Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘Persistence’ Category

What Makes a Good Story?

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Recently, I wrote about Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher John Axford, and I said that the way his story ended was not the way his story was supposed to go.

This begs the question: What makes for a good story, anyway?

By contemporary standards, what would’ve made Axford’s story much better would’ve been him coming into the game, striking out the side (or at least getting three outs), getting the save, and having the stadium rain cheers upon his head. (The crowd did cheer him when he came in — I think he may have even received a standing ovation — and cheered him on the way out, too, which is not usual when a pitcher is unable to get out of the inning. This last happened because we Brewers fans knew Axford well from his previous service with us, and knew he was deserving of such approbation due to how well he’d done before.)

In previous eras, though, they had stories such as MADAME BOVARY that sold a ton. Those stories would have characters put through the wringer and they’d never be able to come up for air; instead, even their children would be put through the wringer for no purpose, and would never be able to get ahead.

Why audiences appreciated such stories is beyond me, but that was the fashion at that time. The would-be heroine (or hero) had a tragic flaw (or two, or five), and because of that flaw would taint herself and everyone around her beyond any hope of redemption.

The fashion now tends more to happy endings, but well-deserved happy endings. Characters still get put through the wringer (see Lois McMaster Bujold’s MIRROR DANCE, or Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s NIGHT CALLS, or any of Robert Jordan’s novels in the Wheel of Time series, among others), but they live to fight another day. They learn from their mistakes, too. And they continue on, having learned much more about themselves in the process.

Of course, the Harry Potter novels also exemplify this sort of story. Harry grows up to be a powerful magician, but he’s put through the wringer and must fight the big, bad, nasty, evil, and disgusting Lord Voldemort (and yes, I meant all those descriptions, as Voldemort is just that bad) in order to become the magician he needs to be. He and his friends Hermione and Ron are put through all sorts of awful things, but they eventually prevail.

My friend Chris Nuttall’s novels about Emily, starting with SCHOOLED IN MAGIC and continuing through to FACE OF THE ENEMY (with CHILD OF DESTINY coming soon), also have a plot that shows Emily being thrown into awful situation after awful situation, but she finds a way to prevail every time through hard work, effort, and a talent to get along with people even if they’ve crossed her (or she’s crossed them). Emily scans as a real person, and we care about her because she faces things most of us face even though we’re not magicians.

What are those things, you ask? Well, she has to learn from her own mistakes. She has to realize that she can’t fix everything and everyone. She has to find out that her snap judgments are not always correct. And she has to reevaluate people and situations, even when she doesn’t want to.

Of course, my own stories about Bruno and Sarah (AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE) have many of the same lessons. There are things Bruno can do, and does, once he realizes he’s been lied to about nearly everything. Sarah is in much the same boat, except she has different talents — complementary ones, in most cases — and the two of them have to find that they’re stronger together than they could ever be alone. But there are still things they can’t do, and they must make their peace with that (as every adult does), while continuing to work on the things they can.

In other words, they can control what is in their power to control. But they can’t control other people. (It would be wrong to do so, anyway. They have to make their own lives meaningful in whatever way they can, too. And make their own mistakes, as we all do…but I digress.)

Anyway, the stories I love best are those with happy endings. People sometimes start out with situations they don’t deserve (such as my friend Kayelle Allen’s character Izzorah, who went through a childhood illness that damaged his heart and nearly blinded him), but they get into better positions and find the people who can help them — maybe even love them the way they deserve. (Izzorah, for example, finds a treatment for his heart — it’s not a standard one, by any means, but it works in the context of the story — and finds love along the way in SURRENDER LOVE.)

So, to go back to the beginning of this blog, as we love happy endings and we want to see deserving people find good luck and happiness, the true ending we wanted for John Axford was to get the outs, get the cheers, bask in the glow of achieving his dreams once again at the baseball-advanced age of thirty-eight, and stay with the Brewers the rest of the season as they continue to make their run at postseason play.

