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When Caregiving Interrupts Your Life, Get Back to the Basics

Booksigning of Hope Clark

MesotheliomaHelp is pleased to have author C. Hope Clark as a guest blog writer. Recently, both of Hope’s parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, bringing her daily routine to a screeching halt. Much like mesothelioma caregivers, Hope found that she had to take care of her needs in order to better care for her parents.

By C. Hope Clark, Guest Author

I’m a novelist, with eight mysteries to my credit. Also, through my educational newsletter at FundsforWriters.com, I’ve motivated writers for 19 years. We’re award-winning, delivering a message each and every Friday for all those 19 years. A nothing-can-get-in-our-way sort of thing.

With a goal to remain positive, I lead a mission to show that anyone with drive, diligence, and a strong degree of hard-headedness can navigate the writing profession. I practiced what I preached through crazy deadlines, relocations, birthdays, weddings, holidays, and more. I preached that a dedicated writer wrote through anything.

Until we had two hurricanes and both my parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s within six months of each other.

In their right minds, my parents had designated me as fiduciary and medical power of attorney. Suddenly, tag, I was it . . . the go-to person for everything from where to find a restaurant to how to fire yet another doctor.

I received as many as twenty calls in a day from parents who were angry, saw dead people, and forgot where they lived, usually cursing me for not taking care of issues that didn’t exist. Doctors leaned on me to put them into a home. Family was split on how to do this, and some doctors disagreed with each other. Adrenaline and nightmares often woke me at night as everyone told me what to do but nobody could help me get it done.

Through tears, headaches, and lack of sleep, I kept telling myself to write. After all, I had deadlines. Suddenly my bottomless well found a rock-hard bottom, and not only did I struggle to write, but I wondered if I ever wanted to write again.

Practicing what I preached became more than rhetoric. Especially when my own health took a nose-dive. I felt so naïve.

Expert Insight

 The key is not to lose myself in the reality of life ~C. Hope Clark

In the midst of all the chaos of family, moving, doctors, power going out, and being the strong shoulder for parents frantic they were no longer in charge, I looked back at what I taught my readers. . . to see if I’d been spot on or theoretical in my teachings.

And this is what I learned about dealing with a complicated, stressful life:

  • It’s okay to write anywhere, anytime, and any way. Forget the perfect study with the proper music background and the keyboard with the just-so touch. The goal is to put words to paper. Fix it later. I wrote 2,500 words while my father received his two-hour neurological test that diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s.
  • Compromise is in order. I had a December deadline for the novel, but had given myself an earlier July goal which I’d been keeping nicely with a 500 word-a-day mission. Then all hell broke loose. Seven-thousand-miles-in-two-months-on-my-car kind of hell. I reprogrammed the deadline to October. Regretful, but I was determined to keep on keeping on. The manuscript went in December 20.
  • It’s okay to tell people you have limitations. Normally highly active on social media, I didn’t want to just disappear and lose my fan base, so I let people know in my newsletters that I had my hands full, and why.
  • On that note, it’s fine to be human. I explained the situation to my publisher. I told family that any day I wasn’t with them, I had to be at the keyboard. I kept one major appearance and cancelled others. Family and writing only. I boiled life down to those two basic needs.

While I’m not home free, the days I have to write are slowly increasing. I still keep a tight restraint on the commitments I accept, for fear I’ll encroach on the two basic responsibilities I have. However, this too shall pass. Right now, I’m excited to see myself coming out on the other side, and thanks to the forced down time, I’m thrilled and excited about 2018. The opportunity to make new, more extensive goals has me practically giddy.

And Newberry Sin, my eighth novel, comes out April 2018. One would never know that those words happened in doctor’s offices, in moving cars, and my parents’ living room at wee hours of the morning. Yes, I’m human, but I’m determined to instill that vulnerable humanity, and the strength that grew from it, into how I manage my new normal . . . and the next books.

About C. Hope Clark

C. Hope Clark’s newest release is Newberry Sin, set in an idyllic small Southern town where blackmail and sex are hush-hush until they become murder. The fourth in the Carolina Slade Mysteries. Hope speaks at conferences, libraries, and book clubs across the country, is a regular podcaster for Writer’s Digest, and adores connecting with others. She is also founder of FundsforWriters.com, an award-winning site and newsletter service for writers.  She lives on the banks of Lake Murray in central South Carolina with her federal agent husband.

Newberry Sin

Beneath an idyllic veneer of Southern country charm, the town of Newberry hides secrets that may have led to murder.

When a local landowner’s body, with pants down, is found near Tarleton’s Tea Table Rock—a notorious rendezvous spot, federal investigator Carolina Slade senses a chance to get back into the field again. Just as she discovers what might be a nasty pattern of fraud and blackmail, her petty boss reassigns her fledgling case to her close friend and least qualified person in their office.

Forced to coach an investigation from the sidelines, Slade struggles with the twin demons of professional jealousy and unplanned pregnancy. Something is rotten in Newberry. Her personal life is spiraling out of control. She can’t protect her co-worker. And Wayne Largo complicates everything when the feds step in after it becomes clear that Slade is right.

One wrong move, and Slade may lose everything. Yet it’s practically out of her hands . . . unless she finds a way to take this case back without getting killed.

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