Life Changes When You Start the Day Writing #MFRWauthor #IAN1

The first monsoon clouds from my terrace

On many summer weekends, Jonathan and I leave the city for our camp in the Skylands of northwest New Jersey. Two days later, unfortunately, we return from all of that relaxation with a list of city-life things to do long enough to bring stress barreling back big time.

The next day, an act of iron-bound determination will be required to make myself pick up my notebook or pop up a file in my computer and write. Too often the notebook and the word doc file lose out. The post-weekend lists seem so much more crucial to our weekday existence. They are about keeping our real-world life running on the smooth track rather than the bumpy one after all, which is crucial to the max. That is what I’ve tended to believe most of the time.

But something happened this past weekend at camp that disrupted my customary way of thinking. I started a new book, not an adaptation like my last two books have been. The first, A Vacancy at the Inn, a novella that was orphaned when I decided to leave my agent. The second, A Villain for Vanessa, a re-imagining of a previously published novel whose rights I’d reverted.

This new book is neither of those things. It is a brand-new story, fresh out of my creative brain matter and growing word after word into scene after scene like a miracle on the page in front of me. Maybe that is why, when I work up Monday morning, I ejected the To Do lists from their previous priority position and replaced them with a long writing session. Maybe the magic had me in its thrall.

When the same thing happened on Tuesday morning, my doubts disintegrated. I was enthralled indeed. Caught up in an alternate world of story that seems somehow more truly my reality than my day-to-day down-to-earth one. And here is something else equally enthralling. After each writing session, an aura of the magic remains. My mind feels less fettered. My worries press less heavily. The To Do lists have lost a huge dollop of their tyranny.

Voila. Because I start my days writing, my life has changed for the much, much better. Alice is in Wonderland again. What do you think about that? I think things are getting curiouser and curioser.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

RR

Book 5 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – A Time of Fear and Loving – will debut on Saturday, September 16th, our 45th wedding anniversary. A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 – and my other books are available from Amazon HERE.

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How My Heroine Rescued My Writing Career #MFRWauthor #ASMSG #WriterWednesday

Candle imageFor years, I’d wake up in the morning with an itch to get back to whatever story I was working on at the time. I carried my writing notebook with me everywhere. I even took longer subway routes so I would have more scribbling opportunities between stops. Then, I put my writing notebook aside and hardly remembered where it was.

I was despondent. One of my very best friends, my devotion to telling stories, was losing her life right in front of me and I had no idea what to do to save her. Thank heaven I did have enough mind presence left to realize I needed help from an expert and got in touch with a motivational coach. Maybe a professional mojo locator could relocate mine.

To tell you the whole truth, I didn’t really believe it would work. I figured she’d assign me some intriguing creativity exercises. I would complete the exercises, because I’ve always been the kind of student who does the assignment. But, in the end, my motivation to write would continue to be disappeared.

Then we sat down to talk and her first question was this, “Would you mind telling me about your heroine?”

My response was to stare, probably slack-jawed. In the interests of full disclosure yet again, I must admit to you that I had barely thought about Amanda in weeks. FYI – Amanda is the main character of Book 5 in my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series titled A Time of Fear and Loving (available September 16, 2017 – see below).

“Amanda is a widow,” I began, because I needed to say something. Then, I caught myself. I had to qualify that statement. “But she’s tired of being thought of as a widow. She’s ready to come back to life.”

“What kind of life does she want to have now?” Ms. Motivator asked.

I hesitated for a moment before it hit me. I knew the answer to that question as well as I know my own name.

“It’s what she doesn’t want that matters most to her. She doesn’t want to be taken for granted as the always-dependable Miller sister any longer. She wants to break out and become somebody even she doesn’t expect herself to be.”

FYI once more – Amanda’s family owns Miller’s Inn in Riverton NY, and she has two sisters, Bethany and Patrice. We’ve already heard Bethany’s story in Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 3 – A Vacancy at the Inn.

I didn’t hesitate again. Detail after detail tumbled out of me, including some I hadn’t previously imagined. There were murders, even a possible kidnapping. I write Romantic Suspense after all. There was Amanda, of course, and Mike and Willow and Justin and the entire Book 5 gang. Every one of them had returned to life demanding that their story must be told.

