The Poison that Stole My Creativity

Greetings!  Please forgive any typing errors or crazy sentences, and for some of you, I believe you may see two font sizes here. I guess that’s the difference between typing on my phone and typing on the computer. I shall try to fix this the next time I get on the computer. LOL!. It has taken me several days to write this, and I may not have edited it well. And most of all, please forgive the length. I am good for writing lengthy blogs, but this one may take the cake due to the subject matter.

Okay. I thought maybe I was losing my mind. I thought maybe I was depressed. Then I thought that – once again- I had writer’s block. It’s been so bad, as you can see, I have neglected my blog for almost a year. I couldn’t even right a blog!

I’m on the fence when it comes to writer’s block.  I’m not really sure if I believe in the concept. Or maybe I just don’t have a deep enough understanding of writer’s block. Maybe because there are several definitions of writers block, each according to each individual writer’s perspective.

I believe that writer’s block can be caused by one or many things. Often procrastination, sometimes illness,  most often distractions from life. Those distractions are ones we actually allow.  We need to take time to write, don’t we? Record that block time in your datebook; stick to it.

I have projects on the table, things I’ve been working on for months, even years. A book that was filling up with poetry, and so many other things. Even an editing project or two.

I was in the midst of writing – attempting to write – Chicago Down when I realized that I can’t. I just can’t. Nothing’s changed in my head. I can see it, feel it, hear it, taste it. But it won’t come out. It just will not travel from my brain through my arms and hands onto the page (or the computer screen as it were).

I did not notice it at first. It came on so slowly. And then just one day it hit hard. I stopped. It reminded me of when a bird flies into a clean, clear glass window. How he just slams into it and then drops to the ground and flutters around down there. Sometimes he doesn’t recover. That seemed to be me.

I was…still am…unable to control my own creative mind and thought processes. I begged my Muse desperately for help. Believe it or not, I even talked to the long-dead Al Capone. Asking him for inspiration. Literally speaking scenarios aloud or picturing them in my head and asking him what should I write? What would you write? What should I do? The truth is, I didn’t really need those answers. I could see it just like always. What I was asking for was a way to take that film out of my head and put it on the page like I have for the last 35 years! I was asking Al, and Muse, how to write it out on the page, not actually what to write, but how to write it…onto the page! Get it?

Every time I write fiction lately it reads more like a newspaper article than a fictional story. Thankfully I’ve not had too many problems with poetry. No matter what type of poetry or how long or short the piece. That could be because of the rhyming words. Maybe? *Shrug* Your guess is as good as mine.

For months I contemplated why my ocean was drained of writing powers. Where are my mermaids, unicorns and flying fish?

I tried to do everything to get it back. Whatever “it” is. I call it writer’s block, but the problem is, I have no problem imagining things the way I have for the last three decades! I just cannot get my arms, fingers and brain to communicate with each other. It’s sort of like…say…you can see a word in your head and you can hear yourself or someone else pronounce it, but when you go to speak it, you’re mute. That’s me. That’s how I feel right now. I’m creatively mute. I can see it, but can’t speak it…or write it out, as it were.

I spoke with fellow writers about it. Talked to other artists. I set blocks of time for writing where I just sat in front of my computer and did nothing. Or typed aimless sentences because that seemed to work for me and others in the past.

To fuel my creativity, I looked up real facts on the internet; looked at newspaper articles, etc, and would copy and paste them into the timeline of the novel so that I could rewrite them in my own words. Adding things in between like fake situations and circumstances.

Wow. That didn’t work. It looked horrible. Sounded horrible.

Then one day at the physician’s office, I was complaining about all sorts of things. The poor doc! Then she said to me, it’s your beta blocker. I was like, what? Now this was some time ago. Deep in my heart I felt it was the medication. Fast forward, I tried another medication and it made me almost lose my mind. I actually would sort of black out, and it seemed like I woke up in another place. Sometimes it would take me several seconds to get my bearings. I don’t like that, and I certainly don’t like the idea of that happening to me on an interstate by a toll booth during rush times.

So, doc put me back on my original beta blocker. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t. That’s how I look at it. There’s really not many other medications that I can try. So, now, with some professional help, I am working to break through the barrier that the beta blocker has built.