That Axford was unable to achieve this happy ending was distressing. But all the hard work and effort he put into his return to the big leagues should still be celebrated. And my hope, overall, is that he will still be with the Brewers in one way or another after this season ends.

What makes for a good story? Do you agree or disagree with me, and if so, why? Tell me about it in the comments!

Unsettling Times

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Folks, I wanted to write a blog today about editing, but instead I’m writing this.

Why? Well, in Racine County yesterday morning, a man went up to another man outside a gas station and shot him to death at point-blank range. There appeared to be no connection between them whatsoever.

This definitely made me uneasy.

That the shooter then went to a different gas station, where he in turn was shot to death by a police officer (the shooter shot at the unmarked police car, and at the officer who was in plain clothes at the time), just underscores how random life can sometimes be.

If that shooter had gone somewhere else, the policeman who stopped him wouldn’t have been there. So in that much, I suppose I can see the hand of divine providence. (I’d like to think so, anyway. Surely the police officer saved much more strife by killing the shooter.)

In my area of Southeastern Wisconsin, we’ve had various protests over the past four or five years in Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Racine. Most have been peaceful. Some have been socially distant, as has been needed since the pandemic of Covid-19 broke out. But some, unfortunately, have brought bloodshed and tears.

I don’t know what the answers are for this mindless violence. I don’t know why yesterday was the day the shooter decided — apparently — to flip out and murder someone in cold blood for no damned good reason whatsoever.

So, even though I know — as a good friend told me earlier tonight — that nothing has changed for me, it feels like everything has changed.

To be honest, living my best life during the pandemic has been extremely difficult. Add the summer into the mix, where I observe not one, not two, but three sad anniversaries, and that ups the difficulty factor considerably. I also do not have the consolation of playing music right now, as I took a leave of absence from the Racine Concert Band. (This was necessary, but it’s a necessity I still regret.)

Then, add in the problem of yesterday, with the Kenosha riots of 2020, and the Milwaukee issues in the last five years, and it seems like Southeastern Wisconsin is a hotbed of chaos.

That, I know, is an illusion. But it feels real.

So, what is reality in this situation?

According to a good friend, I may as well try to predict where lightning will strike next as to worry about some random thug somewhere putting a bullet where it doesn’t need to be. So that means that all I can do is the same thing I do every single day.

What’s that, you ask?

Simple. I choose to write. I choose to edit. I choose to write music, and to practice it when able. I choose to help. I choose to keep going. I choose to fight chaos, even if all I can do is fight the despair in my head. I choose to remember better days, and I most of all choose to be the same person my late husband knew and loved so well.

Even on a day like this one — a day after a previously unimaginable tragedy in an extremely rural area with a bunch of farms, cows, haystacks, and not much else — I choose to live.

This is a candle flame against the darkness, but it’s all I’ve got.

Sunday Musings: Do You Recognize the Person in the Mirror?

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Folks, it’s Sunday. That means it’s time for me to write something with a bit more depth, perhaps…or at least something more elliptical, as suits my mood.

Enjoy!


After my husband Michael died, for a few years I did not recognize myself in the mirror. That’s just a fact.

“But Barb,” you ask. “Why are you talking about this now?”

I wonder how many of us have had times where we didn’t recognize ourselves, as I can’t be the first (and probably won’t be the last, alas) to have had this phenomenon happen. And I wonder, too, if that fuels my need for stories. Because every story I’ve told has dealt with a realization, or a transformation, or sometimes both…and the person who starts the book has had to realize his or her inner truths by the end, or else.**

See, the thing about humans is, we often don’t confront problems until we absolutely have to. This is especially dicey when the problem is something you couldn’t have ever foreseen, such as the coronavirus (COVID-19), or the way-too-early death of your spouse. The latter hits you like a ton of bricks, and you literally aren’t exactly the same as you were before due to your grief and rage and hopelessness, though the essentials of you are still there and can be dug out again in time

But there’s the former group of people out there — I have occasionally been among them, too — where we know there are problems in our lives, but we don’t have a clue how to fix them. Maybe we’re trying to fix them. Maybe we aren’t. But we procrastinate, hoping that circumstances or perhaps a miracle from the Deity high above will bring clarity…and our problems don’t get solved.