Meanwhile, most magically, my love of writing had returned with them.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

RR

A Time of Fear and Loving will debut on Saturday, September 16th, my 45th wedding anniversary. A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there also.

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Your Precious Power of Enthusiasm #MFRW_author #IAN #Motivation

family diversity imageI began making presentations to writers many years ago. From the beginning, I had a mission, to share what I know about the publishing world and help writers navigate that world more effectively. The specifics of my message changed as own knowledge changed and grew.

At first, I talked about writing stories. How to create strong characters and put them in a fast-paced plot. How to make a story publishable and readable. Then I became a book editor for a traditional publisher. I learned how a publishing house really works and passed that on.

When I became a literary agent, maximizing manuscript marketability was my daily focus. I even wrote a book about it. No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript that Sells (A revised version is now in progress.) Once again, I was passing on what I knew.

Eventually, I moved on from editing and agenting. I’d published several novels with traditional publishers by then, but indie publishing offered new challenges. I’ve brought out a memoir and four novels thus far so I blog about that experience and advise individual authors when I can.

Now, a new message is needed and, along with it, a new mission, to combat the discouragement I find rampant among too many writers these days. My message is one of encouragement for all of us to use our periods of challenge to grow our potential as authors.

As I’ve said many times before, you can and will make it through such periods because you have the skills and resources you need to do so. You can and will make it through because that is your only choice if your passion is to write and bring the gift of your writing to the world.

Talk yourself past the difficult, sometimes scary places. Say to yourself, “I will not be afraid today.” “I refuse to let anxiety infect my spirit today.” Most important of all, “I will not lose sight of my Power of Enthusiasm today.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Never relinquish your Powerful Enthusiasm.” I say, Enthusiasm is the energy you need to fuel yourself through testing moments. Enthusiasm puts your psyche on your side where you need it to be. Enthusiasm inspires you to think of each day as a jewel on the thread of your life. Never underestimate the worth of that gem or forget to admire its beauty.

Instead of giving in to doubt and fear, give yourself up to Enthusiasm for your work. Honor how wonderful it is to do something you love, to have discovered your passionate pursuit. Rejoice in the gift and blessing of that discovery as an occasion for Enthusiasm a thousand times over.

In addition to your Precious Power of Enthusiasm, loads of hard work and creativity will of course be required. A satisfying route to take, an adventure you can be proud to pursue, one enthusiastic day at a time.  Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

RR

My latest novel A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 is available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK HERE.

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Honor Your Goddesses. Mom Figures, Mates and Mentors

My friend and mentor Paula Scardamalia gave me some good advice recently via a tarot card reading. Paula and the Three of Cups reminded me to honor my goddesses, my designation for the three women pictured on that card which honors the heart, the emotions and our dreams.

I knew at once who those three women were in my life. They fit to overflowing Paula’s criteria for what they should have been for me. They were my supporters when I most needed them and have remained so ever since, even though they have passed on from this plain. They keep me from being overcome and undermined by the obstacles in my path, including myself.

Paula encouraged me to name these women and keep them present in my mind and heart, but most of all to honor them. I encourage you to do the same. Identify your goddesses, name them, honor them. I bestow that honor by writing about my three wonderful women here. I hope you will do the same for the three women who steadfastly urged you toward your light.

Grandma & Me at Two and a HalfFirst always among my goddesses is Grandma. Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette. She was the bright light of my first seven years and of the past twenty-seven also. I lost her, to some extent, during the forty-plus years between those early and later periods of my life. Maybe because I was bewildered by her sudden absence, hurt and even a little angry at her for leaving me in difficult circumstances with difficult people.

My mother was mentally ill. My father was overwhelmed and increasingly angry. Still, the basic principles Grandma taught me abided somehow. She was my template for how to be a good, caring person who makes the world a better place. She continues to be that model for me. I am grateful she was eventually restored to me. That’s the two of us in the garden when I was two or so.

Marilyn (Swartz) Seven was the first real friend I made after moving to New York City in 1980. I was bewildered yet again and shaken by another loss, this time of the comfortable life I had built upstate. New York was too much for me to handle, or so I thought, and I felt anything but comfortable. Then Marilyn appeared and coaxed me out of the Hell’s Kitchen apartment where I’d been cowering. “Chutzpah,” she said. “We’re going to get you some.”

