Having just slogged through a huge medical rough patch, it occurs to me that rough patches are nothing new in my life, from dealing with a special needs child to writing a book that wanted to break my brain, and those skills are the same, no matter what your rough patch may be.
So how do you get through a rough patch in your project, your personal life, or your career?
First, take it one day at a time. Don't look too far ahead. Take it one hour, one minute at a time if you have to. Do the thing immediately in front of you that needs doing. Then do the next thing. Keep moving forward.
Second, remember that rough patches end. However difficult it might be at the moment, it's just that moment. It's not the rest of your life.
Third, practice kindness. If you're not kind to yourself, everything is harder. How to be kind to yourself? This ranges from taking a walk, eating right, getting enough sleep, to going to a movie or an art gallery you really want to see to simply being kind in thought. "I'm actually a good writer. I've solved problems like this before. I've finished every other book, I can finish this one, too." You can recognize your own short-comings and mistakes without turning it into a catastrophe or turning yourself into a hopeless mess. Being kind to yourself and believing in your abilities makes it a lot easier to weather difficult stretches.
Fourth, remember that from struggle comes growth. Every horrible writing problem I've wrestled with has made me a better writer. Dealing with a special needs kid has made me a far better parent and more empathic human being. I'm not a fan of Nietzche, but it is true that working through problems builds problem-solving skills and experience and wisdom and in the end, confidence.
Rough patches are part of life, unfortunately. In careers, in personal lives, in health, in projects, things go right and sometimes they go badly wrong, and while we can't choose or control how or when these wrong things will hit, we can control how we cope with them. One minute at a time if that's all we can manage.
1. Study. No, really. Kids who don’t keep up their studies over the summer fall behind. We actually did our end of school year wrap-up with a discussion of what skills needed practice over the summer. Now’s a good time to think about it and set up a schedule.
2. Trips to local museums, galleries, planetariums, observatories, science centers, farms, whatever your community offers. It’s easy to make a list of nearby places your kids want to explore and plan a series of outings over the summer. Also check out community classes and day camps. There are lots of opportunities and many of them don’t cost much.
3. Projects at home. Before school ended, we had already picked up a book on origami animals and a bracelet-making kit. Next on our list, embroidery hoops and floss, since the kids loved learning how to embroider at the art festival earlier this spring. You can find all kinds of things for kids in craft stores, fabric stores, art supply stores, and bookstores. Stock up now and be ready to whip one out when the initial glee of freedom ends with a plaintive “I’m bored!” Also, school age children are old enough to begin learning to cook.
4. Summer reading at your local library.
5. Start a garden project, any scale, from a pot of herbs on the patio to a square-foot-garden. Kids love to dig in dirt and see the whole process go from seed to food.
1. Walk on the Wild Side's May extravaganza continues with Alison Kent's At His Mercy!
2. I'm off bedrest. Hurrah. (Further testing actually turned up some good news for a change.)
3. I still managed to read most of The Art of War for Writers and all of Dreamveil in between bouts of tests and fretting, which made the time pass a lot more happily.
4. I've started getting "where is the next book" emails in foreign languages now. This combined with the above test results is clearly a sign that I should be writing faster. Especially if that guy who said the world was ending over the weekend turns out to be right about October. (Who wants to go with unfinished books? Untidy!)
5. I finally updated the "new releases" sidebar and added a book page for the Mammoth Book of Hot Romance.
I did a lot of things in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy to get ready for the 3rd and recovery after. I knew there was a possibility I wouldn't be up to dealing with those things if I left them too late. So along with the typical items like filling the freezer, getting the house ready, stocking baby items and having everything ready to use, I started collecting Rainy Day Reads. Books I knew I could count on to entertain and distract me when the day came that I really needed them, and since I'm on bed rest, that day is here.
I have books by Maya Banks and Larissa Ione and Stephanie Tyler. Ava Gray and Samantha Hunter and Linda Howard. Marjorie Liu and Lynn Viehl and Patricia Briggs (yes, I actually have a few I managed to not read instantly). Jennie Lucas and Maisey Yates are ready to sweep me off on international angst-ridden Presents journeys. Romance in all flavors and settings are my Rainy Day Reads. There's no other genre I can count on to make me feel better.
And that's one of the reasons why I keep writing it myself.
I know it's been a week since I blogged. This is a wrap-up period for lots of things around here. The end of school, the end of a book, the end of pregnancy, it's all going on. That's kind of consuming my mental bandwidth.
And honestly, when life is like that, that's when I want most to go get lost in somebody else's book, specifically one with love and hope and a happy ending. Hooray for romance writers and the wealth of reading that's out there.
Happy Mother's Day! And for handy reference, a list of 5 things moms want.
1. Sleep. No, really.
2. A good book and time to read it. (Or a good movie and time to watch it.)
3. Angelic children. Okay, I take that back. Angelic children kick mom imaginations into overdrive, trying to figure out what they're up to/hiding THIS time and hoping to stop it before somebody loses an eye.
4. No surprises. See above. The word surprise makes my eye twitch.
May your Mother's Day bring cake and no surprises!
Yes, I know, no blogging since Sunday. It's been busy around here. For instance, I saw a submission call with a short turnaround time that a. I wanted to do and b. meant I had to jump, so I jumped. Polishing the finished story today.
On the reading front, I discovered that Lynn Viehl's After Midnight was available immediately when I bought it for the Kindle app and it promptly downloaded instead of a week or so in the future. I decided the universe was telling me to ignore everything and read for the next eight hours, and who am I to thwart the universe? It was time well spent, too. Get your copy, it's got romance and mystery and fantasy and horses. Plus surprises. Even if you aren't a YA fan, I think any adult romance/fantasy reader will find a lot to love in this book.
Reading with kids: on our last bookstore visit, the oldest kid wanted the Harry Potter books, and I had to remind her that I already have all of them and now that she's old enough, she can read them. So bedtime now includes a nightly chapter of Harry Potter and that's going to keep us busy for a LONG time. It's so fun to enjoy them all over again with kids who are new to Harry and his adventures. One of the best parts of loving a book is getting to share it with somebody else who loves it, too.
There was a new episode of Castle Monday night. Since I can't stay awake until 11:00 to watch these things as they air, it's a good thing we live in the future where TV episodes are available for instant watch the next day. And it was fabulous, as Castle consistently is. The writing for this show is terrific.
And I'm following my favorite show-that-doesn't-exist, Shadow Unit, the brainchild of some of the best fantasy writers on the planet. New to Shadow Unit? Go get acquainted and begin reading. This is an entirely reader-supported project. I donate annually.
1. This weekend, the annual Children's Festival of Arts took place and mad creativity ensued. I didn't take pictures of wooden boat building, dueling, fairy houses, pottery wheels, etc. because there was only so much time. But a good time was had by all, and the Queen of Arts cleared my head from creative cobwebs, which is as good if you're a writer as getting your bike blessed if you're in the Hell's Angels.
3.The official coldest April in recorded Seattle history is over. Which is good because I refused to buy a maternity coat on the grounds that I didn't need one in the PNW and would never wear it again.
4. I keep picking hikes I want to do out of our Olympic Trail Guide (and we've gone through a lot of this book in the years we've owned it) and then cross-checking to see how far we'd be from a hospital, and then saying "next year". Which is why we're not currently hiking the Olympic wilderness to see
Do not buy Ghost Pepper sauce and use it like Tabasco. Ghost peppers are one step below defensive pepper spray and rated at 1,000,000 Scoville units. Habeneros rate around 350,000 for comparison.
And here, have a haiku for Ghost Pepper Sauce:
One million Scovilles/A ghost pepper inferno/don't get in your eyes.