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The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

08 March 2013

Change, it is acoming

Hawk in my yard watching birds at bird feeder
I turned in revisions to my fantasy novel Ice Magic, Fire Magic to Hadley Rille Books on 28 February (scheduled for release in September 2013) and hope I can get back to blogging more regularly now.

I said in a recent post that my blog would be changing somewhat. A temporary change is that I'll be spending spring in New Orleans and then, after a brief time back in California, in Bordeaux, France. So you can look forward to photos, comments on the literary scene, my misadventures with the French language, and other posts about my trips. Note to burglars: I'll have a housesitter while I'm gone, so don't waste your time showing up.

Member of greeting committee for burglars
A long-term change is that I will focus often on how writers with chronic illnesses can combine the ill life with the writing life. When I was younger and had fewer illnesses, I was able to work full time as a writer by making many adjustments. As I've gotten older, some illnesses have spawned others, so that my time has increasingly been spent on doctor visits, lab visits, renewing prescriptions, etc., and I've been struggling more and more in recent years to find time to write. In 2012, I wrote nothing new (although I did a lot of revision).

I took Kitty Bucholtz's class on organization for writers recently in hopes it would help. Not only did I pick up many good tips that should help me spend much less time looking for things (one side effect of my cognitive problems) and save me time elsewhere, but also I discovered the root of the problem. Kitty had us calculate the hours we had available for writing in 2013, starting by estimating and deducting the time dedicated to non-work-related Things That Must Be Done (paying bills, doing taxes, eating, sleeping, etc.)

When I added up the items in this category, which is where I put all my medical-related stuff, it came to more days than there are in a year. Talk about a moment of clarity! For the first time, I grasped that I could not merely tweak my life to find time for writing. I have to rethink my time from scratch.

I'm now ordering groceries on the computer and having them delivered (saves 1.5 hours a week, plus the money I would have spent on impulse purchases). I broke a small bone in my foot a month ago and have treated it at home myself (saved many hours of visits to the doctor and the X-ray lab). My husband now enjoys the satisfaction of preparing a couple of simple meals each week (saves an hour or two a week).

Burglars: Did I mention that coyotes prowl our yard?
Most important, I realized that if I want to write, shaving an hour here and two hours there is necessary but not sufficient. I will have to hire a personal assistant. With so many college students around here who'd be happy for some extra cash, it's stupid for me to waste time filing and making lab appointments and recording expenses in my business account book when I could be writing.

I've actually found a temporary assistant already; my housesitter during my trips to New Orleans and France could use some money for when she rents an apartment after leaving here, so I'll leave her a list of tasks to do if and when she feels like it.

What will I be talking about as I make this shift in my blog? I may talk more about my moment of clarity. Sometimes I'll go over basic time- and energy-saving methods for writers who are newly chronically ill (or, for that matter, have a new baby or a new job with a long commute or are new to writing in general). Sometimes I'll talk about some of the time savers I developed in recent years as my illnesses increasingly expanded to fill my life. Other times I'll talk about my quest to find a personal assistant, what problems I anticipate and what problems I encounter, what Uncle Sam expects if I have a personal assistant, and how it works out. Other times, I may throw out a problem and see what other people have done. Readers are welcome to suggest questions to be brainstormed.
Miss Snickerdoodles, who works at the birdfood store

Expect dark humor, suggestions both good and dubious (treating your own broken bones probably falls in the latter category), lists of helpful hints, encouragement that you deserve and can achieve a fully and satisfying life, and useful links and info for the newbie with a chronic illness. I was a medical and science writer for almost 20 years, so if I talk about medical matters, they will be well-researched and a good base for devising questions to ask your doctor.

What won't change: a focus on information writers will find useful or interesting. Pictures of Stuff In My Yard. Interviews with authors.

In fact, tomorrow (Saturday 9 March) I'll feature an interview with Anna Brentwood about her new historical novel, The Songbird with Sapphire Eyes. What is really cool about this novel is that she dreamed it first and wrote it after!

So please keep coming back to my blog. Even if you are healthy, you probably would like more time and energy to write. Please also tell your friends with chronic illnesses what I'll be doing so that they don't have to reinvent the wheel.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

You have the idea. I too have been struggling to find time to write with all the school work I've been doing, and although I don't have any chronic illnesses, the pain of my neuropathy has been growing and making it harder to spend hours on the computer. Definitely we have to rethink as we get older about where to spend our moments. Hope your foot completely heals soon.