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Never Give Up! Never Surrender! Never Say Die!

February 8, 2010

… or Getting Back into the Writing Groove After a Hiatus

Rain pelted and winds raged throughout the gloomy night. Did I care that Hurricane Elvis ripped through Memphis knocking out the power and devastating much of the city? Of course, not! I had a contract offer from a major publishing house for my manuscript that made the finals in the Golden Heart. It could have been a blizzard with snow drifts eight feet high. I was going to the post office the next morning to mail that baby in!

Driving through the debris-laden streets with my contract in my lap, I braved the no-street-lights-and-always-crazy Memphis traffic.

I saw the black Dodge pickup coming.

Everything moved in slow motion. There wasn’t a thing I could do as he slammed into my driver’s door going 40 mph. I watched my door cave into my left side, heard my ribs pop, and then everything went blank. My angelic guardian was with me – no other explanation for my survival. I came to briefly sitting across the car and had miraculously gotten over the center console into the passenger seat.

The firemen from about a third of a mile down the street arrived first. They went to the truck first, because they didn’t think anyone in my car could have survived the crash when they saw the damage.  Want ironic? I watched in a daze as the driver of the pickup put on a show for the firemen. Every time one got near him, he’d clutch his chest and swing an arm out. The first ambulance on the scene took him to the nearest Cardiac Pain Center, where he checked out AMA (against medical advice) without being seen or treated. The irony, the man had a history of ten DUI’s and I couldn’t testify against him because I gained the information by managing his case on a Chemical Dependency Unit. Talk about the Federal Privacy Laws helping an addict. The man hopped the state line (we’re in a tri-state area), and he stayed away long enough to let the warrant expire.

Anyway, I was having trouble breathing, my head pounded  like a tiny catapult was releasing stones inside to batter my brain, and I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t hurting. Then the lights went out.

I woke up in the Trauma Center – hooked to every gadget and gizmo available. That was several months later. The long and the short of it: “You’ll have to live on a respirator, and you’ll never have motor function below you neck again.”

Hope-dasher words? Of course, they were. Then my nursing-self came to the fore. There is nothing a nurse loves more than to prove a doctor wrong when she hears a bad prognosis of her own condition. After all, they give us hell all the time. They take two classes their first year of medical school: Playing God and Poor Penmanship. But that’s another post for another day.

I loved the Kill Bill movies. If you remember the scene where she’s in the car looking at her big toe telling it to move, then you’ll have an idea of how I spent the next six and a half years. A few of my online RWA sisters stayed in touch with me through a family member and by phone. My thanks to you, and you know who you are. I never would have gotten here without you. I didn’t see any of the local chapter members until last year, when I rejoined after getting the fine motor movement back in my hands and making the decision to begin writing again.

Why write? I’d dictated a jillion story ideas while trying to move my big toe, and I needed to get them down. I’m addicted to writing. I realized just how driving the need was when I couldn’t take pen in hand. I knew I needed my RWA support systems back.

I made rules though. I wasn’t going to get into organizational politics, no volunteering for anything, and I was going to focus on my writing and nothing else. We all know what happened there. Rejoining Hearts through History Romance Writers was like coming home and seeing my baby growing up. I couldn’t let my baby trip and fall, so I volunteered to help out with the online campus. I also joined Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. (Love my men in kilts!)

As I began writing again, I quickly saw that I was falling into old bad habit that I had broken prior to making the finals in the Golden Heart. I immediately signed up for some online craft classes. I have to tell all of you, I cannot sing praises loudly enough for Nicole North, Eliza Knight, and Kris Kennedy. If you get a chance to take any of their classes, run, don’t walk. These are some amazing ladies with the ability to both write and teach.

Over the last six months, my writing got back into my old pre-wreck flow. I type slower, but at least I can type. (It’s fun proving doctors wrong). One thing was missing though. I needed a critique partner. My partner was Judy from Norway, whom some of you may remember. She published a book called Love thy Enemy using the penname Judith Lynne. We set high standards for each other and kept each other on track. I knew I had to have another partner. I went to my online groups and asked if anyone was interested and I think I’ve found a match. We’re going to give it a go and see if we click. She’s better than me so far. Yahoogroups went crazy the last few weeks and I had to forward tons of e-mails to registrants.

After an enforced hiatus of nearly seven years, I’m back. I write for the love it. That’s my driving motivator for writing. Telling stories is in my blood and always has been. Don’t get me wrong. I want to sell, but I have to write.

If you’ve taken a sabbatical and come back to writing and feel frustrated, you’re not the only one who’s been there. Define your support systems, set your goals, and write the story of your dreams – and the next one and the next one, ad infinitum. Make the Galaxy Quest motto your own: Never Give Up! Never Surrender! Never Say Die! And above all else, no excuses. Just write it!

If any of you have taken a hiatus for any reason, I’d love to hear how you got back into the flow of things. Your story may help someone else who’s going through the same thing.

Until next time, happy writing!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 8, 2010 4:35 pm

    This is so inspiring, Mary! If anyone feels unmotivated or like they can’t do it, they should read your story and how you beat all the odds to come back and do what you love! And thanks for the kind words about my classes! Hugs! I’m wishing all good things for you!

    • February 8, 2010 5:05 pm

      Thanks for dropping by, Nicole. I can never thank you enough for all the wisdom and wit you’ve shared over the last several months. You are awesome.

  2. February 9, 2010 6:32 am

    Mary, you’ve told me the story before, but each time I hear it, it sends chills up and down my spine. I admire your perseverance! You are one amazing woman who is destined for awesome things! Keep up the wonderful job! You’re an inspiration for so many people!

