Sparked by Words

Posts tagged ‘obligations’

Perhaps to Dream


Sometimes being in a corner feels like you’re trapped in a locked box. Sometimes the road buckles on the way to nowhere and the signs to return home are obscured by curves behind which you can’t identify the landmarks. Sometimes the darkness is so dense that sunlight doesn’t lift the pitch enough for you to see. I’ve been there for the past twelve months or so, maybe even two or three years, getting deeper and deeper into a funk. I can’t write because I’m too tired and overwhelmed by responsibilities over which I have little control and less chance of escaping. The life of another person depends upon me but my own life also demands attention, and there’s only so much of me to spread, to give, to take care of it all.

I haven’t had time to write. Or maybe I haven’t taken time to write, certainly not the amount of time I need to direct to my books. Writing means so much to me, and I still think and dream writing. I scribble my brilliant ideas on scraps of trash paper, and my genius insights snare my attention from the daily tasks at hand. But dawn comes before the sun rises, and dusk finds me anxious and headachy most days. Sleep is illusive and not long enough, and healthy exercise is something other people accomplish.

On the surface this must look like depression but I know it’s not. It’s Life 101 catching me at my heels, surrounding me with the reality check that it isn’t going to end soon, and when it does, it will only be because someone I love has passed. The fanged wolf waits at my door; I don’t know when he’ll lunge. He will though, I know he will.

Someone I love has Alzheimer’s disease. She needs everything an infant needs, except that she continues to regress and to subsume me. Because she cannot speak on her own behalf or assist with her care, the disease having destroyed every essential facet of her executive function. I must act for her, choose for her. I do not fear death, hers or mine, though I fear a vacant life, a lingering death.

I wonder how she can live with no ability to remember anything she once loved, to plan an activity, to anticipate the next day’s events or even the next hour’s. I fear how long this fractured existence might continue because she is old and I am aging. I’m weary. I’m frightened by what I witness of this illness as it destroys so many others with a long, slow crumbling of the brain and body that can only be described as a harrowing existence. Someplace between dark and blank. Barely what we recognize as human – yet they are, and she is.

Alzheimer’s disease demands a waiting room. We wait and we know what we’re waiting for. Regular life is suspended between the what-nows and the emergencies and the bills that still must get paid. The clock stops in the interim between the earlier life where things moved along with occasional crises and temporary high points, and the ordinary moments that filled most days.

Now it’s a steady decline to an end mark I will know by its certainty but still don’t know anything about at all. The interruptions happen, always when I’m unprepared because that’s the job description of interruption: a trip to the hospital, a UTI, a violent outburst, a more precipitous mental decline than the day before. The unexpected events that inhabit well-planned days now doused in chaos and fear.

Yet the hours progress and the calendar page changes. When can I start to live again, to plan around my needs and desires? To write my books and engage in their publication process?

So the New Year’s Resolution I wrote six months ago, End, Begin, Again, the commitment to write as best I could, seems a lazy attempt at humor. It was a snapshot of my giddiness at facing another year with less accomplished than the previous year, and so much that I might do in this new one. I want to write, all excuses aside. I want to paint, to travel, to take classes and learn about some of the many subjects that interest me.

I want more time with my family – my husband and sons, my daughters-in-law, and my beautiful grandchildren, especially the youngest of this special brood as they live 350 miles north of us. We see them rarely, they can’t grasp who we are.

I want to write for my blog and work on my books, then embark on the tough road of submitting queries to agents, and probably of prepping my books for self-publication. Because as I worry and wonder when I can squeeze in a few paragraphs, I hear the clock’s persistent tick and know I must get ready for the next day. It will come and I must be prepared, especially for the unplanned. There is not enough time to write.


Except. It’s time for me to get serious about what I can do, to focus on what I must do. Stated here:  Begin again. I will write, no longer wait for endings to grace me the time to get on with my life. I’ll continue as I have for eight years to be at my mother’s side with love to assure her she isn’t alone, making choices to keep her comfortable, being vigilant to keep her safe. It’s what I do and will do loyally to the end but it can’t be the excuse for inaction.

Perhaps to dream I will write.

Watch me write.

I am writing.




