Doing It Now

one day

One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now. -Paulo Coelho

Today is significant.  I’ve made it a goal not to be sad or closed-off emotionally on this day…because I know she wouldn’t want that from me.

One year ago today I woke up and had to accept that there wouldn’t be any more time to do or say anything with my mother.  Our window of time together grew narrower and narrower until just fifteen minutes into a new day, which happened to fall on the seventeenth day of May in the year 2015 it disappeared altogether.

This is normal and happens to all of us eventually.  The state of being alive, insures each and every one of us at some point in time, will die.  Some of us get a longer time to “do things” than others get, but the part that equalizes us all is that one small detail about not knowing WHEN it will happen for us.  We just don’t know how much time is left for ourselves, or for anyone. The older I get the more this plays out around me. With family. With friends. With beloved pets.

I don’t have regrets about my mother’s passing at all.  I made use of the time we were given, and said and did all the things I wanted to say and do.  The hardest part for me is accepting the fact it is permanent. I still have conversations with her, can hear her voice in my head, feel her familiar embrace, and see her influences in the decisions I make. For that reason, I have decided to embrace “Doing It Now” rather than waiting for later. My mother was my biggest fan and supporter, as only a mother can be, but she truly carried so much pride for my success as a writer. Even at her frailest, when death was literally tapping at her door, she still asked me about my latest book and how it was going.

I miss that simple inquiry from her most of all.

Today I am using her fierce belief in me to kick my arse (as Ethan would say) back into the game.  I’ve been gone, you see. Oh, I didn’t delete any of my social media, but I have been pretty much absent from actual writing for a long time. I’m talking about daily production of word counts–the incremental building of a story, scene by scene and chapter by chapter–which must happen each and every day in order for me to make a book become a reality. I can’t give an opinion on how it works for other writers, but for me it worked only if I wrote every single day.

Every.  Single.  Day.

original notebookIn the early days, the act of not writing actually hurt me. I carried around one of those black and white lined journals from the Dollar Store and scribbled notes in it during the day while I was teaching. Any idea had to be put down into words or I would have lost my mind. Here is an original page from when Naked was being born in a notebook with a pen, circa 2012. Everything on that page made it into the book.

But somehow, through the knock-downs and missteps of life, I lost my way and stopped writing. At first it was necessary for me to have time to grieve, and to take care of those things that needed to be done when a loved one dies, and I’d done the whole process only a short year earlier when my beloved father died. All normal and expected, yes. But then some other things happened on the heels of Mom’s death that really rocked my confidence, and my belief in myself as a writer, my love for my characters, my ability to create, my financial future…to the point I became paralyzed and stopped writing.

I STOPPED WRITING.

I stopped writing, and soon the process of “not writing” became habit forming.  I evolved into a writer-who-didn’t-write-anymore. I allowed some really shitty circumstances (events beyond and totally unrelated to my mother’s death) the power to steal my joy and my love for WRITING. I allowed it to the point that I forgot what it felt like to write. This spiraled on until I couldn’t seem to remember how to do it at all. That really hurt. It was scary. I was terrified I couldn’t write another book again. Or if I did manage to write a new book, people would hate it because it was crap. I had no optimism about things ever improving. I just accepted “not-writing” as my new reality…and I was miserable.

I was allowing extraneous information to bombard my creative output to the point of complete and total distraction. Like an ADHD squirrel hopped up on so many acorns he will never find where he’s stashed them all–my ideas for writing were my acorns–I was no different. I dashed from one thing to the next aimlessly trying to: chase the latest gossipy news in the author community, follow the hot new genres making a killing on Amazon, look into some new marketing trend, read a new series, study what successful authors did with their books, implement a new promotional strategy, do new [insert whatever you want here]. Basically everything except for Raine Miller writing another book. I was an educator for 23 years. I know very well what distraction does to creativity and output. I knew better than to allow myself to be  distracted, but I let it happen anyway. I was worse than some of my former First Graders who struggled to pay attention in class or get their work done in time for recess.

