*Warning- this post has nothing to do with paranormal happenings and may be considered long and drawn out. Just FYI
Have you ever just been overwhelmed? So much so, that even the smallest task seems out of your capability? Everything shuts down into a huge wall of not only writer's block but an everything block? That's where I've been for the last few weeks, just trying to sort out everything and find a place to start.
I love to help people. Always have. It's very hard for me to tell someone no if I know they need my help. Stranger, friend, family, it doesn't matter the who or why. Everything started with the contests. I've been judging several years now. I enjoy it, but with everthing else I have going on, I said to myself just one this year, Beth. Did I listen? No. Well, before I knew it there were six contests going on about the same time and I was judging all of them. I had twenty review books waiting to be read and have reviews written. I set aside other things and got my entries turned in on time. At one point, I had over seventy files of different sorts, mostly word, pulled up on the computer continuously. All needing my immediate attention and I ticked the off the list as I could. I couldn't write anything on the new book. Not a word would come, even for reviews.
So I shut down, literally. I've ignored the computer for over a week, except at work where I'm required to answer email, etc. Put all my yahoo loops on digest to keep my inbox down to a manageble level and responded only when necessary, with exception of fan emails. I always answer those first. It helped to quiet some of the stress so I could just think. Think about Anna's cheerleading stuff and driving permit test, L.J. 's driving license test (Yes, I have two teenagers that are driving or going to be. God help me, no wonder I'm stressed.) Kayla's volleyball tryouts, work, Jackie's doctor's appointments and the book I'm supposed be almost finished with for Lyrical. Then came the fire.
If you don't know already, I've been remodeling an older model double wide that we've set up like a house for about two years now. Every time we get a move in date, something happens and it gets pushed back. Frustrating doesn't begin to describe it. Well, it was the water holding us up this time. We spent all day last Sunday working on busted pipes and trying to get things going, but ended up tearing out the shower wall to fix stripped handles. Of course, when we got behind it, there was a pipe that had to be replaced. This set back the move in date yet again. The new one is May 12th, my daughter and mine's birthday. The same date as the first one we set, LAST YEAR. Anyway, the following Tuesday evening someone (at least that's what we think) tried to set the house on fire.
Any material that we had torn out of the house and replaced was thrown into a big pile directly behind the house for use to help fill in the huge gulley in back. (Well, as far as I could throw it anyway, considering most of it is old carpet and big chunks of molded ceiling board and presswood). On the right is a old sawdust pile also intended for fill in use and to keep the back bank from washing away.
Around six that evening, my mother-in-law pulled into the driveway at her house (She lives just below the new house we have been staying with her while I'm remodeling.) blowing the horn to tell us the sawdust pile was on fire. Anna (my daughter) called 911 and I grabbed some jugs already filled with water to try to put it out, thinking it was probably small because I'd just come from the house about thirty minutes before and all was well. (I had filled the jugs that morning for water to clean with at the double wide since we are dealing with busted pipes and have the water shut off.) We didn't know if it was a tiny fire or worse, but I thought I could wet the area or something til the fire department got there.
When we got to the house, the sawdust was just starting to catch at the edges but the main part of the old material was already blazing, directly at the back side of the house under the den door. I know no one had been at the house after 4:30 pm when my son stopped to check on things after going fishing. I was there at 5:30 pm to check for a UPS package and get something out of the freezer. There was nothing wrong at that point either. No smoke. Nothing. I have taken extreme care to see nothing was put outside that I thought might be dangerous or explosive. I'm terrified of house fires. Always have been since I was little.
At six the house was full of smoke. All the alarms were going off. It's a horrible feeling to watch something you've built with your own hands in danger of burning to the ground, knowing you have no insurance and its your only ticket out of the mil's house. We can't insure it until the siding and underpinning are finished. (some sort of insurance rule.) They pumped a million gallons of water on the fire and house (to keep it from catching fire) and chemicals and still couldn't put it out. They ended up having to push the whole burning mess off into the gulley and smother it by covering it with the dark red dirt that already existed on the property under the fire. It smoldered for three days.
We stayed up all night watching over it to make sure it didn't rekindle and take the house. All day Wednesday on and off and that night we went to check on the house and where it was still smoking in the ground. The sliding glass door we had taken out in favor of a better door had been moved and the glass busted.
Jackie (the hubby) and I were looking for smoking spots in the ground when we saw the door. He starting looking at the house and saw what appeared to be a copper wire and something on the end of it hanging from a back bedroom window. We went inside to get a better look. This wire was not there the day before. It was stuck down in the window sill and bent so as not to touch anything metal. We cut the screen and clipped the wire contraption leaving about an inch of wire in its original place. We then checked the house as best we could in the dark for any other suspicious looking things. We found none.
So, a week plus later there is no news on the possible arson (the law still hasn't answered my phone calls or email) or the weird device in my window. The smoke left no damage inside and the house itself didn't catch, but most of the siding on the back will have to be replaced (melted from the heat). I say yellow, he thinks green. Yet another hold up. Grrr. I've decided the only way to keep people out is to going ahead and move as soon as the water is fixed. I want to write paranormal suspense, not live it. Sheesh.
So, that's what's been going on in my abscence. I finished To Take up the Sword in one sitting on a rainy Saturday and turned it in to my editor. And I've since been playing 'catch up' on the writing front, turning in reviews, getting You Gotta Read's website set up and doing some serious writing when I can. I've discovered spending three solid quiet uninterrupted work hours garners more word count, then worrying about it constantly and writing five minute snatches at a time.
So, if you made it this far, you deserve a medal. Here's my question. How do you deal with stress of life?
Til later, when hopefully I'll have something wise and witty to say about paranormal writing. Anyone go to RT?