Stillness in the Heart of Chaos

Stillness in the Heart of Chaos

After a gruelling two years in which I’ve written very little fiction but have:

  • Built a stellar team of folks to help me run my writing site:
    Dan Allen – Developer
    Kirsten Bolda – Site Designer
    Cat Gerlach & Amy Padgett, Forum Head Moderators
    Carol Englehaupt – moderator
    Karen Lynn – moderator
    Chris Makowski – moderator
    Tom Vetter – moderator
    Rez Zircon – moderator
    Rebecca Galardo – help desk
  • Completely overhauled one of my Big Three writing classes, How to Think Sideways
  • Built two new writing workshops: Title. Cover. Copy. Fiction Marketing Workshop and 24-Hour Intensive: Find Your Writing Voice

  • Threw out the first version of How to Write a Series, and am now writing an all-new Version 2 that everyone who owned the original Expansion Version already owns
  • Worked with the head of my team, Dan Allen, my site developer, to get a new website built on and all the classes broken by WordPress nearly three years ago up and running
  • Worked with my designer, Kirsten Bolda, who is making my designs beautiful (you haven’t seen any of her work yet except for the headers on the new blog
  • Designed the internal and external interfaces for the new site software Dan is building me, using online paper-testing, feedback from my writers
  • Designed a couple of additional software projects Dan and I will be building together over the next couple of years
  • Wrote the third and fourth (still unpublished) stories for the Longview Series
  • And got through a bunch of surgeries with one less parathyroid gland and minus pretty close to half a tongue, but healthier and with a lot more energy and focus than I’ve had in quite a few years
  • And I’ve drunk approximately 2190 cups of unsweetened plain green tea. Three cups per day, every day, without missing one cup or one day, since the day after I was diagnosed with dysplasia, which was the day I went home, searched the Internet, found the book Anticancer, and read it straight through. The amount I’m drinking is just enough to keep me perpetually a little bit queasy. Which tells me it’s enough to be of benefit.

The last two years plus have been rough. But worthwhile.

The definition of LIFE is: Shit goes wrong. Deal with it. Shit goes right. Enjoy it. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

So I’m not going to say, “Hey I’m getting to an easy stretch!”

Because the definition of STUPID is: Thinking that when life gets better, it will stay better.

I’ve been stupid. I’m getting smarter.

There’s been a lot of chaos the past couple of years. A lot of times when I felt like I’d been ground into the dirt, when I was scared for my life, when I was scared about money, when I could not see my way clear to a time when anything was ever going to be okay again.

But every morning when I step into the shower, I close my eyes and breathe deep and let the water pounding on my head become the sound of the rain, and the silence of solitude, and I embrace whatever the day might bring, and my resolution to get through it.

And so far, every day I have gotten through it.

Sometimes that brief stillness, that brief respite, gives me a gift.

Which it did today.

As soon as I post this, I’m writing a story, the title of which is “Freebie,” which made me cry and made me happy at the same time when I thought it up, and which is going to be included in the anthology my HWC writers and I are putting together right now.

More on that in another post. Right now, I have a story to write.

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34 responses to “Stillness in the Heart of Chaos”

  1. William Stilianessis Avatar
    William Stilianessis

    Dear Holly,

    Thank you once again for allowing a glimpse into your life and soul. Our struggles are different and then again so much the same. My faith sees me through and the act of writing puts it all into motion. Your words resound in my background, they relate and reverberate deeply the harmony of time. It reminds me that life will be okay. “. . . when I could not see my way clear to a time when anything was ever going to be okay again.”
    Often in the sea do I find peace. I live far from it physically now, yet it is always near. Either in prose or art, sometimes both. You said it best,”Sometimes that brief stillness, that brief respite, gives me a gift.” Yes, a gift of life again to be cherished.
    Thank you.

  2. Mike Avatar

    Thanks for sharing your heart with us, Holly. I understand what you mean by having a gruelling two years. The past four years have been less-than-wonderful for me. Finding your website and your writing resources online fortuitously happened at the same time that I wanted to get serious about writing. And then the bottom of my world fell out when I was diagnosed with MS.

    It’s been a long road back toward equilibrium, and I haven’t arrived yet. But at least I have a goal before me, which is much better than moping about my life being over. It’s not. It’s just not the same life as before. And if I can act on my decades-long desire to actually put some meat on the skeletons of stories that have been collecting dust for far too long, that will be a big sign that there really is life after MS!

  3. Nimue Avatar

    I’m grateful that you have pulled through and weathered the storm. You are an incredibly brave person. Three cheers for all the projects you have made a reality!
    A small off topic question, if I may – how do I sign up for the Writing Tips on Drip? I belatedly found your email announcing the closing down of the old mailing list and I can’t find the yellow tab now… thanks a lot!

    1. Holly Avatar

      I’ve discovered that folks who can’t see the yellow sign up form usually have an ad blocker or pop-up blocker going. These apparently conflict with Drip’s spiffy slide-up tab form.

      If you turn what you’re using off for my site long enough to get the form, you can turn it back on again right away. I only have one list, so barring weird circumstances (I can’t think of any that would apply, but I’m a veteran of the weird circumstance and things going boom) you won’t need to sign up again.

      1. Nimue Avatar

        Hello, thank you very much, that did solve it – so relieved now! I would hate to miss out on the news and tips from you:-)

  4. Jennifer Dyer Avatar

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve been in the midst of a storm too and it’s so hard not to look around and be jealous of others who seem to have it easier (appearances are always deceiving though, right?). And you’re so right. Stuff happens, good and bad. What we choose to do with that stuff is part of what defines us. Thanks for all you do. I’m heading to the kitchen now to drink some more green tea…

    1. Holly Avatar

      Strange as this may sound, I’m grateful for every obstacle that I’ve faced and survived. (So far, all of them.) I never learned a thing about who I am capable of being or what I am capable of accomplishing from the easy times.

