IWSG – June 2022 – When The Going Gets Tough

IWSG was created by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh — because Alex understands we need a safe place to congregate, insecurity is part of our creative nature, and together we’re stronger.

On the first Wednesday of each month, you can write on any subject related to your writing journey or adopt the option of answering the month’s question. Either way, you’re in safe territory.

If this sounds like a good place to be, sign up here.

IWSG’s Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and the hashtag is #IWSG.

June 1 question – When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end?  If you have not started the writing yet, why do you think that is and what do you think could help you find your groove and start?

The hosts for this month are:

Natalie Aguirre  http://www.literaryrambles.com/

Cathrina Constantine http://cathrinaconstantine.blogspot.com

Jacqui Murray https://worddreams.wordpress.com/

SE White https://sewhitebooks.com/

and me.

In answer to this month’s question…

I struggled for four years to write the last 4000 words of my unpublished manuscript, Shattered. I wish I could simplify the answer, but the truth is I forced myself to persevere. I stopped the negative spiel about how I’d started writing Shattered in my head back in 2006 and didn’t start the first chapter until 2007. Other stuff was going on during that period, but still…

In 2017, we sold our house and moved across the road to our property to live in our 5th wheel. After wintering in Bucerias, in 2018, we drove across Canada to New Brunswick to go camping for two summers with our grandchildren. I promised myself that this time I’d definitely finish Shattered. I only had three/four chapters to write. How hard could it be? I’d already published three times, and another manuscript was finished. What was one more completed manuscript?

Apparently, quite an undertaking.

After promising myself in 2017, 2018, 2019, and again in 2020, Covid arrived. And life changed. I realized I needed to switch directions. Whatever I was doing wasn’t working. I stopped making promises. I reached out to close friends about how they saw the ending to the story. I knew I couldn’t use their suggestions—I needed the element of surprise—but it was okay; their enthusiasm was contagious.

I followed creative writing blogs, I read great suspense novels, and studied Alex Sokoloff’s lessons on dissecting 3-act plays. I wrote numerous possible endings, each one a tiny bit better than the last, until one day I knew I was done. I put the manuscript away for a time, proofread it, then sent it to my editor. She loved it!

God Bless Editors!

Kiss of the Assassin was published in March 2022, which drove me into a marketing frenzy. I’m not sure about sales, but to be honest, I don’t have the energy to dwell on them. It’s been a crazy time since I returned to Canada after two years in Mexico. In case I didn’t mention, during Covid, we couldn’t return home because we didn’t have a winter home to return to.

So much has changed since 2020. The price of “everything” is depressing; I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. Everyone is affected. Here in BC, it’s terrible. Prices have skyrocketed. BC used to stand for British Columbia. Now it stands for Bring Cash.

Before Covid, we planned on building a tiny home here at Cluculz Lake.

I won’t go into it but aside from prices tripling, building regulations are out of this world. After serious consideration, my dear husband and I scrapped the idea of building a house and bought a winter-packaged RV instead. Age and time factored into this decision.

Last year he had hydro installed. Last month our water was hooked up, and soon we’ll have our septic tank installed. Soon means another month. 

It’s a long story, but it was vital to my peace of mind that I have a place to come home to here in Canada. I love Mexico but in my heart I am Canadian.

My hands ache from raking rocks out of the soil so we could plant grass seeds to cut down on the mud. The minute the seeds were in the ground it stopped raining and hasn’t rained since. (haha) We have water (yay) but so far no hose. I don’t blame you if you’re laughing. I’ve been to three different hardware stores this week and never remembered the hose. I was there Monday for a pipe elbow for the grey water tank drain. Forgot the hose. The nearest hardware store is 39 klicks away.

(As of this morning, we have the sprinkler on. Yes, I bought a hose yesterday. I even remembered the pump to drain the grey water tank in the ground behind the washhouse! I did forget the shower though. Oh hum.)

Relentless raking…
 We turned our old log cabin that my husband and son built 22 years ago into our washhouse to facilitate our progress. Meaning that’s where our pressure tank, washing, dryer, and hot water tank are. We’ll add a shower as soon as I remember to buy one.
Don’t let the ground’s hard surface fool you; there’s no end to the rocks.
My laundry room (slash) wash house! I am one happy launderer.
We ordered a steel canopy (similar to the one in the photo below) from Chilliwack and it should be here in 2 weeks. Once that’s up, we’ll shirt the RV, then build the deck, which will run the full length of the trailer and will be protected under the steel canopy.

