Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Changes

by Cheryl Brooks

My internet went down yesterday afternoon and wasn't up again until this morning. I finally got to talk to an actual person at about 11PM last night, and apparently the server had a major meltdown of some kind. It's amazing just how cut off you feel from the world when you can't reach out via your usual outlets. I always have my personal blogs go up at 12:01 AM, and there are people on the west coast who often comment almost immediately. Like a lot of other things, you don't realize how much you depend on the internet until it's gone.

Another thing you often take for granted is the interaction with your coworkers. I'm looking back at my calendar and seeing that my last post here on Casablanca Authors was July 29th. That's a long time to go between blogs, which is what happens when we add more authors to our roster and eliminate Sunday blogs, so what I haven't talked about here is old news elsewhere. But one thing stands out during that time period. On August 13th, I turned in my resignation at the hospital where I had been employed as an ICU nurse since April 1990. I started nursing school in the fall of 1973. Do the math. That's a long, long time to be suctioning (my personal favorite!), giving shots and pills, and emptying bedpans--and very frequently changing sheets when the bedpans were insufficient to the task. I don't miss those things much at all, but what I do miss is the people.

I'm now a full-time writer. So far, money hasn't been much of an issue except in my own mind. The bank balance hasn't suffered a whole lot. The only reason I can see for that is that I'm spending less on gasoline, food, etc. because I'm staying home more. Since I'm not the only employee to leave that hospital recently (for a variety of reasons), about a dozen of us got together last month, some of whom I hadn't seen in years. We plan to continue these mini reunions, but I have a feeling they'll peter out eventually as people find different jobs and meet new people.

Facebook has been a great way to stay in touch. I see the events of their lives, but that face-to-face interaction is something that writers don't always get. I guess that's why conferences are so popular. Yes, they're expensive and often require us to travel long distances, but the face time is important to all of us. Next month, my local chapter is having their annual retreat at Bradford Woods near Mooresville. I'm retreat chairperson along with my critique partner, Sandy James. I volunteered for that job because I have always known how important it is to sit down and relax and talk to people, and I really know it now! Writers need interaction with one another because our concerns, like those of so many other career groups, are very career-specific. Our theme for this retreat is Feeding the Muse--a topic not too many others can relate to.


Also next month, Sandy and I will be giving an informal discussion of publishing, writing, and marketing books at the Starbase Indy Star Trek convention in Indianapolis. Can't wait for that, but in the meantime, I should probably celebrate my "retirement" from nursing (I'm not tapping into the retirement account yet!) by giving away a book. I've got an ARC of Wildcat, my next book to be published with Sourcebooks. It's not slated for release until February, but you can win a copy of your very own by posting a comment telling me what you do to feed your muse, or anything else you'd like to say about the importance of having friends handy when you need to vent.  

Be sure to include your email address so I can contact the winner, who will be chosen at random!

47 comments:

  1. Cheryl, as a full time doctoral student, I often find myself in need of a muse and a friend. When I need the creative spark to start a project, I discuss the assignment with a friend for a different perspective. Sometimes you get locked in one mindset that you cannot see beyond. My friends have provided me with plenty of research fodder. Now if only someone would offer to read my work . . .
    Freakgrly@aol.com

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  2. Congrats on your retirement Cheryl! I often find my muse speaks to me when I'm completely quiet inside. I've just started learning how to meditate to hear my muse better. :)

    Being a full time SAHM and writer, has made making friends difficult. Facebook and forums through my publisher have connected me with other writers, and I've made some wonderful friends. :)

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  3. Congrats, Cheryl! I love being able to write full time now. I'm going to readers' conferences next year that I wouldn't have time for. I can visit my kids, which I didn't have time for. I still get together with my coworkers, and in fact we're going to a mystery theater together in a couple of weeks. So it's fun! :) Enjoy!!!

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  4. I envy that you can write full-time. I'd love to be able to do that as well, although I do think I'd miss my students. So...I'll keep teaching until my body gives out, and I'll sneak time to write whenever I can.

    Congratulations on all your success! I'm privileged to be your critique partner because

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  5. Congratulations on your early retirement, Cheryl! I know how good that feels. Ahhhh...

    I've almost stopped having nursing nightmares! LOL

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  6. Cheryl, hats off to you for having the courage to make the leap--I predict great things will come of it. Nursing has to be one of the hardest professions out there, and ICU nursing at the head of the list.

