Monday, May 20, 2013

Is it just me?

...Or is this a bizarre year?

I've had a lot going on in my personal life the last few months and it has really been a struggle to write. In the last six months my family has lost all three of our pets, one to cancer, another to old age, and the third to an accident (he was hit by a car in the street near my house). For my children, this has been a crash course in coping with mortality. It hasn't been a cakewalk for my wife and me, either. 

My part-time real world job has been picking up. Unfortunately, it's essentially an on-call job, which means that when something needs to be done, I have to drop everything and do it. Since I only have a few hours a day to write as it is, this means my personal writing time has been chopped approximately in half.  On top of that, a family friend has been dealing with health problems and ended up having neck surgery a few weeks ago. For most of this year, he had been steadily losing the ability to use his hands or even walk. He couldn't sign checks, drive a car, or even clip his own nails. And with no family in the area, he really had no one to turn to but us. We've been happy to help when we could, taking him on shopping trips or hospital visits, helping out with the routines that we tend to take for granted when we're healthy. Slowly but steadily, his health is now improving and it looks like he'll thankfully make a full recovery in the next few weeks. It hasn't been easy for him.

I also received a phone call from my brother recently, and learned that he's planning on moving back to the area. He's been going through personal issues and has finally reached the conclusion that it's time to make a new start. I'm thrilled that he'll be moving back, and I've been spending a lot of time helping him look for work, housing etc., which is no small task considering he has six (!) children. It will be nice having the family together again. I know at least one of the younger ones will be staying with us for the summer while my brother gets settled. As happy as this makes me, the reality is that I know it will present certain challenges for coming months and probably the rest of the year. 

I could go on, but I don't think I need to. What it boils down to is that I've been trying to find an hour here and there to work on my novels, but it feels like I'm swimming upstream. Writing fiction is a creative process, and it's not the sort of thing I can turn on and off like a faucet. Small routine distractions are hard enough, but when the entire world around you is in turmoil, it can quickly become overwhelming. That said, I have managed to finish two first drafts and half of a third, so I'm still well on my way to reaching my goal of writing four novels this year. Unfortunately, those drafts will need a lot of work and I just don't know how much time I'll have for them, so I won't be sure when my next books will be coming out until the end of summer or early fall. 

So is it just me, or is this happening everywhere? It seems like the economy is improving and we're seeing some brights spots in the job and real estate markets, but at the same time everything else seems to be falling apart. Ah, well. Maybe it's time for some positive thinking exercises.