The delicate sensibilities of a writer

THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA

I’m sitting at my computer feeling sorry for myself, and I get a sign from God: a hair is annoying me by touching my wrist.

I look down, don’t see it.

But I feel it, and I know it’s there, so I reach down anyway, and pull that thin white invisible hair up with a ‘Gotcha!’ feeling – and I know what He’s trying to tell me today, just this minute, just for now: if you can feel a single hair on your wrist, and KNOW it’s there, you have the sensitivity you need to write.

It has been a tough time. The Amazon ads don’t work – I have not yet figured out properly how to attract the people who click on my ads to continue on to buying, followed, it is hope, by reading, and then by whatever post-reading effort a reader might make: review, recommend, …

Winter is coming.

The days are significantly shorter, and today is the Fall Equinox.

One more time, I have not used the summer well, and now it’s over.

I think the hummingbirds are gone – I haven’t seen one at the feeder in days. I wish them well, on their long and unbelievable journey to Central America. If I manage to move, as we hoped to, I won’t be here to see them next year – I will ask the next owners to put up the feeder. Maybe they will.

Or maybe they will decide that all these perennial flowers – the bee balm for the hummers, the black-eyed Susans, the butterfly bush, the lilies – are too much trouble to weed, and they will replace them with lawn.

If we are still here next spring, when things need weeding and pruning again, I will have failed – but the urgency isn’t making anything faster.

New beginnings.

I just want to be in a different place for the next thirty years, if God grants me that many. A place with other people around – we have become very isolated, and it’s not going to get better.

The cul-de-sac at the end of the street needs new children on tricycles.

I can clean the windows, with assistance, one more time, but it is getting to be an almost impossible task.

It hasn’t been a good year, what with fires in the West, hurricanes in the Southeast, and earthquakes in Mexico. And genocide in Myanmar. And stents in my arteries.

Will California really be better? I remind myself the Big One hasn’t hit yet. I’m scared of moving, but more scared of staying.

The real reason?

It’s too hard to write when I keep getting interrupted by things I can’t do well needing to be done, and I’m hoping that will be minimized when I no longer feel responsible for a house. And I have a narrow window here to make use of a gym and a pool to improve what capabilities I can, and I want to do that before it’s too late.

So I can write.

I’ve missed my 40s, 50s, and almost all of my 60s due to disability; I think living in a place where someone else is responsible for almost everything has the potential to be better.

I want to be selfish.

Does this resonate? Time passing and opportunities drying up before you get to use them?

 

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16 thoughts on “The delicate sensibilities of a writer

  1. Alice Audrey

    It sounds to me like moving is a very, very good idea. If you’re feeling guilty about it – then stop that! You need to do what works for you. Don’t let any regrets sap your energy. Just pack and go.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      As fast as I can, but putting a house on the market after 36 years is non-trivial, and the dejunking is taking some of my time and energy. I have an assistant who seems back to being here three times a week, but she also does the housekeeping. I’m sort of useless at all the physical stuff – except I have to be there for every single decision. I’m not having an assistant just making her choices. She’s lovely – all our CDs are now in iTunes, and she helped me set up my present from husband, an iPhone. But I’ll have only myself to blame if things get lost.

      Moving is a NECESSITY. The more stories I hear of people who waited too long, got dementia or to sick to move, are using all their funds up at an applling rate to pay for in-home care – which has to be managed by someone – the more I know we have to get out of here. NOW.

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  2. Janna G. Noelle

    I’ve always said that the surest sign that one is getting older is the realization that life is too short to do every possible thing we’d want to do and that we’re going to have to pick and choose. This is especially the case for pursuits in which we wish to gain mastery, which naturally takes years of persistence. This isn’t quite the same as what you’re saying, I realize, but still relevant I think.

    Either way, what you’re saying does resonate with me. I think you should do everything you can to modify your life to fit the pursuits you have chosen. Everyone deserves the chance to become their idea version of themselves. I don’t really think that’s selfish.

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  3. Margaret Ball

    It’s not egotistical to feel secure about continuing to use a style and voice which has already been very successful. Don’t mind me, I can generate a full-blown insecurity crisis using nothing but an empty coffee cup and two paperclips. One reason for the frenetic writing pace is it keeps me too busy to do that.

