Dips, Bumps, and Hillocks


We all have ’em and they usually pop up unexpectedly: family emergencies, day-job crises, and anything else that’s intent on throwing us off plans we’d meticulously put in place.

I’d already been leaning too hard in one direction for a while, starting around the first of this year. Much of 2019 has been spent pushing my writing career forward, neglecting quality time with my son, not fully supporting my wife in her own artistic endeavors, and also being lackadaisical concerning the security of my day job (read on) so that I can still pay the rent and medical bills (read on) for the foreseeable future.

In the end, I was pretty selfish as I chased my dream, pretending I could do it all.

Back in the middle of March, I realized that doing it all wasn’t reality. I don’t know about you, but I’m shocked (Shocked! I say) to find out that life doesn’t align perfectly around our desires. And can you believe the notion that self-improvement and progress doesn’t stick to a steady incline? Such nerve!

Yes, folks. There are dips, bumps, and hillocks all along the way.

Just over the past month, my company let my fellow employees and I know that they’re going to be outsourcing quite a few of our positions. We’re all in limbo, not knowing who’s going to be affected, but we’ll find out over the next couple of months.

On top of that, a sickness of plague-like proportions hit our family a couple of weeks ago that left us, for all practical purposes, walking dead. My son’s illness developed into full-blown pneumonia which required multiple visits to the ER and pediatrician.

He’s doing much better now, thank God, but my wife and I are, how can I put it–a little more mature in years–and our bodies are taking a little longer to recover. Dealing with a sick child is difficult enough when one’s healthy, but we’ve had our share of sleepless, cough-filled nights and endless days while trying to keep it all together.

Anyway, I promise you, I’m not here for a pity party. Things could be much, much worse.

All of this is to say that, believe it or not, I see a smidgen of silver lining on those dark clouds, and to add to the cliche bucket, a ray of light at the end of the tunnel.

Whenever my son and wife have been catching up on sleep, I’ve been able to spend some time at the keyboard, writing more in the past week than I have in two months.

I’ve also been able to read more as we’ve been shut-ins. I’ve gotten through a novel and several short stories. All inspiration for the well.

And last, but not least, I had a potent reminder yesterday of why I even bother to put so much pressure on myself:

I was invited about a month ago by my favorite mom-and-pop bookstore to participate in a local authors event. I only prayed that I would be well enough to attend. Luckily, I was. To spend time with fellow authors and talk to prospective customers about my work, even under an antihistamine haze, is a pleasure that’s hard to replicate.

Through this life-roll, I’ve had bits of reaffirmation–a few extra kicks in the pants that I need to keep coming back to the writing.

So, even though I’m not exactly writing at warp speed at the moment, I’m building up to it, knowing full well that the next bump or dip is somewhere around the corner. That’s OK. All the more reason to use the momentum available and appreciate the little gifts of time as they come.

May your own bits of reaffirmation reach you as well. Keep up the good fight!


16 thoughts on “Dips, Bumps, and Hillocks

  1. Dips and bumps indeed! The only advantage is in the depth you carve into yo’self. Puts more dots on the canvas, makes more connections to mine for your writing. Yes, I’m shameless about exploiting my own experiences once they settle. Don’t deny them. Wrestle then down.

    So good that the graces have spared you worse results. Take good care. I will bring soup.

    1. Thank you, Pam. Definitely grist for the mill!! And thank you for the soup, but I’ll miss you this Saturday again. Hopefully the next meeting will align better with my calendar.

  2. They look like a good bunch of writers (a ‘plot’ of writers? a ‘paragraph’ of writers? Got it – a procrastination of writers ;-)). I’ve found I tend to underestimate my family. They ‘get it’ much more than I do half the time. Doesn’t stop me feeling guilty for all the times I’ve focused on me a bit, but it’s part of being in a family. We should all do it now and then. Kids are obviously slightly different when they’re young, but some sofa/TV time by their side, some bed time stories, or a blatantly obvious bribe through ice-cream tends to work wonders.

    Good to see you smiling matey.

    1. Haha…a procrastination of writers, indeed. And good point on underestimating the family. Whenever I bring it up, my wife is fully supportive and like “do what you have to do,” yet, like you, I still feel guilty. But you’re right, a little TV time with her and Lego City time with Angus goes a long way.

  3. Harvey StanbroughMay 13, 2019 at 2:52 am

    An excellent post, Phillip, and I’m so glad you’re back or on your way back. My wish is that you keep getting better (in every way).

    1. Appreciate it, Harvey! You’re a daily inspiration.

  4. Oh, dear, sounds like dips, bumps, and bollocks ? Hope you and your will be back to 100% well soon! The author event sounded exciting and what a great reminder for why you write. Just remember: a few words is better than no words at all. At least when you have the opportunity to write, you take it which is a key to success. I’m sorry to hear about the possible outsourcing. Given what you do, how is that even a good idea? How will that save your company money (which I assume is why they want to outsource)? I work for state government and outsourcing is more much expensive than hiring regular employees , especially with it comes to IT projects.

    1. LOL. Lots of bollocks. 😛 And don’t get me started on the outsourcing deal. I’ve been through this once before and management looks good for a year or two until the costs all of a sudden start piling up. Oh well. I’m ready to hit it big as a writer and be my own boss, but I guess a little more patience is in order. 🙂

  5. I’m really sorry to hear it’s been a challenging season for you and your family, Phillip. It seems the older we get, the more difficult life becomes. I’m happy to hear little Angus is doing better. Poor little fella.

    1. This life thing certainly doesn’t seem to get any easier. Once you thing you’ve gained some experience and are ready to tackle anything, boom, life sends you something new. I guess that’s why we write…plenty of conflict in our own lives to pull from. 🙂

  6. So glad to see you are well. Sorry about Angus. It is hard on parents when the little ones are in distress. Nothing beats a book signing to keep one at the keyboard. Best wishes.

    1. Thank you, John. You’re right about the little ones…stress seems to multiply exponentially when it’s affecting them vs. the grown ups. But I’m so happy he’s back to his old self.

  7. A local author event . . . that’s so cool! Are you still participating in WOTF? Haven’t seen you around the boards in forever. I’ve found over the last several months that, the more I progress in my own writing, the less interest those WOTF forum boards hold for me, although I’m still sending in stories. I missed the last few quarters, but I’ll have one ready to go for next month. Take care of your family and yourself, bro.

    1. Sadly, I haven’t submitted anything to WotF since last year. The stories I’ve been writing just haven’t fit the mold, believe it or not, but I still plan on doing so. I probably need to prioritize it because I’ve had two professional sales since, so one more, and I believe I’m disqualified! :-O Glad to hear you’re still going at it!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.