She dragged me to my first MWA (Mystery Writers of America) meeting and dumped me into a conversation with Mary Higgins Clark. That was my beginner giant step into the publishing world, where I have spent my professional life ever since. We lost Marilyn too, to breast cancer. I miss her spirit and hear her enthusiastic voice in my ear to this day. Because of her, chutzpah became my thing. Thank you, Marilyn.

Artie's DeliSeli Groves called me her little sister, and I was honored by that, as I was honored to know her. Seli’s wit was always with her, lightened by gentleness and good cheer, never harsh. Her smile warmed me through and throughwhenever I was in her presence. We would meet at Artie’s Delicatessen near the corner of Broadway and 82nd Street in Manhattan. I remember sitting in the window with coleslaw and huge pickles in front of us.

Seli was forever teaching me, though never pompously, about life, about people, about writing and publishing. She taught me about Judaism too, and brought me to love its traditions. Of my own religion, she’d say, “Jesus was a good Jewish boy. He went to temple on Shabbat and took care of his mother.” I said Kaddish for her in my imperfect shiksa way every day for a year after her death. I wish I could sit with her in the deli window again and laugh and learn.

These three women, so different from one another in the way they appeared to the world, are together as one in my heart. They blessed me mightily, and I shall honor them as long as I live.

Alice Orr – http:aliceorrbooks.com

AO

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HERE. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there also.

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Things with Wings. The Detail that Makes Your Writing Fly. #MFRWAuthor #IAN1

Grabbing a reader’s attention is all about hooking her emotionally. Prying beneath the surface as she scurries along from sentence to sentence and page to page. Hitting her where she truly lives – in her heart.

We do that first and foremost by creating a main character about whom the reader not only cares but cares very much. So much so that she begins to behave as if this character were a real-life human being.

Red Jeep 1The reader roots for your character to succeed and dreads that she may not. When such rooting and dreading happens your reader is engaged on an emotional level with your story and that engagement keeps her eagerly turning pages all the way to The End.

Meanwhile, beyond this deftly drawn main character, lies another engaging element of great storytelling. An element that compels your reader to stop short for an instant in her pell-mell plunge through your plot to be hooked yet again by the Deeply Felt Detail.

This detail draws your reader to a particular moment in your story and holds her there to experience a flash of connection. She recognizes the essence of what you have written. She responds at an emotional level even if she doesn’t consciously understand why.

You’ve caught your reader on the hook of your deeply felt detail. But first you must experience that detail even more deeply yourself. Where do you find such resonance – moments, sights, objects, whatever they may be? You find them among your own deeply felt attachments.

For example, I feel such attachment to my red Jeep Wrangler. When I think about that vehicle my heart flies to a fond place, soft and warm and sentimental. Or it can fly more frantically to a place of terror. The difference depends on the circumstances of the scene.

Fond and tender if that scene is of my grandchildren filling the backseat with cookie crumbs and squabbling between bites. Frantic and fearful if that scene involves a wrong turn of the steering wheel that could send us hurtling to disaster.

I drive my red Wrangler onto the page and make my story fly straight into my reader’s psyche and most especially into her heart. I do that by revving my writer engine to the max on every drop of drama fuel this detail holds for me personally. I give it storytelling wings.

I possess a lifetime’s worth of emotionally potent details – moments, sights, objects, whatever they may be. You do also. Think back. Feel deeply. Engage your heart and your nerve endings in the search. Make a list. Then use those details in your writing and watch your stories soar.  Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK  there also.

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It’s the End of the Year & We’re All Fruit

happy-new-yearIn My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), totally lovable curmudgeon Gus Portokalos says this. “You know, the root of the word Miller is a Greek word. Miller come from the Greek word ‘milo,’ which is mean ‘apple,’ so there you go. As many of you know, our name, Portokalos, is come from the Greek word ‘portokali,’ which mean ‘orange.’ So, okay? Here tonight, we have, ah, apple and orange. We all different, but in the end, we all fruit.

I love this movie as much as I do because I wish I was part of the Portokalos family. Those parents and siblings, those aunts and cousins, the batty grandma who faces down long-gone invaders everywhere. I consigned myself to a long-gone bad marriage in part because he had a family somewhat like this one. Though I don’t recall anyone regaling me with anything like Gus’s cranky-wonderful wisdom.

