The Rut Stuff

blogXcatXinXaXtreeI’m mourning the end of the holidays, though not for the reasons you’d suspect. I don’t decorate, I don’t socialize much, I try not to overindulge in seasonal delicacies.

I do, however, get into a pattern where I can write for days on end. I might have to pop into the office later in the day, but mostly, over the holidays, I can get up, and write at least a couple thousand words, day after day.

blogXsnowyXyardI expect I get the same buzz from a writing jag that other people get from going to gym (and I NEVER get from exercise, ever, period, don’t even glance down that path). When I can consistently add to a story, I have a lovely sense of living with it–waking up in the story world, visiting it again last thing of the day, seeing it in my dreams. The disguise_550sense of forward momentum is BLISSFUL, and tends to be self-reinforcing. 

I’m making progress, so the story stays with me, so I make faster progress–Wheeee! When I can catch this vibe of productivity and creativity, it’s barely work. It’s what I was born to do, and sitting in my writing chair, I’m soaring. 

And yet… I’m a voracious consumer of trivia, and one of the items I’ve come across in my travels is a description of the traits attributed to people who consider themselves lucky, versus unlucky. One that stands out to me is that blogXrescueXaXrakepeople who feel lucky avoid hamster-wheel routine. They go on frolics, take a different way to work, grab a sandwich from the new place at the end of the block. 

Unlucky people, often burdened by greater negativity and anxiety, tend to stick to their well trodden paths. The problem with the familiar, though, is that we stop seeing it. We go into screensaver mode, seeing what we expect to see when we even bother to look. 

The person who has the confidence and curiosity to step off the beaten track by contrast, will end up in new territory. When we’re in new territory, we look around, and we see with new eyes. We pay attention, we’re less in thrall to our hidebound expectations.

soldier_244wSo my writing orgy is over for now, and I miss it, but I’m also aware that getting out of that joyous rut can bring me new plotting ideas, new writing connections, and new resources. I can find that comfy rut again, but I also need the sense of frolic and adventure that’s the opposite of a rut.

What small frolic can you go on this week? A new coffee shop? A new author? A different entre on date night? Is there a blissful rut you’d like to try, and a way to set that up?

To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of “The Soldier,” a story about a guy who was in all the wrong ruts, and got sorted out when he found new scenery, and new loves.  

In Honor of The Soldiers

The Soldier” is dedicated to my oldest brother, John, who is a soldier in the best sense of the word, and to all the soldiers in uniform and otherwise who find the road to peace an uphill battle. Your sacrifice is not in vain.

Thus opens the book that tells the tale of Devlin St. Just’s fight for his happily ever after following the Napoleonic wars, but when I think about it,  is the road to peace ever not an uphill battle?

And what is a “soldier in the best sense”? By that I meant, somebody whose passion to protect the people they love is so great, they will offer their lives in the effort. This is the stuff of heroes, certainly, but in my work with foster children, I also see a much quieter version of soldier than we usually envision when we think of a hero. I see people who each day offer their lives and their love in the fight to reclaim families from the sundering forces of addiction, mental illness, and crime.

I see parents who finally, finally climb on top of years of excuses, blaming and denying to get healthy and sober, and to step up to the challenge and honor of raising their children.

I see children who by rights ought to be incapable of functioning, though they somehow hold it together, get an education, and make good choices.

I see the police officers whose job it is to accompany child protective services workers into dangerous and heartbreaking situations, and they do it. It’s part of the job, and they don’t expect to be thanked for it any more than the CPS workers expect thanks for what they do, or the judges expect thanks for hearing the difficult cases in the foster care court room.

My ninety-one-year-old dad served a Navy tour during World War II, my brother John did a stint in Vietnam, but they rarely talk about their experiences as soldiers. Today, let’s talk about our soldiers—who in your life is protecting and serving, offering their life and their love for what they believe in? Whether they’re in the military, or serving in a civilian capacity, they’re soldiers to me.

Eleven people commenting on today’s blog will receive a signed copy of “The Soldier,” and one lucky commenter will receive a new Kindle.