Sunday, August 18, 2013

Three Days of Heaven in Xanadu

(Life without makeup)
For the past two months, I haven't felt much like my usual sunny self.  I can blame it on the Second Coming of that horror from the spring, Jurassic Cyst (which landed me in the hospital for nearly five full days in April and left a divot in my scalp big enough to fly a Saturn 5 rocket through).  The loss of our beloved eldest cat, Chicken. A great deal of writing work that, while wonderful and exciting, is far from what I planned to delve into this waning Summer 2013. Perhaps it was that oft-lamented Mercury Retrograde I've heard spoken of so frequently, but never gave much of a second thought. Who knows?  Not I.  Maybe it was all of these things, a personal perfect storm that wove together into a shroud that smothered my love for my new home and the writing life.  Whatever the cause, I knew the effect and, focused on recharging batteries seriously depleted, I took three days to get centered. The results were quite spectacular.  They were, in fact, examples of the way I'm used to living my life. Maybe two lackluster months were meant to remind me of how good I've got it.

Despite a lot of recent attention toward my career in newspaper interviews and even TV, I've become a bit of a hermit in these, my late middle years, loving my alone time (never truly alone, with my small and wonderful family and a very grabby Muse).  So on Friday morning, feeling the need to nest, I made a point that these three days, from Friday to Sunday as I type this blog entry, were to be spent at home, without external contact.  I would get off the grid...or as far from it as possible.  I needed to get centered.

Regarding Jurassic Cyst Part Deux: thanks to a wonderful friend in my writers' group and desperate to avoid another lengthy and expensive hospital stay, I began taking a holistic remedy called Chaga, a repellent-looking fungus-among-us that apparently is growing all over the woods in my backyard. When mashed and then boiled, it makes a lovely tea.  My friend urged me to give it a try and I found it not only delicious, but within one week's time (the Friday start to my nesting period), Jurassic Cyst became extinct.  In feeling physically better, I also began to improve in the spiritual sense.  I woke up on Day One and resumed working on numerous projects that have been shuffled to the side -- completion of a short story started in Vermont last December while attending When Words Count Retreat Center for Writers called "The Honeysuckle Snow" and submission of my novelette, "The Arsonist", to a market I'd love to crack.  I worked on keystroking a novel from longhand draft onto the computer for my German Publisher, who requested a look at what could amount to a full series commitment.  I listened to music I love, played a few favorite movies I haven't seen in a while (Blue Velvet, Day of the Triffids), sipped coffee, walked around my yard and along my road with its stunning mountain views, read for fun (a wonderful old paperback with a tawdry cover, the Ellery Queen mystery The Origin of Evil), and indulged in some online soap operatic episodes of the ABC daytime drama Loving -- later The City -- which I used to watch being taped in New York City and covered for various industry publications, way-back-when.  I recharged those dead batteries.

(Sunday on the sun porch with Ozzie)
Most of all, I remembered.

I remembered that, twenty years ago, I reached the second-biggest turning point in my life, right after that which first inspired me to write.  Late summer of 1993 into the fall, I made a very conscious decision to be a writer, and only a writer because, simply, I love to write.  Not that I forgot this basic yet all-important truth.  I think I needed reminding, however.

Over the past twenty years, my career's enjoyed plenty of highlights and just as many low marks to keep me grounded.  On Halloween weekend in October of '93, I stood atop Wentworth Mountain at my very first writing retreat and, as wet autumn snow began to fall from a gray sky, asked the Muse for a sign, and I sure got it upon my return home -- in the form of my first professional sale to a national magazine, a writing award, and my first book deal.  The message was that if I gave myself completely to that which I love, it would keep me protected, provided for, and supremely happy.  It has.  I may have overlooked the interoffice memo regarding this truth these past two months, but I remembered where to look over the course of the past three days.  And I finished a particularly disturbing little tale of some 4,000 words on Day Three, "Thumbling", after bringing my current novel, which got lost in the muddle of the summer's demands, to its halfway point.  It didn't feel like work, not one bit.  It was fun.  The purest.

Tomorrow is Monday, and regardless of what the morning brings, I plan to wake up with a smile, pour my first coffee of the day, uncap my pen, and remember how lucky I am to be right where I am, doing what I love most.  Hallelujah!

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