The doc said that I can absolutely break through it. She said it’s sort of like when people have a brain injury, or stroke, or some kind of mental trauma in their lives that happened to them, and they have to relearn things, or regain memories. She said I have to break through; I can break through, and the brain will react similarly to when people’s brains forge new pathways after a physical or mental trauma.

So I had to dig through boxes to find some writer workbooks I purchased in the past. I bought them with interest, but then found a project and never really worked with them, so I have great books now to use to help me out. Ms. Professional Nut-curer told me to utilize the lessons. And to read, read, read fiction, especially smaller novella-type books. She said to read shorter novels and short stories so that I don’t lose interest in the middle of a story. The beta blocker is also causing a sort of attention deficit, but only where reading and writing (anything at all) is concerned and I need to stick to shorter stories for now. She said if I read a few pages and my Noodle is urging me to stop and go eat ice cream or play on Facebook, I must overcome and read one more page. But, I do need to stop when I cannot recall what I just read on the extra pages, or can’t decipher the meaning behind the scenes if there is one.

I am fighting this. Unfortunately for me, I am terribly sensitive to medications. I have rarely taken them in my life for this reason. One of the results is my high tolerance to pain being that over-the-counter meds like Naproxen or Ibuprofen is about all I can tolerate. Also, I’ve been a very low user of penicillin and other antibiotics, hence my high positive response to them. Only these last 3-4 years have I been a avid user of antibiotics due to a chronic condition that causes colon infections and powerful antibiotics are often needed. Anyway, let me put it this way… if a medication side affect is dizziness or sleepiness, etc…look out. I’ll be passed out somewhere before you know it.

I take a beta blocker for a rapid heart beat with no known cause, at this time. One day around New Year’s Day, 2016, I was drinking a wine product. I had about 4 ounces in a glass. I drank most of it over a period of 30 minutes. My heart rate increased quickly, stayed high for a couple of days along with my blood pressure, and I ended up in a hospital emergency room where I stay for three nights. I never drank a wine product again…because I can’t.

As an update, my heart and all it’s parts are perfectly healthy. In fact, the doc that did the angiogram said that if he had not seen me…he would’ve thought I was 10 years younger than my age…I was actually 46. He said I have a very healthy heart, my arteries are free of plaque, etc. Later that year, October, I had a Doppler on my legs. Thoroughly on the right leg. The person who performed it stated the same thing about my leg arteries. They both encouraged me to take caution and care for my healthy heart and arteries…literally telling me how lucky I am. I believe them.

Getting back to the beta blocker story. I am now working through the block(er) with the suggested mental and creative exercises. Also using meditation when I can. And of course, I just keep on trying to write my stories. I keep on trying even if it means I just stare at the last sentence I wrote three weeks earlier, or even just blinking my eyes at a blank MS Word page. Or staring at a photo of Al Capone, or of a river at dawn, or of my favorite place – a beach of South Padre Island.

I find it so hard to believe that such a low dose of this medication has had such a negative impact upon my creativity and though processes. But, alas, here it is. And it does other things as well…like give me the skin creepy-crawlies, and cause odd dreams, and sometimes nightmares.

I just want to encourage you all to take a look at your medications if you think you have become different because of one of them or a combination of meds. And, try to do something about it before taking one medication leads you to take another medication to relieve you of a side effect of another. Sometimes doctors and pharmacists do not realize it’s your medications. Never, ever feel afraid or too intimidated to tell them that you do feel it’s your med. That almost happened to me. Doc thought I’d need sleeping pills or an anti-depressant, etc.

My sleeplessness is caused from the pill building up in my system. My depression is caused from my inability to do the one thing in this world that relieves my stress and tension. The one thing that I’m good at. The only thing that I’m good at. I thought, at one point, I was becoming useless and worthless. How odd that we label ourselves in such ways.

We are thinking I should take the medication in a time-released option. I may try it.

A friend of mine was on several medications. A family member of his complained to me that my friend’s behavior was very odd. I inquired about medications he was on. When he told me what they were, I named two and said those should not be taken together. It just so happened that they were prescribed by two different doctors and my friend did not tell the docs truthfully what he was being prescribed by the other. Turns out that I was correct and his medications were changed. I’m glad because they were clashing something terrible.

