Marissa's Story: AKA Cameron J Quinn
V and I decided to get real this week and talk about life. It seems fitting since we were chugging along creating books and helpful content on here and on our way to building up our small press when both of our lives imploded. We were not ready for this at all.
I will let V tell you what happened to her but for my part, here's a little back story. I was writing my books in a week or less and completing them for publication within a month. I had always planned to have each installment of The Starsboro Chronicles ready at least a month before it's release date. Thanks to the way at the story played out this was not the case. I was writing and publishing in the same month by the time I published the fifth chronicle in May. Which was uncomfortable to say the least. I already had a plan in place for the second season.
I never got a chance to put that plan into effect however, due to family issues I won't get into on here. Stress seriously impacted my ability to write. I went from writing, editing and revising on a daily basis to nothing. I couldn't force the words out. As I struggled to get back on track I learned I was pregnant with baby number three. Good news, right? Of course I'm excited about the baby but I get really sick when pregnant. Like vomiting six or seven times a day and needing IV fluids to rehydrate. And this pregnancy came with its own unique challenges. I was unable to get the medication I needed to keep foods and fluids from coming back to haunt me because of issues with the insurance company. After being unable to move much for six weeks I started to have intense pain in my left leg. It started out as enough to make me limp a bit and within three weeks I could no longer walk at all. Crutches were useless, I couldn't shower without help from my husband. I needed a puke bucket because I could not get to the bathroom.
All the while doctors were telling me I just pulled a muscle or it was the pregnancy irritating an old injury. Luckily, my midwife was there whenever I needed her. She advised me to go to a specific hospital because she was convinced the first one had missed a blood clot in my leg. The idea of yet another ER visit was not high on my wish list but I was in so much pain I was in tears on a daily basis and asking my husband ( as well as anyone who would listen) to shoot me or at least cut the damn leg off.The night before my final trip to the ER, I was awake all night in excruciating. Sobbing so loud, I remember thinking the neighbors would hear me and call the cops. Which was promptly followed by the hope that maybe an officer could carry me to the car (my husband had just thrown his back out and getting to the car in the morning was a legitimate concern in my mind). That day V took me the ER and the following day I was diagnosed with a massive blood clot. It went from my calf all the way up into my abdomen.
All of this took about six weeks from start to diagnoses and I'm still not 100%. As you may have noticed this site has been a bit ignored lately and I wasn't able to work on my fiction at all. I am just now working on plots and characters in an effort to write faster when I can really jump back in.
I had a family incident that messed with my head followed by health issues and my entire business plan, my work was completely thrown.
There is no way I could have anticipated the blood clot or my insurance company's sudden insistence that I use the generic version of the drug I knew to work for my morning sickness. But I could have and should have been in a better position for life to hit the fan.
Here's what wish I had done differently. I recommend implementing these tactics now so if something happens you are as prepared as you can be.
V. S. Holmes's Story
The first half of 2016 I was really cranking, both here on Amphibian Authors and in regards to my publishing schedule. I planned to have the second Nel Bently book, Drifters, out by August and the third Reforged book, Madness and Gods, published in November. In addition to all the revisions and editing that accompany publishing two books, I planned on drafting the final Reforged book, the first in another series under a different name, and working on my short story for the dark fantasy Amphibian Anthology. I also have a full time job that doesn’t leave a ton of room for work. Even now, looking back, this schedule wasn’t insurmountable. Until suddenly it was.
It seems silly to say Marissa and I weren’t prepared for our lives to fall apart, because who prepares for that kind of thing, and how? Some life-implosions come with more warnings, it’s true, but this one sure didn’t. In May my husband's ongoing battle with depression and PTSD culminated in a suicide attempt. He survived with permanent nerve damage, but both our lives were completely altered. My job requires me to be away from home for four nights out of the week—Monday through Thursday. Juggling the every-day stress of working away and maintaining a functioning marriage with a healthy person is hard enough. Doing so with someone who requires every ounce of energy I had to spare—and some that I didn’t—was impossible. But when you’ve promised “in sickness and health,” you’ve got to try, right?
Taking time off work wasn’t an option. I was the bread-winner and have yet to rise above the poverty line. When I was home I was responsible for an adult who temporarily couldn't be trusted to care for himself and when I was away I worried constantly that I would get a call from a hospital or the police. The stress left no time or energy for anything else. You might think that, especially being away, I had the same amount of time as before, and you’d be right, technically. Instead of writing, though, I cut loose with my coworkers in our hotel parking lot. I ignored my deadlines. I couldn’t allow myself to slow down enough to feel, to break, which meant I couldn’t write. When I did try, the words were sawdust compared to my usual work. I felt like a failure—of an author, a wife, a friend, but my resources were completely tapped. My schedule suffered tremendously, and I knew I would have to rewrite everything I forced out when the words wouldn’t come.
In July, my husband moved out. What started working on himself and returning some of my energy resources has become the arduous process of a divorce. Halfway through August I picked up the pen again, for the first time in almost two months. My life might not look very different than it did before, from the outside. There’s more time built in for friends, for my dog, for family. I’m gentler with myself regarding deadlines. The husband-shaped hole in my life is now filled with other things, and looks less like something’s missing and more like just how things are. And I’m writing again.
We spend so much time building our author platforms, promoting our work and helping others. We wear our professional hats so much that it’s sometimes impossible to remember that it is, in fact, just a hat, and there’s a person under there. Writing can be therapy, and with smaller problems, escapism. But sometimes we have no other choice but to focus on family, health, ourselves, or work. And that’s OK too. More important than churning out book after book is actually taking care of ourselves, because without us, our work wouldn’t exist. Now I know that when life falls apart it’s OK to let my writing go. It’s OK to focus on just maintaining crash positions, remembering to breathe, to eat, to wake up in the morning. It’s OK to secure our own air masks before helping others.
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