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A Bit of Rambling


In my search, this morning, for a shirt to augment my daily uniform of long leggings, tunic teeshirt, bedroom slippers, and chemo cap, I happened across a teeshirt, no doubt acquired at a writer's conference long ago. The front of said shirt is marked with the logo of South Carolina Writers Workshop, now known as South Carolina Writers Association. The back is emblazoned with large black letters, "Obey the Muse."

My personal muse is Nicholas Trent, the British main character in my novel, The Guitarist. He not only led me through that book but also Chance, Downey and Quinn, various short stories and other unfinished works. But Nicholas has been missing for well past a year, maybe closer to two.

As I careen toward the fifth anniversary of my late-husband Jeff's passing, I realize Nicholas more faded away than disappeared suddenly. I was too wrapped up in the business of death and grieving to allow him in. Life in this world prohibited me from escaping into his world, or the world of fiction. COVID lockdown took over everyday life, as well as doggie deaths as chronicled in this blog. Pibbles and Fudgy each died a day on either side of Jeff. Different years, but still . . . .

Nicholas hadn't even checked in with me until I considered writing this today. At one point this morning, I thought my persistence in returning to Shane and his tribulations may have run off Nicholas.

"After all," he whispered to me, not willing to commit to returning full time, "I don't personally know anything about American singers who are heroin addicts. Broken British blokes are my specialty."

Well Nicholas, I don't really know anything about them either, despite the hours and hours of exhaustive reading and research I've tried to incorporate into Shane's story. And though I've had many compliments on what's been written thus far, no other muse has appeared to provide the motivation I need in order to continue to write fiction. Or really, anything. Until I pulled out this shirt.

"Chemo brain" or "brain fog"--whatever you want to call it--it's real. And maybe there are writers who can soldier through the fog to find their fictional worlds intact and thriving, but I'm not one of them. Being able to write this today, frankly, is a miracle. Will I--can I--ever be able to get back to the worlds, those characters, to care about them enough to breathe life into them again?

My final chemo infusion is next Monday, 4/24/23. I'll be scheduled for another CT scan to see about progress. I know there has been progress because the original symptoms are gone. Of course, there will be more immunotherapy infusions--not sure how many--and radiation. Radiation is supposed to be five days a week for five weeks. Ugh.

This is my first rodeo. I simply don't know what to expect. People tell me what their experiences have been, but they aren't me, and everyone's experience is different. Personal.

So many questions remain. Will I get back to leading the West Ashley Writers Group? This may be completely self-centered, but I feel like I'm the only person who appreciates the two-decade legacy and the continuity of the group. So yes, I assume I'll take it back because I don't want to see it die under my watch. Will I ever get clarity enough to concentrate on writing fiction again? I can only hope. Will Nicholas return to me? Will another muse appear? I might persuade Nicholas to come back if I work again with his mates, Chance and Downey, his "broken British blokes" who need help finding happiness.

The saying goes, "I might be old, but I'm not done." Am I done? It remains to be seen.

P.S. I took pictures of both the front and the back of this teeshirt, but due to the vagaries between IOS and my PC, and my limited digital skills, I couldn't figure out how to add them to the blog. Whatever.


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