Segue to the current moment and my own attempt to regale us with some Gus Grace. 2016 was a tough year for many people for many reasons. We are sad about it and/or angry. At least this is what we allow to show on the surface. Examining my own self and being honest, I must admit that beneath the sadness and anger I feel wounded. Why? Because people I thought would agree with my version of truth and rightness did not do so.

I didn’t unfriend anybody on Facebook. At the point of a couple of possible in-person face-offs I said, “We simply can’t talk about this.” Which was graciously accepted because both of us wanted to preserve the relationship. Still, a nasty bit of residue remained and, no matter how small that bit of residue might have been, it was not insignificant. Because we had loved one another on some level. Now that love was tainted and we were mutually saddened and hurt.

I know many of you have had similar experiences on a personal level and on a wider life level as well. For the latter, yesterday we celebrated (if that’s the appropriate term) Good Riddance Day. In Times Square “participants wrote down unpleasant, painful or embarrassing memories from the past year and chucked them into an industrial strength shredder.” Feel free to do the same in your own town square. Otherwise, a back yard bonfire will suffice.

I believe in the power of rituals. Let’s each of us burn or shred or holler our frustrations into the night. Then, could we please go back to being friends together or colleagues or just folks who respect one another as individuals who may differ in some ways? Because if we do not do that, what we sacrifice is the love I mentioned. The world will be worse off for that loss. The world is always worse off for the loss of love.

I understand that our hurt places are still tender to the touch. So we don’t want to touch them. But, in my never humble opinion, we must. We can do it overtly by a phone call or a private online message something like, “Hi. I know we had that thing over you-know-what but I miss you.” Or you can borrow my usual less bold approach and behave as if nothing happened. Smile and chat and hope your missed friend smiles and chats in return.

Why bother? Because the end of a year is an opportunity for new beginnings or re-starts of old beginnings. Because, according to mythology, at the New Year we must do everything we can to summon the return of the light out of winter’s darkness. Maybe, if we adopt that timetable, by springtime we will have salved past hurts with the balm of present friendship. Because what truly matters after all is this. In the end we are all fruit. So there you go.  Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there also. All written as a peach, I hope.

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A #Holiday #Gift and Greeting for You

FROM THE ORR HOUSE TO YOUR HOUSE

seasons-greetings-1Happy Happy Merry Merry.

Here is my Christmas/Hannukah gift for you. A Free eBook copy of A Villain for Vanessa at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1533185050. “I was gripped before I was off the first page.” That’s what one reviewer says. I hope you will agree.

More important, dear friends, it is the most blessed season of the year, and at the Orr house we’re feeling grateful for the grace and good will that have carried us through the past twelve months to this present good moment.

Jonathan and I continue to enjoy our cozy city apartment and to run Orr and Orr Contracting with Jonathan as Project Manager and me as CFO. I continue to write romantic suspense novels with A Time of Fear & Loving – Book 5 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series, in progress. We are both glad to be productive and doing work we love.

Our family remains our abiding joy. We will all be together here at Christmas and my birthday on the day after. An added blessing is granddaughter Maya nearby as a freshman at NYU. If we could only get grandson Julian to the city as well, this would be entirely paradise. Meanwhile, daughter Kathleen and son-in-law Luis live just blocks from us, and son Ed and daughter-in-law Deborah aren’t far away in Boston.

Our friends are beloved sustenance as always. We feel privileged to have each of you in our lives. And, finally, our faith lives embrace us and remind us to dwell in gratitude, kindness and love.

We look forward to a new year in the light and wish you, your friends and family joy, contentment and heartfuls of the truest satisfaction life can afford.

Love and Blessings. Alice

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com – Delicious Suspense Spiced with a Love Story.

Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 4 – A Villain for Vanessa and Book 1 – A Wrong Way Home – A FREE eBOOK – are both available at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000APC22E.

 

Stay on Board or Tumble into a Wallow? #MondayMotivation #MFRW_author #IAN1

smooth-sailing-imageReturned to earth after annual orbit through the Thanksgiving galaxy. Food leftovers provisioned out to freezer or jury-rigged concoctions, some less savory than others. Guest leftovers packed up for mailing, especially the grandson’s electric toothbrush. Extra table leaves packed up also until next feast day.

