Treading Water

Novel stands at 26,750 words.

Haven’t posted here in a while because my life is being turned upside-down.

My wife’s currently in Arkansas, tending her mother, who was admitted to the hospital a few weeks ago with a serious heart-and-lung condition. My wife flew out just three days after she heard, and has been there ever since.

Her mom has been discharged, and is recovering, but will need near-constant care for the next year or so. My wife’s currently providing that care, and intends to keep providing it. That means we’re looking at moving, at leaving the house and city and friends we’ve come to love here in California, and going back to Arkansas.

So my past few weeks have been a blur of getting my wife to Arkansas, supporting her through the early days of her mom’s discharge, and now putting our house on the market and preparing to move.

Needless to say, I didn’t hit my target word count for NaNoWriMo.

I’m finding it hard to write in general, not just finding the time but finding the mental space to build up the novel in my head and then set it down on paper. It’s like I have room in my head for my job and my wife and my move, and nothing else.

If I manage to squeak out just 150 words in a day, I have to call it a victory, because many days I don’t manage any.

But I haven’t given up, and I won’t stop writing during this new phase of my life. I’ll grind out what I can for now, and look to pick up the pace once we settle in to our new digs.

Did Not Know That About Myself

107,187 words in.

I’ve heard other writers talk about how issues they didn’t know they had can show up in their writing, unbidden, like notes from an intimate therapy session suddenly posted on a public bulletin board. But I didn’t think that was happening to me until this morning, when I realized that my treatment of two of the male characters in the novel I’m working on echoes a pattern of behavior from my youth, which itself stems from how my father treated me¬†when I was little.

It shocked me, to think that something I wrote pointed so directly to emotions and expectations that I didn’t know I had. I felt — I feel — very vulnerable now, as if when I finish the novel and hand it over to its first readers, they’ll be able to decode everything about my personality, know all the parts of my self I try to keep hidden in everyday life.

I don’t think I can stop feeling vulnerable, but I tell myself that being vulnerable is part of the writing, that putting these parts of myself down on the page is what makes the characters come alive, that any book that didn’t have more of me in it than I’m comfortable with probably isn’t worth writing. I could be lying to myself, but I hope it’s true.