Sometimes the consequences of refusing to solve problems — mostly because we don’t like the solutions we come up with — are worse than just dealing with the problem to begin with.

The easiest example I have of this phenomenon is with a non-working toaster. If you try to keep using that toaster, when you know it’s sparking from the elements being exposed (the wiring, perhaps, has gone bad), you’re going to blow up your house. It’s a lot easier to just go buy a new toaster than to keep using the old one, no matter how much you liked that old one because it always toasted the bread perfectly every time…at least, until the wires got messed up and started sparking energy off all over the place.

Of course, human relationships are much more difficult most of the time than this above problem. Still, as Mark Manson has put it — and many others before him — there’s something called a “sunk-cost fallacy.” The quickest way to explain this is, “I’ve been with my husband for seven years. Yeah, things are bad. But I love him, and I think he can change…”

(This example is drawn from my life. My first husband, later my first ex-husband, was a good man in many ways but utterly wrong for me. Just as I was utterly wrong for him. We eventually both figured that out and got out of the marriage, which was just as well. I found Michael later, and he was the right man for me. And my ex found the right person for him, so it all, eventually, worked out for the best.)

Now, I did go to counseling the whole time. I tried to learn more about myself, and why I had picked my ex in the first place. I also figured out, due to counseling, that while people can change, it’s up to them to do it. You can’t make them do it. You can’t even assist them in doing it. They will either do it, or don’t, on their own.

I’ve had friends married to alcoholics who’ve learned the same thing, mind. They know it’s not up to them to stop their spouse from drinking. They can’t. All they can do is control their own behavior.

So, what I learned there is, no matter what good points your spouse may have, it’s up to him to use them. Or not.

And sometimes, we love people who aren’t good for us. Or who once were, but stopped being so, and now have no intention whatsoever to grow with you in a long-term relationship or marriage, mostly because they can’t help being themselves.

The good news is, if you are in a situation where you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror because of your own choices, or because life hit you like a ton of bricks, you can feel better about yourself. Over time, if you keep working on yourself, and read books, and educate yourself, and learn more about who you are and what you truly want (rather than what you think you want), you should find people who will want to grow with you. And who will appreciate your uniqueness, just because they know they, themselves, are appreciated by you for their uniqueness in turn.

It does take a while. It’s not a quick fix by any means. But living your life, and continuing to be your best self, and remembering what it was about yourself that you liked before life hit you like a ton of bricks — or before you stayed in your marriage too long after it had clearly died (and everyone knew it but you) — that’s the best way to go about it.

If you can do that, you can find some inner peace. You will know you’ve done your best in whatever situation you find yourself. And you can pick up the pieces again, and start over (or at least afresh), because you have learned over time that you, too, matter.

Not just your significant other.

_________

**(Before you start on my gender-fluid heroine Elaine from CHANGING FACES, Elaine liked the pronoun “she” even when she was feeling male. There are people who like pronouns that don’t seemingly go with their outward selves, too, in this world, including a growing number who prefer “they” as they prefer not to be categorized for various reasons. Non-binary people, mostly, are in this category; gender-fluid people also can easily be in this category, though Elaine herself is not.)

Sunday Musings: One Step at a Time…

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Well, it’s Sunday again, so I figured I’d better write something. Here we go…

Lately, I’ve been struggling with a number of issues. The world at large seems stifling…the fact that Covid-19 rages on, and that “real life” remains so constrained, definitely does not help.

A week or so ago, my father told me, “So, what’s the big deal? Your life hasn’t changed that much since the pandemic.” His view was that I mostly do everything I’ve always done, except for wearing a mask while I do it.

Maybe that’s true. But it doesn’t feel that way.

