The Writing Days Of Our Lives

Saturday, November 08, 2014
I should write for a soap opera.

Why? Because in the last six months, my life has become one. Need proof? Try these storylines:

  • Our grandson was taken by his biological father, who refused to tell us their location. Oh, he was pulled over by law enforcement an hour after the incident, but because of language in a parenting plan, he was allowed to whisk away our four-year-old grandkid. Luckily, the grandson came home a month later. (In soap opera land, that storyline would've played out for years.)
  • My mom, who has a rare form of cancer, has been in and out of the local hospital, as well as our state university's medical center. It's been a battle - and she has a fantastic attitude about it all - but why can't doctors find a cure and rush into the hospital room like they do on TV?
  • One of our daughters announced she was getting married. No problem, except it was a month before the nuptials were scheduled. Thank goodness she has a large circle of family and friends who made the miracle happen.
  • We took a road trip half way across the country. In a moving van. Across the California desert (yes, we nearly ran out of fuel), through the Arizona heat and cold, moving my sister back home. No Thelma and Louise, just me and the husband, taking turns driving the 26-foot truck, about 12 hours a day for three days. Good news: we survived.
  • In the span of three days, two family members passed away. One lost his battle to disease. The other died too early (age 40) from a medical condition that hadn't affected him for years, but we're still waiting for autopsy results. 
Can't you see them all playing out? If I hadn't experienced these last six moths and lived through every gutwrenching moment, I'm not sure I would believe it, but it's true.I felt like I was Liz Chandler from Days of Our Lives, suffering from amnesia, walking around in a daze. Or, at the least, it felt like  I was trapped in the movie "Groundhog Day," where every day started over like a bad dream.

And in the midst of it all, I juggled family responsibilites with writing, and at some point, something had to give. Mainly, I put writing aside so I could make it through the day.

Now that things have slowed to a somewhat normal routine, I look at those crazy, hazy days of summer that slipped into fall and I realize that there are some great writing lessons that can be put to use.


  • Details. If I replay certain days or certain segments of a stressful day, I can recall every detail and see it play out. I can recal the smells and sounds and colors of everything around me. That ability definitely helps writing become fine-tuned, adding a layer of specifics that boost a storyline.
  • Characterization. I had the opportunity to observe a lot of people in multiple situations. I made sure to note their reactions, their attitudes, their beliefs. Observing others can add new life to a character in your latest book or story. Sit back, watch and be amazed.
  • Pacing. When you step back from a situation, you realize the pace of life and how a specific incident gains momentum and then lapses into those still moments of lull, waiting for something to happen, the other shoe to drop. Momentum and pacing drive storylines.
  • Determination. I vowed that I would face each of these challenges head on, no distractions, no excuses. Translate that to your writing life. Nothing can stand in the way of a writer who wants to complete a project. 
  • Faith. Even when the world feels like it's caving in around you, look for the silver lining. It's there. I'm not sure how I would've survived had if I didn't have a strong sense of faith.
So on those days when you feel like the world around you is one big drama, tune in and use those moments to create a stronger story.

Be Bold. Stay Young. Celebrate the days of your writing life.

By LuAnn Schindler


Sioux Roslawski said...

LuAnn--Bravo! You were able to take some difficult situations and spin some positive out of them.

I hope your life gets really boring really quickly... ;)

Margo Dill said...

LuAnn: So sorry for all those difficult situations. I cannot imagine. But I'm with Sioux. What a positive spin!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

That was certainly a month you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy, as my grandmother always said.

But you have definitely shown us how we can use the stuff of life to inform our writing. Thank you!

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