Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘illness

“Sadiversary” Week, Fatigue, Illness…

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Folks, later this week will be the fourteenth “sadiversary” — that is, the saddest anniversary there is — of my late husband Michael’s death. I struggle with this every year; unlike some widows and widowers, I seem stuck, and think more and more about him over time rather than less and less.

Granted, I’ve also done my best to “make new memories” and have even gone on a few dates. (Two, to be exact.) And I was in a long-distance friendship with a guy for a while with that I’d hoped for more with…but it didn’t happen. So it’s not like I’ve just shut myself down cold, even though it took a long time to even get to the point where I could try to do these things.

I keep wanting to wake up one day, and find out the previous fourteen years are nothing but a bad dream. My husband, in this scenario, is alive, glowingly vibrant, cooking me meals, helping with my stories as I helped with his (and yes, while I cook, too, Michael was the better cook; I was glad to step aside for him).

Hell, my husband even would do all the laundry, knowing I have a bad back, and if I was allowed to do anything at all, it was to sit at the laundromat with him “looking decorative” and of course carrying on a conversation.

Those were the days.

Instead, I wake up and find that the stark reality is, I’m here, he’s not, all the work I’ve struggled with, everything I’ve done, is not enough. Too few people even seem to be able to find out about our work, much less like it enough to tell friends about it who might also tell others.

When I’m sick, as I am now (I am guessing a sinus issue and possibly a weak onset of the flu), it makes it harder to believe that I am doing everything I can. And yet, I know I am. There isn’t any single thing I could be doing any differently; I can only do what I can do, and if it’s not enough, and if it drives me crazy that it’s not enough, well, I just have to live with that.

I’m grateful for my family and my friends. I’m also grateful for the two guys I went on dates with, even though I’m sure they were awkward and I knew I was very awkward, too. Even the guy I crashed and burned with in the long-distance friendship taught me something…I’m not dead, and I don’t think Michael would want me to do my best imitation of a vestal virgin because he’s already on the Other Side.

Still, I look at the totality of my life since my husband died, and it frustrates me so much.

Maybe we all feel this way, when we’re sick, that we haven’t done what we set out to do, and that we are failures because of that.

And I never expected Michael, the goodness of him, the totality of his existence, the love he brought to my life, and the sly sense of humor that invigorated every conversation and interaction with him. (As I’m trying to keep this to a PG level, as I know there are at least a few younger kids who read this blog on a regular basis, I won’t talk about the rest of it — shall we say that everything, absolutely everything, about my marriage with Michael was phenomenal, and leave it at that? Yes? Good.)

All I can do now is go on. It’s hard. I haven’t been able to see the road in front of me since the day Michael died. And even at my best with the three guys who’ve put up with me long enough to want to get to know me a little better, I still didn’t see anything but glimmers.

So, that’s where I am right now. I am sick. But tonight I’m going to try to edit, and I did manage to write this blog. Tomorrow I will do laundry, and think about Michael while I do it (as that makes me feel better, as I definitely don’t enjoy doing laundry in any way, shape, or form, but I do enjoy clean clothes). I’ll get to the doctor, do what they say to do, talk with my counselor of course as this is a very highly-fraught week, and do what she says also as best I can.

And I’ll try to be as good to myself as I can, even though that’s not something I’m all that good at.

P.S. Next week, I hope to talk about fun things again, or at least current events things…something different.

 

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Written by Barb Caffrey

September 18, 2018 at 10:53 pm

Thinking, Writing, and Illness

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Most of us have to deal with illness, and somehow get things done. But when you’re sick (as I am right now), and you are an independent writer and editor, what are you supposed to do about it?

That sounds ridiculous to say, doesn’t it? Because we all struggle with illness. Very few people have charmed lives, and even they have to deal with the illnesses of beloved family and friends (or, sometimes, four-footed companions).

Still, when you’re in my position, and need your mind to do your work, but your mind isn’t at its best, and your body definitely isn’t either…what’s to do?

I’ve been trying to plot a book. This isn’t normally what I do, as I take an idea and run with it; I’m a pantser, not a plotter (that is, I sit down and write whatever it is, and then fix it on the fly). But plotting can’t hurt me, and thus, I’m trying to do that now and see where I get.

This is an exercise given to me by my friend Chris Nuttall (and if you don’t know Chris’s work already, go to Amazon and put his name in there; that’ll give you an idea). I often edit Chris’s work (my latest for him include THE ZERO EQUATION and THUNDER AND LIGHTNING, co-written by Leo Champion; I intend to talk more about both books in upcoming days, once I’ve regained a bit of my energy), and I know how he tends to work; he comes up with plots first, then writes, then tweaks (sometimes, if warranted), then sends to me (or another editor), then fixes, then I (or another editor) may see it one last time if the changes warrant it — otherwise, it goes up for sale. (This is for Chris’s independent work. The work he does through Twilight Times Books, Elsewhen Press, and 47North is a different story.)

