Being present in the writing moment

Imaginary Circumstances


I need a win.

After much reflection, some of it in writing, other of it in the middle of the night, I have realized that the win, to be mine, has to come from me.

A real win is one you create yourself, the hard way, with blood, sweat, and tears. Since you EARNED it, you OWN it.

Since you created it, it can’t be taken from you (do remember your backups off site, though!).

Someone buying Pride’s Children PURGATORY – in paperback! – is a win, as is someone purchasing the ebook, or taking it out at Kindle Unlimited, especially when I haven’t done any marketing in ages. But it’s not something I have control over.

I had a recent win against Covid

As soon as the CDC said immunocompromised people would be on the short list for the early boosters, I asked my doctor AND my facility about it – to no avail. They said, “When we get it, we’ll let you know.”

But I started seeing other people with my same illnesses posting on FB about having already received the booster shot.

Regardless of how (I wouldn’t lie to get one, but don’t even know if others did, though there have been newspaper reports of lying), the key fact was availability.

So I nagged the doctor’s office, reminded them of my immune status, and they made it available. Then I arranged Medvan transportation, went and got the thing, suffered through the side effects (second day was quite flu-like, and I had more brain fog than I anticipated for the days after that), and, in another week or so, will feel I have done as much as possible to protect myself. And did NOT take that dose from someone getting their first vaccine.

So, win.

I finished a tricky chapter in Pride’s Children NETHERWORLD.

As I get toward the explosive end of NETHERWORLD, it is getting even more important to get it exactly right, because even less time separates the end of 2 from the beginning of 3 than separated the end of 1 from the beginning of 2, and every story-second counts.

Sending Chapter 35 off to my beta reader was a key step: it is the 3/4 mark in several ways, and I have been forced to make the tiny detailed decisions that make the difference NOW, and not in some writing future – ‘when I get to it.’

It’s getting harder and harder physically and mentally

I acknowledge that, and move on.

Restarting after the brain fog is always tricky, because I have to assume I’m past it before I’m sure I’m past it, and restarting is part of the process of getting past it. What I mean is that it takes a huge amount of psychic energy to restart, sort of like the difference between static and dynamic friction (starting to move a piece of furniture across carpeting is much harder than keeping it going once you start (so don’t stop!)).

Apply that pressure too early, and all it does is extend the downtime.

Wait too long, and situational depression sets in.

And there is always something else that need my limited attention ability – and seems more important just this minute.

So what?

I live with this, write with this, and have been at it for a very long time.

There are rumors on the horizon of research for long-covid that might explain another post-viral syndrome, ME/CFS’s problems, and it is possible that even after 31 years it might be helpful. Rumors – but this one has some interesting science behind it. We’ll see.

But, as the husband reminds me, even if it works it will be years before it is available, and I can’t let any of that time go to waste.

So I face the fact that there’s been a break, and get back to work.

Yesterday I took the first step:

I re-read what I have put together, in these brain-fogged days, by following process and trusting it will work as it has every time before – eventually.

And even though there’s one tiny part in the middle of the scene where a decision has to be made about an order of events, the rest is written.

And the end made me cry (actual written steps in said process: “DIG DEEPER – CRY” and “BECOME THE CHARACTER – WRITE WITH THE EMOTIONS RAW.”)

The character needs it, but I am the one with the whip, forcing change. It hurts.

Extra insight

Being present in the writing – mining my own experience: “HERE AND NOW; BEING PRESENT!”

I may work in imaginary situations, but if they don’t get treated as real, with me there, documenting as it happens, it never converts into something good.

From my Journal: “… is nice – but she needs extraordinary, and open to a degree she won’t be able to demand from him.” It is either there in someone, or it isn’t.

Voltaire said ‘the best is the enemy of the great.’

Many people think perfectionism keeps you from getting something finished and out the door and good enough.

But in writing something unique, it matters. Not that you become a perfectionist, and never get anything done, but that you not let ‘good’ or ‘good enough’ or even ‘good enough for government work’ keep you from achieving your own standards.

Because I hope my readers are the people who have those same standards.

If you are, you will know that about yourself.

THAT’s where the wins come from.

So back to the drawing board, salt mines, design board

While I still can.

Because if it’s meh, it costs me way too much to be worth it.