Re-entry into my newest project also after two weeks’ hiatus and several hiatuses before that one. Lots of reading in between with the comparison bunny hard at work reminding me how far short I fall. My last post here was titled “Your Brain on Doubt.” We write what we need to read.

Prominent among those reading experiences, because of its potential to inspire me off my duff, On Writing by Stephen King. His basic advice vis-à-vis doubt and the comparison bunny et.al. Sit down every morning and do the work. Two-K words minimum. He actually advises more K’s but offers this fallback, perhaps because he is a compassionate man. Or not.

If he were truly compassionate he wouldn’t rob me of my most righteous rationale. The gods of the health glitch, each a miserable so-and-so, have rendered me pretty much housebound. When asked how my work is going I simply say that word, “housebound,” or maybe “shut-in” with the hardliners. Nobody questions me again. They’re too busy offering condolences.

In response to which Mr. King tells the story of his own home incarceration. Leg encased in a medieval-style torture device. Confined to a back hallway. Sweating out a heatwave record breaker with only a small oscillating fan, as opposed to legions of the life-sized variety, for relief. Meanwhile, he’d written the very book I held in my hands.

In my own meanwhile, I was back in Chapter Six. Amanda and Willow race across the countryside propelled by fear of a phantom biker who may or may not be on their trail. I’d lost enthusiasm for their story right up to the moment that same morning when I took the King’s advice and forged ahead, hampered by homebound-ness or not.

“Keep on writing whatever may occur.” I’d signed my own book with those words many times but I hadn’t really paid attention. The phrase was a PR ploy. The thing I should say to be admired or maybe even loved a little, especially by beginners who give love so generously. That morning, at long last, I followed my own admonition.

Afterward I felt good, maybe even fabulous. I contacted my editor to ask if Amanda and Willow can expect her to jump on board, as she has so effectively in the past. But the most crucial questions are these. Will I stay on board myself? OR Will I tumble off into a wallow, as I’ve too often done? Only time, and the status of my word count, will tell.

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 is available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK HERE. All of Alice’s books are written while on board rather than wallowing.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

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Your Brain on Doubt & What to Do About It #MFRWAuthor #Inspiration

flat-tire-image“I’ve watched you grow smaller,” an observant friend once said to me. “as if you are deflating.”

I was stuck in a period of deep doubt about almost everything. I didn’t know what to do with my life or my work or me. “I’m between things,” I’d say to anyone who appeared to care. Actually, I wasn’t anywhere. My friend was right. I’d deflated and needed desperately to pump up again.

Unfortunately, a deflated spirit lacks not only air to breathe but the will and stamina to refill its lungs in the first place. Doubt had taken those good things from me. I was a flat tire. More to the point, my brain was a flat tire, and flat tires don’t get us anywhere.

We all end up in the hardly-moving lane now and then, and doubt is often the vehicle that takes us there. Especially doubt about ourselves. Doubting seems to be an inevitable consequence of living. The trouble is it can zap the will to live, and the joy of that life, flat out of us.

I’m re-inflated at the moment. The last thing I want is another blowout, or even a slow leak into a bad-year tire again. How did I get from flaccid to full-up? What can I do next time I misplace my air lock valve? Here are five specific remedies for my self-doubt days and yours.

Specific #1. Get out from under the comforter. My comforter is blue, the color of melancholy. I hide there and bring other comforts with me – unhealthy food, binge TV and the occasional bourbon coke with a splash of lime. I must drag my bemoaning behind from under all of that.

Specific #2. Cut the to-do list to size. Nothing lengthens a ride in the doubt mobile as fast as piled-on expectations. What needs to be done feels like being expected to prepare a holiday feast by suppertime. How about toast instead? I think I can manage a slice, maybe even multi-grain.

Specific #3. Create a feel-good list instead. What makes me feel better? What ACTivities? I must stand up, get dressed and move. Yoga on the purple mat I bought myself last Christmas. Or a walk around a block or two without my comforter, like Linus’s blanket, trailing behind.