As a writer, I observe things more keenly than most. And what I’ve observed is that societally speaking, we seem to be in a free fall. We’re tired, we’re frustrated, we’re angry, we’re definitely not happy…and the few who usually try to find bright spots mostly seem to be muzzling themselves. (Except maybe for posting various cat and dog pictures; they’re nice, but don’t make up for everything else.)

I know I usually try to concentrate on something positive, or uplifting, or at least interesting. And the past few months, I’ve been in a rut of my own that has made it hard for me to do any of that.

Why? Well, I think part of it is because 2020 has been so difficult. Everything I’d wanted to accomplish has been slowed significantly. And that’s extremely vexing.

One of my writer-friends sent me an essay that I wish I could find right now. The essay pointed out that sometimes, rage is your friend. It may stop you from writing in the short-term, but providing you do not give up, the rage can give you enough energy to keep going until you can write again.

But in case rage doesn’t do it for you, consider it from a different angle.

A book I read years ago called THE QUOTIDIAN MYSTERIES discusses just how these fallow periods in our lives can lead to greater creativity in the end. We seem to need these empty spaces with regards to our creativity for some reason, just as fields need to be left fallow every so often.

In other words, we have to trust the process.

And speaking solely for myself, I have to believe that this fallow season will come to an end, and my creativity will reassert itself as soon as it possibly can. And providing I stick it out, the words — and the stories — will come back full-force just as soon as they possibly can.

What are you doing during the pandemic to best utilize your creativity? Or at least keep yourself from running around, screaming? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 25, 2020 at 3:02 am

Hold on to Hope, Despite it All…

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It’s been hard for me lately to hold on to hope. I admit that freely.

Why? Well, the world situation — the coronavirus in particular — is depressing. And the situation in the United States is even worse; Covid-19 is running rampant in many states, including my own Wisconsin. Hospitals here are getting overrun in some areas, and because of that some very little-used rural hospitals are getting a plethora of patients sent out to them. Then there’s the presidential election, which bids fair to become “who can throw the most mud and make it stick,” the wretched economy, which hasn’t bounced back to pre-Covid levels, the huge amount of unemployed people, the foreclosures and evictions because people don’t have any money…the list goes on and on.

All of these things contribute to my feeling of overall wretchedness. Because I can’t do much about them.

The thing is, giving in to despair and hopelessness — even if they’re caused by damned good reasons — doesn’t get you anywhere.

So, how can you hold on to hope, when everything you see seems gray, depressing, frustrating, and anxiety-inducing? I don’t have all the answers to this, but I can tell you a few things that have worked for me.

  1. Reading a book for no other reason than it makes you smile
  2. Watching a movie, because it takes your mind off your troubles
  3. Do something for someone else whenever possible, even if no one seems to appreciate it
  4. Take a long drive in the countryside, and sing along to your favorite songs at the top of your lungs
  5. Writing for the pleasure of it
  6. Playing or composing music
  7. Talking to a good friend (or two, or six)
  8. Petting your dog, cat, or anyone else’s friendly dog or cat whenever possible

All of these things remind me that life still has good things, and good people, in it; they remind me that I have more to do, and that I can maybe have a little fun while I do what is needful. And they remind me that hope, indeed, is still possible…and still worthy of pursuit, even during a time where all seems dark, grim, depressing, and awful.

What do you do to remind yourself that hope is still possible? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 1, 2020 at 6:14 am

Continuing On, Independence Day Weekend Edition…

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Folks, we’re about to hit July 4th — Independence Day — in the United States. That’s a major holiday, where we normally have fireworks, music, and parades.

Not this year, though.

This year, due to Covid-19, Independence Day is going to look a whole lot different. There will be no local concerts (and very few, if any, live concerts in the United States). There will be no parades. And in most of Wisconsin, there will be no fireworks.

In fact, we’re going to have a repeat of last year’s fireworks on local TV. And, perhaps, some repeats of concerts as well. (No word on if anyone’s going to show a repeat of the various parades, though it wouldn’t surprise me.)

