Sunday, November 07, 2010

Checking In

The school year started out so well. E was finally plugged into a promising program, one with a talented team committed to helping her reach her goal of going out into the community to tell her story and talk about service dogs.

Unfortunately, a couple of weeks into the school year, something caught E and she ended up with the horrid cold everyone else on the planet got. It wasn't so bad at first. Her spirits were high and her fever was manageable. But then the stupid cold morphed. Suddenly, the sinuses took center stage. Then a virus came to roost, and then bronchitis and another sinus thing.

If you've been wondering why this journal has stayed silent for so long this is why.

Days of illness turned into weeks. I tried keeping up because after all, I'm the point person on the homefront. It's my job to keep up, right? I wrote, revised, advocated, juggled, planned, prepped, coordinated, you name it. Until lack of sleep and the stress of the on-going illnesses made it impossible to do anything well at all.

Out of necessity, I cut my to-do list down to the most critical tasks. At the top of the list: getting E well enough to go back to school.

It's probably no surprise to anyone on the outside that my writing suffered during this couple-months-long-and-then-some period. Days went by without a chance to write. Other days I sat down at my keyboard, but my characters refused to play. Or I was interrupted by thoughts of all the things I should be doing instead of writing. Laundry. Dishes. Meals. Bills. You name it.

Then doubt came to roost, courtesy of the mugwump, the matted, hate-filled monster that serves as my inner critic. In recent months I had managed to cage and muzzle it. But it found a way out, and on my rare writing days, it perched in the corner of the office, whispered in my ear, eroded my confidence even further.

One day in particular, the mugwump nearly got the best of me. Rather than perch atop one of the bookcases, it alighted on my shoulder.

Seriously? it said. You're still working on that book? I hate to break it to you. It doesn't have a chance. But you know that already, don't you? You know how I know this fact? Your fear. It permeates the room like a sweet perfume.

By now my fingers had stopped typing. My characters had fled and my train of thought derailed.

The mugwump purred as it rubbed its quills against my cheek. You've been at this how many years? Through how many revisions? Why do you persist in torturing yourself? Think how much easier your life would be if you didn't have this book hanging arond your neck like a noose. Give it up. Do it now. No one would fault you if you stopped. Give. It. Up.

The truth is it almost had me that day. E is no stranger to illnesses, or hospitalizations for that matter. But this latest round of illnesses was different. I can't tell you why, but this time around I came closer than I've ever had to giving up on my writing.

I saw the line. I nearly crossed it. I was convinced that doing so would make life so much easier.

I didn't cross it. For reasons I bless, but don't yet understand, I couldn't do it.

There was no epic battle between good and evil. There was no divine intervention. To this day, I can't explain why I didn't do it.

E returned to school a couple weeks after that. She eased her way into her day, a few hours at a time. I eased my way back into a routine. I reaquainted myself with my characters. I determined their story was still worth telling. Along the way, the mugwump lost its voice and toddled back to its cage, its barbed tail between its legs, suffering me to lock it back in.

So here I am. Back in the saddle. It feels good to be typing again.

1 comment:

Michelle Sussman said...

I'm glad you didn't give up. Because I love your book. Because I think you are amazing. Because someday you will get it done. Because the story needs to be told. Because if you quit I will come to your house and give you a swift kick in the rear.