The Journal, Friday, 2/10

Hey Folks,

Today in my writing I’ll begin with more cycling and a little more stitching. I could have maybe done another hour yesterday and finished that up. A big part of the reason I didn’t is in the topic below.

This has been a physical trial of sorts, and to a greater degree, a mental and emotional trial. You’ll see what I mean.

I hope within a couple of days I’ll be back to my version of normal as far as the writing goes.

Topic: Yet Another Life Roll

I’ve debated with myself for several days about sharing yet another life roll here. But it directly affects both my writing and the new responsibility I assumed back in December, so I’ve decided to talk about it. Maybe it will help someone out there with a life roll rippling through your life.

This will be a necessarily long-winded explanation, so feel free to skip it if you want. Or scroll down to “But the point is….” (grin)

Like many people, I’ve had lower back pain for several years. It most often manifested, off and on, as sciatica. At one time it became so bad I had to use a cane. That was a few years ago.

I love irony. One of the best ways to deal with sciatica is to walk. But sciatica makes walking a lot more difficult and hiking (uneven surfaces) almost impossible.

The pain became much worse around a month ago. Still, it only came and went during the day.
Notably, though, if I coughed or sneezed while standing up, the pain and weakness that washed through my glutes and down my thighs almost brought me down.

Think of a deer who’s been shot through the lower back. That’s how I sway when that happens.

Around the same time, sleeping a night through became all but impossible. I wake up several times each night, glutes and thighs deeply aching, to turn over or lie on my back and go back to sleep. An hour or so later, I have to repeat the process in a new position.

Generally, I consider visits with doctors a necessary waste of time. I visit with my heart guy twice a year, mostly for a check on my pacemaker battery and to see whether my valves are still behaving themselves. I visit with my primary care guy once a year so he can renew my prescriptions.

I don’t do individual visits to complain about stuff. I learned long ago, the usual response is something like, “Dang, huh? That’s too bad.” (grin)

But when my annual visit with my primary care guy rolled around a few weeks ago, since I was there anyway I mentioned this to him. He ordered xrays.

Turns out I have “severe arthritis” in my lower spine, transcending most of the lumbar (L4 up) and lower thoracic regions. Not life threatening, but debilitating. This is especially annoying for a guy who’s always been active and enjoys charging into thunderstorms.

By the way, my doc is a funny guy. He says regardless of what specifically caused this condition (bull riding and carrying lots of heavy stuff), it’s primarly an effect of TMBD: too many birthdays. (grin)

Back to reality. Fortunately, I’m most comfortable in any of my three desk chairs with the lumbar support. And walking remains the best therapy. So I have to get back into that. Maybe. I guess.

But the point is, this whole thing has caused me to both focus more tightly on my writing goals and to not worry about them as much.

Lemme ‘splain.

In my writing life, ever since I started back in April 2014 with short fiction and October 2014 with novels, I’ve wanted to learn as much as I can about writing fiction, practice as much as possible, and turn out as much quality fiction as I can.

But a couple of months ago, I also took on another responsibility.

My grandson is currently going through a self-study course for his GED. Successfully completing that is key to his future, and I don’t mean for the piece of paper.

It’s important for the piece of paper and more so for the knowledge he’ll gain, but it’s even more important that he will have accomplished something. He will know how it feels to set a goal and reach it.

My plan all along was to have him do the self-study. (Important that he does that ‘on his own.’) Then I’ll administer an assessment test to see what he knows and doesn’t know, then go deep into teacher mode before sending him to get his GED and then on out into the wide world.

But with the recent diagnosis, I’ve become more sharply focused on that process.

While Bryan’s finishing his self-study, I’ll finish my WIP and probably start another one.

When he’s finished with the self-study and the assessment test, though, the teaching will become my first priority.

Right now, when and how much we talk about GED stuff is up to him. When teacher mode begins, it will be up to me.

That doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing, but it does mean that I’ll adjust when I write and probably how much I write. I probably won’t write every day. I still plan to publish the Journal every day, though, most often with something useful in it.

I’m not sure what that will mean re daily word count goals, etc. Once I get a firm handle on how many hours I’ll spend teaching each day, I’ll reevaluate those goals and revise (or not) as necessary.

I already know I won’t teach more than six hours per day or more than five days in a row. And I already know I’ll do the six hours in two or three sessions, depending on the subject matter. (Yes, in my world, a 50-minute class followed by a 10-minute break is ridiculous.) How many days it takes overall will depend on the progress of the student.

Hey, life rolls happen, both internally and externally. The key, maybe, is to roll with them and not let them wash you out.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 2:30 and started the day in the usual way, doing little that has anything to do with writing.

By 6:30 I’d written the topic above, then went to check Dean’s site. Around 7 I was finishing a cigar and about to move back into the house to begin cycling and stitching.

7:30, breakfast and listening to a little Joe Bonamassa on Facebook.

By 8 I started on the novel. By ten I’d fleshed out a chapter I started yesterday, then wrote another new chapter. That was a pleasant surprise. So the cycling and stitching will come later.

Around 11, laundry, lunch and a break for Facebook and Bonamassa. If you like blues, this guy is The Man.

12:30, back to the novel.

By 1:30 I had around 2700 new words on the novel. Time now for some cycling and stitching. I don’t remember from yesterday how much of this I’ll have to do. Might take the rest of the day, and maybe I’ll get new stuff written. Depends.

I wasn’t watching the time and it got late. Not a bad day. Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Dean reports he should be back to HIS version of “normal” in a couple of days. (grin) For today, he’s wrapping up estate stuff with

Fiction Words: 3289
Nonfiction Words: 1200 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4489

Writing of Will Perkins (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4219 words. Total words to date…… 4219
Day 2…… 4003 words. Total words to date…… 8222
Day 3…… 3383 words. Total words to date…… 11605
Day 4…… 3124 words. Total words to date…… 14729
Day 5…… 3373 words. Total words to date…… 18102
Day 6…… 2294 words. Total words to date…… 20396
Day 7…… 3102 words. Total words to date…… 23498
Day 8…… 2578 words. Total words to date…… 26076
Day 9…… 2111 words. Total words to date…… 28187
Day 10… 2561 words. Total words to date…… 30748
Day 11… 4073 words. Total words to date…… 34821
Day 12… 1721 words. Total words to date…… 35648
Day 13… 3289 words. Total words to date…… 38937

Total fiction words for the month……… 21729
Total fiction words for the year………… 114339
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5420
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 25110

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 139449

2 thoughts on “The Journal, Friday, 2/10”

  1. I’ve discovered that whenever I try to say something meant to be comforting, it comes out sounding like a worn out cliche. So, my good friend and role model, I’ll just say I’m sorry for the stuff you are experiencing right now. Challenges are usually good but you’ve had more than your share lately. Now, the inevitable cliche-my thoughts are with you and your family (and I really mean it-grin)
    Best regards,

    • Thanks Duke. As we used to say back in the day, “It ain’t nothin’ but a thang,” right? 🙂 We all have our challenges, especially those that come with attaining some age after enjoying the follies of youth. Shrug. Just another part of life. As a side note, re physical discomfort, I’ve been reading a lot that Pope John Paul II wrote regarding “suffering”. (I’m not Catholic, but JPII was always one of my heroes.) Some seriously enlightened stuff there.

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