It doesn’t feel much like a holiday, to my mind, because we are lacking all of those things. Plus, there have been so many deaths due to Covid-19 in the United States that it’s hard to be festive anyway.

But we must continue on, and do whatever we can. Live our lives, help others, read books, listen to music, continue to do whatever we can to further our pursuits (in my case, music and writing), and refuse to surrender to the despair and anxiety that seems to pervade the United States right now.

We’re also dealing with a heat wave in Wisconsin that isn’t helping. (It’s humid, hot, and nasty, with poor air quality. Definitely not my cup of tea, and I don’t think it’s something most people would want to deal with if there were any other options.)

Because of all of that, I wanted to make sure I reminded everyone to do the following five things:

  1. Be kind
  2. Stay hydrated
  3. Eat when it’s a bit cooler, so it has more likelihood of staying down
  4. Work smarter, not harder
  5. Give yourself a break now and again, the way you (hopefully) do for others in similar situations.

If you can do those five things, you’re going to be better off in the long run as well as the short run. And it may remind you that this, too, can be overcome. (But it will take time, and most of us — myself included — are not patient.)

What’s your plan for Independence Day? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 2, 2020 at 2:35 pm

Sunday Thoughts: On Forgiveness

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We all go through moments in this life where we wonder, “What is the point?” Especially when we’re on the outs with people we feel close to and care about, as not getting along with loved ones makes everything seem pointless and unfulfilling.

“But Barb,” you protest. “Your post is supposed to be about forgiveness. How on Earth does this relate?”

I’m getting there, I promise. But this may take a while. (Settle in with a cup of coffee, or tea, or some sort of beverage of your choice.)

Recently, I’ve reconnected with an old friend I’d been estranged from for quite some time. Life took us in different directions. It was hard to talk with this friend for a while, though I did keep trying; on my friend’s part, I think it was difficult to keep trying, and eventually, communication just stopped.

I often wondered what the point was, after this happened. Because this friend was quite close to me, and was one of the few folks I felt understood me. It was difficult for me to do without this friendship. And it was frustrating not to know what was going on with this friend, as I truly did care — and, obviously, considering the recent reconciliation, still do.

It turned out that there were miscommunications between us that drove a wedge into the friendship. And those had to be talked out so we could move forward. Which led to inertia, which led to…pointlessness, I guess, at least on my part.

But over the time of the estrangement, I learned how to forgive myself for this. I can’t be everything to everyone, as much as I’d like to some days; I can only be myself.

And I forgave my friend, too, because I understood — as best I could, anyway — what led my friend to make their decisions. (Yes, I’m using singular “they” today. My editorial side doesn’t like that much, but I’m getting used to it.) I understood what was going on with them and I knew what had happened to get them to this point. So forgiveness was a must, a moral imperative…or, at least, the best way to live with myself and the end of this estrangement.

But saying that is easy. It took two solid years for me to process all this, and to get through it; it also took two solid years for my friend to process all this, and to get through it, before we could attempt to repair our friendship and move forward again.

And those two years were not easy. Not for me. And, I suspect, not for them either.

I know I am fallible, mortal, have my biases and quirks and habits; I do try to get past these things, but I still have them, and some days I am much more limited by them than on others.

I also know that my friend is just as fallible and mortal as I; they have their biases and quirks and habits, too. And I suspect they try hard to get past these things, but still have them, and some days are better than others in dealing with it all, too.

All of that led to what I like to call “the road to reconciliation.”

It’s not an easy road. It sometimes can be a damned hard road, in fact; your feelings get shoved in your face, by yourself, and you have to figure out what you’re going to do about it. You’ve been hurt before, and you don’t want to get hurt again…all of these things are natural and normal thoughts, but they are also self-limiting, not to mention frustrating.

But forgiveness makes the most sense, to me. I still care about my friend. I want to know what happens to them. I want to try to help in whatever ways I can, without damaging myself, to help them enjoy life a little better and to know that they are valued and understood no matter how imperfect or flawed.

