Monthly Archives: December 2013

Don’t feel guilty to be disabled – it’s not your fault

A friend who wishes to remain anonymous wrote a post about NOT FEELING GUILTY FOR BEING DISABLED which I think is beautifully worded, and says exactly what needs to be said:

We didn’t choose this

“We –all of us—need to work on not doing this to ourselves. Knowing what you do about living with this illness, if your good friend or your daughter had it, would you blame her or think she was lazy if she didn’t bring a dish to the holiday dinner, or help with the clean-up? No! You’d tell her how glad you are she was well enough to be there with you, and that you appreciate her making the effort, knowing what it will cost her later. We need to give ourselves the same love we’d give to a dear friend. We need to be loving friends to ourselves.

“When we feel guilty for being sick, or for the limitations the illness places on us, it’s like blaming ourselves. It’s like saying that being sick is something we choose. It’s like we believe the negative stereotypes that some people lay on us.

“Do you think someone undergoing chemo for cancer should feel guilty for losing their hair? Would you think a paraplegic was lazy for not running the hurdles? Is someone with Alzheimer’s to blame for not remembering things?

“We did not ask to get sick, nor did we bring this upon ourselves. It is not a choice. And we are not to blame for the limitations that the illness places on us or for its symptoms, any more than that cancer patient, paraplegic, or Alzheimer’s patient.

“We owe ourselves respect. It’s enough that we are sad about the things we can no longer do, and that, perhaps worst of all, we have to live with the regret for things we’re unable to do for others. We really must work at not allowing ourselves to feel guilty. Because we aren’t guilty of being sick, we’re just sick.

“If I sound vehement, it’s because I struggle with this, too. I think most of us do. And we need to remind ourselves and each other not to succumb to guilt. We deserve better.”

Still struggling

I couldn’t agree more – I stupidly struggle with the exact same feelings, especially when the holidays come, and everyone seems to be able to kick it up a notch and do all the extra things which come along – while I am even more dysfunctional because I can barely handle one thing at a time on my better days.

Disability is not a choice – what we do with it IS.

The frustrating world of the healthy

The ‘well’ world in general seems to think people with disabilities – or even babies and old people – do things deliberately to get in its way, to take up more than our fair share of space and resources. This attitude is ridiculous – because it remains unexamined until someone becomes disabled, or has a child, or has a parent develop Alzheimer’s, or… and then that person 1) learns too late what we already know, and 2) becomes useless because he or she is now tainted with the same disability ‘cooties’ by association – and gets kicked out of the ‘well’ world.


Recovering from Christmas – with brain fog

Behind – again – still

When you have CFS, life spits things at you on a regular basis, and you do the best you can to drink from the firehose – and fail continuously.

That’s just the way it is – and there isn’t much you can do about it.

The list of broken promises to myself – and broken implied promises to others – merely gets longer every day.

I don’t STOP making plans, and promises to myself – it is human to constantly monitor oneself and one’s surroundings and to be alert for ways to modify what is wrong and improve ‘things’ – but I get further behind each day from where I might have been.

Holidays stress everyone’s coping capacity

People with CFS already live on the edge: it doesn’t take much to nudge us over. Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 9, Scene 2

Happy Holidays, all! I’m getting this out a bit early because tonight we will have a full house – and all our children home.

This week’s post continues with Chapter 9, Scene 2 (1.9.2).

Feedback welcome. Thanks!

Still looking for more beta readers; if interested, email me at abehrhardt [at] gmail.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

Previous chapter: Chapter 8

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 9, Scene 2  [Kary]

Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.

Thank you to my Followers, Commenters, Likers, and Viewers

To the people who have made this blog worth writing, to those of you who are reading Pride’s Children as I put it up every Tuesday, to people who read my short fiction, to those who share their CFS stories:

Thank you from the bottom of my writer’s heart to my Followers, Commenters, Likers, and Viewers.

You make my day better. You’ve made my year better. And the time since I started blogging (September 2012) has gone by with me feeling great gratitude toward friends and strangers who stop by to read for a while.

You make it all worthwhile.

I can’t tell you the number of times that an email says I have a new follower, the stats mention some more folks stopped by to view, WordPress tells me of a new Like! – information that came at precisely the right time to keep me writing.

And a comment… Well, comments – and a chance to engage with live humans – are the chocolate chips in the cookies for blog writers – and writers in general (except, maybe, total hermits).

I’d like to remind you that your comments and all other interactions are Welcome, and treated like the gold nuggets they are. Gifts from busy people who found that something in what I said catches their interest, entertains, or informs for a moment – a share in the time it takes to be a modern human and a netizen: I thank you for all of them.

Here’s hoping the rest of 2013 is a great year for you, and all your enterprises are successful this year and the next.

Safe holidays.

Many thanks!


Edit when you’re tired – catch confusion before the reader

Golden rule of writing: don’t confuse your reader

Nothing will lead a reader sooner to dumping a book – including not reading past the sample – than being confused. It’s not a pleasant sensation, and differs considerably from ‘being intrigued,’ the desirable sensation in a reader.

So, the important part is for the reader to know SOMEONE is in control of the ride, and that’s the writer’s job.

But the writer knows the material too well. And editing is a hard and boring job. Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 9, Scene 1

This week’s post begins Chapter 9, with Scene 1 (1.9.1). Chapter 8’s scenes will be consolidated on the Chapter 8 page.

Feedback welcome. Thanks!

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

~ ~ ~

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 9, Scene 1

Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.

Writing dialogue: a tool to give readers objective story ‘truth’

Dialogue has a special place in a reader’s mind

I learned a new technique today by accident.

I was going over FIF (Donald Maass, The Fire in Fiction), Chapter 3, Scenes that can’t be cut, when I realized I hadn’t paid enough attention to his section in this chapter on Dialogue.