Progress Report. I’m out of the bedroom (#1). I’ve been to the kitchen where I consumed some multi-grain nutrition (#2) and came up with a feel-better action plan (#3). Time to suit up, but first a stop in front of the bathroom sink.

Specific #4. Stare straight ahead. What do I see? I see the hero in my mirror. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t already survived many comforter-craving moments. I chose the choices and did the work that got me to this place, which makes me the hero of my own life story.

Specific #5. Produce a memory of the hero in the mirror. Deep breathing in a yoga pose or puffing down the street, I recall a time I lifted myself toward where I needed to be. I watch, hear and, most important, feel the moment. “I did that,” I say, because I did. No doubt about it.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and Alice Orr’s other books are available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there also.

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Got Stress? Grab a Post It. @AliceOrrBooks #WednesdayMotivation #WritersLife

stress-imageI encounter a lot of exhausted people these days. Once upon a time, I prided myself on not being among them but, as we all know, pride is what we exhibit before a fall. That fall did inevitably happen to me, and since then I’ve learned to admit my Energy Bunny is sometimes a lop-eared, droop-tailed mess.

“What’s the matter with me?” I used to ask, while my stamina trickled away. “You’re not as young as you used to be,” my husband would often respond. This, of course, is hardly the smart thing for a man to say to his wife. If you run into him, feel free to mention that. The fact is, I didn’t feel old. I felt tired, but I didn’t know why.

When well-meaning folks suggested my condition was stress-related, my eyes would roll. “Stress schmess,” I’d say to my pompous-ass self. Until the scales were ripped from my bloodshot eyes and I was forced to recognize stress as a buzz killer on several levels, pressing a dead weight on the psyche and the rest of our faculties too.

This revelation occurred during my maximum (to date) stress experience, the struggle with my now long-gone (I hope) cancer. Let me tell you a small story about that period and one of its many disturbing manifestations of stress. Bouts of spontaneous weeping which, for some reason, often occurred in parking lots.

We were living on Vashon Island in Washington State, a generally peaceful place. I suffered tearful breakdowns in just about every parking area of that tranquil town. In front of the Thriftway supermarket. Next to the library. Outside church. In the gravel space south of the arts center after dropping my granddaughter off for ballet class.

Without warning, I’d begin to sob, though inaudibly. My shoulders might tremble, but other than that and my wet cheeks, you could have walked straight past me and not noticed a thing. “Get a grip,” I’d whisper. “You’re weeping in the Thriftway parking lot.” Meanwhile, my fingers did my bidding and gripped the steering wheel in a stranglehold.

Thus attached to my automobile, I would drive slowly home, reminded of a phrase in the Washington State Drivers’ Manual that cautions against operating a vehicle when emotionally upset. Unfortunately, I wasn’t comfortable with calling someone up to say, “I just fell to pieces in the parking lot. Could you please rescue me?”

I’ve held myself back from writing here about this phase of my history. “Why should anybody be subjected to my whining?” I asked. Until I recalled Vanessa Redgrave, a personal icon of mine, speaking of a realization she had while acting in “The Year of Magical Thinking,” a play adapted from Joan Didion’s marvelous memoir.

“We’re all more traumatized than we think,” Vanessa said. By that measure, my parking lot story is appropriate to share because it could be someone else’s story, too. The specifics may vary. A shadowy corner rather than a parking lot. Dulled-out staring into space instead of weeping. The essence of the episode is the same.

Which means I need to come up with an insight, as posts like this one are supposed to do. Whining will not suffice. I must suggest an approach to the problem, an antidote to the syndrome. I suggest Post-It notes. Here’s what I did with them, or what they did for me, during the most stressed-out and exhausted days of my cancer challenge.

Each morning, on a single two-by-two-inch sticky note, I’d write down something specific I could do that day to feel less undone by my situation. A larger surface would have been unrealistic. In my opinion, four square inches of healing at a time is enough to expect of oneself when traumatized.

Some days I did what I had written down, some days not. Still, I persisted, and my psyche was the better for it. If you suspect that we, yourself included, may all be more shaken up by life than we care to admit, you might want to acquire some sticky notes of your own. They come in cheerful colors these days, even day-glow. Cheerful is good.

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and Alice Orr’s other books are available from Amazon HERE. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there.

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