It’s 6 a.m. and I’ve already been up for two hours. I’ve sent my husband off to work, finished a few house chores, and dressed for the day. Sitting in front of my computer with a steaming cup of tea and a half-eaten bowl of cereal by my side, I open a document and skim the last four pages of yesterday’s writing. I have a few precious hours of quiet in which to work before heading off to my regular job. I can’t waste them. Today starts me off in the middle of a scene in which one of my characters has been abducted and the other characters are still reeling from the shock of losing her. The tension couldn’t be higher—for them or for me.
After writing six books, you would think that book seven would be easy, but it isn’t. The newest novel has proven persnickety so far. Beginning a book in the right place is one of the trickier parts of writing for me. This means that I’ve written three different drafts of the Fireforger prologue before finally getting it right. I’ve been working on this manuscript for months now—living with it day in and day out. Dreamdrifter might be new to the eyes of the world, but it’s already 30,000 words behind me. I’ll sit at this desk for the next two hours refining and writing. I still have a lot of marketing to do today since Dreamdrifter just came out, but that will have to wait until I’m finished with my day job this evening. For now, I put aside all of the other worries and distractions. For now, I just write.
So far, life as a writer has been anything but easy or affluent. This is a full time job for me which pays less than minimum wage in exchange for long hours of emotionally-exhausting work. This may not be my only job or my easiest job, but it is my best occupation. Writing is the career that I feel called to do because it allows me to be a triumphant survivor by profession and to share my stories of encouragement with others.
I am a survivor and an adapter, and I always have been. I’ve dealt with three disabilities since early childhood to make it this far in life. In the past five years, I’ve buried three loved-ones, watched a fourth slip beyond sanity, and lost half of my belongings to fire, electronic failure, and financial downsizing.
As painful as life can sometimes be, there have been two constants to help me slog through all of the mess: my loved-ones and my writing. The blessings of true love and friendship have helped me overcome every obstacle—no matter how small or large. We cling to each other for support as we swim these turbulent seas. There are those I know who have endured lives far harsher than mine and I remember their stories as I write.
Like so many of us, my characters are all survivors of something—broken homes, broken hearts, broken hopes. Each has had his or her share of tragedy or catastrophe. Katja, the main character of Skinshifter, Dreamdrifter, and now Fireforger, lost her entire clan in a single bloody night. While she managed to survive the sudden massacre that destroyed her family, it took her much longer to relearn how to live. Her friends helped her find hope again just as my family and friends have helped me.
When I write, my yearning is to remind readers not to wade through this wonderful and terrible life by ourselves. Yes, sometimes the waves are gentle enough that we can make it a stroke or two on our own without drowning, but we don’t have to wade through it alone. We need each other to help celebrate each other’s successes and help to buoy each other up through all of the upsets.
My words help keep me swimming toward that new dawn peeking just over the dark shore, but they do no good for you or anyone else unless they are shared. I write not just to survive life, but to understand and overcome it. I write to hope. I write to thrive. My dearest hope is that my words help you thrive too.
Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
(This article was originally published as a guest blog on Sarah Noffke’s website on 10/14/2016.)
The SCRAWLS blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!