January 24, 2023

The "Staying Grounded" Part of the Writing Life

The past few weeks have been a doozy. 

On Christmas Eve, my mother-in-law experienced an unexpected  health issue that resulted in several days of hospitalization. A couple of days after Christmas, there was a huge windstorm in our area, and a large tree fell on a home we own. (Gratefully, no one was hurt, but the event created the need for lots of extra work communicating with an overwhelmed insurance company and coordinating with multiple contractors.) 

That same day, we lost power for a three-day stretch. Right after the power came back on, my mother-in-law came to stay with us to recuperate for about a week; her care needs necessitated multiple wake-up calls in the middle of the night. The day after she went home, my own mother experienced a health issue requiring emergency surgery. She is still in the hospital due to various complications that have delayed her recovery. I have spent the better part of the past week at the hospital, providing emotional support and engaging with healthcare providers as she heals and recovers.  

Add to this my husband hurting his back and being out of commission for several days; helping our daughter prepare for a move from our family home into her first post-college apartment; and helping our son as he returns to college after winter break and begins planning for a study abroad experience that starts next term, and suffice it to say, my plate has been FULL! 

Meanwhile, the month of January, a month that's typically very productive for me in terms of creativity, marches on.  

Although I've had very limited time (or head space) for creative writing this past few weeks, the truth of the matter is that writing (and writing-related practices) helps me stay grounded during times of stress and uncertainty. It's during times like this that I lean into the muscle memory of the writing routines I've developed over the years to keep my creative goals moving forward. 

Some of my creative writing accomplishments for the past few weeks include:

-Participating in StoryStorm to generate new story ideas.

-Tinkering around with two of the new story ideas that I've come up with during StoryStorm.

-Revising a story in response to an upcoming call for submissions to a publisher that I'd like to work with.

-Preparing a submission packet for a publisher that has an open submission window this month.

-Completing weekly manuscript critiques for my critique partner. 

-Sharing one manuscript for critique with my critique partner.

-Writing a heartfelt letter to a family member. 

-Coordinating author visits for World Read Aloud Day 2023, coming up on February 1st. 

-Exchanging weekly creative writing goals and weekly accomplishment reports with my critique partner. (I'm a week behind on this, but I'm determined to get caught up!)

-Preparing a year-end blog post, hosting a guest author on my Birth Stories for Books blog series, and writing this blog post.

Creative writing goals that I've yet to accomplish this month, that are high on my list of priorities, include:   

-Writing a heartfelt letter to another family member.

-Polishing and submitting stories for the two calls for submissions mentioned above.

-Preparing submission packets for a new round of agent queries (Note to Universe: I'd like for 2023 to be the year that I find a literary agent who loves my work as much as I do, and wants to be my career partner.)

Many years ago, I wrote this succinct mission statement related to my writing work: 

I write to teach, empower, process, and persuade. 

When I wrote this mission statement, the word empower was meant to convey that I wanted to write books that empower my readers. As I reflect on this mission statement today, I realize that adhering to my writing practices and routines has helped empower me during this period of time filled with uncertainty and powerlessness. 

My creative writing goals (those that have been accomplished, and those I've yet to accomplish), are helping me stay grounded during this challenging time. 

What helps you stay grounded during challenging times? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

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