Briefly, the situation here is tough and getting tougher. The muscle pain in my shoulder has been going on long enough to puzzle both my physiotherapist and the sports doctor that my GP sent me to last week, and though it changes and moves around it doesn't seem to be getting that much better. I've figured out a way to arrange several pillows around me so that I can sleep at least part of the night in bed, but I still end up migrating to the living room recliner most nights, and I still feel uneasy about going anywhere for more than a couple of hours without ready access to an ice pack.
So that's pretty distracting, as you might imagine, and makes sitting up and typing for a few hours every day not all that comfortable or fun. But even so, I could work around that if it weren't for everything else going on.
I've already mentioned (in a previous, f-locked post) that my father is 92 and increasingly frail, and that I'm having to arrange more in-home care for him. In the last couple of weeks I've managed to get most of his daily needs looked after, but my mom is also feeling the strain and her health is suffering in ways that need extra attention as well. So with trying to do my best by the two of them and also not short-change my own family in the process, I've been pretty busy.
A number of people I care about are also going through difficult times, not least of them the family of a good friend of mine who died last week at the age of 48. I was at her funeral last Friday and it was lovely, just what she would have wanted, but it's going to be a hard adjustment for her husband and four kids -- three of whom are friends with my sons -- and my heart goes out to them. That's just one of several tragic and complicated situations that are going on around me right now, all of which leave me wondering and praying about what more I can do.
Plus I've got a bunch of upcoming school visits and other appearances I signed up for weeks or months ago, before all of this other stuff came to a head. I don't feel I ought to cancel any of them and I don't even want to unless it's an emergency, but it does make it difficult to get back into a regular writing routine even if I had the energy to do so.
I'd hoped to end my planned sabbatical and start writing again in February, and have a viable first draft of a new book by no later than September. But so far everything I've started, no matter how eager or positive I felt to begin with, has fizzled out. Either it wasn't quite ready yet (as with my epic YA fantasy) or I was keen to write but kept getting derailed by circumstances (as with the third Ivy book, which is still very much on my heart, but I haven't touched it in weeks now).
Anyway, I've got enough to deal with at the moment without making more work for myself. So I've come to the conclusion that for the time being, however long it may be until life calms down, I'm not going to worry about writing. If on a good day I find myself with time and energy and desire to write, then I will. But I'm not going to angst over deadlines and word counts, or fret about the prospect of not having a new book in 2018 (or 2019, or even 2020).
Ultimately, what it comes down to for me is that people are more important than things. My parents and family and friends in need are people, and my writing is a thing. It would be different if my family was counting on my income to pay the bills, but we're not. So to me the choice is pretty clear and I feel at peace about it.
I'm still a writer. I always have been and I always will be, published or not. The stories and characters inside me aren't going anywhere, even if I can't put them into words right now. Before too long, I hope, I'll be able to get back to them again... but not at this time.
And that's okay.