Just be careful of your meds. The doc doesn’t always know best. But you do. If a negative effects persist for more than a couple weeks, call the doctor. But if the effect is too overbearing, do not wait for several days to go by as it can ruin you. We all know it takes time sometimes for a negative side effect to work itself out. But don’t let it set you on fire. Speaking of fire. I was prescribed a steroid for inflammation, and even though I had read the possible side effects, I didn’t realize one was telling me to stop taking it. I continued through the whole prescription. I now have permanent high blood pressure brought on by the prolonged use of the steroid because I did not recognize my discomfort as a side effect. I never had high BP in my life not brought about an illness or condition. My usual BP was always normal. Not anymore. Now I take blood pressure medication and my BP may never again be normal…all because of the side effects of another medication. Sadly, a medication I probably didn’t need.

So for those of you who have been waiting for a book after the New Year, it may not happen. But do not give up on me, or be disappointed in me…I will come back. I just hate it when promises are broken. I hate it when people are broken too. Please forgive me for that. It’s been out of my hands. But I will make a come back. Me and my Noodle…and Muse, and Al Capone.

As always, thank you for reading.

~Wanda

2015 Goals And Changes

2015 GOALS and CHANGES

I am still thinking about 2015. In my last blog regarding the subject, I wrote about no longer letting people take things from me: my time, my successes, my joys, etc.

But there are other things I have in mind too. Things that did not really seem to matter to me until I gave them some thought.

I have been thinking about the Border’s bookstores that went out of business. My local Border’s – despite it was what could be considered a “big-box retailer” – was my oasis; my get-away-from-it-all place. The atmosphere, the people who worked there, the whole place was special to me despite it was a Border’s. It had a small-business feel. It was located in a town where public transportation is virtually non-existent, so when I went there, I knew I would not be followed by my family of stalkers.

When it closed, I mourned for weeks. I was lost. I even cried. That’s how important that place was for me. There was just no place like the café there where they knew my name and what I liked to order most. I miss them all. Those jerks closed all Border’s stores and as far as I am concerned, they made a HUGE mistake. Like huge. Bigger than big.

So over the last couple of years, with no other place that could adapt to my needs or me to its atmosphere, I’ve been wandering lost. I cannot find a place with the ambiance that that particular store and café afforded me. I go out to a certain Barnes & Noble once in a while. The one that is closest to my home; however, it is farther than the old Border’s used to be. I don’t get there often enough to become a regular, and I certainly do not get the treatment and service I got at the Border’s that was in LaGrange, IL. That is the place so many story ideas came alive for me. It was a place of Ah-ha! moments. There was so much inspiration there. I loved being in the café at the winter holidays because the store was on a corner and the café overlooked the town square. The scene was so graceful and nostalgic with those large windows framing a view of holiday lights, snow, scurrying people, and the original train depot. It was like something out of a story book; like a Hallmark original Christmas movie.

Now here I am, always looking for that next nook to hide in. Then I thought, “Well, how about my small-town library?” I mean, sure, there’s no window views, or a café, but it’s nice and quiet and it needs business to keep going. I’ve made it a goal to check out more library books this year, and to actually use the quiet atmosphere as a place to hide away and write. I can bring my laptop and dive in. Even if I use it only a couple of weekend days per month, it’ll be more than I have in the past.

As far as checking out books to read or for research, I rarely do that either. I take it in spurts. Instead, I found myself wishing I had a Chicago Public Library card. Well, in truth, my local library can get whatever I might need in most cases. I guess the massive size of many Chicago branches is what really holds my interest. But my village library needs business too. The town I live in has a population of less than 12,500. I like it that way…I just wish it was further away from Chicago. So why in Hades do I want to go to Chicago? I hate it anyway. Blah! All they do there is rob people and murder one another.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I, or anyone other citizen of my town, cannot be murdered within the village limits, but we like our rose-colored glasses. I mean, between 2000 and 2012 there were only 3 murders: one in 2000, one in 2009, and again in 2011. I do not know the stats for 2013 -14. There has been a good deal of thefts, robberies, and car thefts. However, if we could look at the reports we’ll probably find that many of these were either committed by dumbass teens or people NOT from the village. They were committed by Chicagoans and creeps from suburbs that share garbage with Chicago, suburbs like Burbank and Oak Lawn. Maybe Bridgeview.

Anyway, I can still walk my dog here after the sun goes down without calling for a police escort and sending out homing pigeons to check for creepy people.

