock, but I got over it in good time. Thankfully, I still have the printed version in a red hard bound binder, including half of the prologue pages.

What did I learn from these happy accidents exactly? I learned that starting over is a blessing. That there are reasons to the world that if something is not meant to be, it is not mean to be, period. Writers, just like painters and other artists out there, we are creators. If we lose a creation, that does not mean we’ve lost the ability to create. Therefore we can continue to create even if we start from scratch.

To close, sorry for the long winded time of not posting anything on my journal. The hot summer has kept me from wanting to do much of anything. I’ve barely worked on my third manuscript and once this entry is done, I’m back in the saddle again to start chapter 12 over from scratch.

Thanks for reading. Hope this helps anyone.