While all of this construction continues, I’ve been neglecting my blog, my writing, and my marketing. When I get inside at night and take my turn cooking and cleaning up, it’s a contest to see which of us falls to sleep in our chairs first.

Starting a story has never been a problem for me. Finishing wasn’t either until Shattered. Why this one, I have no idea. I’m hoping it’s not age-related.

I’ve always been passionate about writing. It’s like breathing without thought. I finished my books because it felt like the right thing to do. If I hadn’t finished them, I might have felt bad for a season, but eventually, I would have realized it didn’t matter, everything was as it should be. In other words, if you don’t write the book you promised you’d write, it won’t be the end of the world. The important thing is to be kind to yourself. Because when you’re kind to yourself life makes sense and so do your decisions.

 

My dear friend Marie Beswick Arthur’s novel Listening For Water was released yesterday. I’m mentioning this because Listening For Water is one of the best novels I have ever read. I loved the story, the message, and the way I felt at the end. I hope that’s enough of an enticement to get you to take a look. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s the synopsis:

Listen for Water is a snappy, bittersweet coming-of-age novel that tells the story of roles reversed–a daughter, Dakota, charged with keeping her mother, Ray, and their lives right-side up. It’s no easy task for a teen who wants to be anywhere but with Ray who is hellbent on living as though she wasn’t somebody’s mother.

Each faces the challenge in unexpected ways. Ray hits her stride and ensures they do not need to adapt to a life without water. Dakota learns about her birth father and the roots of her strange recurring dream. As they write their own unique wilderness survival guide, they discover surprising things about themselves, their past, and their mother-daughter relationship.

In the end, Ray is gifted with the opportunity for a do-over. And Dakota? Can she ever forgive and forget that her mother was an addict?

Only time will tell.

Comments 50

  1. Wow, I didn’t realize you lived in such a remote area. You’re braver than I am. I complained about having to drive 20 minutes to a grocery store when I lived in Flagstaff (yes, I’m whiny). And you’re going to ride out a BC winter in a 5th wheel. I’m impressed! Sounds like your life up there could give you lots of blog/memoir fodder.

    Glad you were able to finish the book. I’m struggling with doing one more editing pass on my first novel. I’m sick of it, I don’t think I’ll be able to get an agent, and I really don’t want to spend anymore time on it–but it really needs one more pass to be “done” enough to query. *sigh*

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      I’m sorry you’re having a rough time with your ms, Janet. I’ve been there so I know what you mean. I hope you’re able to take some time off before you give it one more pass. Sometimes that’s all you need. Best to you.

  2. Congrats on finishing your story! I think you took perserverence to a whole new level. As I was reading about your difficulties, your house that didn’t happen, and your new four-season RV, I was thinking this was a perfect example of when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Kudos to you and your successes! Thank you for co-hosting and congrats to Marie on her new book!

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  3. What a saga! With all that excitement in real life, it seems pretty natural that writing would take a back seat for a while. There is a time for everything, and this time appears to be your construction and rock hauling time! I’ll wish you luck with it all.

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  4. That is a REAL story of perseverance! Priority #1 is a roof over your head, so that makes sense that you are devoting your energy toward a happy home dwelling these days. How sucky that the economic downturn coincided with your new home timing, but you are definitely making the best of it. Hoping for rain for your grass, but not so much rain that it gets muddy!

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  5. You are an amazing person that has persevered on so many fronts. I can only guess there were many more stumbling blocks and challenges. And accomplishments!
    It is pure joy to see your new tiny home coming together in your charming Canadian niche .
    Congratulations on your latest release, “Kiss of the Assassin.” Another impressive example of following your instinct.
    Through it all, you constantly support others in their quest to attain their goals.
    Thank you for co-hosting this month. Wishing you continued success, mi amiga.

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  6. Wow, what a cool winter holiday home, Joylene! I really enjoyed the photos and the description of what happened. Sometimes life gets in the way, but don’t worry you’ll be back underway writing again in no time. I would put your difficulties finishing Shattered just down to the story. Some stories flow to the end and some don’t. Kudos for finishing in the end!

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  7. Forcing oneself to finish is probably the norm for most of us. That’s what I need to do with some of my projects. Right now it’s as much as I can manage to force myself to get out of bed in the morning and do things like grocery shopping. And the high prices don’t help either.

    British Columbia is a beautiful province with so much natural beauty. I’d love to get out of L.A. but there are complications–like a wife who doesn’t want to leave. She likes the urban life while I prefer a more rural existence. Wife wins!

    Thanks for co-hosting!

