Tuesday, January 23, 2018

What's Stress Got To Do With It? (Jill)

Last week found me boiling water on my stove.

We live in a small, rural town, and lately, we’d been experiencing air in our tap water. It was like milk, with a surplus of bubbles, that surged from our faucet in staccato bursts. Then people in the community started complaining of dirt in their water. After a few days of this, we received a boil water notice with an urgent plea to conserve. Rumors and facts flew about the level of water in the town tanks, the reason for the low water levels, and what was being done (or not being done) to fix the many leaks in the pipes.

In between deciding if there was enough water to take a shower or do laundry, I was also trying to keep my youngest focused on her homework and midterms. Her math midterm was looming, and play practice for the middle school play was every night. My oldest was also dealing with midterms and waiting for an acceptance to her favorite college.

Surprisingly, I had trouble staying focused on my current Work In Progress (WIP).

Stress  can disrupt creativity. A simple Google search of stress + creativity brings up plenty of studies and coping solutions. I’m thankful I wasn’t dealing with a health issue, a financial scare, a death, or some other tragedy. Our water concerns and midterms are miniscule problems in the grand scheme of things. Still, it affected my productivity. Some people can compartmentalize and work anyway—I envy their ability. I carry my stress with me, make it comfortable, feed it snacks. So when I sit down to write, it settles over my shoulder to breathe down my neck while I stare at a blank computer screen. 

Working on smaller projects helped. I managed to finish a flash fiction piece and polish a short story. I gave myself grace, lots and lots of grace. I’m not superhuman, and I know my limits. Tomorrow would be waiting—preferably one without a boil water requirement, or a million phone calls to make, or a pre-algebra midterm to dread.
On Friday, our community received pallets of drinking water from Nestle, as well as help from a neighboring community to find and fix the leaks in our system. I also read an email from the pre-algebra teacher. (My daughter aced the midterm!)

That afternoon, I finished plotting my next WIP. Tomorrow had arrived.


  1. That is a stressful situation, Jill. I'm glad the water issue is being addressed. Congrats to your daughter on her math test results and you on plotting your next WIP!

  2. Thanks, Elizabeth! Stress is just one of those things I need to learn how to handle. :-)

  3. Oh no, I hope the water situation gets resolved soon! I'm totally with you - when I'm really stressed about something it's hard for me to switch gears into creative mode. Which is probably why I haven't written anything in the past two months... :( But one thing that helps me is relaxing with a good book. It's amazing how reading someone else's story makes me want to go work on my own!


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