    One of my creativity feeding devices is to set the alarm an hour early, let the blasted thing wake me up, then roll over and go back to "sleep" as I ponder the next scene in my WIP: what would surprise the reader? surprise the characters? surprise ME? Where does my book need to go structurally and how can this scene boost it in that direction?

    Sometimes I latch onto something so intriguing, it propels me from the bed and down to the computer... THAT is the start of a good day.

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  7. Writing is very similar, Megan. The exchanges between members of a critique group can temper the isolation that we writers so often find ourselves stuck in. What works for you may not work for anyone else, and it's nice to know that before you send something off to an editor!

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  8. Thanks, Tatum! Hats off to you for learning to meditate. Being a compulsive multi-tasker, I've never been able to make myself take the time to actually sit down and do it. My "meditation" usually occurs when I'm behind the wheel or on the lawn tractor.;) I'm glad you've been able to connect with other writers. Makes a world of difference, doesn't it?

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  9. I hear you, Terry! It feels great, but sometimes it's a little scary not having that steady paycheck. Fortunately, my husband has been very supportive. I couldn't have done it without him!

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  10. I know how you feel, Sandy. I had a hard time making that decision, even though in many ways, it was made for me. When the time finally comes, you'll know it.
    Thanks for being such a great critique partner. Don't know what I'd do without you!

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  11. I don't so much have nursing nightmares as I do flashbacks, Ash. I have to remind myself I don't have to think about those things anymore. It's a weird feeling, but I'm sure I'll get used to it eventually!

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  12. Good idea, Grace! I've never done that on purpose, but whenever a disturbing dream wakes me up in the middle of the night, I have to dissect it and figure out where I can use it in a story before I can go back to sleep!

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  13. Congrats on your early retirement. I hope your horses appreciate the extra TLC that they get now. With you home full time. Is it true girls that have horses spend more time with them and less time with boys? That's what my muse told me. ENJOY your new full time career. We're your beneficiaries.....now!! dmf747@comcast.net

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  14. You might be right about that, Donna. I know I spent more time with my horses than I did with the boys when I was in high school!

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  15. I'm looking forward to all your new books. I am enjoying being able to interact with one of my favorite authors. Especially as I'm home with my newnorn. That gives me something to look forward to when I'm so sleep deprived.

    4doxielove@gmail.com

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  16. Congrats on your retirement from nursing! I wish I could spend more time with my friend's horses! jrweltzin@hotmail.com

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  17. Aw, thanks, DoxieLove, and congratulations on the new baby! It's good that you can interact with people online. Mike was three and Sam was a month old when we moved to the country. I wouldn't have felt quite so cut off from the world if we'd had internet back then. LOL! When we first moved in, we didn't even have a phone! Don't know how I survived!

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  18. Thanks, Jennifer! I'd probably take more time to spend with my own horses if I was actually drawing retirement pay. As it is, I must continue to write, write, write... ;)

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  19. A writer friend and I were saying yesterday how addictive the internet is and how it can disrupt writing time. She said it's like you're at a coffee shop with all your friends and it's hard not to chat and listen to their conversations.

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  20. i find my muse when i am in the barn weather its doing stalls or grooming and if that dont work i have my sister my best friend to talk to im glad u retired so u can write more i love your books and tell everyone about them corytj@hotmail.com

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  21. That's true, Shana. I get more writing done when I turn it off!

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  22. Thanks, Cory!
    Grooming horses is one of those tasks that sort of frees up my mind too. I should probably do it more often. I know my horses would love it!

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  23. Cheryl, congratulations on your retirement.. Not get back to writing :)!! I love CatStar Chronicles. My muse speaks best when I am on my back watching the night sky. I can stay there for hours, watching the stars. I also can really clear my mind when I am horseback riding; thats a good time to commune with the soul.
    Kerry aka Lady Godiva

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  24. Congratulations on retirement! Husband says it's the best job he ever had. I've been fortunate in that I could be a full time writer for more than a decade and of course, I LOVE my job. My muse is country music. If I'm in a slump or the computer screen just sits there in all its blank glory and dares me to mess it up, Floyd Cramer or any number of country artists can help me tame that blank screen pretty darn quick. Add a maple iced donut and my muse and I are good for hours!

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  25. Trust me, Kerry! I'm writing like a fiend! I used to ride horses and stargaze. However, my horses and I aren't what we used to be, and my riding instructor stopped giving lessons. :(
    I even have a telescope that hasn't been out of the house in ages. Maybe I should haul it out again sometime and see what happens!