I think his thought is interesting. And what I’m trying to do now is figure out who my characters are, what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and just what’s going to happen along the way. (I also know, me being me, that some of this is subject to change. But it gives me a starting point, and it makes me feel a whole lot better to have work to do along with my editing. Which, by the way, I can still do — I just need a bit more time to do it right now, that’s all.)**

So, there’s thought behind this. Reasoning, purpose, function, and my hope is that it’ll flow into a form that is sensible, logical, and yet feels lifelike and real, like my “pantser” (seat of the pants, natch) novels do. (Or at least I hope they do.)

I’m glad to be able to continue to edit, though a bit slower than usual. I’m also glad that my friends, including Chris, came up with something for me to do of a writing nature so I wouldn’t feel stir-crazy while I’m not at my best. (Writing takes more out of me than editing, just as playing music takes more out of me, physically, than composing it. Though all of them require a goodly amount of mental and physical energy, some are easier to do while ill than others. I hope this makes some sense.)

Now for the big question: What do you do when you feel lousy, but are a creative person and need to express yourself? I’d appreciate hearing any tips you might have in the comments.

———-

**I suppose this is a good time to explain what I’m dealing with: exacerbation of asthma/bronchitis, an ear infection, plus a particularly wicked sinus infection. (I have two antibiotics, a steroid, and have to use my rescue inhaler four times a day until this is gone. When I get sick, I guess it’s go big, or go home. Except I am home…)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 12, 2018 at 6:44 am

Posted in Books, Informational Stuff, Writing

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A Frustrating Wednesday Update, Already in Progress…

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Folks, you may have noticed that I haven’t blogged at all since last week Monday.

There’s a reason for that. I’ve been ill, first with a nasty sinus infection, and then with a suspected case of food poisoning on top of that.

I hate giving these sorts of updates, mind you. They annoy me. I want to be doing things. I want to be writing, editing, reviewing books, even putting in job applications…but instead, I’ve been having to rest, eat bland food, and rest some more.

Needless to say, I’m not a happy camper.

I’ve managed to do about two hours of editing and zero writing in the past four days (not including reading manuscripts for evaluation, which I agree is work but isn’t nearly as taxing). I’m about to go stir-crazy, because I’d hoped to use this week as a springboard to get back on track with my edit for A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE…and it’s just not happening. (At least, not yet.)

My husband used to tell me that if I rested when I needed to rest, I’d come back stronger. His advice was always good, and I’m trying to take it now. But it’s incredibly difficult because I want to be up and doing, and instead am confined to baby steps.

I’ve been told that the food poisoning (or whatever it is that’s severely irritated my stomach) should be gone by the weekend. I sincerely hope so. As it is, all I can do now is plan to get things done just as soon as I’m physically able to do them.

And that’s not a position I like being in.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 18, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Saturday Odds and Ends (May 2013)

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Folks, there’s a number of things to cover, but I have only a limited amount of time to cover ’em all.  So let’s get started with a shameless plug, shall we?

Since you already know about HOW BEER SAVED THE WORLD, please check it out.  I would really appreciate it.  (Links available in the prior post.)

Next, due to my health continuing to be problematic at best, I won’t be reviewing anything at Shiny Book Review this week.  I do hope to review two books by Karen Myers — good, solid fantasies about fox-hunting, dogs, and just a bit of the Wild Hunt for good measure — very soon.  I also have books by Ash Krafton and Chris Nuttall that I’ve read and am pondering, but am not quite ready to review . . . anyway, I plan to review these four books as soon as I can, starting with at least one book by Karen Myers next week over at SBR.  So please, stay tuned.

As for everything else . . . my favorite baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers, lost a heartbreaker at home this afternoon to the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-6.  The Brewers had tied the game in the bottom of the 8th on a suicide squeeze, perfectly executed by Nori Aoki, so things looked as if the Brewers might actually be able to win against the Cardinals at home.  Unfortunately, when Brewers closer Jim Henderson entered in the top of the ninth, he ended up giving up a run partly because he didn’t hold his runners on base very well.  Had he done a bit better at that, the Brewers and Cardinals might still be in extras right now, tied with a score of 6-6, because Henderson pitched well aside from that.

