Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Memoir-Writing Journey

Last week, I laid out the health issues of this past year. As I did so, the word fallow came to mind: the seed of my life lies dormant within dark, rich loam. In the weeks ahead, I hope the seed will crack open and that from its broken shell a sprout will inch its way upward to the freshness of air, the warmth of sun, and the vast view of what is possible for me in the coming year.

If that doesn’t happen—if the ill-health continues—then what I know is that I need not only to live the day, but to embrace it. All truly is possibility if I look for the good within the fallowness. I’ve tried to do that this year as first the pain captured most of my attention and then the months of recuperation slowly—ever so slowly—helped me reclaim the activities I’d once done so easily. Now, I am hoping that the recent eye operation will help my sight stay stable.

As we all know, we can control only how we respond to the fluctuations of life. I know I’ve quoted my mom to you before, but I want to share her words again: “Dolores, you find what you look for. If you look for good, you will find it. And if you look for bad, you will surely find that too.”

Given that Mom said this to me repeatedly as I was growing up, I learned to look for good, Mostly I have found it. Some events, some years have been challenging, but one of the advantages of aging is that I can look back over a long life and see that all—ALL—has worked out to good.

Now, having wrapped up my health report, I want to spend a few moments sharing my writing life with you. I’ll be blogging about that off and on for the next few weeks, perhaps months, as I prepare to self-publish a memoir entitled Prayer Wasn’t Enough.

Two friends and my oldest niece are helping me with the intricacies of self-publication. One artistic friend designed the cover of the book. It pleases me mightily! Another friend is going to format—through Create Space, a subsidiary of Amazon—the print and the e-book that will be available on Amazon at some future date.

My niece is trying to help me figure out Facebook and Twitter. We’ve had difficulties because when I first began my Facebook account I didn’t know what I was doing. (Do I ever???) Consequently, I messed up the author page, the Timeline page, and another page as well.

It’s a real muddle as to what I presently have and how I can establish one of these pages as the place where readers can contact me. My niece has spent hours sitting in front of my computer trying to make sense of what I did and also talking to fellow computer whizzes about this. So far, we have no solutions.

I’ve begun Twitter and have to admit that I’m puzzled by how all these things connect. None of this makes much sense to me. Would it, if I were younger? Was my mind more eager to solve a challenge then? I’m not sure. I know only that I now dwell in social-medium-confusion-land.

Have any of you experienced difficulties in understanding how to use Facebook or Twitter? If so, please share your confusion with me OR how you met the challenge of the Facebook-Twitter Alps and conquered it.

Today I wish for you peace, pressed down and overflowing.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

I'm Grateful for My Body's Good Will

In mid-September, I began a hiatus from blogging because I had two infections—one in my sinuses; one in my chest. The latter responded to antibiotics. The sinus infection, however, hung on— through several doses of anti-biotics—from April to late October. I had fluid in both ears, headaches, drainage, coughing—the whole shebang. Both infections left me tired, so for the past two months, I have mostly rested and read.

In early October, I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia that morphed into “severe” bronchitis. This resulted in a prolonged asthma attack that sent me—truly breathless—to Urgent Care. The doctor there sent me immediately to Emergency.

At the hospital, the attending physician put me on oxygen for nearly three hours and also got me started on a “breathing treatment.” Soon I was able to talk and had ceased to gasp for breath. Because my oxygen level went up to a normal range, the doctor decided not to hospitalize me.

I came home—coughing, hacking, using one Kleenex after another, and always, always, listening for the kitchen timer to tell me when my next eye drop went in for glaucoma. Eight times a day I pause to put drops into my eyes—Glaucoma drops 3x a day; a preservative-free lubricant 5x a day. The kitchen timer rules my life.

This drop-procedure started in December 2015 when my glaucoma pressure soared to 56 in the left eye and 59 in the right. (The normal pressure is about 15.) The ophthalmologist found this “alarming” and sent me immediately to a specialist. Had Dr. Ann not stayed late to see me, I would have been blind within five hours—or so I was told.

That high pressure greatly damaged my optic nerves, so my vision is compromised. That’s why in the intervening months, I’ve had eight surgeries to get the pressure down to 10 and to keep it there. That lower-than-normal pressure can help keep further damage from happening to my optic nerves. This past Thursday I had my most recent surgery. Next Thursday, Dr. Ann will examine both eyes to gauge the pressure. We are both hoping for the best—10!

Now all of this must truly sound minimal next to what some of you are going through. For example, I read a blog written by a woman who has been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. Her situation is much more dire than anything that has ever happened to me. So I’m not complaining in this post about these “small potatoes” of ill health I’ve been having.

All I’m trying to say really is that as I age, my body is insisting that I begin to do my part in taking care of it. For eight decades I took this body for granted. Nevertheless, during that span of years, it always responded with great good nature. Now, at 81 and in my ninth decade, my body is asking for the tender loving care that shows I appreciate its care of me all these years.

And so, often throughout each day, I say Julian of Norwich’s mantra: “And all shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be exceedingly well.”

Her mantra got me through the worse days of Meniere’s Disease back in 2006 and 2007, and it continues to comfort my body whenever it asks for attention and TLC. I have, at this late date in my life, finally listened to the voice of my body as it asks for appreciation, gratitude, and love.


Monday, September 18, 2017

"Far and Wee"

This late-night posting is just a short note to say that the tutorials I mentioned in my last postings haven’t happened yet. My own physical ailments and the busy life of my niece kept us from being able to get a start on scaling my learning curve.However, we are both hoping that October will bring those much needed lessons in how to market through social media.

In the meantime, I’m doing the final bits and pieces for the convent memoir: table of contents, ISBN/copyright page, acknowledgements, note from the author, back-cover copy, author blurb for back cover, memoir blurb for Amazon. Well, I suspect you get my drift—all those parts of the book that accompany the main text.

During the writing of the many drafts of the memoir, I used simply “Chapter 1,” Chapter 2,” “Chapter 3,” etc. to label each new chapter. Now I am rereading the chapters, trying to find four words or less for a “catchy” title for each. That’s not easy for someone like myself who tends to say more, rather than less. (You may have noticed this in my writing!)

The back-cover copy for the print book pretty much becomes the book summary that appears on a book’s Amazon page. That’s the summary that begins with three lines or so and then a “Read More.” With that copy, I need to present the arc of the book as I build suspense and tension. I find that no easy task.

I hope to return this week to reading your blogs because I find myself missing what is happening in your lives. I have such a quiet life, bordering on reclusive. All of you introduce me to the world beyond the chair I’m sitting in, the computer I’m staring at, and the home in which the cats and I are living. Thank you for enriching my life with your posted words.

Enough for now. Glass Houses, Louise Penny’s latest mystery, has kept me awake way past my bedtime.  She has become my favorite writer. The wonder is that each of her books just keeps getting better.

If you like mysteries and she’s not on your reading list, I’d suggest that you start with her first book, Still Life, which introduces the ensemble that you’ll meet in each succeeding book. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is one of the most finely drawn characters I’ve meet in all the reading of done through the years.  

So in this posting we’ve traveled “far and wee” as the poet e.e.cummings would say. From ailments and learning curves to book parts to Amazon summaries to one of the most gifted novelists of today. Now I hope that when I post this and turn off this computer (“Maggie”), I will find sleep patiently waiting for me by my pillow. Peace.