#IWSG – What Life Crisis?

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

My headline is not exactly the question prompt for this month’s  Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly blog post, but it’s what I have to keep saying to avoid a meltdown.

October 3 question – How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

The real questions – well, two questions.

I can’t pretend that one critical life event didn’t impact my writing. When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in January 2000, my career as an equestrian journalist began to wind in; not immediately, but as I lost the ability to do the job efficiently, retirement loomed. By 2005, I had quit writing reports and by 2010, my involvement with horse shows had ended.

However, writing fiction filled some of the gaps in my life, and my debut novel, Spiral of Hooves was mainly written after I retired. My ongoing health problems do make writing every day hard, but sometimes the writing can distract from having a chronic illness– well two as I also have blood cancer, chronic lymphoblastic leukaemia (CLL).

But MS doesn’t distract from noisy step-great-grand-kids as the disease makes me sensitive to noise (as well as other things like temperature). Maybe I can use the experience for a children’s story.

As I began writing with some seriousness in my teens, there are possibly other life events of relevance. One day, I might remember.

Our current crisis is financial and could lead to a house move/down-sizing. Again, writing is a distraction, although I envisage obstacles like having no computer for some days – but not for so long as the move from Wales to the US.

NaNoWriMo might be a fail though. At least, I can scribble things down, even if MS makes my handwriting illegible – plus, I have plenty of notepads.

My muse will help me through this crisis.

Awww - Roland and Juanita.

Do you juggle major life events and writing? Or do they feed each other?

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The awesome co-hosts for the October 3 posting of the IWSG are Dolorah @ Book Lover,Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken!

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! 

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

 

 

#IWSG – Confessions about quitting

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Time for the monthly post as it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day – well tomorrow is. I’m writing this a day early as I have the energy and my eyes aren’t as bad they have been – more of that below.

The starting point is what is this month’s optional question?

June 7 Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

That’s a tough one. The simple answer is that when I had a non-writing job then it was simply workload that made me quit and the urge to write down an idea that brought me back. So, in some cases that was months later and in too many cases it was years before I listened to my muse.

Then came multiple sclerosis and by then I was an equestrian journalist. Eventually, the disease forced me to quit. But there was a novel that needed writing and even though I retired as a journalist, I struggled on with the novel. Thirteen years after I was diagnosed with MS, “Spiral of Hooves” was published in December 2013. Sadly, the book is out of print but plans are afoot to re-publish and there is even a cover design by the brilliant Jonathan Temples, as the old one was designed for the original publishers.

What do you think? Does it make you want to read the novel? (Apologies that it’s a PDF link at the moment)

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The re-release of “Spiral of Hooves” was to be the re-launch of my writing career, but the damn disease disagreed. Followers on Facebook might know that I get tired and my eyes are troubling me so I’m cutting back on what I do. I’ve struggled to expand my A to Z posts into “A Brief History of Kanata” and that is ready for some beta volunteers. Anyone want an alternative history lesson?

Apologies if I hardly visit or comment anymore because that has become one solution. But am I about to quit for good or will the muse that has inspired other draft novels to help me stumble on? I must remember how to touch type as my voice is too glitched to use voice recognition software. Or is there another way not to quit?

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

The awesome co-hosts for the June 7 posting of the IWSG are JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

Graylin Brown – a review

 

I’m feeling a bit stressed at the moment, trying to get my debut novel republished, my latest book revised, falling behind in the revision workshop I’m meant to be doing, aware that April is the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, and that I need to announce my A to Z theme in three days.

On top of all that, I realise that there are nine books that I read over the winter but never did proper reviews for; not because I didn’t enjoy them but because I let life get in the way – or should that be declining health and fending off the MonSter. So, that brings me to the stand-out book in the list and the one that meant a great deal.

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Graylin Brown

by Rodney Saulsberry

If you love the Motown sound you will love, Graylin Brown! The fictional story of a soulful R&B singer, William Bell, who made his way from Detroit to Hollywood with all the joy and pain in between.

 

Review *****

I must confess that I can’t remember why I picked this book up, but I must admit that I was so grateful from the moment I started reading it. It was probably another review or an Amazon sample but I’m totally glad whatever the reason was. This was a beautiful and emotional read.

From the opening scene, the reader knows that something is wrong with William Bell as he lies in a hospital bed – I had been there and knew. But then the book flashes back to when William was healthy and caught up in the early days of Motown as a talented musician for whom stardom beckoned. Those were wonderful moments and I was swept along, although in the pit of my stomach I knew what was coming. Something strikes him down and the doctors can’t diagnose him – not surprising as this was the 60s and even now this disease is missed or overlooked; and even in 2000, I slipped through the system in a way.

But this is William’s story, not mine. And from here there are a few hinted spoilers, so if you don’t want to know more, stop here and believe me that this book may be shortish but a novel that I recommend.

William recovers, but his recording boss sees him as a liability, waiting for this unknown disease to strike. His career staggers along as his colleagues that he had a hit record with flourish. The cruelty of those judgmental people like his boss is so real and Rodney Saulsberry captures every nuance.

