Thursday, March 27, 2014

WHERE HAVE I BEEN?

One of my readers has emailed me via my website and asked why I haven't launched another book since HOME TO ROOST. Apparently she has been waiting for my next offering. I am very flattered indeed. She also noted how rarely I post on my website whereas other authors post weekly, even daily, especially the younger, hipper, cooler authors. Well, I'm not young, I'm hippy rather than hip, and suffer hot flushes, so definitely not cool! But, yes, my posts have been rather erratic.
The reader asked me "where have I been?" So maybe I should explain. After all, I have a readership out there in digital ebook land now and it's a dream come true for me, indeed for any writer. I should be mindful of how much I owe those readers and how appreciative I am. So I'll share a little of what has happened in my life over the past couple of years.
Firstly, up until October 2011 I was flying along with my writing with two successful novels (one being shortlisted for an Australian literary award) and a TV series being considered for production. I had a well established and disciplined routine with my daily life - eating well, exercising regularly, balancing my writing hours with other activities like gardening, socialising, family activities and travel, combined with a happy marriage and satisfying domestic life. Then life threw me a curve ball. I fainted in my kitchen with a boiling kettle in my hand at 4.30am one morning. My husband found me on the floor with head injuries (hard tiled floor) and third degree burns to the right side of my body - arm, shoulder and chest. By the time I regained consciousness, the water on my body was cold, so I'd been out for awhile. Quick trip to hospital in an ambulance and that was just the beginning of months of treatment. All up, nearly a year on my back with skin grafts, complications, infections, splints and bandages. My husband was the best nurse in the world and took wonderful care of me. After a year, I was free of infection and declared "halfway healed". We were told the full healing process would take two years, but I was well enough for Hubby and I to take a month's holiday - a package tour of some of Europe's most beautiful gardens. A month of delightful diversions, but exhausting. When we returned, I was confronted with ongoing complications to a long standing rheumatoid arthritis condition and spinal deterioration from a pre-existing scoliosis. And I was still suffering headaches and "brain fog" from the head injury. All these conditions had been under control before the accident, but life is a series of phases and we were entering the next phase.
Never one to languish when confronted with a problem, I set about getting all these health issues under control, which I did, again with support from Hubby and some good doctors. However, we discovered that my days of spending hours in the garden were behind me as my hands and joints would simply seize up, and how much time I could sit at the computer must be limited to 2-3 hours a day. My back wasn't coping with the strain and my brain seemed to tire faster than before the accident. It's all a matter of learning one's limits and working within them.  I did manage to complete my third novel, HOME TO ROOST, and launch it, but ongoing fatigue and health issues meant that I didn't devote promotion and marketing time to it, so it has been slow to get established. And while I was otherwise distracted, my TV series disappeared into the bottom of someone's in tray and hasn't been seen since. It will take work to get that back to the top of the pile.
Writing is a major part of my life. It's who I am and how I define myself, after wife/mother/friend etc.
But writing seemed to be the one thing that I wasn't getting around to. I'd lost that lovely rhythm of good sleep, exercise, diet and work that used to be so easy, and every attempt to regain that seemed to fail. I had books and screenplays to write, but I wasn't writing them. Something had to change, so we did some serious reassessment of our lifestyle. That led to a major decision in our lives - we needed to downsize.
Hubby and I are Baby Boomers and we have now joined the tidal wave of downsizing Baby Boomers in Australia, indeed across the western world. The first stage was culling. We had met thirteen years ago after both spending many years on our own as single parents, so when we moved in together, it was into a big house that would accommodate all our "stuff" from years of raising two separate families. Oh my, that adds up to a lot of "stuff"! We had bought a large two storey house on a steep sloping block on which we planted a beautiful rambling cottage garden. We managed it easily for the first eleven years, but things had changed. Now we had to work out what we wanted and needed for the next stage of our lives - a smaller single level house on a small flat block that would take us comfortably into our "old age" and free up more time for what was really important to us both - writing for me and golf for hubby.
The culling began! We got rid of stuff every week for nearly a year and whilst some of it was hard to part with, mostly it was cathartic and deeply satisfying to declutter. But during that year, more curve balls came our way. Two of my family members suffered serious health crises, and then my darling Hubby was diagnosed with cancer. Things got very busy and very complicated for awhile, but both family members are recovering well now, and Hubby has completed his treatment and is in remission. And while all this was happening, we found our dream downsizer home, prepared our house for sale and sold it within a month, bought the dream downsizer and moved house! We have been in a month and while our heads are still spinning, we are loving everything about our new home.
And what has suffered most during these complicated times has been my writing. We decided to come into our new home with new "stuff" to suit it, so I shouted myself to a lovely new desk, very feminine, lots of white and glass and room to display my special bits and pieces that make up my writing nest. The desk arrived last week - flat packed into three large boxes with two separate books of assembly instructions. Undaunted, I unpacked the boxes, set everything out (filled every corner of my new study) and attempted to begin. Not a chance! We ended up calling in a professional assembler who knocked it off in three hours. But at last, I have my writing nest back and here I am - full of good intentions and making a start by explaining to my reader "where I have been".
Keeping my fingers crossed that it will be smoother sailing from here on in. I have a lot of writing to catch up on! The next post will be an update on my unfinished projects as I dig them out of the packing boxes and assess what needs to be done next.
That's enough for now. Nana nap time. Will chat again soon. Cheers!