Good bye 2016. Adieu!

Good bye 2016. Adieu! Also good riddance!

2016 showed itself to be a teeth-grinding, heavy weight time for many of us. I will say particularly for me in the past couple of months. Particularly in regards to my great and grand aspirations for writing a new novel – and having reality strike.  describe the sensation as the jarring noise that occurs when someone smacks a piano keyboard with the flat of their hand. Notes that would sound just fine by themselves, converging together into one loud din.

And the realities of care giving. Experiencing major quantity and quality time with an elderly relative – and wondering exactly how strong is the bond that binds us. Before I scuttle out the front door, madly seeking me.

2017-book

Then there were the occurrences beyond my control – Politics. Major persons passing. Politics.

Okay. Dusting off my hands here. Be banished oh realities of 2016.

Well, be gone as much as is possible. I don’t own any magic pixie dust to banish the troubled times to the bottom of the nearest dumpster, swathed in plastic and tied firmly with my best knot.

What I do possess is determination. 2017, you WILL help me unearth opportunities to show how determined I can be. Even if I have to pinkie wrestle you for the honor.

True, my creativity took a serious beating for a couple of months. But I am ready to haul my novel out of the mental closet, brush it off and get going again. Chapter 4 awaits – and the realities experienced by a man who is struggling to live up to his family’s lofty scholastic achievements.

He and the other four major characters (yes, I write in multiple character perspectives) have a lot of stretching – think pretzel dough here – and “larning” to do – and we’ll see where he and all of them are at by the time I type Finis.

I’m also making a promise to myself – I suppose it could be called a resolution – to seek out the company of people. I am sooooo really overwhelmed at times – and it’s time to seek more of what refreshes, renews, restores me.

Like earlier this week and visiting a museum where the elderly gracious lines of a mansion and some stunningly beautiful artworks in material are displayed. Where the spirits of the past are present – strongly I might add.

I greatly appreciated viewing antique pieces belonging to the original occupants. A baby’s cradle carved from wood. A high chair. Smiling as I savor the joy ahead later this year for my son and daughter-in-law as they welcome their first born.

I am signed up for a class on Tuesday nights. Nothing with college credit to it, just an opportunity to meet with others and discuss our mutual thoughts on the text. Maybe some cooking classes to extend my culinary abilities.

A gym membership? Of course that is probably the most common resolution made by adults – “I’m going to get to the gym. Every day. I swear it.” But if I’m going to successfully wrestle determination out of 2017, I need to keep honing my muscles. Both mental and physical.

K. I’ve nattered on long enough here. You have your own good-byes to make to 2016. A word to describe what your goals are for this year – and possibly even purchasing that gym membership.

Wishing you determination!

© 2017 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved. For more information contact the writer at marylvandyke03@gmail.com .

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November train wreck

Oh November. What a train wreck you proved to be!

I switched my calendar to you, November, with glowing bright ambitions to complete writing a novel in one month. Struggling to hope that somewhere out there was an affordable home meant to be mine. Content to be a caregiver during long weekend shifts and to chill out in my room during my off-hours.

Well, November, you had other plans for me. Smashingly, derailing plans as I discovered.

train-wreck-november

The writing contest I was participating in dared me to write 50,000 words in one month, or approximately 1,667 words a day to meet the goal. That’s a lot of words – and a lot of energy.

But I felt up for it. Hungered for it. Time to reclaim my inner novelist.

Well I made my start, kept on track for the first week or so. But then my mother got sick suddenly and couldn’t walk or manage life details without needing my assistance.

I had to stop. Focus on her needs.

I should have been more prepared for that, I suppose. Part of middle age is reluctantly giving up the illusion that ones’ elderly parents are hearty, and will remain healthy and be around for a long time to come.

But November, you definitely slammed that illusion. Each of my parents has health challenges. My dad struggling to recover from bypass surgery. Mom and mobility challenges – and well, having her associated life issues popping up.

Holing up in my room and staying on track with my writing wasn’t possible.

So I learned Mom prefers drinking water that isn’t hot or cold. Found myself sitting with her in waiting rooms, hoping medical staff would call mom’s name soon. Wheeling her down corridors to the examination rooms.

At home time was spiked by health care workers knocking on the front door. Sitting down with them to discuss the details of mom’s illness and how to make life more accessible for her.

I told them while I play a role in her recovery and ongoing health concerns, I want to be my mother’s daughter. Not a paid caregiver for her.

I’m still unclear on where the boundaries between those two are.

Even with December here now, there’s still so much to do. Paperwork for a caregiver program for which thankfully she qualifies. Getting a walker for mom to use – even while I fear she probably won’t use it much – and it will sit in a corner of the already overcrowded living room. Perhaps she’ll use it to hold  bags of groceries yet to be eaten or drape it with scarves she might wear some day.

The novelist inside me is stirring. Visions of characters and the next chapter to write  simmering. Waiting to emerge as my energy grows to encompass the newest realities of my mother’s life – and of mine. No home of my own for now.

So November, no, you don’t get the final word. But I cannot say I will remember you fondly.

© 2016 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint go to: m.vandyke_speer@yahoo.com

Birthing a novel

Its been years since my last great novel expectations. Years of dealing with the break-up of a marriage. Returning to college as a middle-aged student. Dealing with the lows of being homeless for a time.  Battling depression through all of the above.

When life requires major amounts of energy just to survive, creativity, I discovered, tends to hibernate and its not easily coaxed awake.

But I am awake now and reclaiming that long ago ability of mine – the art of birthing a novel.

Writing fiction isn’t simple. The process involves dreaming up fictitious people and setting them up in an imaginary world filled with conflicts – and releasing their angst, areas of denial and growth at the keyboard.

I am thrilled to reconnect with this part of myself. The characters are taking shape inside my head. However, one in particular – I’ll call him the Professor – who’s supposed to play a minor role, keeps bugging me, demanding to be featured in his own chapter.

I tried to shoo him away, go bug another writer. I have two primary characters and they are the only viewpoints I want to present.

Well, the Professor refused to take a hike. Reluctantly I gave in today and was surprised and pleased with the result. He’s got plenty to say about matters in his world.

I don’t know where the next page will take me. But I’m not going to stop until I’ve birthed this novel and gotten it cleaned up and ready for presentation to the world.

Wish me luck!

(C) 2016 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved.