As many writers know, trauma and stress and anxiety can get in the way of the creative spirit, and since early 2018, I'd had a universe full of it. That's when my elderly mother--who had not only been wheelchair bound for years but also never met a fact she couldn't ignore or a situation she couldn't instinctively make more difficult--broke her hip, triggering several years of caretaking, emergency response, crisis management, moving households, hospital visits, bizarre doctor consultations, and, to be quite frank, some periods of deep depression.
There were literally times in the past couple of years, before my mother finally passed at the end of 2022 at the age of 99, where I despaired of ever being able to write again, to put words together in joyous fashion, to feel the playfulness inherent in setting up phrases and sentences to build scenes and characters.
Of course, if I HAD been able to crawl out of my defensive funk, there was quite a list of projects to get back to: a fourth Finnigan the Circus Cat chapter book; two YA novels (one half-finished, the other still just an idea waiting for a starting sentence); a detective novel I'd started years ago and then been interrupted by the Finnigan series.
But while raking leaves last fall, this particular idea sprang to life. In the fading light of a chilly October afternoon, as I raked and gathered and grimly pondered the likelihood that I would never be able to generate words again, my mind kept returning to an episode of "Vera," that marvelously cantankerous and middle-aged and utterly brilliant fictional detective created by Ann Cleeves. Another character had described finding some evidence in a "wheelie bin," and the phrase had kept me laughing for days. The words, which referred to what I'd call a "garbage can" or "recycle bin" was so utterly CHARMING, as though winged fairies would escort me to the curb as I took out the trash.
And so as I raked, I started to laugh. And that spurt of laughter, combined with the fact I'd already been assembling a list of like phrases to share with friends and family who were similarly devoted to British mysteries, gave birth to this quirky project, Who was I to say "no" to an unexpected spark of inspiration? And the fact that I could channel my "Vera" Halloween costume--replete with my own bucket hat and a 30-year-old canvas barn jacket and a dreadfully mismatched thrift store scarf--for a cover photo was simply icing on the cake.
With this project now pushed out of the birth canal and "live" on Amazon as an e-book (a "short," really), I suppose I should start looking over that list of older, unfinished writing projects and pick one up where I'd left off.
But first a grateful toast to the universe, and to the random nature of inspiration, for throwing me a lifeline and putting me back in the saddle!