Sparked by Words

Doldrums and Drumbeats


Perhaps it’s the summer doldrums that have me down, as I wilt in high temperatures and barely move for fear of producing nothing but sweat. All over the blog world, I’m reading about people struggling to write the next word, craft a good sentence, complete a work in progress. Extreme heat and minimal writing output have left me frustrated. I feel myself floating on a sea without wind in my sails, drifting but going nowhere. This isn’t usual for me. I’m the writer who never suffers from writer’s block. Talkative as I am, I also have something to write about all the time. But this last month has seen me produce nearly nothing. I have story to tell, books to write, tales in my head. Still, almost no headway on any project.

It’s been a tough week, and before that a challenging month, and before that a miserable year. I have no energy.

The deep wound: I’ve been betrayed by people whom I’d loved all my life, a story I will not share. And I will not forgive.

The tragedy: My mother continues to decline, her mental and physical health a hostage to a disease for which there is no cure and only moderate pharmaceutical options and routines to intercept its lockstep progress toward her complete destruction.

The job: The last place I worked doing a job I loved closed its doors, a victim of a crashing economy, and left me too old to be hired anywhere else. Yes, it’s illegal to refuse to hire me because of my age, but a hundred other excuses/reasons surface in lieu of the one I know really prevents me from being employed in my field.

The shakedown: For many years I was locked into a business arrangement not of my making but one I couldn’t end. Until I finally did end it legally. About a year later, the other party sent me a threatening letter, demanding money for work he never did. I panicked, for while I have plenty of documentation proving what a lying leech he is, he scares me. I didn’t respond to the email. He sent a certified letter which I refused to accept, and I haven’t heard from him since. I’ll never really know if this shakedown is over because it’s fueled by his alcoholism, and that’s a never-ending problem.

The final blow: I got a rejection letter regarding an opportunity for which I knew I was unlikely to be selected. Still, the you-didn’t-make-it letter punched me harder than I’d thought. I reacted with tears and nightmares. The tears have stopped, the nightmares still torment me.

Other bloggers are writing about their summer blues and their attempts to regain their mojo. They’re adapting new strategies, like detailed outlining, or elaborate character sketches, or trying a writing program like yWriter5. Some are getting in an early morning swim, a late night walk, a slash in carbs, caffeine, gluten, and lactose, or an increase in probiotics, kale, and quinoa.  Many of my writer friends and acquaintances have found a way to proceed, and I wish all of them continued progress. May my losing streak not be theirs.

None of this accounts for my lack of progress. I haven’t written a new article on my blog in a while. I haven’t worked on any of my stories, not creating or editing or querying on their behalf. I feel like my life force has been pumped out and replaced with cat litter. My problems are way worse than everyone else’s. Than yours. That’s the way it is, right? My problems are more deeply entrenched, at least to me; I have so much to overcome. Your novel will launch long before I haul myself out of this slump.

Don’t pity me. I don’t deserve it, don’t need it. It won’t motivate me to get moving. Despite the year of bad tidings, I’ve also been blessed with a loving family, friends, and so many opportunities that the excuses for not writing resemble a teenager’s resistance to drive any car but a brand new one. What do you mean, I’m not getting a new car all my own? Sixteen years on this earth, eating your food, dropping my dirty clothes all over your floor, and you want to give me a used car? I deserve brand new. Lazy and entitled teenager.

I’m behaving like I deserve to find writing easy. Lazy and entitled old lady, me.

It’s already “the next day.” Today, I will write. No excuses. Time to make progress, time to achieve. Not a new car but a story that drums on the inside of my brain, begging to be written.

Badum-a-dump, ching.



Sea image courtesy:

Comments on: "Doldrums and Drumbeats" (44)

  1. Shari, this summer does seem to be different than summers in the past. The heat, though not any hotter, seems more forceful upon us emotionally as well as physically. I do have my own Pandora’s box of woes, but they are truly private, not affecting anyone else in the slightest. Yours, on the other hand, involve others. With you being the ball and chain for others (I know, a little blunt), this definitely puts a whammy on you. I wish we lived close enough in proximity to each other so I could ask you over for coffee. We could brainstorm through a few of your woes, and find plausible way for you to rid yourself of them. But that’s not reality. I am here for you, and am thinking of you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lindarkirsch said:

    You know that even when you think you aren’t writing, you do write things that are, at least to me, so worth reading. This friend is confident you’ll write your way through those doldrums!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Shari this is breaking my heart. I know how much you have going for you–in a macro sense. You’re an excellent writer, a gifted critiquer, an honest and hardworking person, a dear friend. I hate that so much has hit you all at once. It will pass. Trust in God (or the Universe) to move on and blend all of this into a wonderful future.

