I was a writer interrupted and I was not alone. The Pandemic was one colossal interruption for us all. To paraphrase Tolstoy, “All people alike were interrupted; many unhappy people were interrupted in uniquely tragic ways.” In my case, This epidemic thoroughly interrupted my writing, which was taking a promising turn and the treatment of my own grave health crisis.
After I retired from teaching in 2016, I set about to revise and market my master’s thesis from Seton Hill University, my first novel A Thing of Beauty. I even began to ponder its sequel, Grateful for Blue. I attended and photographed barrel races, and researched, interviewed, and otherwise prepared for my blogs, interviews, and webpage. It was a heady time and I loved it. My family and I knew I had the inherited disease, Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), but my nephrologist assured us that I was the most stable patient he had. Not even this would hinder this lovely time.
However, in 2018 we received the sobering news that my Stage 4 kidney disease was teetering on the edge of becoming Stage 5 or End Stage Renal Disease. My nephrologist advised dialysis, but my nephew, Alan stepped in and offered his kidney. We were relieved, elated, and grateful. My team tentatively scheduled my live donor transplant surgery for March 2020. We had no inkling of the complications that were ahead.
We eagerly prepared and I did all I could to market my book. I even enjoyed my first book signing, with plans of taking part in more. Unhappily on the transplant front, we kept experiencing delay after delay—more interruptions. As we waited, I began experiencing, brain fog, a result of kidneys that could not properly rid the body of toxins. Nothing could be more alarming and humiliating for a writer.
Making the best of interruptions
And then COVID happened. I was already part of a vulnerable population, and my social distancing became absolute. During lock down, I began live streaming chapters of my book. My live streams were not high tech, but old and new friends still tuned in. We all enjoyed a break from thinking about the lock down and our respective interruptions. (You can still access these on my Sweet Annie Tales Facebook page, if you are not too choosy about technical expertise.)
Surgery happens despite interruptions
Obviously, our concern for my surgery was never far from our minds. Sometimes it seemed likely the transplant team would cancel the surgery altogether. Just when it looked as though my surgery would fall through, we received word on October 29, 2020, that my transplant would take place the next day.
Stuck and interrupted by recovery
While the surgery was a remarkable success, recovery is slow and never straight forward. It was months before I had the endurance to do the most ordinary tasks. If I did one task in the morning, I would nap in the afternoon. Writing my second book seemed an impossible goal. However, I researched, and I received excellent background material from law enforcement, horse experts, inmates, and a former foster child whose thesis was on foster care. I conducted my research exclusively by phone. (COVID, remember?) Marketing, blogging, and posting were haphazard because I simply lacked energy and mental stamina. I feared this interruption was permanent and I would be stuck in writer’s block. Additionally, I felt my age was not on my side. Writing success seemed hopeless and out-of-reach. I was absolutely a thoroughly interrupted writer and on strict lock down.
Finding my way out of the Interruption
Despite two alarming, unrelated hospital stays, my body was healing with absolutely no signs of rejection. I began losing my inactivity/prednisone weight. Furthermore, I was and am finding new energy in walking and exercise. More than that, I discovered a convergence of unexpected finds and inspiration. Suddenly, one character, The Wall, entered the scene, and he would not go away. Frankly, I thought of killing this darling more than once. This minor character in fact became the driving impetus of the narrative. Mio my Son, a fantasy novel by Astrid Lindgren of Pippi Longstocking fame would guide my character and his writer’s path. I found the love, energy, and impetus to spin a tale of young people struggling and finding new hope. I begin again convincing the world of the worth of my stories.
Whatever I conclude about this passage, it is precisely my life. I found this curiously moving photo of an evergreen damaged yet sending out this unexpected new growth. I am taking this as my personal guiding metaphor. At 70, I am clearly “vintage.” I will not die a tragically young author. I believe I will follow Victor Hugo’s lead and shoot for writing in my eighties.
Go to the Home page to see a description of my first novel A Thing of Beauty. You will find a link to order A Thing of Beauty on Amazon at the top of the page. Explore my webpage and take a trip back through history to Texas, 1978-1979.