This is a painful admission for me, but I’ve known it was a task that needed doing for a long time. I’ve also known the actual date I would need to share my truth for my own emotional wellness. Today is that day. It has been over a year since my last “blog” post, which was the one about visiting Chatsworth in April of 2015–a place Jane Austen herself knew and admired. I even stopped writing my blog! That’s just crazy when I think about it. There have been other posts recently from brave authors in my community baring their struggles to find a rhythm in this business. A world where they not only function, but thrive as they once did. I’ve ached to find that rhythm in the past year-and-a-half. Ached. There has been no easy answer, nor did I discover a magic solution for solving my “writer’s block” or “dry spell” or “lack of new books” other than to just start writing again.

non-writing writerStarting to write again is much harder than it sounds. I cannot say why it was so hard for me, but it’s sitting right up there at the top of my “difficult-shit-I-must-do-or-else-list.” I had to get back to my writerly roots and return to scribbling ideas down in a notebook. I had to make myself bleed out a few hundred words even if I chucked every word of it the next day. I had to turn off Facebook and my email notifications. I had to power off my phone. I had to stop trying to explain to curious readers who demanded to know when the next book was arriving (most very nice about it, but some not so nice, and a few, downright nasty). I had to stop looking at what everyone else was doing and go back to that place in time when I never questioned what I was writing, or why I was writing it, or if it was going to sell, or if it was going to make lists, or any of a myriad of other irrelevant concerns…I just wrote. I had to get myself back to that place in my head.

At first it was simply jotting down ideas and plots in another Dollar Store journal. Then it was writing a synopsis for a new book and going through the entire plot with a rough outline. Maybe it was just one sentence that day–only ten words or so–but it was writing. I could stop working for the day and know I was making progress no matter how incremental. As I began to get back into it I realized I didn’t lose my skills at all. Everything I’d learned was still there in my head, I just hadn’t been utilizing much of it. I had allowed extraneous “input” to bombard my creative output to the point of complete and total distraction which led to no new books.

So, the purpose of this post today isn’t any big revelation or announcement about my books or my publishing schedule, it’s more about my need to be honest about my experience on my writing journey. That last highlighted bit is important. My journey. I know others have had to help their parents along the path into death. I know others have children who grow up and leave the nest when you don’t know how you will do without them. I know others have had legal matters complicate their lives and take up their valuable time and energy until a resolution comes. I know others have had fears and worries about their future in a competitive business that just seems to get more competitive by the day. I know other people have these things on their plate, too. The only difference was in how I chose to deal with what had landed on my plate. I knew what I needed to do to make the miserable feeling go away, and even though it took me over a year to get there, I finally managed it.

writeI am happy to share that I am back to being a WRITING WRITER again. I’ve written a whole new book, and am halfway into a second one now. I like what I’ve written. I think it’s good writing. I see books that people will enjoy and recommend to their friends. If you are interested in knowing more about my new series you can check out the Pinterest board for Filthy Rich and can find the Amazon pre-order link there, too.

Filthy Rich is being published by Montlake Romance, and will only be available on Kindle if you read ebooks. Again, the purpose of this post today is not promotional. Plenty of time for that later because there’s a lot more coming from me in the next months. You’ll see. Did I mention I am back to being a WRITING WRITER? Well, yeah…that. And it is the most wonderful feeling of all.

Before I sign off, I just want to reach out and say thank you to my supporters. Those of you who have continued to show their love and caring for me personally, as well as for my books. It hasn’t gone unnoticed, nor has it been disregarded. Your patient kindness and outpouring of love over the past year has kept me alive. Truly. I am so grateful for everything I have, the people in my life, the friendships, the wonderful humans and the non-human fur babies who have touched me in wondrous ways I could never express adequately my thanks if I had one hundred years of time to attempt it.

If you take anything at all from my ramblings today, I’d love for you to think about the advice of Mr. Coelho at the top of this post…

“Do It Now.”

I am.

Comments

  1. Solasol says:

    I am very happy for you and very welcome! Tus historias me encantan. Mi pesame por el fallecimiento de su mama.

  2. I met you so long ago when I first started publishing. You’ve always been an inspiration and reading this post – my heart broke for you. My deepest condolences to you and your family.
    On writing – so glad you’re back in the saddle. I’m trying to get over my “break” too and it’s tough to start again. But seeing your post inspires and helps. Huge hugs and cannot wait to read your new books!

  3. Candace Springstead says:

    I, too, have been through the death of my parents, my brother and my sister and your words are so, so true. Nothing is ever the same and I know I spend way too much of my time wishing things were different and wishing time could be turned back to when it was happier times for my family. In my mind I KNOW I can’t do that but in my heart I so wish it could be so. After reading this post I, too, am making up my mind to Do It Now. I don’t think I have 50 more years left so I’m going to get on with my life and look back fondly but still keep looking ahead.

  4. Grisell suros says:

    You are a fabulous human being. The loss of a parent, a spouse or a child is an unsourmontable sadness and helplessness.
    I loss my husband of 25 years almost 14 yrs ago. I still struggle with the loss. Then I lost my mother I understand it, and I wanted for her to stop hurting. It’s coming on 7 yrs.
    I still want to call her and hear her voice.
    You never stop mourning your loved ones. With time it gets bearable, they’re are now my shining stars in the sky and my angels.

  5. Melonie D Burton says:

    Raine,
    I am so glad that you have gotten back on the horse so to speak. You are such a great writer and I always looking forward to your next book! I am sure that your mother would not have wanted you to mourn her loss for an extended period of time, but remember the happy times. I hope your writing momentum continues. Take care and god bless you! Melonie Burton (dedicated fan.)

  6. So sorry for your loss. So happy you are finding your way back to writing. Blackstone series is my all time favorite. Thank you.

  7. Tonya D says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss and happy for what you’ve gained. It takes courage and strength to face the challenges you are facing. I have to admit that while I’ve seen you around social media, I’ve never read your books. After reading this blog post I see what a great “Writing Writer” you are, so I’ll have to check out your books. Thanks for sharing!

  8. <3

  9. Kimberlee says:

    Love that your finding your writing groove again. And excited that you’re working through your difficulties to make yourself happy again. Take everyday, one day at a time and before you know it, you’re rocking and rolling!! Xoxo.

  10. I always wondered what happend. Thanks for sharing. Know that you were missed. USE THAT and write YOU. You are one of my favorite authors.

  11. Jeanette Muscella says:

    You’ve made me cry Raine. We as individuals deal with the death of a parent differently. I ran myself ragged doing anything I could to keep busy. If I stopped moving, I had time to think. I did this for over two years, and my house looks beautiful because I poured my grief into every room. I can sit back now, six years later, and marvel at all I had done. My mind finally came to a place where I can think back and not cry. It’s a process that takes time. You needed that time, and you coped in a way that was best for you. You have many admires who love your books, but you also have many of us who love and respect you. Welcome back to the land of imaginary characters and fantastic stories. I for one can’t wait to see your words come to life. I am sure the bloggers are biting their nails! Much love to you and your family.

  12. Julie Kirby says:

    Great news, its hard to find your equilibrium after such heartbreaking situations. I read the section of Filthy Rich in the anthology Pink Shades of Words. I enjoyed what I read, and can’t wait for the book to be released.

    Welcome Back 🙂 YOU are the most important person in YOUR Life and we all need to take some ME time just to regroup our thoughts.
    Looking forward to demolishing your new work.