    Having said that, I know there are a few events I would never get over so I understand where you are. See you this evening!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If it is any consolation, I have cut down to three blogging days in hopes of getting back to my manuscripts and screenplays, yet I haven’t touched any of them.

    The extra time is now used for my wife and daughter, and all those wonderful summer activities. September is not far away bringing with it cooler temps and earliuer sunsets.
    There will be plenty of time then to get back to work. Our characters will be waiting.

    As for the brand new car. If you do decide to purchase one, make sure it is for yourself. Why deserves it more???

    Happy Monday.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’ve made me laugh, Andrew, and I really appreciate it.

      The new car story – Years ago, I heard my neighbor’s kid shrieking so loudly, I was afraid she’d suffered a serious injury. When I went to check, her dad told me she was carrying on because she’d just learned they were not going to purchase a new car for her high school graduation – they were giving her the used family one, and her mom was getting the new car. So the used car was a two year old Lexus! Fortunately she is no longer a teenager. All good things pass. So do the lousy ones.

      Good for you spending time with your wife and daughter – your priorities are perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Shari, It sounds as if you are deep in the throes of grief which come from the incredible number of losses, one after another, you’ve suffered in such a very short time. As painful and disheartening grief is, it is a testimony to how deeply you care – without love and caring there is no grief.

    In the short time I have known you the one thing I am sure of is your inner core of resiliency and loving kindness. No one can take that from you.

    with love always,

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Judy. You humble me and I am near tears for your loving comments. Grief can really take you down – you know.
      I wrote a few poems over the weekend, and that helped restore me, then did a tiny amount of background work on Milkman.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Loss and betrayal take a horrible toll. I know, for it’s part of the human condition. I began writing and I was delighted that I could be someone else for a while. At least the problems were different and under my control.

    I won’t offer you pity, but the sympathy of a fellow writer. My solution: if I can’t write well, I’ll write badly. If it sucks even after editing (and sometimes, the stories just aren’t good enough), I’ll write something else until it doesn’t. I’m seriously taking a lesson from my border collie.

    And I’ll usually clean my house and do all the laundry. I read something by a therapist once, it was something like proving to yourself that you can have a positive impact on your world. It usually helps, at least a little. Forward motion, any kind of forward motion, can usually help me maintain enough of a pace to start building some confidence again.

    Before I typed my final graf, I said some prayers for you. Let me know if I can do anything else. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You humble me, Cathleen, you offer solace and solution, and I thank you. Being someone else in our writing – that’s an apt description, and so true. In my writing, I rise above my problems.

      I’ve usually been able to lift myself with some of the activities you suggest and other things that work for me, but being slammed by so many bad things in one year did take a toll. After a while, I just couldn’t move in the direction I wanted, so I stopped moving at all. My computer mouse has also frequently been dysfunctional, preventing me from working, and I’m not techie enough to fix it. It doesn’t like cheese. Still, it’s mostly just a frustration, not a major problem.

      In the last few days I’ve gotten back on track with some projects. The many kind responses to this post have made me realize that so many people in the world are compassionate and supportive. I’m fortunate for this community of bloggers, the hidden benefit of blogging.

      Again, my thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for sharing, Sharon. Am sad that you’re going thru tough times, but am confident that things must turn around for you. These days, work is all about transitions. Am loving how your post brought out such compassion in readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was stunned to read all the love and support, so humbling and rewarding, and shows just how compassionate most people are. I think it’s going to turn around and get better. Thank you for your comment, Da’al.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m sorry to hear about all the bad luck you’ve been having recently. That doesn’t make for the kind of environment in which writing flows naturally for most people. The part about your job hit me particularly hard because I think it’s very likely that I’ll lose mine soon too — I’ve been expecting it for a while — and at almost 50, I don’t expect finding another will be easy. I have heard, though, that some people are able to channel their upset, hurt, fear or whatever into powerful writing. Anyway, I hope that things get better for you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This breaks my heart. Praying your smile has blessed someone today. I know you know when we forgive we’re freeing ourselves of the burden. I’m here for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sharon I wish I could extend my arms across the ocean and give you a big hug. I feel for your pain and hope that sharing to even the amount shared today will make your burden feel lighter and allow some of the pain to seep away. I know that I have alluded to some facets of my own life that I have never spoken about with anyone, not even my husband, and even though what I released was small the brightness that entered my being, as a result of having divulged only a minor part, was unexpectedly enormous. You don’t have to divulge private things to the public but I urge you to write it for yourself or write it in third person as though it happened to another and let the narrative work its restorative powers on you. You know I’m here for you as I know you are for me and I hope that you know that there are a whole lot of us (judging from your comments) that are hoping you work your way through the wounds that you have sustained. I know you say that you won’t forgive, which worries me, as by not forgiving usually the only person that continues to be hurt is yourself. I’m sorry you had that final blow. It was probably just the straw that released the build-up from all that had gone before. I hope those nightmares recede into the distance soon. Take care. Lots of love