A health update: I continue to have problems with what I’ve been told are “the remnants of bronchitis.”  Because I have asthma, these remnants continue to cause me to feel completely wiped out.  I’m able to concentrate better, providing I continue to rest much more than usual, and I have been able to resume work on a difficult edit in progress.  I’m also thinking about various stories and worked on one of them, albeit in prose notes form only (no dialogue, a couple of brief character sketches, and scene setting), earlier today.

So that’s progress, of a sort.  But it is slow.

I just have to remember that even incremental progress is still progress.  And that it’s important that I keep trying . . . as if I could ever forget.

Anyway, there were a number of other stories that caught my eye this week — Howard Kurtz getting fired from the Daily Beast due to a factual inaccuracy in an article Kurtz wrote about NBA basketball player Jason Collins (Kurtz said initially that Collins didn’t explain that he’d actually been engaged to a woman for eight years, which wasn’t true — in Collins’ first-person Sports Illustrated piece, Collins clearly says that he was engaged to a woman.  Kurtz’s newspaper made a correction later, saying that Collins had “downplayed” his engagement instead, which makes more sense, but apparently Kurtz himself did not make this correction.), Harper Lee suing to regain her own copyright for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD due to what appears to be an unscrupulous agent giving her bad advice in order to profit himself, and, of all things, a second grade teacher in Colorado who taped the mouths of her twenty-eight students shut.  She’s currently on paid administrative leave as, apparently, doing this to her twenty-eight students is not considered a crime in Colorado.

I’d love to write about those three things — any, or better yet, all.  But right now is not the time, as I continue to have problems drawing a full breath.  As long as this condition persists, my energy level is just not going to be what it should no matter how strong my will is that wishes it otherwise.

At any rate, all I can do is to get up every day and try my best.  I’m doing that.

My hope is that I’ll be able to feel better soon and do much more of what I’m accustomed to doing — writing, editing, and playing music (I can’t do the last at all, and it’ll probably be at least a few more weeks before I can even make an attempt, considering) — rather than how I feel right now: more than a tad guilty for leaving three juicy blog subjects on the cutting room floor, all because my health just won’t allow me to do them justice right now.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 4, 2013 at 9:17 pm

Down with the Flu . . .

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. . . and take that any way you want.

So far, 2013 has shaped up to be a year full of illness, frustration and pain.  I haven’t enjoyed it, but I have continued to do whatever I can despite all of the various things that have cropped up.

I saw my sister last week, which is a good thing.  Unfortunately, she came up with a particularly nasty case of the flu and let me know she’d been diagnosed with the same on Monday.

Despite all of the various things that have hit me within the last two or three months, I haven’t yet had an “official” flu diagnosis.  (Merely “flu-like symptoms” or a secondary infection — usually a sinus infection, occasionally a respiratory ailment as well — but not an actual diagnosis calling for Tamiflu or any of the other drugs that can help minimize a case of the flu.)  And it’s possible that this isn’t the flu either, though it assuredly feels like it as it came on suddenly within the last twenty-four hours and has disorganized my thinking like no one’s business.

So my hope is that it will leave suddenly, also.

If so, it wouldn’t be the flu — it might instead by that Australian norovirus I’ve heard about, which has a duration of 48-72 hours of nastiness for most people, then runs its course — but that doesn’t mean it’s any less distressing to deal with.

Topping it all off, I was midway through a story that I’d planned to submit to an anthology in a few days.  I don’t know this particular editor (I won’t name her), though I do know her writing . . . anyway, I’d introduced myself, told her a bit about my story and she said she’d look forward to reading it.

Now I may not be able to finish the story, which really bothers me as it shows a lack of professionalism.  (And to me, being anything less than a pro in every area is deeply disturbing.)

This particular anthology has a deadline of February 1.  I’ve known about it since early October — just before I took on the Bleacher Report internship, in fact — and thought about what I wanted to do that would meet the requirements of the anthology.  I had finally come up with what I thought was a winning idea . . .

. . . and am now too ill to finish the dratted thing up.

I do have tomorrow to make a stab at it, and if I can finish it up and believe it’s credible, I will try.

But the chances to do so do not look promising.

I know, however, that if I can finish this story, albeit more slowly than I’d like — providing I can do so before March 31, that is — I can try the Writers of the Future contest one more time as ELFY still isn’t out (I’m still going over copy-editing changes and have been asked to make one, last pass of my own in addition), not even in ARC format (that’s “advanced reader copy” to thee and me).  I may still be eligible even for the June quarter (though I’m unsure); I do know I’ll be eligible for the March 31 quarter.

So maybe not all is lost, no matter how it looks right now.

In the past few days, I did do some editing on some paying projects and a little bit of writing (I got all of 300 words into it yesterday before stalling, again).  So it’s not that I’ve done nothing whatsoever this week . . . far, far from it.