    But when you get down to it, “a bit done every day,” is how we all have to work, isn’t it? A novel is a marathon, not a sprint.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks for the ‘has already been very successful.’ I take encouragement wherever I find it.

      More like those UltraMarathons – or the contests where you run a marathon every day for a month. Only longer. It’s the lack of a brain to write with, for me, and I’m reassesing whether there’s something I can do about that that I’m not already doing.

      I hate wasting time – and yet waste most of every day. I try not to be hard on myself, but I also need to see if I’ve gotten lazy. Some would say, ‘Poor you! You can just be lazy and enjoy what’s left of your life.’ But it isn’t very enjoyable that way, even if I’ve somehow earned it by being disabled, which I haven’t. I’m stuck with it, but I don’t have to let it have one instant more of my life than I have to give it.

      So there. I have to climb mountains every day? Well, today it’s the Himalayas, and I need them in my story (no lie – good timing), so I will take them and use them – and the dissatisfaction with wasting time, which is also in the story today. Hmmm. Fate?

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  4. joey

    It doesn’t resonate with me, but it may later. I may think back on your words and find myself blessed to know you felt the same way.
    I certainly feel the loose hairs tickling my arms, and think that’s another reason to hate hot weather — wearing short-sleeved shirts allows those hairs to tickle my skin.
    When my father’s mother was still with us, we’d go clean her windows and dust the high spots and whatever else she needed. My other grandmother moved to a small apartment where she felt she could manage better, and she did.
    Even though we feel young and capable of tending our home, we did downsize to half the space, and I plant more and more perennials every year in hopes that one day, my husband or a hired hand will only need to mow a modicum of lawn.
    There are young families moving here on our street, which I think is always a good sign.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Over the last couple of years, I’ve lost the ability to do my own gardening. But the perennials still need weeding and care – it is time to find them another minder. This is hard – but not facing reality doesn’t change it. And the birds still need food.

      Time changes us all – it is to us to manage it as gracefully as possible.

      I just got hit first, with this stupid disease cutting me down young.

      We have mountains of pictures to go with us. We’ve been taking them for years to show the blooms at all times of the years. I’m thinking of getting one of those digital picture frames you can set to show different pictures from storage.

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  5. marianallen

    This absolutely resonates. But there are always opportunities we don’t get to use, talents we don’t get to explore — or even realize we have. What I wish for you is to not care about Amazon ads and reader reviews. You’ve created a masterwork, and you’re creating another. They SHOULD be recognized and spread about NOW, but all that should matter to you, dear artist, is the deep, profound beauty of what you’ve created and are creating.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks, Marian.

      I fear obscurity, the lack of discoverability without promotion and more readers.

      It’s worth the effort to me, because I know the story, but the act of pinning it down in words exposes the places where thought is necessary to make it connect. And, at my speed, I get discouraged.

      I write better couraged.

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      1. Margaret Ball

        Oh yeah, the obscurity thing. My most frequent thought since releasing Insurgents: “There are nine billion lousy books on KULL; why shouldn’t this one just sink into the sludge?”

        I do better with defiance. “Go ahead, fates! This time next month you’ll have two books to conceal! By December it’ll be three! Four, come 2018! You’ll get tired before I do!”

        Probably an intelligent marketing plan would be more effective than shifting into high writing gear, but you have to work with what you’ve got, and I know I suck at marketing. Could be true of writing as well, but I don’t know that.

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I’m actually not insecure about the writing. Which sounds egotistical. But what I’m trying to do here is keep to the same style and voice from the first book, which I think I can do.

          The problem with marketing is that you can’t really learn it: you have to keep trying new things. And Pride’s Children is NOT genre, so genre marketing tips don’t work for it (such things as writing lots of books, series, permafree, low prices and short novels, funnels, newsletters…).

          Don’t worry. I keep thinking and occasionally trying things, but it’s very slow going.

          I need to go viral!

          Defiance takes energy – and I certainly can’t keep up your pace. Congratulations! Just wish I could have this one finished, much less three by December. I’m just trying to get a bit done every day.

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