Some years later, William collapses again and from there – well read the book. William’s struggle mimicked mine in many ways, although I have never had a hit record, just struggled with multiple sclerosis. But I understood what he was going through. I asked the author how he had captured the progress so perfectly and he told me that he had family members that had lived with MS.

This is a very realistic depiction of life with multiple sclerosis, with great characters. The feel of the music industry back in the Motown days feels realistic, especially as I have close musician friends though from later decades. I urge you to read this, and I might even be brave enough to do that again. At moments, it had me in tears, not least because the main character’s MS echoed mine, but also because his blood family were there for him at every moment.

The ending is beautiful and so much more. Writing this brings those emotions back. When you finish this moving read, you might understand why.

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The Fall

Autumn Forest (via whispering-n-winds)

Autumn Forest
(via whispering-n-winds)

Autumn is not here yet, and the leaves are hardly turning, so I had no reason to shout “Timber” as I hit the ground. Well, the floor of the bathroom – and my head and shoulders hit the shower.

Getting to the toilet is never easy, especially at night – or in this case at 7 a.m. in the morning, when it involves two wheelchair transfers. Multiple sclerosis drives me crazy. My body cramps up in bed, so I need to push, roll, and force my un-cooperative legs onto the floor. Then I have to push myself up off the bed and, using the bedside cupboard for extra support, swing into my wheelchair without falling. Stage One complete.

But then I need to reach the toilet before my bladder gives up on me – and it has a couple of times. And I need to do this without my legs going into a spasm, which makes it hard to turn the wheelchair through the bathroom door. The transfer onto the toilet relies on me getting the chair near enough to the grab bars on either side of the toilet. And then I have to swing myself across = Stage Two.

Multiple Sclerosis Fact #3 Spasticity

Multiple Sclerosis Fact #3 Spasticity

Except at 7 a.m. I failed to make it onto the toilet. I crashed to the ground lie a tree and screamed something. Fortunately, Juanita, my wife, woke up – as did the dogs – and tried to help the rigid body jammed between the shower and the radiator.

At least there were no canine surprises on the ground, and my bladder didn’t decide that this was the moment to use the floor.

However, we had major problems getting me up off the ground. Juanita tried helping, but at first she only strained her back and stomach. I only had the strength to struggle onto my knees with her help. But then getting up further proved impossible – until she manoeuvred a commode for me to climb onto.

Yes, a commode. Provided by the NHS back when it was impossible to get the wheelchair beside the bed. It had proved to have one major drawback though – it was a tight fit getting my personal bits inserted. Enough said. Move on.

Finally I moved onto the toilet, but by then my bladder had gone back to retaining everything, so couldn’t perform. Back to bed, but by then everyone was awake and sleep proved impossible.

Eventually, after an hour, I went to the toilet as needed. Then a few hours later, we rested our aching bodies. And yes I feel battered, but I’m glad that I didn’t break anything – hopefully not.

That was not the first fall, just the latest of many. My legs collapsed about a month ago and I needed the bed and Juanita to get back up. But I’m worrying about what will happen when I go down harder. Do we call the paramedics? There are no neighbours that could help.

And what happens when I’m taken to hospital. Juanita doesn’t have a UK driving licence, although we have one friend that might help there. That is one key reason why we are heading for the US where we have family – strong sons that can pick me up.

This Omar manufactured Park Home has serious design flaws, even though it was meant to have been built around my wheelchair. With toilets that had just one grab handle each? A shower with inaccessible taps? Basins that can’t be reached from a wheelchair? A cupboard blocking wheelchair access in the bedroom? We have had modifications made by another cowboy firm – modifications that needed more repair work. Don’t think we’ll be going the rebuild route next time.

So on the US front, we need to find somewhere that has the correct modifications, as well as great views, sociable neighbours, and a garden the dogs can dash around and around.

Except that brings us to the ongoing problem: when will my brother ever see the urgency of the situation? When it’s too late? My grand-mother died from complications caused by a fall. My mother had two severe falls before she died. How many does it take?

Will he continue with the blinkers?

Therefore, I may not be commenting on anyone’s blog today, but I have decided to post this today, as this has to be breaking news. Well, hopefully nothing is broken – and this is not going to make headlines or go viral. When did MS ever make the headlines? We are only pretending to be sick.

There are worse problems to report on – like the gossip about Kim Kardashian.

Now, have you heard about…

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Will I clear the medical hurdle?

Well the US emigration adventure is moving forward. On August 11th, 36 days after applying, I got the approval letter from the US Embassy, which allows me to proceed to the next step of the visa process.

Then another eleven days later, on Saturday August 22nd, I received the crucial LND number that allows me to fix a date for my medical examination – probably in late September. If that goes well, and I pass muster, then the final step will be the interview at the US Embassy in London.

This all presumes that we can fix the medical date for late September. The medical is only valid for six months, but most of those are winter months when it could be hard to move the animals to the US – they can’t fly if it is too cold or too hot. Without a house, moving is near impossible. And my brother holds the purse strings, so everything is on hold until he gives the go-ahead, which could be next year.

