Thursday, February 26, 2015

Home Front Madness

Zestful Blog Post #94

I’m writing this with pen and paper at my kitchen table and wanted to refresh my memory as to where I’d left off last week. Looking at my blog on my phone, it seems so—gosh, professional. Soon I’ll type this entry into my laptop and it’ll be my standard draft-and-a-half, and good enough for jazz, as they say in the music biz.

Recently I gave an interview to a journalist who is writing an article about how writing by hand is beneficial. She had read You've Got a Book in You (and nicely highlighted it in an article last year) and remembered that I’d put in some stuff about writing longhand. It was a fun interview, and during it I learned that writing longhand appears to be beneficial on the biochemical level, not just the spiritual one, as I had believed. Will let you know when that article comes out.

Winnie-way, as my old clarinet teacher used to say, during 2010-2013, I had a lot going on personally and professionally.

I’ll call this installment of EPH (Elizabeth’s Publishing History):

#13 Home Front Madness

Within the space of three years, Marcia and I experienced the partial destruction of our home on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in a force-9 storm, a cross-country move and attendant farewells to many dear friends, the decline and deaths of both of our mothers, the dispersal of their households, the purchase and extensive renovation of a home, another, local move, tropical storm damage to that home requiring large-scale repairs, as well as the death of another family member whose estate I was charged with distributing.

[It took a fair amount of chainsawing and hauling before we could pull the cars out of the garage. Note wood smoke coming from stovepipe; since the power and phone wires were lying beneath that hemlock, the woodstove provided our heat and a cooking surface. Guess who slept on the couch next to the stove every night to keep it fed. This was actually 2009, Thanksgiving weekend.]

Oh, plus the near death and lengthy hospitalization of yet another family member, a heart scare for Marcia, and the beginning of a physical issue for me that would culminate in surgery in 2014. If we’d had a dog, I’m sure it would have gotten run over. But it wouldn't have died before we’d spent $5,000 at the vet and taken turns doing night shifts to administer round-the-clock medicine and supplements for three weeks.

Meanwhile, we both did what we could to maintain our careers. While acting as primary caregiver for my mom, I wrote articles for Writer's Digest, taught online webinars for their organization, did reporting and photography stringer work for the local paper, auditioned for and got a place in a local symphony orchestra, worked as a private manuscript consultant, got my rights back to my novels, reissued them in e-book (Kindle) form, spoke and taught at writing affairs on both coasts, and began work on Lillian Byrd #5 (Left Field).

Also during that period I wrote a proposal for You've Got a Book in You, got under contract for it, wrote it, saw it published, and did promo for it.

Looking back on all that, even in its most skeletal form, I can’t be surprised that I felt depressed and overwhelmed at times. I used to joke about shooting myself in the head if one more goddam thing went wrong. But I was careful to leave the firearms unloaded, which would have forced me to take the extra step of selecting and loading ammo, which hopefully would have given me time to reconsider.

I feel that only recently has my life become more or less stable. We have the freedom of working all day, every day, without having to factor in 3 a.m. distress calls from panicked old ladies.

Marcia is thrilled to be immersed in coding full time, and I can’t wait to show off her new work when it's ready to ship. Apart from writing, I do my shoulder exercises, swim at the Y, and play a little golf. Florida is beautiful in the winter. Hurricane season is just around the corner.

Next week I swear I’ll tell the story of how You've Got a Book in You came about, and why I chose to go the traditional publishing route with it. After that, why I chose to go indie with Left Field.

But for now, Jesus, I’m exhausted.

What do you think? To post, click below where it says, 'No Comments,' or '2 Comments,' or whatever.

If you'd like to receive this blog automatically as an email, look to the right, above my bio, and subscribe there. Thanks for looking in.


  1. Geez! I feel for you and Marcia, but I'm delighted to hear life has settled a bit. I appreciate hearing your personal challenges through this process and how you worked to get through them (lots of jobs, lots of work to balance everything).

    My 2011-2013 had many of the same upheavals in jobs, family illnesses and deaths. No storm repairs, but we lost a cat, too. My wife and I often say the only thing good about 2011 was getting married. It was during these times when I felt like the writing bug bit again and pushed me to get back to that part of myself. Do you feel like all the chaos spurred your creativity, or was it too exhausting and suppresed that part of you?

    1. Gosh, my sympathies on the troubles, and congratulations on the wedding! For me, the chaos got in the way of creativity, because of 1) all the time involved in dealing with it, plus 2) the mental and emotional stress. I kept thinking of more stuff I wanted to write and do, but had to put much aside until recently.

  2. So you write your blogs and then type them up, here? I've always been curious about your blogging process.

    1. Yeah, MOSTLY I write them out, then type in. Sometimes I get on a roll and stop (hand)writing and go to the laptop to finish the post. Shorter pieces are easier to do this way.


Tell us your thoughts! You know you want to.