Personally, I think we gain value from our imperfections, not to mention our flaws. But they are not always easy to deal with. (Oh, no. That would be far too easy.)

Anyway, I also continue to work on the idea of forgiveness of the self for getting to this point. I’m not a perfect person; far from it. (Then again, no one is.) There are things in the past — and not just in the context of this friendship — that I wish I’d done better, or differently.

That said, I have learned from my mistakes. I’ve drawn value from my imperfections, as best I can. And I’ve tried to husband wisdom from all of it, and be a better friend because of it, while realizing that life is a process and a choice as much as it is about your circumstances beyond your control and what you do about them.

So, those are my thoughts on forgiveness, both of the self and others, for today. What’s on your mind, and what did you think of this blog? Let me know in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 14, 2020 at 2:38 pm

Compartmentalization Vs. Alienation

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I’m worried about the state of the world. I truly am.

As I write tonight, there are many cities in the United States that have protests — some peaceful, but most not — over the senseless killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. That now-former officer knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for six minutes, and the other three police officers around him did nothing. Mr. Floyd was black; the now-ex officer was white. It was a non-violent crime that Mr. Floyd was alleged to have committed — he may have passed a counterfeit $20 bill — and he was not resisting arrest in any way.

We have every right to be angry over this. It was reprehensible behavior by the now-ex officer. (I will not name him, as per my long-held beliefs that bad actors should not be named.) Mr. Floyd should not be dead.

But watching the protests is deeply disconcerting. People are rioting, and often burning their own neighborhood businesses; that only hurts themselves down the line, along with the innocent business owners. People are letting their anger, their justifiable rage, spill over to the point it almost seems as if the world is on fire.

And that doesn’t even go into half of what’s going on in the world, as Covid-19 is still rampant. In the U.S., we have had over 100,000 deaths, as I’ve said before. In three months! And many people who’ve been changed for the worse for life, who will live with lifelong health ailments…the hospitals in this area continue to be overloaded, the medical professionals are stressed to the max, and everyone’s on edge.

I think these two things are part of why cities are burning tonight. People are alienated, and people are scared. They don’t know what to do. They don’t think anyone cares. They don’t think anyone is listening. And they wonder what in the Hell the point is.

I get it. And I am worried.

“But Barb,” you ask. “You said something about compartmentalization in your blog title. What the Hell is that about?”

Well, I don’t know about you, but I still have to get my day-to-day stuff done despite the background of chaos that seems to be everywhere. That I can’t shut out. That I wish I could help, but for the most part can’t do anything about other than be as upset as everyone else (but hopefully in a more constructive way than burning everything to the ground).

The only way I can get stuff done — whether it’s writing, editing, or anything else — is to compartmentalize my brain. To say, “OK, I’m going to do whatever I can do right now on this one, small thing. I am going to keep trying, and keep my head up, and do positive things, even if they don’t matter to anyone but me.”

I think this is all I, or anyone else, can do right now.

But yes. I remain deeply concerned. And I wish I knew what else to do, as the world — or at least the United States — continues to burn.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 30, 2020 at 8:32 pm

A Semi-Quick Update…Books, Health, Etc.

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Folks, because I’ll be taking part in a promotion soon — Read an E-Book Week is only a few days away — I wanted to make absolutely sure I came back here and let you know that’s going to happen. I’ll be giving away copies of my first novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, and my third novel, CHANGING FACES, via the Twilight Times Books website. (That’s my publisher.) I’ll give links, so if you don’t already have copies of my books, you can go get them for free — and all I ask is that you please, please read them, comment on them somewhere, and let other people know they exist.

So, more on that in a couple of days.

But I also owed you all some sort of explanation for my untoward silence. If you’ve been following along with my blog for any length of time, you know I’ve been battling some unforeseen health issues. And that so far, the doctors don’t seem to know what to make of them — or me.