Chapter 36 is well started, and I am imbuing it with the frustration of writing in the middle of the challenging circumstances that are a pandemic which no one expected would last this long.

And a lot of the pain.


If you look for it, something will pull you back to the task.

Can you relate?

What do you expect from your writers?



25 thoughts on “Being present in the writing moment

  1. Jeanne

    As someone who read and wrote on a lot of other blogs about books before publishing her own book, I’d like to reassure you that you’re doing one of the most important things an author can do to get free publicity–you’re staying a part of many different conversations about books, which will eventually lead those of us who are participating to have another conversation about yours.
    Glad you’re still writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks for the encouragement – it really helps – as did rereading your lovely review of Pride’s Children PURGATORY just the other day.

      I copy the reviews to a section in my Scrivener file called ‘Love’ – and when things aren’t going as fast as I would like, I reread some of them and get a warm feeling that reminds me I made a promise to OTHER people when I started this trilogy as well as to myself.

      I could have kept the story just for me – but I chose to learn to write, and to share. Now I need to keep going. Because the original aim, to have a story in which being disabled is only part of life which doesn’t keep you from having the same aspirations as everyone else, is as true today as when I started. And maybe even more necessary in the world of long-covid: we are not in a position to offer those in Kary’s position actual help yet. And she – and the rest of us – have to keep going meanwhile.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Lloyd Lofthouse


    I launched my first serious blog back in 2010 and launched three more blogs as time crawled/sped by. I think Blogs serve the same purpose as newsletters for e-mail subscribers.

    Blogging was a lot of work. I took an all-day workshop through the California Writers Club in late 2009 and we were told that we’d have to publish 1,000 blog posts in the first year to have a chance to rank high in searches.

    I finished 1,000 posts in 9 months and all I did was write and public blog posts several hours a day to achieve that. About a year ago, I stopped publishing blog posts on a regular schedule.

    My first blog now has 2,458 posts. The other 1,400 or so arrived spread out over more than a decade. I slows down a lot until I decided to just publish something when I wanted to, no more daily, weekly or monthly schedules.

    The early years when the only writing I was doing was blog posts did pay off. Sales of my first book went from 200 or 300 a year to several thousand a year between 2010 through 2014 when I started to slow down. During the five years, I was following a publishing schedule for all of my blogs, my books sold more than 20,000 copies. Now I’m back down to a few hundred a year, and not even getting close to a 1,000.

    The e-mail list leading to a newsletter idea doesn’t sound like it even comes close to that level of work. A lot of the e-mail gathering may be automated and how often we have to publish a newsletter depends on us: once a week, twice a month, once a month … as long as we always publish according to that schedule. The reason the newsletter might work is because of the subscribers. I’m learning that us authors have to cull the subscribers and identify the ones that are fans from the ones that only joined to get free stuff so only the serious fans remain.

    I still have my four blogs.

    What kind of blog posts do you write? Do they pretty much follow one genre and/or theme?


  3. Widdershins

    When I’m in writing mode, I am so deeply immersed in that world that re-entering this one, is quite a wench, as is the reverse – going from here to here.
    Health issues have derailed my progress on book 2 of ‘The Last Dragon’ series (or whatever its name will end up being) and I’m struggling to find that ease I had with it throughout the first half of this year.
    Both Mrs Widds and I declared today (Sunday) to be a ‘cranky day’, wherein we’ve given each other permission to vent and be cranky for as long as required. As is the way with such things, once that agreement was in place, (and a few vents and cranky’s were had) we’ve settled back into our usual ‘getting along well together’ mode. 🙂


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Worth a try. I’ve been struggling with giving someone else’s procrastination over some important paperwork ‘space,’ and I am very cranky about it, because I offered to do it in March, and I see nothing happening – and now it will be very inconvenient to have to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lloyd Lofthouse

    “Because I hope my readers are the people who have those same standards.”

    From what I have been learning, if an author selects the right 7 keywords and 10 categories on Amazon that represents their book, most of the readers (not all of them but most) that read the book and love it will be people who are looking for stories with the same standards/values they have, a match made in heaven.

    And, those readers may become loyal fans waiting for the next book.

    I’m saying this because I learned the hard way and made a mistake with a few of the keywords and categories I selected for my latest release and those mistakes attracted a few of the wrong type of readers that I’d rather had never read the novel. Fortunately, the other keywords and categories that were the right choice attracted the kind of readers I wanted for this story and they seem to represent the majority.