    I love the Kill Bill movies too 🙂 Thank you for saying such nice things about my writing and classes! HUGS to you my dear!

    • February 9, 2010 12:50 pm

      Thanks, Eliza. I’m so glad you stopped by. I believe we are both destined for great things. So many people overcome obstacles everyday – some smaller and some larger – but we all have them. Sometimes it just helps to know we’re not alone. I don’t know if I could write with three little ones running around, but you manage it splendidly. I think when it comes down to it, we’re all each other’s inspiration.

  3. February 9, 2010 8:32 am

    Dear Mary,

    Anyone who has ever faced near-death and overcome the huge challenges of recovery will find inspiration in your story.

    We can often rid ourselves of much physical pain, but the memories of emotional pain linger and colour all that we do.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    • February 9, 2010 1:08 pm

      You know, Rita, there’s probably not a doctor alive who wouldn’t give me all the narcotics I asked for after seeing my MRIs. I managed too many chemical dependency cases in the past. One of my goals was to get off of round-the-clock narcotics.

      When I started working on getting movement back, I knew which body part to work on next, because I would start feeling pain in it. Rather like God was saying, “Focus here next!” I used the narcotics when my PT was so intense that I’d end my days in tears. Then I’d get up the next morning and go back at it.

      Now I take something once in a while. Most of the time, I use ice or heat before a narc. I can take cold and I can take wet, but I don’t tolerate wet cold weather well. I feel closed in right now because of the icy weather we’ve got on the Memphis bluff right now. Unless my right leg refuses to bear weight or I can’t sleep a few days in a row from pain I won’t take anything.

      I think mental pain is what really makes us stronger as people. Some people succomb to it. some people don’t. We live in an age where there is a pill for everything. I always think it’s sad to see someone in a situational depression given pills without therapy upfront at the same time. It’s almost as if health professionals turn people into chronic depressives by not giving them options.

      Sad and angry memories may be with all our lives. The trick is to live with them – not live by them. I went through my “why me?” period and a few others. It wasn’t until I got mad at the doctors for not giving me option that I got angry. Sometimes anger is a good thing. It makes us push harder and test limits.

      Not everyone who goes through my injuries will come away with my results. Truthfully, two of my doctors have claimed me a miracle because according to my films, I still shouldn’t be walking. God works in mysterios ways….

  4. February 9, 2010 12:35 pm

    What an inspiring story, Mary. I can’t help but think your perceptive sense of humor helped you to beat the odds and tell your stories again. Your experience is a story in itself. Thank you for sharing it. All the best,Pat

    • February 9, 2010 1:13 pm

      Hi Pat, I;m gad you stopped by. I’ve always loved humor. I still think one of the most realistic medical shows ever aired were the early MASH episodes. Scrubs is now running a close second.

      I am actually toying over doing a book with a heroine or hero with some type of disability. Blindness and mute have been done to death, but I only remember one book with a heroine who couldn’t walk and that we over 25 years ago. If I think of the right angle it might be time for another…

  5. February 10, 2010 2:05 am

    This is truly an amazing story. You could probably write an inspirational biography!!
    Were you ever able to submit the winning manuscript?
    And what happened to the man who hit you? I can think of several things I’d like to have happened to him. (The coward).
    I’m so glad you’re back at it and doing so well!!
    Write on,
    Teresa R.

    • February 11, 2010 4:07 pm

      Hi Teresa:

      So glad you stopped by. I am just getting back online for a few minutes – had Mom in ER all day yesterday and am trying to get her into rehab.
      Actually the editor, who originally wanted the ms,is no longer at the publisher, and I haven’t been able to track her down. I did some rewrites on the ms for series purposes. It’s with 3 editors and two agents now, so I’m in the wait mode.

      The drunk who hit me got his just rewards after being taken in for vechicular homicide while driving without a license three years ago. It is a a shame someone had to die to get him off the streets. At his age, 25 year without parole is a life sentence, which was the max.

      I have a friend who works with Oprah and wants me to write my story. I’ve thought about it, but I’d rather write about heroes – hot , hunky barbarians. I never thought about my story as inspirational… Joni seems to have been through more and come out with less, but she’s one of my real-life heroines. I think my HEA will be finding a romance agent and publisher, then getting my first romance out. After that, I would be satisfied with an HEA for my story…. if that makes sense.

      Take care and happy writing!

      • Athena permalink
        February 16, 2010 3:18 pm

        I find your story brought me to tears. I too survived a major auto accident about seven years ago. My injuries included a broken neck. Though in my case the damage the breaks were mostly stable. I spent three months in a neck brace. I have my limitations. But count myself very fortunate that with few exceptions I function as I did before. I take each day, each goal in stride.

        I applaud your determination and the progress you have made to overcome your injuries. Thank you for sharing a very personal story.

        You have spent your time well honing your craft and becoming a master story teller.

        Happy writing to you,

  6. February 16, 2010 6:51 pm

    Thank you, Athena. We all have our obstacles to overcome. I know any times in a neck brace is no fun. It is so important that we share our trails as well as our successes. We are each other’s inspiration when the going gets tough. You are right about taking each day and each goal in stride. If we try to tackle too much at once, we become overwhelmed. I think that’s why I liked that scene in the Kill Bill movie. She got her strength back one muscle at a time.

    Thank you for your compliment about my stories. I am enjoying yours on textnovel.
    Take care,

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