Thursday, September 30, 2010

It's a Woman Thing

With apologies to any men who read my blog, you'll probably want to skip this particular post as it is about the "female condition."

So, ladies, I'm about to get very personal - and I need some advice.

Earlier this year, I underwent exploratory laparoscopic surgery to determine why I was still in pain after a cyst burst on my ovary. It turned out that the cyst was still bleeding and it had severely damaged my right ovary. Thus, out came the ovary, and now I'm operating on just the left ovary. But they also found endometriosis and uterine fibroids which will only continue to grow.

Last month, I had another cyst form on the remaining ovary, which led to pain and more problems. The ultrasound showed that it was not the kind of cyst as the one that burst, so we took a wait and see approach. But my doctor asked me a rather scary question: "Are you done having children?"

I am only 35, yet I have been fighting my "female condition" for the past 10 years - literally since about three months after I gave birth to my daughter. I've been diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) which has a whole slew of problems associated with it. I've been to see numerous doctors - internists, gynocologists, endocrinologists, chiropractors (who also did acupuncture on me) and even a natural health doctor. Still, my problems persist. This month, I had to take a day off work (yesterday) because of the pain I'm experiencing. These are not normal cramps, but something more serious.

Sometimes, a hysterectomy seems like the way to go. But then again...that means I'll have to be on hormones, and truth be told, I don't do well on birth control, so I'm not at all sure how I would do on hormone therapy.

I feel like there is not a good answer to my problem: either keep living with this pain and endless trips to the doctor until I am forced to have a hysterectomy because my female parts start to decline dramatically, or take care of it now and hopefully get rid of the pain and improve my quality of life. However, then I will have the additional side effects from being on hormones.

But a hysterectomy also brings up emotional issues. It's part of what makes me a woman. And even knowing that I don't want anymore children, having that option completely removed is somewhat scary and rather sad, too. Does that make sense? Thing is, I'm not even sure I'd be able to get pregnant if I wanted to with the way my health is.

I've thought of going radical - doing everything from a "natural" standpoint - looking at acupuncture (which worked well last time for the problem I was having) and radically altering my diet to try and fix things on my own. But at this point, I have to be realistic about who I am as a person - and going radical isn't me.

So here is my question to all the wonderful women that read my blog: what would you do?

Monday, September 27, 2010

What I Was Missing

I met with my two writing pals on Saturday morning. For almost two hours, we talked and laughed, shared encouragement and ideas, and came away with renewed vigor for our manuscripts. We'll meet again in a month and I anticipate we'll have the same good time.

Later that day, as I went through my first chapter and read the comments from my critique partners, I realized what I'd been missing from my writing life. Blogging and online communities are all well and good, and I wouldn't be the writer that I am today without them.

But for me, there's one thing I can't get online: the energy.

There's nothing like being face-to-face with other writers. We bounced ideas off each other, offered comfort and encouragement, and above all, support. I left feeling energized and ready to get back into the submission game for my last novel, and ready to keep working on the current novel.

The three of us work well together, and I'm so glad we decided to form this group. It was definitely something I needed both personally and professionally.

Are you in a face-to-face critique group? What's the best thing about it?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Aftermath of Creativity

Chatsworth, England, in autumn
How do you feel after a writing session? Do you feel like you have all the energy of a two-year-old hyped up on Skittles? Or do you feel like you've just run a marathon and want to collapse in a heap on the couch?

I took advantage of a recent lunch break at work to get some writing done on the novel. I was very pleased with the results - I wrote 1,500 words during that time: good, solid words. I loved the scene and how it moved the story forward.

But afterwards, I felt drained. Sitting at my desk became a chore and I longed to take a nap. Not possible, of course, when you have the rest of the work day to get through.

Yet there are days when I write and after I'm finished, I feel the opposite. Perhaps not bursting with energy, exactly, but at least not in the mood for a nap.

Maybe it all depends on what I'm writing. For example, the scene I wrote was an emotional one between my two main characters. I think I feel more drained than usual because it took more mental energy to compose.

What about you? How do you feel after a writing session? Does it depend on what you wrote?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Writing Growth


I'm editing the first chapter of the novel for my critique group. We're meeting this weekend and I'm really looking forward to it.

Editing is always the best part of writing for me. That's when I get to play - with words, ideas, themes, etc. It's where I expand on those kernels of ideas I wrote down to begin with and flesh 'em all out to create a cohesive work of art.

In this particular novel, I find I'm digging deeper into my characters' lives, the themes of the work overall, and even how the setting plays an important role in the story. This is a growth moment for me. When I look back at my other novels, I don't see that same depth - which is probably why they will never be published. And really, that's ok. Growing in the writing craft is paramount to becoming a better writer. It's all part of the process.

Have you noticed any growth in your writing lately?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Triumph!

This weekend, with two wonderful days stretched out in front of me with nothing much to do, I determined I would not let the time get away from me.

And so, I set to work.

I wrote 3,200 words on Saturday and 1,500 words on Sunday.

Not as much as I had hoped, but I did make room for a walk, grocery shopping, church and a church BBQ, my daughter's play date, time with the hubby, and of course, a nap.

All in all, a success.

Have you had any recent writing successes?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Time Trap

Over Labor Day weekend, I had hours and hours of time to write. Yet I only managed 2,000 words - and I did all that on Monday. In true Melissa-fashion, I waited until the last minute to get the writing done.

Sometimes, I get really frustrated with myself. Yes, there's a time to relax and spend time with your family, and it's crucial to our overall well-being. But there's also a time to write. And I didn't nearly do enough of it.

When I was a stay-at-home mom ten years ago after my daughter was born, I thought I would have oodles of time to write. And I did have oodles of time. Yet I didn't finish the novel. I procrastinated and put it off, thinking, "Oh, I'll do it tomorrow. I have all the time in the world!"

I did the same thing this last weekend. Instead of writing, I thought about writing, but instead, I took naps, read my book, played on the Internet, spent time with my family, went to church, exercised, etc. All of this is fine, of course. But I kept saying to myself, "Oh, I'll write later. I have all weekend!"

As it transpired, later turned into Monday morning. I wrote a bit in the a.m., then stopped and took a nap, then piddled around for another few hours before getting back to the keyboard. The result? A measly (to me) 2,000 words.

Why do we this to ourselves? Why do we waste hours and hours of free time putting off doing something we love? When I am in the midst of my writing, I love it (most of the time). So why should I take great steps to avoid it?

I guess it comes back to the whole concept of resistance that Steven Pressfield talks about in his book, The War of Art. I'm glad I'm not alone in this struggle, but boy, sometimes I wish it were easier to overcome.

How about you? Do you find yourself falling in this time trap?

Monday, September 06, 2010

A Day to Write

Here in the U.S., it's Labor Day. And it's also the first day off work I've had in months! (well, not counting that whole surgery thing...)

How do I plan to spend my day? Writing, of course!

You?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

When Did You Start Writing?

I'm curious.

When did you start writing?

Was it in elementary school (like me) where you scribbled stories and illustrated them with colors or markers? Or was it in junior high when you filled pages and pages with angst-filled poetry? (guilty again). College? After your first job?

You can read about my writing journey here.

I've been writing seriously since the 6th grade. Wow. That's a long time.

I love this writing life. Love, love, love it. Wouldn't have it any other way!

So when did the writing bug bite you?

One Day at a Time

I've always tried to live with this mentality: One day at a time. Unfortunately, when I implement it, I fail spectacularly. But for this...