    To correct my mistake, after identifying the few keywords and categories that shouldn’t have been there, I dropped them last week and replaced them with what I hope are better choices that will attract more readers that are a better match for the characters and plot of that novel.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      A tricky process, and one highly recommended. I should play with the keywords for the first book (which is doing so poorly I rarely have a sale – with NO advertising). So I have a blank slate to practice ads on, and the second book will have the same keywords.

      Might help the second one roar out of the gate. I think it’s always better to have more than one, too.


  5. marianallen

    I haven’t been able to get back into writing much or editing my stuff, but I have been able to edit other people’s work. And I wrote a flash fiction piece the other morning. Baby steps. I’m in awe of your delicate balance and patient tenacity. And your results are phenomenal.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thank you for that. I’m not feeling very phenomenal, but I spent all of Friday being wished a happy birthday, and I am blessed with a huge extended family, and friends from Mexico through the present – I probably didn’t account for how much psychic energy that took.

      I think I’ll up the resting periods for a while – can’t hurt.


  6. acflory

    Commiserations. I know how hard it is to get back into the ‘zone’ once you’re jerked out of it. For slightly different reasons, I’m well and truly out of writing mode, but I’m keeping myself amused with a new map making software called Inkarnate. Graphics always soothe me when I’m out of sorts so that’s what i’m doing. And I can honestly say that said map, when finished, will be part of the Vokhtah cycle, so I don’t even need to feel guilty. Win-win, sorta. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      That is the idea: if you can’t do the A1, do something connected with the A1.

      I don’t have that much control on some days, but I also sometimes forget to exert what control I might have, and that is to take a nap when I am not tracking. It is something I fight – I’m not a toddler – but it often works, even if I don’t actually sleep.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. acflory

        Yes, that’s my thinking too, and I have to admit I’ve been like one obsessed – I even managed to NOT watch the daily Covid update for my state. All thanks to the map software.
        I don’t nap coz then I can’t sleep at night. Does sleeping during the day disturb your sleep patterns?


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          The other way around. If I DON’T take the naps (assuming I can even stay awake), it is VERY hard to get to sleep that night.

          I manage by not overrunning my supply (of energy) lines. Whenever I get too close to the edge, I stop, turn off all the input to my brain, and let it catch up.

          Those naps are my lifeline, whether I actually sleep or not: I have to stop processing input.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Lloyd Lofthouse

      That map may become a valuable “cookie” if you have or will have an e-mail list and newsletter down the line. I’m currently reading “Newsletter Ninja, How to Become an Author Mailing List Expert” by Tammi Labrecque, and read that the “freebies” authors offer to attract the right readers for the list and then keep them may include maps, novella’s, short stories, essays, et al.

      Tammi calls those free newsletter bonuses that your loyal readers will love “cookies”.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. acflory

        Hi Lloyd. I’m wary of newsletters because I never read any that end up in my inbox, but I do like the idea of ‘cookies’. Maybe I can come up with some companion freebies. Thanks for the idea. 🙂


        1. Lloyd Lofthouse

          I have never met a map I didn’t explore. :o)

          I also do not have a newsletter or email list, but I have been hearing and reading for more than a decade that both are essential for authors if they want to reach more readers and keep some.

          That’s why I’m reading Tammi Labrecque’s “Newsletter Ninja”.

          I think it is up to each author how much work they want to put in to gain the attention of readers and possibly keep some as fans. With so many books vying for the attention of readers, authors that want someone to read what they write have no choice but to compete.

          I am pretty much on my way to launching an e-mail list sometime in the next few months and coming up with a newsletter. Tammi “maps” out what authors have to do to keep readers that like their work. She offers good advice. I may have to read another book on this topic and/or watch some YouTube videos on it to come up with a plan I can follow.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. acflory

          I wish you luck. As Indies we need all the luck we can get, and if a newsletter works for you then it’s the right way to go. Just don’t get burned out.

          For me, my blog is like a de facto newsletter in that anything interesting that I want to write about goes in my blog posts. Plus I enjoy chatting to the people who drop in. In think that’s the only reason I’m still blogging! lol

          Liked by 1 person

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