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  26. Thanks, Carolyn! I'd probably be having more fun if I'd truly retired instead of changing careers.
    Certain songs have inspired me, but I don't normally listen to music while I'm writing, although I've been doing it more often since I got some new albums!

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  27. Congratulations on your retirement - although you are definitely still working lol. I worked for 15 yrs. before electing to stay home to raise our children and although we're broke, we raised two wonderful girls. I met some of my best friends through my children and we still get together for dinner or cards etc. I always said it was the man that really retired since a woman still kept care of the house but I think that is changing now a days and it's a much better system to have two people doing a bit of everything (if possible).

    catslady5@aol.com

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  28. Good point, Catslady! All I know is I'm still as busy as I was before I "retired." Since I'm not clocking in and out anymore, I don't know when to quit.

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  29. Ms. Cheryl, I'm happy for you that you finally get to spend more time doing the things you love. Excited for the next 'Cat Star Chronicle' book..."Wildcat"!! Thanks for the giveaway! Leann leamei1981@yahoo.com

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  30. Great post Cheryl. Books are still my valium & tennis when I'm not injured. Friends of course, who let you have your little rant & then the storm is over.

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  31. Sometimes a good rant is all it takes, Mary!

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  32. Congrats on the retirement/move to ft writing. It's hard though important to keep in touch with others as they csn definitelyhelp with keeping the sanity whether by giving you someone to vent or be vented at (as that can help remind you your not the only one going nuts out there) :-)
    Gamistress66 ( at) aol ( dot) com

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  33. Thanks, Gamistress! I do feel like I'm going nuts sometimes. My friends are the main reason I haven't been committed yet. :D

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  34. Congratulations on your status as a full time writer!

    My BF lives in Hawaii currently, so we text to arrange a time to talk, taking into account the six hour time difference.

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  35. Thanks, Taurus! That's quite the long distance relationship you've got going there. Hope it continues to work for you!

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  36. Nice post. I think friends are always handy to have around to support you.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  37. Congrats on the retirement. I think that you don't realize how much stress you are constantly under until the source is removed. I hope that you are able to savor the time that you have, sounds like you still are going to keep very busy!

    elewkf1 at yahoo dot com

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  38. I find that getting together with my three sisters does me wonderfully! What the four of us can "get into" is just amazing. It brightens me right up and gets the creative juices flowing.
    bettysunflower@hotmail.com

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  39. When I was growing up, my mother was a neonate RN on PM's. Even though my bedtime was hours before she got home, I was usually still awake. If I was, she'd let me get up and come out to the living room and she would talk about the high and low points of the shift over a cup of tea. We both slept the better for it afterwards.

    Mom medically retired during my college years and passed away a couple years ago. Those late night talks are a special memory.

    vlettel@cox.net

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  40. I used to vent to my husband when I came home, Virginia. He worked as an orderly when he was in college, so he could relate to a lot of my experiences and concerns. It's good that your mother felt she could talk to you. I'm sure those were special memories for her too.

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  41. LOL! I can imagine the trouble four sisters can get into, Betty! I only get to see my sisters twice a year, and there's never enough time in a weekend to do all the catching up before it's time to leave. Maybe now that I'm not working weekends, we can do it more often.

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  42. Hi Elf!
    Yeah. I'm still busy, mainly because I'm so used to my days off being crammed full of everything I need to get done, plus the writing, I don't know when to quit. But the stress has decreased significantly. Deadlines are one thing, caring for the critically ill is something else altogether!

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  43. Hi bn100! I'm seeing my friends on Saturday and again on Monday. LOL! I should be in good shape next week. Thanks for commenting!

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  44. The contest is now closed jrweltzin@hotmail.com is the winner of the giveaway!
    Congratulations!

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  45. Well, I am not posting a comment to win a copy of the book anyway, even if it would have been a nice bonus, but I wanted to post a comment anyway. I am going through so much of the feeling disconnected from friends right now, that I was very touched by your post. I am as yet an unpublished writer, but I have tomes of works I could be getting out there. Friends feed my muse the most, but music and collecting pencils helps too sometimes. I just really felt a pang when I read your post and wished I knew your group better and could go to your retreat. Congrats on your retirement and concentration on full time writing. You've fed my muse too! Thanks!

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  46. So sad to have missed the contest, Cheryl, but wanted to say how much I enjoyed your post. And LOVE the cover!

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