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Irene. Long ago I sensed a kinship with you, as just the way you observe and absorb the world around you stirs familiarity in me. I don’t have to know the details to know that you’ve also suffered much and survived. The year that I didn’t write in my blog, I did a lot of personal repair. A good friend provided a framework for understanding what’s happened and how to put it behind me. It’s a work in progress but at least I know it can be done.

      There’s a lot I can’t write publicly, but you’re correct about writing for myself. I’ve done lots of thinking, reflection, and journaling which means I’ve had to come to terms with my contribution to my own problems.

      I’ve been so fortunate in other ways. I have a family I love, including a husband with whom I’ve grown up, two adult sons who have brought two loving daughters-in-law into our lives, and four grandchildren who are all so incredible. When things got (and still get) really tough, I visit the one set of grands who live very close. They always embrace me with non-judgmental and complete love, and they’re such fun to be with. We have friends we see often and I’ve also been fortunate to meet this wonderful community of bloggers who, like you, have extended themselves in friendship and offered support. I hope I’m able to return their compassion in kind.

      The nightmares have been a lifelong problem. I understand that nightmares are my own waking thoughts and experiences manifest in sometimes frightening, sometimes enlightening ways.

      Thank you for your friendship. Please know that I’m also here for you, and be well. Love, Shari

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank heavens you have such a good friend Sharon and that you have made such strides in repairing. I too have felt that kinship with you and am happy that I can call you my friend. You are very lucky that you have not only your husband but also such wonderful children and grandchildren. I think that as you get older children give you great comfort. Still there are many people that have children where the child lives away (like one of yours does) or worse does not communicate. That I think would be very hard to cope with. It is a lovely community we have found ourselves in and truly appreciate your friendship also. I know you are there and it makes me happy knowing that. Love Irene

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was so lucky to have met this wonderful woman and that she’s been so generous in helping me. Serendipity at its best.

        Irene, I realize that despite all the issues I’m trying to come to terms with, I am indeed very fortunate. And that includes having met you. One day it may be over coffee in person, while watching a koala sleeping in the tree just beyond the patio – could happen – something to think about.
        How is the moving coming?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sharon, I too hope that one day we will sit opposite and share a coffee. My feet are now bandaged and I can do little and despite grand thoughts before the op I am not getting near the computer as I thought I would. Just a trifle difficult. The first open house is this Saturday and that will be a minor miracle if we can manage to have it perfect. I am trying but it is very slow and I need heaps of rests between tasks. Oh well. I can blame no-one but myself.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You have a lot to deal with right now, Irene. I can’t imagine doing an open house with both feet in bandages. I’m sending you wishes for swift healing and a quick, profitable sale. Hugs across the ocean.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Sharon. Will look to the heavens for the wishes to arrive. Hopefully it will sell quickly so we don’t have to look like we don’t live here for too long.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hoping for the best for you and Roger. Have you chosen a new home yet?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes we have found somewhere just around the corner (we love living here) and the lady who is selling it to us has given us up to a year before we have to settle. Quite excited but daunted at downsizing yet again. I find it so hard parting from what amounts to possessions but for me many of them are memories.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The stuff around my house looks like dust bait to strangers, but I remember every person who gave me each item, or the moments that a photo was taken.
        My biggest horde, however, is papers that I cannot get rid of. So they’re in filing cabinets and all over table surfaces waiting to be filed. Ugh!
        Irene, I wish you well with the sorting and the packing and the moving. How are your feet healing?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sharon, I think your house sounds like mine. It is papers I just cannot get rid of (along with everything else). Thanks for the thoughts. My feet will take awhile but will get there. Just a pain to put up with at the moment.

        Liked by 1 person

      • A pain to put up with – and a reason to put your feet up. But I hope you’re doing that anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve read more books than I’ve read in a week for ages. Quite enjoyable.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Anything you’d recommend?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Alex Miller (an Australian author) Lovesong – highly recommend. Anita Brookner Hotel du Lac an old book for which she won the Man Booker prize and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. These three I’d recommend but particularly the first one. It has the most wonderful couple of pages explanation of the difference between story telling and writing. I’m tempted to do a post on it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Irene, I’m writing the names on my list of books to read. Looking forward to reading the post about Lovesong.

        Liked by 1 person

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