Can't Sleep? Start Plotting: AN IWSG Post

6:00 AM Elizabeth Seckman 58 Comments


OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

A major life event was the sole impetus prompting me start writing a novel. 2006 was a bad year. My family's normally steady life was turned upside down. It felt like the universe decided we'd been having too good of a run on good luck and it was time to bring on the bad. It started with my father-in-law being diagnosed with leukemia. Then my brother-in-law was diagnosed with chronic pneumonia that was scarring his lungs beyond repair (he was developmentally challenged, so he didn't swallow well and kept getting inhalation pneumonia). 
I suppose it wasn't enough for bad luck to smack down on my husband's family, by that spring, my father was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma and then within months, my big brother was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that doctors predicted would be lethal in under six months. 
It felt like the punches weren't ever going to stop coming. I hated to look too far into the future. Who might be gone? I could look to the past, but that was a kick in the gut too. Looking back in misery with longing and grief is well, miserable. 
So what do you do when the past, present, and the future all cause your heart to hurt so bad it makes it hard to breathe?
You make crap up. You create a world that isn't tied to the problems of this one. It worked like a charm. No more obsessing about all the circumstances in which you have zero control. A good therapist might say I took a situation in which my life was completely out of control and created one I was the boss of. Call it escapism, call it denial. I call it a life saver. 

*I'm thankful for this question this month. As a writer, we start to focus more on the business end of writing, which ALWAYS leads me down the road to insecurity and unhappiness. But pausing a moment to remember that writing isn't just about dollars,cents, and satisfying the ego...it truly is a magical way to navigate a less-than-perfect world. 

Are you ready? The IWSG is taking submissions for the next anthology! Dancing Lemur is a class act publisher to work with. I had a short story in the Hero's Lost anthology and it was a wonderful, educational experience. 

Theme:
Masquerade

A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.

Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges who will be announced September 5.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.


The IWSG is a monthly online gathering of writers to share their hopes, their fears, or to whine a little over just how damned hard it is to live the dream. Thanks to our leader, Alex Cavanaugh and this month's Co-Hosts:  Dolorah @ Book Lover, Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken!


58 comments:

  1. I agree Elizabeth. Writing allows you to control something when the real world explodes. You continue to touch my heart with your honest posts. Happy IWSG Day :)

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  2. You've experienced a whole lot of suffering. I hope these years and days have been kinder to you and your family. I also wrote to get away from the reality of hardships.

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    1. They have been kinder. Those days taught me the difference between a real problem and a hassle. Most of the things I complain about are just hassles. It's good to know the difference.

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  3. Our writing is the one thing we can control and we can make a world far better than the one we live in.
    Thanks for plugging the IWSG Anthology Contest!

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  4. Wow, what a tough time that was :-( So glad that writing was of help to you during that period. This month's question is a great one - can't wait to see how others answered it.

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    1. It will be interesting. They picked a very thought-provoking question for this month.

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  5. Oh wow, I'm so sorry you had to go through such a rough time. It's amazing how so many scares or heartbreaks can hit at once. I'm so glad writing helped you though. I started writing when going through some difficulties and it really can be a lifesaver. Good to have a reminder that it's not all about publishing and marketing and sales, etc.

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    1. I am the worst at forgetting the real gift writing offers. I'll start to count the time spent vs. the money earned and get frustrated. But there is a bigger pay out than dollars and cents could ever offer.

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  6. "I call it a life saver." So true, Elizabeth. So true.

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  7. ".it truly is a magical way to navigate a less-than-perfect world. " Great way to put it. Happy IWSG day :-)

    Ronel visiting on Insecure Writer's Support Group day: Course Correction

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  8. Life saver is the perfect way to explain it.

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    1. Thanks. I'm sure many will be saying the same thing today.

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  9. Total escapism for me too. I started seriously writing during a period of life that may have led other people to suicidal tendencies. Writing kept me mentally whole. And you know, now that I think about it, when I got serious about publishing, it was the period of time when I lost a father, brother, and another two family members within a couple years. Crazy.

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    1. We are the lucky ones. It's good to have something to do during the bad times. I've always thought it was that "in His image" part of us in action. It's in our nature to create.

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  10. I'm so sorry you endured so much in such a short period of time, but I'm glad the experience led you to pursue writing. Makes me wonder if you would've become a writer if you hadn't experienced so much difficulty. Whatever the reason, a writer you be, and a darned good one. Don't you ever doubt yourself.

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    1. Probably not. In that time, to cheer my sister up, I contacted her favorite author to get an autographed book to give my sister as a gift. The author, Dixie Browning, was so sweet, we got to chatting and I mentioned I had always wanted to write and she said to just do it. I told her there was too much going on in my life to write now and she said that stories come from our lives-- the good times and the bad. They all are fodder for future tales.