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  8. That’s a lot of back-breaking work for sure! We might be moving and I’m dreading the work involved in that. We’ve already filled two dumpsters. But it’s satisfying knowing you’re making progress! Too bad the price of everything has skyrocketed.

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  9. “until one day I knew I was done…” I just sighed out loud. Thanks for sharing this uplifting piece of your writing journey. I don’t have the support that you have, but once I decided that it matters not how soon, but that I see the project through at all it became a passion once again. I think life had a lot to do with the delay of your latest release. Your perseverance is inspiring. Best wishes to Marie, her book sounds terrific. Thanks for co-hosting!

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  10. You are amazing, Joylene. Never forget that!

    I completely understand the price of wood and home building material. For 10 MONTHS we’ve been trying to get the contractor to build a 7ft x 8ft vestibule on our home. One excuse after another–while the price of building materials and gas skyrocket. Truly ridiculous. Sorry…you got me venting.

    Like I said, you are truly amazing, Joylene! All best to you, my dear! And thanks for co-hosting this month’s IWSG question.

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  11. I like that you say all that you said and I sense no complaint! Your writing will be there for you right when you’re there for it! BC is wonderful. I was a high-lead logger in my youth on Vancouver Island but now I live in a small if not tiny house in Nova Scotia. I’m going to go out now and watch my fella assemble the last raised bed in time for me to plant before going on a book tour!

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  12. Sorry you couldn’t build the home you wanted, but prices are indeed out of this world. (And here, the government just keeps printing more money, making it worse.) But the camper looks nice and you have a great place to stay. And your book was finally published!

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      I’m good with my tiny home. The bureaucratic issues we would have to deal with made the thought of a house unpleasant. Thanks, Alex. I’m very grateful for the blessings in my life.

  13. Inflation is putting a BIG dent in everything!! I can’t afford to fill up my car anymore. Meat products are outrageous and when I went into the market yesterday, I was surprised to see empty shelves. Kinda scary.

    Congratulations on your new release!! Wishing you much success!

    Thank you for co-hosting!

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      It does look similar. I love the big living area window. That sold my husband on ours. Their landscape is certainly different. Ours was nothing but rain for most of May. Thanks for visiting, Loni.

  14. I wish you the very best of luck, but you already have the stamina, so you’re way ahead of the game. I love your plan, and I love your spot on the planet. It would suit me quite well, rocks and all.

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  15. You are amazing, Joylene! Such an inspiration. I love how you are setting yourself up for the future with a home base in Canada. I love my adopted country, but in my heart I will always be a Canadian.

    Have you ever seen Martin Raney’s tv series “Homestead Rescue?” All the things you are doing remind me of that series. Terry and I will never be homesteaders, but I love seeing how the Raneys solve problems and develop workarounds for unique situations.

    You wrote something wise and profound, “…if you don’t write the book you promised you’d write, it won’t be the end of the world. The important thing is to be kind to yourself. Because when you’re kind to yourself life makes sense and so do your decisions. ” These sentences reminded me of how you chewed me out for beating myself up over feeling like an unproductive, fake writer and IWSG member. I’ve thought a lot about what you said, and I took it to heart. So thank you. I’m feeling much better!

    Thanks for co-hosting today. I hope you have fun visiting around. Oh yes, your Amazon sales have gone up by one printed copy for sure. A copy of “Kiss…” arrived on my doorstep last night, and I’m looking forward to reading the final version! you have time to stop by my post today. I know how busy co-hosting is.

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  16. Home is where your computer power cord is. To me, yours looks wonderful. We had property in Northern MI when I was growing up that went from leaky trailor to really nice cabin (with indoor pumbing!). I credit it and no TV for many years to my rampant imagination. Unfortunately, after my parents died, neither of my sisters wanted to share to work of going up to open and close the cabin so eventully it was sold. Sigh. But it was a place of dreams. Thanks for co-hosting this month, Joylene!

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  17. What an amazing story. I have other friends trying to build houses–dream homes–giving it up because the price of lumber has quadrupled the price. They also now live in a trailer. We are cutting back wherever we can which for the moment, is working. We’ll see…

    Best of luck with the new book! It sounds wonderful.

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  18. Ohhhh–love your camper! Looks comfy and cozy. Makes me miss our full-time camping days (8 years actually.) What a lot of work, but it will be worth it. Great idea having the shelter over the top and a deck will be the perfect finishing touch. Writing is easy to move to the bottom of the priority list, but when the time is right, it’s always there waiting for another go-round. Enjoy your new home. Looks like a beautiful area. What was the trench in your photos for? Water pipes, electricity, drainage? Thanks for co-hosting!!

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