Thursday, July 26, 2018

Writing through the storm by Connie Mann

Some of life’s seasons are smooth sailing. They are calm and filled with gentle breezes and the lazy feeling of a day at the beach. Others start as a small rain cloud, then build up to a tropical storm, and before you know it, you are fighting the raging winds and stormy seas of a full-blown hurricane. For our family, that hurricane’s name was Alzheimer's, and the target it chose was my father.

How do you keep writing when your family is in crisis? Where do you find the time to sit down and focus your thoughts enough to actually put words on paper? How can you possibly meet deadlines when you never know what the next moment will bring? It is a challenge I have been wrestling with for over five years and it isn’t easy. Below are some things I’ve learned, which I hope will encourage you, when you face a storm in your life.

1 – Be realistic

If you realize you're not going to be able to meet a deadline, the time to speak up and ask for an extension is well before the due date. Don't wait till the day before to say something. Publishers can often adjust scheduling, but it will be much easier for them if they have plenty of advance notice. The challenge for me is that I always underestimate how long something will take. It requires taking a very critical look at exactly what I can and cannot do in the allotted time frame. Admitting I need more time is very hard, but is sometimes necessary.

2 - Keep your mind in your story

I had heard about people who wrote books at the sickbed of a loved one, but I will admit I was skeptical. How on earth could you possibly write at a time like that? But I found out it is possible. Maybe not writing long passages, but as I sat by Dad’s beside in the early morning hours, I pulled out my yellow legal pad and jotted plot ideas and character sketches and other things that kept the story at the forefront of my mind.

3 - Take opportunities where you find them

There were a couple of days at the end of Dad’s battle, while Mom and I took turns at the hospital, that I was able to come home and realize I had a few scant hours to get some words on the page. I'm the kind of person who needs a deadline to accomplish anything, so this worked in my favor. Since I'd been thinking about the story, I knew what I wanted to write, so I was able to make the most of those little snatches here and there and make some progress. Getting up crazy-early in the morning also worked some days.

4 – Take care of yourself

No one person can do everything, which is something I have a hard time admitting. But it’s absolutely true. Give yourself permission to take a nap, turn the ringer down on your phone, and draw some boundaries around your availability. I was surprised to discover that allowing myself to think about my story was actually a great mental break. Give yourself lots of grace. And when people offer to help, don’t brush their offers aside. Take them up on it.

5- Keep your perspective

Eccelsiates 3:1 tells us that, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every [a]purpose under heaven.” For me, the hardest thing about this season was knowing Dad’s “happy ending” would be when he crossed onto heaven’s shore, which he did on July 17, 2018. But after a valiant three-week battle, and the struggle with Alzheimer’s for years before that, we can’t wish him back. Though we will miss him like crazy, he is whole and healthy today, and better than he’s ever been. And we had the privilege of walking him home.

Life is an ever-changing mix of seasons, and staying afloat is a lot like piloting a boat. It requires skill and agility and a trust in the one who made the waves.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:2)

When the storms hit, do what you can and let the rest go. Stand on God’s promises, enlist help, and do what you need to do—for your writing and for your family. Know I will be cheering you on.

Bio: Connie Mann is an author and a USCG-licensed boat captain. During this stormy season of her family’s life, she wrote the 3-book Safe Harbor series (Waterfall) and has written the first novel and a novella for her upcoming series with Sourcebooks. She is hard at work on the second book in the series. She also pilots a boat for her local school system, so when she’s not writing, she takes local school children out on the Silver River, showing many of them their very first alligator. You can find Connie online at: www.conniemann.com.

DEADLY MELODY (Safe Harbor #3)

Home is where the heart is. The danger, too . . .

The Martinellis were the closest thing to family Cat Johnson ever had. That’s why she ran—to protect them from her threatening past. The orphaned child of classical musicians, she’s been lying low in Nashville, and performing at the No Name Café. When Cat reluctantly agrees to attend the wedding of her beloved foster sister, the plan is simple: make a quick appearance at the Martinellis and then disappear again. Instead she’s thrust headlong into a nightmare.

After a wedding guest is murdered, Cat’s past descends with a vengeance. So does handsome and inquisitive Safe Harbor cop, Nick Stanton, who will stop at nothing to uncover the town’s secrets. That means exposing Cat’s as well. The more intimate Nick’s feelings for Cat become, the more driven he is to find out what she’s hiding.

As things in Safe Harbor take a terrifying turn, Cat realizes that the man she’s afraid to trust might be the only one she can turn to.
 
Amazon Link: Deadly Melody 
 




Deadly Melody

20 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for having me as your guest today. I hope this will encourage others when life's inevitable storms hit.

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    1. Connie, thank you for visiting Seriously Write today. Your post is inspiring and I know it will speak to many.

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    2. I always enjoy being your guest, Terri, and I'm so glad to know the post is encouraging others.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your personal story, Connie. Hugs and prayers to you and your family.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lena! Your encouragement through this storm has been such a gift in my life!

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  3. So true. Just thinking about some of those same things this morning on my walk. We are always anxious to be out of these seasons of grief and sadness, to get back to normal. But it is okay to be in it, to not be the same, to be quieter and slower - and even less productive. Praying for you and your family - and rejoicing with you that your Dad is whole again and face to face with Jesus.

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    1. A beautiful reminder for me today, not to try to rush through this next season, but to take the time to rest and regroup and grieve. Thank you, Jamie!

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  4. Hi Connie - your post was heartfelt and much appreciated. I really enjoyed Tangled Lies and Deadly Melody. Good luck and blessings!

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    1. Thank you so much! And I'm delighted that you enjoyed the Safe Harbor books!

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  5. Connie, what words of wisdom. I'm still learning how to keep my perspective while caregiving. I'm also finding my way back to writing regularly.

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    1. Hi Missy, I totally understand and I so appreciate that we can encourage each other on the journey. Not easy days, that's for sure. Hooray for finding your way back to regular writing.

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  6. As I get older and reaching beyond my twilight years I appreciate more and more each day how precious life really is. You are an inspiration, Connie. Keep writing in spite of the storms.

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    1. Great reminder, Loretta. Each day truly is a gift. Thank you for the encouragement. I hope you keep writing in the midst of your storm, as well.

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  7. Such sound, hard-earned advice, Connie. And from my own experience dealing with dementia in a loved one, you are spot on. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Davalyn, thank you. Dementia is such a hard, hard thing, isn't it? Many thanks for your encouragement.

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  8. Amen. In stressful times and in peaceful times, take refuge in God. He is waiting with open arms.

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  9. Connie, your writing is inspirational. I pray you have continued peace. Love and hugs to you.

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    1. Thanks so much, Bebe. Much love to you.

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