I just haven’t been able to get this done when it counts.  And that vexes me.

Sorely.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 31, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Posted in Writing

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Illness and Exhaustion . . .

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. . . have kept me from my blog.

Yes, that’s the truth.  I’ve been extremely tired due to the flu/sinus infection combo that I’ve been fighting, and that’s the main reason why I haven’t written a blog for several days.

The secondary reason is that a long-delayed edit has finally been completed for one of my private customers.  (I have two others in train for a different entity.)  I’ll be reading it over momentarily to catch anything else noteworthy, then will put this particular edit to bed.

Tomorrow, somehow, I plan to write a book review over at Shiny Book Review (SBR).  I have read several books, but the one I am reasonably sure I’m going to review (unless my mind wholly fails me) is Dave Freer’s STEAM MOLE, a YA action-adventure SF story set in an alternate universe with just a hint of romance to spice up the mix.

Next week, my reviews will include Marie Lu’s LEGEND, at least one of K.E. Kimbriel’s three novels, and possibly the GALACTIC CREATURES anthology as well, all providing that my health continues to improve a mite and that I’m able to have enough strength to order my thoughts in a coherent manner.  (Sometimes, writing a book review — writing anything — is a lot tougher than it looks.)  Other books that should be reviewed by the end of the year are Red Tash’s TROLL OR DERBY (another long-delayed review), Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s DRAGON SHIP (I call this the “anti-romance”) and Paul Dillon’s THE MAGIC IN THE RECEIVER — another book that would’ve been reviewed by now if not for my illness gumming up the works.

Plus, there are a few Christmas romances by Sabrina Jeffries and Victoria Alexander that I plan to write a “2-for-1 special” for on the Saturday before the big day, Sherry Thomas’s TEMPTING THE BRIDE (which will be factored in somehow in the next few weeks) and last but not least is Sean Williams’s exhaustively researched and extremely dystopian THE CROOKED LETTER, another long-delayed review.

And I might squeeze another piece of nonfiction in there, too, just to keep everyone on their toes.

Anyway, that’s all for now . . . I need to get back to my editing, or at least make the attempt.  (Whichever.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 8, 2012 at 12:36 am

Posted in Writing

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October ’12 Quick Hits, Pt. 1

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Folks, I’m trying out a new browser — Mozilla Firefox — and so far, it’s working rather well.  My previous browser, a version of IE, wouldn’t let me properly access the WordPress blogging site, which is one reason I haven’t done much with my blog in the past two weeks (I suspect a recent “upgrade” — by the way, why is it that upgrades seem to cause so much distress for all concerned no matter who’s doing the upgrading? — by WordPress was what caused me not to be able to use the site properly).

At any rate, there are a number of things to get to, so let’s get started.

First, Atlanta Braves P Ben Sheets — a long-time starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers — indeed retired after pitching one inning of the 162nd and final game of the regular major league baseball season.

Second, I will write an “end of the season wrap-up” blog later this week which will point out the highs and lows of the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers season; for now, all I’ll say is that it’s obvious LF Ryan Braun (with his 41 HR and 30 SB) is the Brewers 2012 MVP and that if baseball writers were objective, Braun would be likely to have his second National League MVP in as many years.

Third, I’m rather frustrated with most politics and most politicians at the moment — aside from Racine’s state Senator John Lehman, that is, and my incoming state Assemblyman, Cory Mason (Mason represented a different area of Racine prior to this year; due to redistricting, he’s now running unopposed to represent the 61st Assembly district and the seat presently held by Robert Turner (D), as Turner has retired).  This is why I haven’t said much about politics in quite some time.

My basic beliefs, however, are unchanged; I believe that we’re not well served by our two major party system.  I think most of the candidates we get via this system are indebted to big money interests, or worse, must be insanely wealthy themselves in order to afford to run in the first place  (a la Mitt Romney of the Rs).  And while I like Gary Johnson the best (he’s the Libertarian candidate for President, and is the former Republican Governor of New Mexico), I’m still undecided as to how I’ll vote this fall in the Presidential election.

Fourth, I’m still fighting a lingering sinus issue, which is one of the main reasons I haven’t been blogging overmuch in the past several weeks (well, that and the browser situation, which I’ve now remedied quite nicely).  But I hope to write several blogs this week — maybe even one regarding the state of publishing, who knows? — and have a guest blog by novelist Stephanie Osborn in the pipeline that should be posted within the next two weeks also.

(Oh, yes — the reason this is “part one” of the Quick Hits for October is that I’m sure there’ll be more.  Because there always are.)

Stay safe, everyone.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm