Sideways And Forward With No Backward

February was a mixed month for me. On one hand, I made continued progress on the manuscript. On the other, life is still in the waiting game. And to borrow a third hand, the move to the new house draws even closer.

icy tree

Sideways

My mother-in-law was moved to hospice care last month. At 90, her body is wearing out. She has also suffered from increasing dementia these last few years. After enjoying a full and active life, we know she wouldn’t have wanted to end her days like this. When she developed a severe infection last month, the antibiotics didn’t seem to be working. Her living will made it clear she wanted no extraordinary measures taken to prolong her life. So she was discharged from the hospital and returned to the nursing home. We thought it would be a matter of days before we would make a sad trip back to the Midwest. But since then, she’s rallied somewhat. It’s still just a matter of time, though. Whether that’s a few days or a few weeks, we don’t know. And so we wait—and prepare as best we can.

Forward The First

Construction on the new house moved forward over the winter with no major delays. In fact, it was finished ahead of schedule. But due to regulations regarding the projected sales date and mortgage paperwork, we can’t close on the 9th as originally planned. Instead, we have to wait until the 20th. We’re well into packing and making all the normal arrangements. If all goes as I expect, my next post will be written in my new office.

Forward The Second

Despite the moving preparations and the news on the family front, my writing continued forward in February, too. Maybe it’s an escape from the pressures of moving and impending loss of a beloved family member. Or just maybe I’ve rediscovered my love for the activity and this particular story. Either way, the word count continues to rise, and the story is nearing a “completed” rough draft. I finished February with 11,456 words added to the manuscript, 4,248 more than January’s total, and the first time since 2012 that I passed 10,000 words in a single month. I also wrote on 24 of 28 days. I haven’t written this much since I wrapped up Meghan Bode’s “Buried Deeds.” It feels good.

So that’s where I stand as the calendar shows Spring approaching. I’ll be happier when the weather does the same. The next few weeks will be extremely busy, and I’m not sure I’ll get another post up before April. My visits to your blogs will also be hit or miss until we’re settled in the new place and the waiting comes to an end. Depending on how everything goes, I hope you’ll see more of me in April. prgrs

51 thoughts on “Sideways And Forward With No Backward

  1. A mixed bag of news on the blog today, JM, but good to hear from you. I’m sorry to hear about your MIL, but it sounds as if the family is complying with her end-of-life wishes. I hope the end comes peacefully for her. Great progress on your writing, and I enjoyed reading this snippet. The scene triggered thoughts of heat and the thick DC summer air — a wonderful daydream to slip into on this dreary March day. The great thing about this month is all the meteorological transitions, things to look forward to at the end of a brutal winter! Sounds like you have plenty of changes in store this month. All the best wishes for another high word count month 🙂

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    • Thanks, Gwen. It’s so hard to plan anything right now because we just don’t know when the phone will ring with the bad news. But we’re doing our best to keep to a normal schedule—or as normal as one can be with a major move in 17 days!

      I think the writing helps to keep me sane just now, and that’s a good thing. Seeing the word count rise and the light at the end of the tunnel is really encouraging. The story takes place in August, which can be absolutely brutal in DC. And the summer in this book is a rough one. 🙂 I’m ready for some of that warmth and sun, though. I can’t believe how many gray, dark days we’ve had since fall. Thank heaven for my light therapy box!

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  2. I’m glad your writing is going well and I hope you can keep that momentum.
    I hope the move all goes smoothly.
    My thoughts are with you for the sad part of your news.

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    • Thanks, Clowie. I really want the writing momentum to keep going. I’m not setting any “hard” word courts or required number of days to write, but I try to do something every day, even if it’s just 50 words. I think if I tried to set higher targets, I’d only end up frustrating myself and hitting a brick wall again.

      We’ll see what the next few weeks, or possibly months bring. Hopefully nothing too painful or drawn out for my mother-in-law is my greatest wish.

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  3. JM, much stressful stuff going on with you right now. I admire you for writing through it all. The very best to you and yours and good thoughts, vibes, and prayers coming your way. Be well and stay warm!

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    • Thanks, Brigitte. It is a tough start to the year. The move would be hectic enough, but my mother-in-law’s deteriorating condition makes it so much harder. I’m thankful to have the writing as a distraction, and I’m pleasantly surprised at the progress I’m making with it. I don’t know if March will be as productive as February, but I’m reminding myself it’s okay if not. We’ll get through this!

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  4. You are amazing to me what you are accomplishing through all your challenges and emotional stress. Keep it up, my friend. You’ll make it through all this.

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    • Thank you, Charissa. As I just said to Brigitte, it’s a tough start to the year. And while we weren’t surprised that my mother-in-law is declining, it’s still hard to face. Ninety years is a good, long life, though, and I’m sure she’s ready to be with her husband again. I just hope and pray the hospice care is keeping her comfortable and as pain-free as possible.

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      • I hear you. I felt the same with my grandma. She lived to be almost 97, but I wouldn’t have minded if she stuck around for 10 additional years. It’s so awesome how the older generations grounds and influences us so much.

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  5. I admire you for your ambition and resilience, JM! You must go through a lot of stress with your MIL and the upcoming move. Yet, you managed to move your writing project forward and stick to your routine. 26 days of writing in February is fantastic. I am envious! Wishing you strength for the days ahead.

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    • Thank you, Helga. I’ll freely admit the resilience is being seriously tested. So I remind myself that it’s okay if March’s numbers aren’t as good as February’s or January’s. Any forward movement is good under these conditions! And it’s a welcome distraction from the move and the wait. Maybe it’s my characters’ way of taking care of me when I need a bit of help. If so, I’m very grateful. As with so many event in life, this too shall pass. We’ll see what the rest of the year brings.

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  6. Your post makes me think, “Well, isn’t that how life is?” I am sorry about the imminent loss of your beloved MIL and wish you gentle strength as you and your husband navigate this sadder of life’s transitions. We are in the midst of moving my beloved Father-in-law into care as his dementia has worsened suddenly in the last few weeks. He is 89. Glad the writing’s going well and all the best with the move!

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    • Thanks, Jagoda. The move would be enough to occupy my thoughts this month, but Life has apparently decided there should be more to deal with in 2015. But I’m grateful for the writing and my characters to help distract me and provide some good times as well.

      Dementia is so hard to deal with. My sister-in-law, as the closest child, is dealing remarkably with all the day-to-day issues of care giving. But it’s hard on her, especially now that her mother no longer recognizes her. And that is what’s so heartbreaking for family and friends. I hope your father-in-law will transition well into assisted care. Our parents’ generation is one that leaves the family home most unwillingly!

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  7. You seem to be experiencing life in all it’s good and bad qualities, JM. I hope everything goes well with your MIL, home, and writing projects. I’m impressed that you’re able to move forward during tough times. I wish you the best and look forward to hearing more.

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    • Thanks, Phillip. These things are all integral to life. Sometimes, we have the overwhelming joys—like the birth of a child. At others, though, well, it’s said we can’t fully appreciate happiness and joy if we don’t also know pain and loss. Hard as that is, I think it’s true. The writing is a great distraction right now, and I hope the momentum will carry me through a completed draft before too much more time passes.

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  8. I find the more I write and the closer I get to the finish line, the more productive I become. Sounds like the same has happened for you. I’m thrilled to hear of your progress. Looks like some of the changes you made at the beginning of the year are paying off (less blogging, etc.). I wish you well as you continue through that manuscript. And well wishes to your MIL, too. My husband had both his parents in hospice within a few months of each other, so I know what an emotional time it can be.

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    • Thanks, Carrie. I’m really grateful for the writing progress. I think it’s helping to maintain my sanity with the upcoming move and inevitable loss. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose both parents in a short interval. My husband and I lost our fathers in 1993 and 1996, but our mothers kept going strong. As long as there are no surprises on the house closing process, we should be moved in to the new house by the end of this month. I’m looking forward to being settled again. Hopefully my characters are, too. After that, I suspect I won’t post more than twice a month until I have a story ready to go. But I’ll be visiting my buddies’ blogs a lot more regularly then.

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    • Thanks, Carol. It is tough to see a loved one go through a slow decline, especially with dementia. I couldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. It’s good to see that your writing is going well, too. I’m looking forward to your series!

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  9. That’s life, though, isn’t it? And I don’t mean that in a “that’s tough” or a “deal with it” way, but rather that sometimes doesn’t differentiate between the good and the painful. “In the midst of life we are in death.”

    So for the good, I’m glad. Congrats on the new house (and being done ahead of schedule is just nutty) and on working hard on your writing.

    I’m sorry for the painful waiting game with your MIL. I know from experience that it can be grueling, and seems much longer than it actually is. Hang in there–I wish you, and particularly your husband, the best in this tough situation!

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    • Thanks, Smak. Death is very much a part of Life, even in our modern Western society where we try to delay it as long as possible and keep it hidden behind the scenes as much as we can. At times, I think that’s an unhealthy approach. But on the ground, I’m extremely uncomfortable with facing it, as many people are. My husband and I keep reminding each other that his mother had an active and happy life for many years. It’s just hard that the last few years have robbed her memories of it. I keep hoping that somewhere, somehow, people with dementia can still access those memories, even if we can’t see it.

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  10. I’m so glad you’re able to write during this time, JM. I’m still looking for my muse. A new house and family illness takes it’s toll and I wish I could follow in your footsteps and bury my head in my novel. One day soon, hopefully xxx

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    • Thanks, Dianne. I sometimes think the Muse likes to strike when we’re busy with other things. I also believe that cutting down my blogging has helped, too. Even though I was posting only once a week, I spent a lot of time worrying about what to post instead of working on a novel. Yes, there are times when we should push ourselves. But I think sometimes we need to step away, even from something we usually enjoy, and recharge. If that’s where you are now, then there’s nothing wrong with that. When you’re ready, the ideas will flow again.

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  11. I’m so sorry to hear about your mother in law, JM. Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. On a brighter note, the new house sounds quite nice and how wonderful that you’ve been WRITING! Stay well, dear friend! xoxoM

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    • Thank you, Margarita. The kind thoughts from you and my other blog buddies mean so much to me. And I hope this resurgence of my writing will lead to story that you’ll enjoy reading. The present and near future are challenging, but I hope for smoother waters again once we’re through them. I hope your winter will soon be giving way to spring!

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  12. Thank you for the update, JM. I see you occasionally on fb (I don’t spend much time there) and wondered how things were going. I can relate to the situation with your MIL. We didn’t think my FIL was going to make it past the end of 2014, but he’s still with us. The looming issue is not fun.

    Good for you with the writing. I’m doing no writing, other than my blog. I’ve lost the desire for it lately. I know it will return. I just have a LOT on my mind. Lots of things going on here. I think I mentioned that we may be moving, too. If it happens, our move is going to be far, far away.. Anyway, didn’t mean to go on. Good to read your blog. Good luck with everything and take care.

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    • Thanks, Lori. It’s hard to keep up with everything just now, and we had a very Midwestern 8–10 inches of snow today on top of it all. Ugh! I know you’d love to go back there to live, but I think I’m happier just visiting now….

      The writing’s definitely a help, though, and for me, it’s clear that I needed to step back from blogging to help get back into it. Once everything’s settled again, I might post only every two weeks until I’m closer to having a publishable story. And I need to figure out something fun and interesting to post about for both me and readers. Oh well, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

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  13. I’m so sorry about your mother-in-law. It sounds as if you (and she) have a very clear understanding of what’s happening, and what’s going to happen. That doesn’t make it any easier, but at least it’s a foundation of some strength for your family.

    Warm thoughts from across the Pond!

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    • Thanks, Cindi. It’s tough to move toward that role of being the oldest generation in the family. My mother and one aunt are still with us, but at some point they won’t be. That’s the circle of life, though, right?

      The feeling of dread whenever the phone rings is the hardest part right now. I keep thinking it will be my sister-in-law with the bad news. So far, it hasn’t been. And for now, we wait.

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  14. Here, the men (uncles and dads) outlasted the women – not sure which sex adapts to that loss better. Men of that era were more dependent on their wives than they admitted (men always being the strong ones then). It’s hard, but you keep them safe, as comfortable as possible, and hopefully with some people around to interact with even if not family. You do what you can do. A couple of my uncles rallied like crazy in a assisted living facilities – more people around and less worries. They relaxed. One of my aunts was really not able to think well, but she was perky and happy (most of the time) once settled in – and there was bingo.
    Sometimes I think life/universe throws more at us when we are already having difficulties as a distraction – and to insist we keep perspective. It never fails. Hang on. And write. It will get you through the mess. (Love the branches! beautiful picture. We had a few hours of sun yesterday, between morning and afternoon fog but temps are to drop over 40 degrees shortly. BEing able to get out helps – but bundle up it you do that – boy, is it cold up there this year!)
    Always glad to see what’s going on around your place. The passage is intriguing!

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    • Thanks, Mouse. I was beginning to think no one liked the passage and so decided they just wouldn’t comment on it. I must admit, it is a first draft and subject to much revision.

      The writing is a great distraction for me with all the upheaval around here. I’m more grateful for it than I can possibly say. We’re having what I hope is Winter’s last attack. After freezing rain on Sunday night (thus the branches photo), we had around 8–10 inches of snow today, and it’s supposed to be near-record cold tonight. But after tomorrow, we’re supposed to warm into the 50s and maybe even 60s next week. The cherry blossoms aren’t expected to peak until mid-April this year. Quite a change from early March like it was before last year.

      The delay in closing was probably good in the long run—there would’ve been a lot of snow left on the ground if it was still scheduled for Monday!

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      • Funny how things work out, isn’t it. Those who find writing are so fortunate.
        Freezing here today with palms in coats, but SUN! Warmer shortly which means more rain and fog. Not much longer – Azaleas are starting which is lucky as the big Azalea Trail events are beginning. Do hope you have time for pix of cherry blossoms – haven’t seen those since I was a kid up there.
        Stay warm and don’t move too fast with all the boxes.

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  15. Yikes, I’m really sorry about your MIL. That is really tough. I’m not surprised she rallied a bit once she came home. That’s what happened to my son after he’d suffered severe side effects from the anesthesia during his tonsillectomy. They’d decided after 4 days of not eating in the hospital, that he might improve better at home. He sure did, eating something that very night he came back home.

    I am glad to hear about your writing progress, though. As you and I chatted about on FB the other day, I’m sure the cutbacks on social media have a lot to do with it.

    Haha, I just had to laugh at what I wrote. Imagine, having a conversation on Facebook about what a time suck social media is. That’s got to be a cartoon, somewhere!

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    • Thanks, Kate. Sadly, word today from the hospice nurse is that my MIL is exhibiting all the signs of having only one or two weeks left, and probably closer to one. I can only hope the morphine is helping to ease her pain.

      So far I’ve written at least something every day this month—I’m sure in part as a way to cope with all the stress. The rough draft may not be pretty when it’s done, but it will be there. And that should make it “easier” to see what kind of story I have and to begin the revision process.

      Having a FB conversation on social media time sucks is classic! If someone hasn’t already done a cartoon, they should! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Britt. The writing really is a help at this time. I just hope it stays with me once the move is done and everything else has come to pass. I suspect all of this will be behind me by April. And life will go on.

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  16. Really pleased about the writing progress. Maybe having other struggles does kind of help you focus in a strange way, the distraction or whatever. I’ve been feeling the urge to return to writing lately. I haven’t quite decided what to focus on though. Good luck with everything.

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    • Thanks, Vanessa. As you know from Facebook, we made that sad trip back to the Midwest last week. And now we have to refocus on packing for next week’s move. I didn’t write while we were gone, but I did a little last night, and I hope to get some done on most days again. It should be a good breather from all the boxing and soon to be unboxing. Getting a cold on top of everything isn’t helping! But at least the weather’s improving. 🙂

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  17. Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law, my grandmother is in the same situation. It is sad to see them deteriorate especially when they were so active and sharp minded. Good luck with the impending move, that in itself is quite the task. Given all you are going through, do have written and stayed focussed is tremendous.
    I wish you well JM.

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    • Thanks, Luciana. We made the dreaded trip last week. I think the foreknowledge that it was coming helped ease the blow. And now we’re trying to refocus on next week’s move. So much happening these first few months of the year—I really hope things calm down in April. But not the writing—I want that to continue at a good pace. I would love to have that rough draft done by sometime in May if I could.

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  18. I’ve been a bad blogger and just reading snippets of your updates on other social media. 😦

    So sorry to hear about your mother-in-law, JM. My best thoughts to you and your family during this time.

    I sympathize with the harshness of reality coming in to play. Sometimes, that spurs us to focus more on the things we can control, like our writing and creative output. I’m glad to read you’ve had more success with Death out of Time this past month!

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    • Thanks, Mayumi. It was a sad trip back to the Midwest, but having had time to prepare did help. And it was good to see family again, although we all hope the next time will be just for the heck of it. I didn’t write while we were there, but I did some last night, and I hope to continue that for most of the remaining days in the month. I really would like to have a rough draft completed by sometime in May if I can. That would be a wonderful feeling to have again….

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  19. JM, sorry life is leaning toward bittersweet at the moment. I hope this finds you well. Writing for me and I’m sure most who indulge in it, is cathartic. How wonderful you’re really doing it!

    Susie

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    • Thanks, Susie. I’ll definitely be glad to see March in the rear view mirror. Thursday is official moving day, and we’re looking forward to getting settled again into a house of our own. The move would’ve been stressful enough, but add my mother-in-law’s passing and some nasty bronchitis, and I’m exhausted. I’m really hoping that April will bring some calmer and healthier days.

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      • Remember to take care of yourself as well. I’ve been in those types of months and stopping to take a breath is hard. We’ve got our share of family issues at the moment as well. We’ll look to April for some sunnier days. 🙂

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  20. JM, your word count is awesome! I am so sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. I hope you and your husband are doing okay and that she is in a much better place. Wow, the move is really coming up fast. What a blessing that the building work was ahead of schedule–you don’t hear that happening often. 🙂 Hugs!

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  21. Thanks, Kourtney. 🙂 I’m hoping my early April update post will be the last that focuses on the stresses of the year so far. Fingers are crossed that we’ve turned the corner and will feel a lot saner once we’ve unpacked and organized the house. That should get me writing again, too. I have to cut myself some slack for the near-standstill of these last couple of weeks, though! Getting the office set up should also help with the writing, so April should see me getting back into a good routine. Or so I hope!

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