So I was reading through it as preparation for writing when it occurred to me that, of all the tools a writer has to make a reader believe something, Dialogue is the only one which is not questioned by the reader. Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 8, Scene 6

Ending Chapter 8 with Scene 6 (1.8.6) this week.

Today is Read Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013, where a bunch of indie authors are offering wonderful deals for holiday gift-givers. Go take a look – you may find something you already knew you wanted – at a great price.

Pride’s Children is also being serialized via TuesdaySerial and VentureGalleries, which have lots of other serials and serialized novels of all genres for your reading pleasure.

Feedback and comments very welcome. Thanks!

I’m still looking for more beta readers; if interested, email me at abehrhardt [at] gmail.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 8, Scene 6  [Bianca]

Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.

Resistance to writing is futile when there is Joy

The every-morning task: to write

Every time I wake, I face Resistance to writing – and I must take action to counter it.

Steven Pressfield, in a series of blog posts and a book, The War of Art, talks about the concept of Resistance – and makes it a counterpart to the Dream.

The thing that struck me as I read the posts (while trying to wake my brain up and get started with my own writing) is that it’s basically a Newtonian concept: the Resistance is a Force equal to and with the opposite direction to the Force we are trying to apply, the one that gets our Dream to happen.

So, the bigger the Dream, the bigger the Resistance.

My Dream is, right now, finishing Pride’s Children in time for publication on September 14, 2014. Why then? Because 1) I can probably finish it by then, and 2) I can afford to publish – without losing disability benefits – because they are either vanishing then (the private disability insurance which has made a huge difference to our ability to remain middle class when I became ill), or turning, ipso facto, into ‘retirement’ benefits. I will be 65 (not 66 – I still don’t get that part – since my cohort’s SS retirement age is 66). It doesn’t matter to SS and the whole system that it will have taken me 14 years to accumulate enough ‘good time’ to write and edit a novel when many days are lucky to get a single hour of time when my brain is on. Which, interpreted, means that I could not hold down a job (I would prefer to work – people look down on those who don’t) even if I wanted to. Continue reading

Letting go of previous drafts with gratitude and thanks

Roadblocks ahead

I think I’ve figured out another roadblock.

As I’ve been working on what is close to the final draft of Pride’s Children, I am getting more and more into the territory of a true first draft – scenes I wrote but which have little in the way of polish. Maybe my own limitations has made this extra hard – the ‘big picture’ is a composite of story pixels, only one of which I examine at a time.

These scenes are often even older than I’d like to admit – they pre-date, in some cases, the Great Reorganization undertaken in the Summer of 2007, when 6 pov characters were culled into 3 main pov characters. I had given, to tell the story, each of the main characters a sidekick. Continue reading

Danger ahead: Writing while disabled

Putting words on paper

Nobody said writing was going to be easy.

When I designed my writing career – back in the 1960s and 1970s – it was something I would do when my main career (physics – yes, I knew that before I was 12) was over, and I could retire to do whatever I wanted after a long and productive life of work.

They say, if you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans. Continue reading

Help Wikipedia do what it does so well – send them a few bucks

Every year some version of the Wikipedia fundraising banner appears across the top of the page when you go to get your dollop of information. I automatically send them money – because, without Wikipedia, a writer can’t function. And my husband, the teacher, uses Wikipedia all the time for useful information of all kinds for his chemistry and physics students.

They don’t ask much:

“DEAR WIKIPEDIA READERS: We are the small non-profit that runs the #5 website in the world. We have only 175 staff but serve 500 million users, and have costs like any other top site: servers, power, programs, and staff. To protect our independence, we’ll never run ads. We take no government funds. We survive on donations averaging about $15. Now is the time we ask. If everyone reading this gave $3, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind, a place we can all go to think and learn. If Wikipedia is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online and ad-free another year. Please help us forget fundraising and get back to Wikipedia. Thank you.” Continue reading

Added PRIDE’S CHILDREN – Chapter 8, Scene 5

This week’s post continues with Chapter 8, Scene 5 (1.8.5).

Hope everyone survived Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday – and are looking forward to Read Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013, where a bunch of indie authors are offering great deals for holiday gift-givers.

Pride’s Children is also being serialized via TuesdaySerial and VentureGalleries, which have lots of other serials and serialized novels of all genres for your reading pleasure.

Feedback and comments very welcome. Thanks!

I’m still looking for more beta readers; if interested, email me at abehrhardt [at] gmail.

PRIDE’S CHILDREN Table of Contents

PRIDE’S CHILDREN, Chapter 8, Scene 5  [Andrew]

Copyright by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt 2013.

Writing the book you want to read: Elevating wish-fulfillment to the level of art

Writing the book you can’t find

One of the things that happens when you write the book you want to read – standard advice for newbies – is that you question your motives.

The question is not settled once and for all, either – it pops up to haunt you at points where you know the marks on the screen are drivel. Understanding the process – as well as your motive for writing a particular story – is a form of inoculation against the self-doubt that can arise as a result. If you don’t know why you write what you write, a good crisis can make you walk away from a perfectly good story Continue reading

Making every experience count: writing fear

Limited life experience doesn’t mean lack of things to observe and learn from and write about. Whatever the circumstances, a writer looks for the core experience – and a way to use it.

I have CFS. I don’t get out much, and when I do, the energy runs out quickly. This doesn’t mean life passes me by, but it does mean that my personal experiences can sometimes be very tiny – and still overwhelming.

There’s no point, for me, to going through them if I don’t get something I can use in my writing.

Panic attacks

I have recently developed a new and alarming symptom, several attacks of heart-pounding, gut-grinding anxiety. Continue reading