However, there is a more immediate concern. Ironically, my MS shouldn’t be the problem, except the stress on hyper-drive. I have all the relevant documents from my doctor and health experts – the local practise put all my records on a disc. These go back quite a few years, well before I was diagnosed in 2000. Although I will have to sign up for medical insurance in the US, having a disease like MS is not a ‘fail’ as such. And once I ensure that I am fully up-to-date with my vaccinations, then there shouldn’t be a problem – I hope.

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So what’s the problem? Why the hurdle?

The examination is at Knightsbridge in London, a six and a half hour drive from Harlech for us. I no longer drive. Juanita doesn’t have a full UK licence so we can’t use the motorways. And like many people, she doesn’t want to drive in London. Even though I’ve lived there and driven extensively in the capital, I totally sympathise. It’s a stressful task. So we’ll be looking for some form of chauffeur… well a kind friend.

Incontinence is a problem already solved, and I’m prepared for the exhaustion, but then there is my car sickness, which had been banished for numerous decades, but that problem has now re-turned in all its childhood nastiness. (See “The Candle”.) Maybe my worsening MS might be at the root of the sickness. When we moved up here in February 2014, I had no severe sickness, even though it was an eight hour journey. However, when the Red Cross drove me to Bangor Hospital, I felt terrible. Maybe the same pills that I took for the 2014 move will work for the trek to London.

Let’s hope they do. Otherwise, I’ll be the wrong colour when I see the US doctor… and the US Embassy official a few weeks later.

Should these be called hurdles or fences? What else looms? Beyond the house purchase and sale, I see a huge water jump. That’s massive – and another post. Where do you think that jump lies?

(Source: ithoroughbred)

(Source: ithoroughbred)

Why move to Idaho?

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Before I answer that crucial question, welcome to the first Pick’n’Mix blog post. I will attempt to post something at this same time and on this same site every week. And rather than having a specific topic, this will be whatever seems tastiest – as suggested.

Anyway, when I announced that I was attempting to emigrate across the pond to Idaho, some people questioned that choice?

“Why move there?” they asked. “There are better places for your MS – Switzerland or Spain.”

True. My multiple sclerosis gets worse in damp, cold weather, and in humid, hot weather. And sadly Wales has ticked the first box, this year. The second rules out many places in the more distant East, like India or Singapore. However, the key thing is having family and friends that can be supportive. A non-starter in this park home estate, where I seem to have a communicable disease, and when my family show no sign of caring what happens to me.

But I have another family that does care, and they are in Boise, Idaho. They may be step-kids and step-grandkids, but they are ready to be there for both of us. In fact, they have already showed they care, both in words and deeds. For instance, when my wife, Juanita, and I were with them in 2010 and 2011, they did everything for us from putting us up to carrying me when I couldn’t walk.

So that’s why we are moving back to Idaho, even if the move is complicated – especially by my brother. I need to get the right US visa and as well as copious documents, that includes a medical, which means an eight-hour drive to London. Then a few weeks later an interview at the US Embassy, again in London.

We need to buy a house, which is why we need my brother to guarantee the finance, which is mine for life. Then we have to sell our home in Wales. There is the shipping to arrange, and four pets to fly there, when the weather is right – they can’t fly when it is too hot or too cold. And I’m in a wheelchair so flying is a nightmare.

Before you ask about the culture shock, I should say that I escaped to Canada for three years and had Landed Immigrant status there. Yes, the US is not Canada, but it meant leaving home. And haven’t I already done that when I moved to Wales? This is not the country that I grew up in. The familiar haunts have been left behind. I’d already taken steps away from the equestrian world that I worked in, and I haven’t established similar contacts here.

So I’ve left home, and we are already in another country. Another country where the first language is not English, and we hear Welsh when we go places, even during the tourist season. Yes, the Americans do things different, whether it is driving on the wrong side of the road, or they arm their police. But it was the same in Canada, where I first passed my driving test, and almost joined the RCMP.

The 10 Best Cities to Move to in 2015 - http://www.simplemovinglabor.com/blog/the-10-best-cities-to-move-to-in-2015#.VQXcaHY3dgs.facebook

The 10 Best Cities to Move to in 2015 – No 2 Boise. Image courtesy Bob Young

Oh wait, American-English is not the first language spoken in Idaho. It was either Coeur D’Alene, Nez Perce, Kutenai, Northern Paiute, or Shoshoni, depending on the area. Around Boise it would have been Shoshoni. So I guess we need to learn that.

And those that said Spanish, go stand in the corner. The name Boise has French origins, French-Canadian fur traders travelled the territory in the late 18th and early 19th century. Boise may be from “La rivière boisée”. And any settlers from the Iberian Peninsula of significance were the Basques. Even a Brit knows that.

Well that’s enough of the history lesson from this Brit imposter. More of course next week. But that might be totally off the subject.

Any questions?