Oh, I really got off topic, right? I guess I just wanted to paint a picture of a small-town library that needs its business. I try to use our local businesses, but we don’t have many. I try often to utilize small businesses instead of big-box retailers when I can, and I’ll even drive to other ‘burbs to go to these places. Sometimes you will even find me in Chicago once in a blue moon. I find, though, that these are specialty shops where I find essentials that big retailers do not dare to sell. And that’s okay with me.

Since my town’s library is small and runs on a strict operating budget, I have decided to be a better patron. I usually donate to them books I’ve read, especially the nice hardcover books. Evens so, a few times this past summer I found myself selling them at the used bookstore. I will not do that this year. While I enjoy shopping at the used bookstore, I think I’ll stick to buying instead of selling in 2015.

In addition to my goals to be a better library user, and to better frequent small businesses, and of course, to not let people steal my thunder, most of my goals for 2015 revolve around writing.

The only resolution I made for 2015 is to be a writer. Yes, I said a WRITER. Even this resolution must be completed in small steps and goals to be accomplished. I am very tired of the term “writer’s block.” I use that term sometimes. Others use it. I’m not sure that every time I can’t finished something, or come up with a new idea, or a twist, spin, climax, or a new character I should call it writer’s block. Therefore, I am nixing that term from my vocabulary for 2015. Let’s see if it helps me any where progress is concerned.

Truly, I think writer’s block is the easy way out. A way for us to avoid questions like: Are you writing a new book? How’s that new book coming along? Did you finish writing that book? How’s that new character working out? Did you do that research on Three Stooges you talked about a few months back? Have you worked out your new writing schedule? Is Mary Poppins still singing to you during your showers? Is IT and Stephen King still invading your nightmares? Does Scooby-Doo still dance in a tutu behind your eyelids while you meditate? What color is this character’s eyes; is he a cowboy who rides a camel? You said a camel, right?

You get the picture. So, no more writer’s block. If anyone on WordPress, Facebook, or Twitter, etc., sees me write the term writer’s block in regards to myself, or hears me speak it…please remind me that there’s no such term (according to me).

On top of all that, I have other goals – actually, there is a resolution, but a big one that must be met through baby steps and one goal at a time. This is why so many resolutions fail. We attempt to meet the resolution in the first couple of months, if not the first couple of weeks. For example, we cannot come off of the winter holidays – Thanksgiving, Yule, Christmas and New Year’s – and expect to lose 50 pounds by February 14. It won’t happen. And so it goes with many resolutions. You must make small goals to reach that 50. Try 5 or 10 pounds first. Even if you lose only 15 pounds by the end of December 2015, you did not fail at the entire resolution, so do not give up. You will still be healthier than you were on December 31, 2014.

For me, my most important goal resolves around my spirituality. I intend on finding it again. It’s going to take most of the year. I’m on a journey. I assure you, I have to do this.

My next goal is health related. Not necessarily weight-loss related, but it might turn out to be a plus. Some of you may recall (especially my Facebook friends) that I’ve talked about some health problems I acquired during the last couple of years. So my health goals revolve around that. I’ve never been one to challenge a healthcare professional’s best advice. I know they are correct and that I have to do what it takes to keep my colon in shape. Colons cannot be replaced yet. Not like livers, kidneys, hearts and the like. It’s one of those if-you-abuse-it-you’ll-lose-it organs.

So my goals regarding health are to walk more, eat more veggies and avoid things I know damned well make me sick. No more ground beef! The infections are going to plague me regardless, and the hospital is unavoidable, but I can do things to lower the impact, soften the blow and slow things down.

I heard on the news a couple of days back that they…whoever THEY are…may have found a cure for colon infections. I pray for it. If you’ve never had an episode of Diverticulitis, where you vomit so hard that you are sure your colon has moved into your stomach, and your vision goes black except for those stars – one in each eye – right before you lose your senses and fall over between the toilet and the sink and get stuck – most cannot imagine. Yep. That’s me.

So I must, for my own good, make some healthcare goals.

I read Scorpio’s horoscope for 2015. It looks good. I find that it relates to some of my goals, some I’ve mentioned here and a few I’ll keep to myself.

I hope that you are having a great 2015 so far. Remember, junk those resolutions, or set GOALS to accomplish them. You might find it more helpful in accomplishing ideas and hopes.

Thanks for reading!