  13. Assor Ilana says:

    Dear Raine thank you for your openness, for sharing your feelings with us as always you write so beautifully, your words entered deeply to my heart. You are a writer with every cell in your body. You are human being with issues as every one of us , and every one of us needs something to comfort him in hard times. I’m happy to read that our love was comfort to you . You are precious to us in so many levels. Just beautiful person as you could write beautiful post and books as yours. Anyone who has met you noticed your extremely generosity, your width heart , the depth of your love to your readers. I’m sorry to read that you had difficult period, but only from low you can grow and disclosure of hidden strengths you have. I wish you were not going through this period, but it happened, and most importantly you have collected yourself to be who you were, you are and you always will be, wonderful writer .
    Every days passed were worthy to wait to your next book.
    I’m sure that the future will be better, promising and prosperous. You will manage to write hugely successful books in your own way. All future spread out before you, just conquer it and get to the top. And we’re your fans ( and friends) will be there beside you and be happy to accompany you on your way to success

  14. paula bruton says:

    What a truly brave post this is. Grief is strange, it is different for everyone. For some, they can mourn and move on, and for others it morphs into other things- depression, anxiety, fear and losing oneself to all of these things. I am quite familiar with this. Your books have been a way for me to escape, and bring me joy. Your post, however, has made me take a good, hard look at myself and realize I, too need to get back on track and live my life to the fullest. So I guess what i’m saying is that not only are you a kick ass writer, you are also an inspiration. I can’t wait to see what your next step in this process will be. I will have my “one click” finger ready for your newest work!

  15. I’m so happy to hear that my favorite author is back to creating fantastic and memorable novels that have the ability to transform the reader straight into the story itself.
    May I ask when we can expect the remainder of the Rothvale series?
    ‘My Lord’ was supposed to be released a long time ago and has been anxiously awaited. Your readers are still waiting for the remainder of Gabby and Ian’s story.
    I can only hope that our wish for this story comes true very soon, as we have been waiting a very long time for it!
    Congratulations again on becoming a writer that writes once more!

  16. Madeleine Arena says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these very personal thoughts & feelings. As one who lives with a potentially debilitating disease, I know what you’re talking about.

    I’ve missed you & the intoxicating tales you create. While I’m looking forward to reading “Filthy Rich”, I hope “My Lord” will see the light of day before too long. Ian & Gabby’s affair is just so delicious!

  17. Thank YOU, Raine.

  18. TCrockett says:

    Thanks so much for sharing such a personal experience. Take your time and never ever doubt that you are a hell of a writer that has awed us with your books. Your next book, whenever it comes will be worth the wait. I have no doubt of this!!! Write on!!

  19. Kathy Townsend says:

    Thank you so much for this beautiful and heartfelt post. So many of us understand this painful journey of loss but could not express it as well as you have. You speak for many of us and give us a reason to just “Do it now” with your honesty and encouragement. Life can hit us so hard when we least expect it and sometimes we just need a minute, or a few months, or a year or two to figure out how to get back up again. I look forward to you being a WRITING writer again. 🙂

  20. Andi M. says:

    Your blog post brought tears to my eyes. A few months ago, I walked along this path with my mother. I’m not a writer, but I’m struggling with focusing and staying involved in parts of my life. I absolutely get where you are coming from. I’m so glad to hear that you are back to doing what you love — writing.

  21. Welcome back, Raine. You were missed, but very much cared about. Thanks for being so strong and resilient.

  22. Through this journey we call life, we stumble. Some hurdles are bigger than others but it is the adversities that shape us. It’s where our characters are are built, hopefully for the better. Loss gives us the opportunity to reflect. Some times the voyage inward is the hardest adventure we will explore…
    Do what you do, that’s all you can do. Your fans are here for you! 🙂

  23. I wish you all the best in the journey to recover your writing after a personal loss of such magnitude. I adore your books, and reading actually helps a lot of people to cope with their own losses and tragedies, so you need to understand how the gift of your talent can also help others through their dark times. I can offer you immense gratitude, because reading your books has helped me to overcome or deal a lot of personal pain. I am delighted that you are “back” and I cannot wait for Ivan’s story to be ready.
    Love and kindness
    Teresa

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