Welcome to this edition of Author Wednesday. I’m pleased to present a guest post from author Elaine Cougler, who’s been featured in the past on my blog. She’s the author The Loyalist’s Wife and the The Loyalist’s Luck. She hopes to publish the third in the series in a few months. Today she writes about one of my favorite topics. How do authors manage to write when real life keeps interfering? Here’s how Elaine manages!
Writing Under Adversity
by Elaine Cougler
I’m one of those perfectionist people for whom planning is second nature—well, maybe even first! When I have speaking engagements they go off pretty much like the proverbial clockwork as I plan well in advance and execute my plan. It gives me comfort to know I have with me what I need for all eventualities. I also plan my writing schedule where I write five days a week in the morning, and I work pretty hard not to have that interrupted.
Similarly, I had the timing of my second book (The Loyalist’s Luck) launch all figured out. The cover was perfect, the printer was ready to go with a schedule that would allow me to actually have books at my launch, and my interior book designer was on board. By the time I left for my cruise/reward, the book would be off to the printer.
Now the way my book designer works is I send her the completed manuscript and with magic software she puts it into the actual format for a book. No more Word document. Next, my pages come back to be proofed. I read them most carefully and if I find any errors either in my work or in my designer’s work, I print the page, circle the error with the correction, and send a copy of that page back to my designer.
Simple process, right? For the first book the system worked well. For the second book, days passed before I’d get the next batch of pages. This all meant that I had to keep editing and sending corrections to France while I was on the cruise. My schedule till launch was tight. Too tight. And the email on the Alaska cruise ship was not always reliable. Never mind, I got it all corrected and the final proofed pages sent off to my printer, gem that he is, and the book got printed. We do what we must.
Another time when working under adversity could have derailed me was just over a year ago when my younger sister unfortunately lost her battle with cancer. Of course it was an unbelievably sad and stressful time, but every morning I buried myself in my work, revising, rewriting, rereading, and losing myself in the historical fiction world I’d created. You see, I didn’t have to think about the horrors in my real life. I could lose myself in my writing, and for a few blessed hours, forget. Rather than hinder my writing this personal crisis helped me finish my final manuscript.
Five weeks ago I wrote in my blog that maybe I had appendicitis because of the pain in my side while I was working on that post. Two days later I learned the truth. That dreaded disease, shingles, picked me as its next victim. Even though my skin ached and the nerves in my side and abdomen stabbed me constantly I found a way to prop myself in my chair with my hot water bottle and type. Again, I enjoyed the writing because I forgot what was happening in my real life for those two hours that I worked on the rough draft of the third book in the Loyalist trilogy, The Loyalist Legacy.
Writers, then, often have a choice when bad things happen and it is up to us how we face our problems. We can let them steer us completely away from our writing—and I’ve done that many times—or we can ‘man up’ and find the positive in order to keep going. Now that I know this other side to adversity, I’ll choose to work through it more often. I hope you will, too.
About Elaine Cougler: A lifelong reader and high school teacher, Elaine found her passion for writing once her family was grown. She loves to read history for the stories of real people reacting to their world. Bringing to life the tales of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 is very natural as Elaine’s personal roots are in those struggles, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.
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