Monday, June 26, 2017

Shiny New Ideas

Two years ago, I was starting to get worried. It had been a while since I’d had a ‘shiny new idea’ and I knew that NaNoWriMo was coming up. I try and write something brand new for NaNoWriMo, and by the middle of the year, I usually had a basic idea for what I would work on.

I really didn’t need to worry. It’s amazing how stress can affect the creative muscle. By the end of July, I had a full-fledge idea, one that turned into four books, and sustained me for two years of NaNoWriMo.

You’d think that I’d learn from that experience, but here I am, two years later, again worried about NaNoWriMo. The rest of the year, I know I’m set. I’m editing and revising to my heart’s content, but the closer I get to November, the more my brain starts to panic, thinking that I won’t be ready.

Most of my panic is because I’m a planner. I need a thick and detailed bible ready before I can even start writing the first word. I want to know the direction the story’s headed, and the character backgrounds. I need to know the culture, their beliefs… I even tend to draw out the setting so I have a feel for the world.

I had a basic idea, but it wasn’t fleshed out, mostly because it was so generalized and so vague that I didn’t even know how to flesh it out.

Here’s the secret to shiny new ideas:

Always pay attention to everything. You never know what will start a spark.

Last time this happened, hubby and I went to the museum for our anniversary. Not because either of us were particularly interested in pirates, but because we wanted to get out of the house. The entire experience was a fodder for ideas, and pirates played a heavy role in my later book.

This year, all it took was an article on Pinterest, with a title that was much more interesting than the article itself. It was the spark that I needed to turn my vague idea into something that keeps me awake at night, planning and plotting for November.


How about the rest of you? Where do you get your ideas? Are you already planning for NaNoWriMo?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Visualization

It’s amazing how brains work. Sometimes, it seems like we’re all on the same page, and then other times… we see things very differently.

When I was probably 12 or 13, I remember reading the Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas. I really enjoyed the story, and I thought one of my parents’ friends would like it too. I’ll never forget my mom’s response when I suggested it.

She told me that he doesn’t ‘see’ when he reads. She thought he wouldn’t enjoy the book because he wouldn’t be able to visualize the images that the author used.

For little twelve-year-old me, this was an absolute breakthrough. Mostly because I never knew that anyone could see the images in their heads. I assumed the description was just there to give the story more depth. I had no idea that it meant something to a lot of people.

So yes, I’m a writer who can’t visualize anything. Every once in a while I can pick out shapes in my mind, but usually, it’s blank. You know what I can do though? I can hear sounds. That’s what draws me into a book – sparkling and realistic dialogue because I can hear it. I love the back and forth, and it’s a lot of what I focus on in my own writing.

Even now, when I write, I have to remind myself to put in physical descriptions. If I didn’t collect pictures of my characters on Pinterest, I would have no idea what they looked like.

I’m curious about what other readers focus on. Do visuals draw you in? Or do they just leave a blank?


Monday, June 12, 2017

Nursing Necessities

Last week, I mentioned that things have been a bit crazy for me. There have been several different things that have thrown me off balance, but not all of it was bad.

During the end of April, and the month of May, I became a preceptor for a student finishing up her nursing degree. The program requires that she work 120 hours with a nurse, and they wanted her to take on a full load by the end of the 120 hours. I know that was the same requirement for me when I was a student nurse, but to be honest, I barely remember my own preceptorship.

It was a blur, and except for a few memories that stand out, I don’t remember what kind of a student I was. I have a feeling that I was shy and withdrawn, mostly because that’s my normal personality. 

This student was not that way at all. I was quite impressed with her knowledge and her work ethic. It was an interesting experience for me, to watch her learn skills that have become almost second nature to me. There are so many things that I do without even realizing, and after having to stop and think about it, I’m kind of amazed by much I’ve changed since becoming a nurse.

For example:

Assessments:

I remember the first time that I had to do a full body assessment. I went textbook, asking the questions in order and stopping to record every single answer. Now, I do it while I’m working with the patient. If I’m preparing their medications, I ask them how their day was. I ask how their appetite’s been, and if they’ve had any nausea. If I get them up to the toilet, it’s a great opportunity to check skin, instead of making it a completely separate assessment. I can also check to see if they have any swelling in their legs when I’m swinging them back into the bed. Every interaction with my patient is a chance to assess, and most of the time, I forget that’s even what I’m doing until it’s time to chart.

Which of course leads to the next part of nursing –

Charting:

I don’t remember much about charting during my preceptorship. I do know that the system that they used was more user friendly than the one I’m using now. It honestly doesn’t matter, because charting in itself is pretty standard. Making sure to focus on all the systems, chart the irregularities, focus on their diagnosis. When you know what you need to chart, then it’s easy to store that information for the time you have a chance to sit down at the computer. I feel like it took me several months before I fell into a rhythm, and knew what needed to be the focus of my charting.

Projecting:

Now this is something they didn’t teach me in nursing school, but there should totally be a lab on projecting to mostly deaf patients. Not yelling, because that increases the pitch and doesn’t always work, but speaking up so that you can be heard. Especially for people that are naturally shy like me. I call it my nurse voice.

Growing thick skin:

People aren’t always pleasant when they’re sick. Sometimes, they can be downright frustrating. It’s hard not to take everything personally, especially when you have a patient who’s being particularly difficult. I will be honest, sometimes, I still struggle with this one, but I still try not to take everything personally. I’m sure I would lash out if I were a patient as well.


What about the rest of you nurses? What are some things you’ve picked up over your years of working?

Monday, June 5, 2017

I'm Back!

Hey everyone!

It has been a while since I’ve posted here on my blog.