      Honestly, without that encouragement, I would have spent a lifetime journaling without ever considering publication. Or blogging. Then I wouldn't have met you, sweetest lady ever. <3

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  11. That was tough assemblage of catastrophes.

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    1. I wasn't buying lottery tickets, that's for sure.

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  12. Yes, writing has that power to navigate through the worst of times, and even the best of times. Glad you don't allow the business side of it to get to you. :)

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    1. It gets to me periodically...almost like catching the inevitable cold in the winter. LOL

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  13. You certainly had enough dumped on you at one time, Elizabeth. I hope this year and those ahead treat you and your family more gently.

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    1. It has been more gentle for a while. There is always a dawn after the dark. We simply have to wait for it.

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  14. I'm glad you found comfort in your writing. Even though my tragedies like yours have hurt my personal writing drive, I have found comfort in the writer's life I have created as a contract writer. It's low paying but I love writing and the quiet writer's life.

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    1. I do enjoy a quiet, simple life. Writing does give us that too.

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  15. Making crap up sure can help one push on through. That sure was a lot piling up in one year.

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  16. My goodness! You went through one awful event after another. Writing got me through my divorce.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. They say divorce is the most trying of times. Good thing you had words!

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  17. You'd mentioned these things before, but I never realized how close together they happened. That was really, really rough.

    Agree about Dancing Lemur. Diane is awesome to work with. She's just plain awesome all the way around.

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    1. She is great to work with. Almost as good as working with you on Full Dark!

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  18. Ah I feel ya. All my immediate family is gone. It was a sort of domino thing. I miss them. I know hearing tht news is a tremendous sadness that sits on your shoulders until it improves or releases. That's a lot to deal with at once or in succession. I am glad you found writing.

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    1. I have been blessed with a huge family. And not everyone who was diagnosed with cancer lost the fight, so we still have my father in law. And one of the biggest blessings of a big family is that it continues to grow. And I have friends- writer friends included that have been as much of a blessing as the words have been.

      Hugs and prayers for you, Juneta. I do know the emotional toll those losses take. I hope you have good things in your life to look keep you boosted.

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  19. Wow, that's some serious hardship there. I'm glad you made it through it and that writing helped you!

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  20. "it truly is a magical way to navigate a less-than-perfect world." That is the perfect summation!

    You rock, Elizabeth! You truly do!

    Happy Writing!

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  21. It is life. And you did well to write yourself out of all these experiences and feelings. Hugs, my dead friend.

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    1. It is life. Sadly, it seems to happen to most everyone at one time or another. Thank you, Nas. I appreciate the hugs.

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  22. HI, Elizabeth.

    I remember that time. You went through so much. But, Thank GOD you got through it and managed to filter all your emotions through writing.

    Writing saved me, too. When I lost my business temporarily in 2008. That's when I began to write. It saved my sanity and opened me to a wonderful new world. This world. This amazing community with such amazing people!

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    1. You're a good friend, Michael- one with a good memory. But then we shared the bad luck during those years. And look at us! We're still here! You're so right- amazing people in our community.

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  23. I'm so sorry to hear about all the health crises in your family! It's so true that sometimes we can find some kind of solace or escape in the form of writing about much different, much happier, situations than our own lives.

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    1. Fortunately, it was many years ago and not every illness ended badly, so it's a reminder that there is light at the end of the dark tunnels.

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  24. "You make crap up." I love that! Making crap up saved me as a child, as a teen, and as an adult.

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    1. It's like being paid (poorly) to put a lifetime of daydreaming to good use.

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  25. It's beautiful that you could take life's trials and tribulations and learn to make art because of it. That's a very worthwhile thing:)

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  26. I love this, Elizabeth. I think we do create stories we can control because life is just too crazy sometimes and it's easier to take charge in fiction, create the worlds and the endings we want.

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    1. I think that's why I enjoy romances...happily ever afters are a must.

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  27. It's great that you were able to use writing as an escape. I could use a magic portal myself these days. If I could just find the right door...

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    1. I hope you find your perfect portal. Writing can be the best escape, when it's not causing additional stress. LOL

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  28. Me too. My writing career began, little did I know, when I needed an outlet for my grief. But of course, good and silly stuff gets mixed in there. It's interesting how writing and living - through the great and horrid stuff - become almost one and same, huh?

    Enjoy and be well, friend.

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    1. Laughing at the grief and the silliness has been what's gotten me through the worst of it all. One day, I promise to my bucket list, we will share some silliness over mai tais!

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