      Hard times both taught me what I can do and showed me what I love enough to fight for.

      Hang in, remember to breathe, and look at what you discover about your abilities and your passions from this current obstacle. Pain and the overcoming of it will pay you better than luxury ever did.

  5. Dianne Avatar

    I never usually respond to posts, however, I’m in the middle of a Loki inspired chaotic point in my life. Thanks for reminding me that calm still happens, even if it is only when I’m in the shower!

  6. Talena Winters Avatar

    Hi, Holly. When I lost my son two years ago, one of the books I read on grief suggested something along the lines that instead of looking at life as supposed to achieve some blissful state into which trouble is a rude intrusion, we should look at life as a cycle of loss with periods of respite. I think we are happier when we see it this way, as you do, I think because we spend less time bemoaning the problems in our life (because we expected them) and more time enjoying the beautiful things that make the trouble worthwhile.

    Every life has cycles, and I know, as an artist, it feels so frustrating when you are on a “maintenence” or “business-building” cycle when you really want to go play with your Muse. But when you finally let that Muse loose again, your left brain will have so much less to worry about because all this stuff has been dealt with. 🙂 Hang in there. Even with half a tongue, you still have the power to put words into the world that change people.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Hugs. You’re braver than I have ever been.

      1. Talena Winters Avatar

        ❤ Thank you. Don’t know if I’d agree. I’ve been hanging around long enough to be familiar worth a good chunk of your story. Let’s just say, you’ve often inspired me.

  7. Nina Avatar

    Not that I’m wishing anything bad on anyone but it’s good to know I’m not alone in my daily struggles. I’m like you Holly, except I’m homeless. While I’m being still and allowing God to help me out of this current life trial (’cause He didn’t bring me this far to leave me hanging), I’m writing and selling my books online across different platforms.

    I figure I’m already living in a homeless shelter and I’m alive so there’s no where to go but up. And believe it or not, I’m really enjoying devoting myself to my chosen career.

    I wish you well in all that you undertake, Holly and thanks for the writing help.




    As the cliche goes…what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You are stronger, smarter and inspiring.

    The Force is with you!

  9. Texanne Avatar

    Holly, I’m so glad to see that you are standing in the sunlight again, and sorry that I couldn’t be with you through the worst of it. I look forward to reading your new stories.

  10. Chaitali Gawade Avatar

    Thanks for sharing your struggles Holly. You are an inspiration 🙂

  11. Katharina Gerlach Avatar

    I’m glad I can be on your team. It’s such a lovely place to be. Hugs.

    1. Texanne Avatar

      When I had to leave the Hollyverse, I was so happy to have you and Amy take over as head mods. You are amazing.

  12. Aleta K Dye Avatar

    So glad you are feeling better and stronger. I like your philosophy of life now because with all you have been through, you know that there will be good days and bad days, and you can make it through. You’re a tough cookie!

  13. Katherine Smits Avatar

    I just read “Freebie” and loved it. You’re an inspiration, Holly!

  14. Sheila Good Avatar

    Holly, sends well wishes your way. I’m sorry you’ve had so many ups and downs; but, as you noted- shit happens and the it gets better. I’m get things are better for you. You have always been an inspiration for me and I gotta tell you, in spite of all your trials, you’ve gotten a hell of a lot accomplished. Looking to see all the great things ahead.

  15. Nancy Sampson-Bach Avatar

    You have always been an inspiration to me! Here’s to more good days than bad and to that gift of solitude in the midst of madness. Cheers!

  16. Tim Avatar

    And what a great story it is, too. Thanks for shining the light.

  17. Dean Avatar

    You are always amazing Holly !

  18. dragon Avatar

    Always encouraging, even when I’m wondering if there will be a dawn. Thanks.

  19. Cheryl Sams Avatar
    Cheryl Sams

    I loved this story and I understood this story from the very beginning. A lot of flash fictions I have to read at least three times before I understand what the person is writing about.

  20. Cheryl Sams Avatar
    Cheryl Sams

    Holly, I knew it was a reason I was drawn to you and your site, besides the free course you offered. You are a fighter and you don’t give up no matter what. So keep hanging in there and teaching us new and inspirational lessons in life and in writing. Thanks for all that you do.

  21. Angela wooldridge Avatar

    Whoop! Whoop! Yay Holly! ???

    1. Holly Avatar

      😀 Thanks for the cheering. Much appreciated.

  22. Marie-Claire Allington Avatar

    From across this side of the pond, I have been cheering you on and I love the results of all the work you and the team have done – now it’s down to us lot to get out there and get published 🙂

    1. Holly Avatar

      You have been fantastically supportive through this last couple of years of mess, and I’m grateful.

      Thank you. And, yeah… get your stuff in print. 😀

  23. Rebecca Avatar

    Beautiful <3 And I LOVE that definition of life!

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thank you. I enjoy defining things. It’s one of those odd predilections that has given me a better handle on getting through the day.

  24. Tuff Gartin Avatar

    Holly, I have learned many things about writing from you. But possibly the most important lesson you have taught me is perseverance and never giving up. It would have been very easy for you to throw in the towel a long time ago, and especially these past 2 years, but you never gave up. Even more, you came out the other side with a positive attitude.

    You are an inspiration to me.

    I look forward to reading “Freebie”.


    1. Holly Avatar

      I have it finished now, and the first-draft version is up in the anthology post here: FREEBIE First-Draft Version

      FOR ANYONE ELSE WHO’S INTERESTED: members will be able to read it just by logging in, then going to the link above.

      This is the free JOIN link for nonmembers.

      Once the anthology is published, the story will go up for free in the BOOKS section.

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