Things have been a little off for me lately. I’m used to things being off. I’m a night nurse, which means that half of the time I’m awake during the day and half of the time I’m awake during the night. I never work the same days of the week. Sometimes I work one shift by itself. Sometimes I work four in a row.

I’m used to that. It’s part of the job, and I’ve done it for long enough that I’ve learned how to adjust.
Unfortunately, too many irregularities have made it difficult for me to focus on even the smallest things. Not all of them were bad, but when added up, my body, my brain and my emotions have been on the fritz.

After two months, I finally feel like I’m getting semblance back. Last week was the first time I was able to work on a large chunk of my writing without losing interest or focus.
So yes, I’m back, but I’ll be starting slow.


Here’s to a great summer, with structure and regularity!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Patients that Changed My Life: Carol

As a nurse, I have the chance to meet a lot of people from all walks of life. Some are fun, some are not so fun. Then there are those that change my life, and changed the kind of nurse I am. For privacy purposes, I won’t use real names, but I want to tell you their stories.

To read about previous patients, click here.

In one of my first ever nursing jobs, I worked in a facility specifically for Alzheimer’s and Dementia. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I found that I loved working with them. They kept me guessing, and usually laughing. We had this one lady, who I will call Carol. She was active, even though she was declining rapidly. She used a merry-walker, which kept her safe when she would suddenly get tired and need to sit down.

She had almost no short term memory. You could have a conversation with her and seconds later, she wouldn’t remember it.

That doesn’t mean that she didn’t remember anything.

She had an issue with me almost immediately. No matter what I did, she got angry, and she would scream at me. It wasn’t that unusual, since she had a temper, but she did seem to single me out more often than not. I had no idea why until a few months into the job when she said something that surprised me.

“Get off my husband!”

I wasn’t sure how to respond, but I let her know that I wasn’t on her husband. Over time, she kept making comments that made me believe that her husband must have cheated on her with an Asian woman. Comments like:

“Get out of my house!”

“Get out of my husband!”

“They’re my kids, not yours!”

“Tell me it didn’t mean anything and you didn’t enjoy it.”

Most people don’t really think about it, but it’s the emotionally traumatic events that seem to stay with Alzheimer’s patients. They may not remember that they just ate, but they remember how people made them feel. Those memories stick with them longer than anything else, even if they don’t even know my name.


Just because they’re confused, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there, and that they don’t notice what’s going on around them. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Self-Published Vs Traditional

I participate in a lot of writing groups online. I guess the right phrase is that I lurk in a lot of writing groups online. Depending on the group, I may or may not write anything, or participate, but I always learn. It’s a great way to interact and build relationships with other writers. Most are super positive and helpful. We’re all learning the craft after all. There’s always something new we can gain from the interactions.

A little while ago, I read a post that just floored me. It was deleted pretty quickly by the admins, but the commenter asked if there were writers in the group who were serious about their craft or if they didn’t care and planned on self-publishing no matter what.

Over the past few years, I’ve interacted and met multiple self-pubbed authors, and I’ve got to say, they know what they’re doing. They’re putting themselves out there without support of a publisher, and all on their own. They’re brave, and they’re definitely serious about their craft. If they weren’t, then they wouldn’t bother.

Of course, that doesn’t apply to all self-published authors. Years ago, I gave away free critiques, and one of the girls I gave a critique to asked me what she should sell to make the most money. This was around the time that dystopias were big, and she made the comment that she should probably write that because she heard vampire stories are out.

It’s pretty easy to tell which author is serious about their craft, and it has nothing to do with traditional or self-published. It has to do with the effort they put in. Whether or not they’re willing to learn about the craft, and whether they’re willing to take criticism. Those are the authors I admire, no matter which path they choose.

Last month, I read a book by a self-published author, and I was very impressed. In fact, I had no idea it was self-published. The cover was professional, the writing solid, and I fell in love with the story. For those of you interested, it was the Unfortunate Fairy Tale Series by Chanda Hahn.

Professionalism has nothing to do with pathway. It has to do with the end result.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Learning from Point of View

A few weeks ago, I posted about dealing with racism in nursing. It’s something I have to deal with on a regular basis, and I wanted to share my own experiences.

I’ve been quite lucky. I don’t deal with too many overtly rude comments. Most of them are done quite innocently. After sharing that blog post, I had someone make a comment that just floored me. He identified himself as a white male and then told me that he doesn’t see racism where he works. He told me that I’m being overly sensitive and that my patients were trying to make small talk.
Which might be true, I’m not negating that. Except there have been enough situations where I’m positive that’s not what they were trying to do.

I’ve never had someone tell me that I’m not experiencing racism. That I’m being too sensitive. To be honest, I’m one of those people who’s grown so accustomed to it that I didn’t even notice it until it was pointed out to me. But for someone to tell me, as a white, male, that it doesn’t exist just felt wrong. And it made me wonder how many times I’ve done the same exact thing without realizing it to someone  of a different culture, race or gender than me.

Here’s the thing. I may not agree with you. I may see things through a different lens, but from here on out, I’m not going to negate your situation. I’m not going to say that you’re not feeling what you are. Because here’s the thing, I don’t know what you’re feeling.

As a nurse, I’m taught that pain is subjective. A patient may look like they’re in no pain, but if they’re telling me that they’re in pain 5/10, then that’s what their pain is. I can’t tell them that they’re not in pain. I’m not qualified because I don’t know. I’m not them.


I love learning about other people’s experiences. That’s why I share my own, because I want people to see from my point of view. So please, no matter who the naysayers are, please share your stories. There’s always someone out there who needs to hear it. Someone who can learn from you.