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I’m Back … Sort of.

Hey, everyone, did ya miss me? Aside from hawking Jill Weatherholt’s latest novel (see here), I’ve been absent from the blog for roughly 6 weeks. As y’all might remember, my husband had back surgery (see here) the day before I started an intensive online writing workshop through Orion Magazine. Hey, why be boring and have major events happen sequentially? Best to do it all at once, don’t you agree?

In regards to my husband, he is doing quite well. In fact, he thinks the whole experience has been a miracle (he had set his expectations very low). In truth, the first week was a little rough as the 17 different drugs pumped into him slowly dissipated. The narcotics he was given for pain had side effects he did not like at all so he weaned off those quickly. I had thought that any post-surgical pain he’d have would be a “walk in the park” compared to his pre-surgery chronic pain. I was right. He is experiencing new kinds of pain (hello, arthritis!) but nothing as debilitating as what he experienced before.

You see, we didn’t know how bad his condition was before we met with the neurosurgeon. We didn’t know that he had already lost a lot of sensation in his feet because the loss occurred slowly, over a long period of time. You can imagine his joy when he stubbed his toe the other day and actually felt PAIN!

Yeah, it’s weird, but it’s all good.

Now … about my online writing workshop: It was probably … no, it was the BEST writing experience I have ever had! Scott Russell Saunders was kind with his feedback and generous with his time. He modeled the approach he wanted us to take, and everyone quickly followed his example. There were 12 of us participating, and we were asked to submit a piece (about 1500 words) once a week to Scott. He would then disperse our work to everyone. The pieces were split and discussed in alphabetical order: the first six participants had their work discussed one Saturday, the second set the following Saturday, and so on.

In our feedback, Scott urged us to discuss strengths and areas for development, but no “fixing.” After all, we were turning in drafts, not polished work. We would discuss each other’s writing during our sessions, but he also expected us to send written feedback as well. And Scott worked right along with us.

We had a couple of speakers (Sumanth Prabhaker and David Gessner), but otherwise it was just us. We Zoomed.

My workshop friends had varied backgrounds in botany, wildlife biology, conservationism, environmental justice; even, psychotherapy. In the course of this workshop, I learned about lichen, an urban farm in British Columbia, the American Toad, the American Mink and Lynx, the parks around Cleveland, Ohio, the prairies of Iowa, the life of killer whales, and fire. A few of my new friends live in the Pacific Northwest. The heat dome and then the fires filled their writing and our conversations.

As for my writing: I wrote three essays the first half, and they were well-received, enough so that I felt the workshop was a “safe place” in which to be a bit more vulnerable. I submitted a chapter from my ongoing, never-ending WIP Clemency. To my delight, everyone was delighted to have a change from nonfiction, and they were intrigued. They wanted more. So I submitted two more chapters, rounding out the workshop requirements, and now I am obligated.

I have to finish this novel.

That’s the gift I received from the workshop: encouragement from complete strangers.

So I gave myself a few days off to think about things, and I might need a few more days. I still have a lot of interests outside of writing. Now that I’m retired, I should be able to juggle everything … hahahahahaha.

Baby steps.

Just for now, know that I’m back and will be visiting all your wonderful blogs again and participating in photography challenges. And I will finish that novel.

This morning I walked in my neighborhood and found a wonderful cluster of morning glories.

Categories: Writing

Tagged as:

Marie A Bailey

Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.

25 replies

  1. Back surgery is so very frightening and such a relief when it goes well. And the writing . . . again, I am happy for you that you received the support you needed to get back to work on the novel.

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    1. Thank you, Jan! Yes, I feel so fortunate that everything worked out well. When Greg had his one-month followup with the PA, I had to ask whether the compression could come back. She said, “Not in his lifetime.’ At first, I was thrilled and then I realized that Greg’s “lifetime” is a lot shorter than someone in their 40s ๐Ÿ˜‰ Somehow I have to keep reminding myself that we are no longer in our 40s … lol.

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  2. It looks as though you’ve been busy with all you mentioned, but also in a redesign of your blog? Nice.
    Glad your husband is on a good track for recovery…And I especially like the middle photo of those morning glories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Laura! I guess I made a couple of changes to my blog. I do like changing the header (nice way to showcase my photography). I think I changed the fonts awhile back. I don’t know about my readers, but I really don’t like small fonts. Too much strain on my eyes. Thank you for your kind words about my hubby and the morning glories ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. You’ve had TWO back surgeries, Jill! Oh, my goodness. I hope you can avoid that third one. Greg was trying to avoid back surgery altogether but the neurologist said he pretty much had exercised all his options. Of course, his nerves were being compressed. No amount of physical therapy would help with that. Stay healthy, Jill! Your hummingbirds need you ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Lots of great news, Marie! I’m so glad your husband’s surgery was a success and that he’s doing well, and I’m glad that your course was so helpful to you. It certainly sounds intense! Good luck with your writing and novel! Wow!
    (Feel free to join a dVerse challenge any time.) ๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. Thanks, Merril! I’m still basking in the glow of Greg’s recovery and my workshop ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m procrastinating up a storm … lol. I just bought a book on keeping a nature journal. One of my workshop mates is a botanist, and she shared a photocopy of her workshop notes awhile back. Her pages were filled with drawings and notes made in different colored pens. So now I have to try drawing ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Oh, a dVerse challenge. Poetry is such a mystery to me, but I’ll look into it ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  4. Good to read that your husband is doing well. Happy to read that your experience with your workshop provided you with “encouragement from complete strangers.” That sounds perfectly inspiring. Pleased to see you back to blogging, too. Missed ‘ya.

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  5. First, so glad your husband is doing well. What an ordeal.
    Second, yes, we missed you!!!
    Third, WOW!!! So happy to hear you got back on track writing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Happy happy happy.

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  6. Itโ€™s great to get that kind of affirmation from other writers. A number of years ago, I participated in the Mendocino Coast Writerโ€™s Conference. I spent the three mornings of the event with 12 other writers. We had each submitted about ten pages of fiction and we spent those three mornings discussing each personโ€™s submission. It was the feedback from that group that convinced me to write more on the piece I submitted. And it all became The Dime, my recently published novel. Good luck with yours!!

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    1. Wow, that’s wonderful, Mark. Up until this Orion workshop, I had pretty much shied away from them. Of course, I’d love to go the Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference just to go to Mendocino ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  7. That’s such good news about the surgery–I really can’t believe it’s been 6 weeks since you last blogged. I went to a conference for the first time in years too. We’re in a similar place where the support of other people–sometimes strangers–are giving us the impetus to finish our work. โค

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    1. Oh, that’s good news, Ellen, about you also getting support to finish your work! I’m happy for you ๐Ÿ™‚ And, yes, the six weeks went by fast. Funny, since I retired, time seems to just zip by. I wish I could slow it down a bit ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  8. Glad to hear your husband’s surgery went well and has given him the relief you both likely hoped would be part of the result. Unfortunately, back surgery is risky and doesn’t always do what the patient is expecting. After four spine surgeries, including three fusions, and with pain from scoliosis and degenerative disk disease, I only have had the joy of knowing my spine is still intact and electronics are holding some pain at bain. Your husband is blessed and so are you!

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