Clock and book image courtesy Google images, Pixabay

Man in a boat image courtesy Google images, Pixabay

Sunrise image courtesy Google images, Pixabay



End, Begin, Again


The end of one year and beginning of the new, a blazing explosion, a fiery goblet, and a burning regret that leads to a wall-eyed morning and the numerical designation of 2017. For the Chinese it is the Year of the Rooster, whose formal beginning is January 28, close enough for me. One born this year is slated to be hardworking, funny, trustworthy, and talented. With nothing more irrefutable than astrological signs or a tarot deck, I attempt to predict my future year. The shifting constellations, a foggy crystal ball, one shuffle of cards, and I sit at Buddha’s feet, wondering along with all the other postulants. At what strange place have I been lodged and what new port will welcome me? What might I commit to complete before the Year of the Dog begins to bark?

In many ways, it will be the same, same address, same routine, and same faces that regard me with winks, hugs, or heaving sighs. In other ways it will all be new, as if I’ve been cast off a space ship and jettisoned to a new galaxy where I can’t breathe. It’s this insecurity that keeps me from making resolutions, the near certain knowledge that no matter what I plan, it will be unlikely to proceed toward success. On less than one hand – really, on fewer than the knuckles on one finger – can I count my writing successes for this past year. I’ve written, yes, that I have. I made a final edit on my three completed books, made a substantive start on a fourth, and have five new ideas to pursue. I was turned down for a position I felt I was very qualified to undertake and I sulked like a three-year-old. As 2015 was the year I didn’t write on this blog, 2016 was the year I reclaimed it with reasonable effort, including a new alphabet series highlighting favorite books by letter. (H is for The History of Love published on January 6; I is for The Invention of Wings will publish on January 12.)

Then came the readers, from my critique group writing partners to the readers of this blog, with kind comments, suggestions for improvement, pats on the back, and true friendships among fellow writers. I extend my most sincere thanks to all of you. I feel like a writer, a real bona fide writer. (Redundant, I know.) My writing has been recognized as decent, my insecurity concerning my skills given a good slap on the hands. Here are the knuckles, raw with counting coup.

But the open door to an agent, the contract with an editor, the published book in hand: those glories did not happen. Admittedly, mostly my own fault. One must write, query, contact like tackle football if one is to tender a relationship with the publishing world. I didn’t, and that’s why I hesitate to write a set of resolutions for 2017. No point in promising what will be a certified failure. What writing I wanted most to work on, my newest book, got shunted to the side track of my circus, and the rooster bodes more obligations than will leave me time to write.

This post is not a pity party and I’m not looking for sympathy or an easy pass to achievement. All that must be earned. I am in a way a victim of my adult responsibilities. My (unpaid) position as my mother’s durable power of attorney (she suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s disease) sits on my calendar like a cock on the doorstep. She can’t live without it, I won’t budge it. My commitment to the other members of the writing critique group requires thoughtful consideration, the book beckons, the blog needs attention on regular basis, and I’m having difficulty with everything on a regular basis. I did mention I have a family, didn’t I?

What is wrong with me that I can’t muster a resolution for the New Year? It’s not just laziness or past experience, though their wrinkled lines are hard to smooth. It’s not simply presumption of failure which makes me quake. Most people don’t like that bitter taste and I can hardly be blamed for conformity. It’s that I truly loathe not being able to keep a commitment. I can’t tolerate saying I will do this set of resolutions in 2017, then fail to keep my word. I want some measure of probable success, a reasonable percentage point I can bet on. I want to know if I state that this writer will finalize all four books I’ve started, will send out x number of queries, will write y posts for Ink Flare, and n amount for Today’s Author, (the other blog for which I write) that you can count every single page and post and get to 99%. Many raw knuckles.

Still, it is the first week of the year. It’s said the rooster harks the morning sun because it can. I can make an effort. Nothing pricked in blood on parchment, but a scratch clawed in the dirt. Here it is, my 2017 resolution:

I will try to write on a regular basis, to complete what I’ve started, to query my work for genuine consideration, to make my dream come true. Best I can do.

The sun peaks her fiery head over the horizon. I’m harking.


Chinese New Year image courtesy: Google images public domain