(Well, this is my succinct way of putting it.)

I’ve had a number of tests in the past month. Most have given me answers I already knew — such as, I have asthma — while a few have been mixed. The stuff in the middle between “answers I already knew” and “mixed” seems to be coming back with, “Nothing to see here, move along.” (Though I did find out one strange thing, which I’m coping with…at some point, I apparently had a pulmonary embolism, which didn’t kill me outright. That’s a damned good thing, because approximately 20% of the people will die without even know what killed them. And I’ve been put on blood thinners so I won’t have any more.)

So, more stuff gets ruled out than explained. And I continue to battle Ye Olde Mystery Illness, for whatever reason…while doing what I can to edit, live even a shadow semblance of a normal life, and try not to fret myself into oblivion.

The main thing now is to keep trying, keep looking, keep hope alive, and believe that eventually they’re going to find a way to help me.

And the secondary thing is to keep doing whatever I can to make my life better and easier — or at least less difficult and distressing — while I continue to search for answers.

I do hope I’ll find some answers soon, though, because I am tired of the stuff that I haven’t been able to do.

For example, I haven’t been able to play my instruments now in nearly three months due to respiratory distress. I missed the last concert with the Racine Concert Band (which I’ve played in, on and off, for nearly twenty years) and at this point have no idea if I can play the next (in a few months).

And, for yet another example, I haven’t been able to write much fiction in three or four months, either, beyond either prose notes or a thousand words here and there (which isn’t terrible, but it’s not what I hoped for, either; it’s particularly vexing because I’d been making good progress with one book, and had reached the halfway point, only to have my health stall out, and me have to wait until I get my strength back and enough energy to figure the rest of the book out.)

And you all know how spotty my blogs have become. (I would hope you know it’s not for a lack of interest. I always have something to say, or ponder, or want to discuss, but I have to have enough energy with which to do it. And just trying to live halfway well, plus help my friends and family, and then of course edit — I probably should put that first, as I love to do it nearly as much as I love writing or playing music, but I’m typing this stream-of-consciousness — is taking everything I have and then some.)

That said, I am still in the fight. I am doing everything I can to get to a good outcome, one way or another. And I do hope to return to writing, return to playing my music, and most importantly, return to some sort of decent health in the not-so-distant future.

Here’s hoping.

————

P.S. You may note that I am still editing. This is my livelihood, so I’d damned well better. (And as I said, I love to do it nearly as much as writing or playing music.) And I will honor my commitments as I always do, because that’s the only way to live in my not-so-humble opinion.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 29, 2020 at 7:21 am

Writing in Spite of Difficulties

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Folks, I just wanted to check in to let you know I’m working hard again on a novel. I don’t want to talk too much about it before I get to the three-quarters mark, but I can at least tell you I am working on it.

This is a big deal to me, because after my last novel failed to make a dent in the marketplace, I had to think seriously about what I’d do next. I wasn’t about to stop writing, but…did I want to be like the musical composer Charles Ives, where his work wasn’t truly played until after his death? Did I want to be like composer Nadia Boulanger, whose most important work wasn’t her own compositions (fine as they were) but championing her sister Lily’s, not to mention working with American composers Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson (among others)? Or could I keep going in the uncertain marketplace, and have faith, and continue on the path I’d already set for myself?

It took me over two years to figure this out, but I am continuing on my original path.

The important thing to remember here is, you have to write for yourself as much as anyone else. Yes, you hope your work will find its audience (how not?), but you have to write for yourself.

Nadia Boulanger did that, even though later she put her work aside. So did Charles Ives, who continued to write interesting music though his day job was in something else. (Insurance, I think.)

I hope I’ve learned that lesson now, and that I won’t have to learn it again.

Anyway, I’m back to working on my writing. And I do hope to have a novel done by the end of the year, along with a few short stories and maybe even finish that novella in my late husband Michael’s Atlantean Union universe…stay tuned.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 9, 2020 at 3:48 pm