Sunday, March 13, 2011

Conflict Ain't So Good After All

As writers, we’re told to write conflict-laden work. Ratchet the conflict up, pour it on, drizzle it with chocolate—whatever—readers want it. Give it to them in the ultra mega big gulp size.
Well, a big dose of real-life conflict grabbed me by the throat on Friday and won’t let go. The company my husband has worked for twenty years is firing him. He’s a manager and a band of employees plotted to get him out. He’s too firm. They don’t like it. So they won. The company took their side, my husband is out of a job, and possibly won’t qualify for unemployment.
They haven’t officially “fired” him; they’ve just kept him dangling. “We’ll meet Wednesday,” his boss said. So we’re stuck. I’m a stay at home mom and we live paycheck to paycheck—more conflict.
I can’t eat or sleep. My hands won’t stop shaking. I’m crying. This isn’t fun. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to finish my novel, knowing I’m going to feel this same way when I toss in more crap for my character to deal with. Why do we like to read about such misfortune? Why can’t we read about bubble gum and rainbows more often than seeing the characters we love fall over and over again?
Is it the ride back, the stand after the fall? Does that mean I’ll have a happy ending too?
Tell me your story. Have you ever had the world crash in on you? What has that experience done to your writing?

24 comments:

Gary Baker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trisha Leaver said...

I tend to be an emotional writer so every bit of tension, angst, and anger I feel in my every day life gets channeled into my characters. Sometimes it is for the better; sometimes it is for the worse, but it does provide a creative release for my emotions.

So sorry to hear about the job loss. Sending lots of encouraging thoughts and well-wishes your way!

Liz Fichera said...

Diana, I am so sorry to hear about your husband's situation. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail this week and he'll be able to sort this out.

Misty Provencher said...

I don't think it's the conflict we love, but the growth and knowledge we gain from it that we love. I'm sorry to hear you've had such a big thing thrown at you, Diana and I can completely relate to how scary it is, having been through some tough times too. The advice I would give you is this: let yourself be upset for three days - then throw yourself at the solution. Put the book on hold and become the best cover letter & resume writer in the world. Become the most savvy at cutting costs, finding bargains. Use your talents- every one of them that you can-to creatively generate more income. You've got a lot to handle right now, but you'll find that you can do it when you start taking the steps. It's going to be okay, all you have to do is hang in there.

J.L. Campbell said...

What keeps us reading through the conflict in love stories, for instance, is that at the end we know happiness will come.

Unfortunately, what your family is going through is what has been experienced by so many others. My husband has been in a similar situation and we're not in the clear yet. But looking back, God has been good to us and kept us afloat through some really difficult time.

You won't be able to focus enough to produce great writing, but that's not very important in comparison to the challenges you'll be facing.

Keep hope alive though. As long as we're alive, I believe we have to hang on to the knowledge that things can and do get better.

T.K. Millin, The Unknown Author- said...

Diana I am sorry to hear of your recent news and want to add that no matter what God is always there. Remember, even on dark and stormy days the sun is still shining, you just have to look high enough.
Like most people in life, I too have experienced triggers that have changed the course of my life; some good and some not so good. But that is one thing I believe sets us writers apart is we have an outlet which lets our creative minds deal with the situation and turn it into something. Some of my best writing has come out of a burden in my life, leading to confidence in that I was able to survive through it and create something out of it.

Heather said...

I am so sorry to hear about this. I do believe that everything happens for a reason - and I believe that things like this happen because he's meant to be doing something greater. Keep your head up and try to channel some of your stress into your writing, just to get it all out.

tanyamaikai said...

I get so frustrated when the only thing we can say is "hang in there" during these situations where we don't have control...somehow "hanging on" becomes the most anguishing and difficult experience.

But it will be over, you will stand up, you will have what you need. This IS why we like to read conflict, because we always KNOW the problem is going to END. We keep reading to experience how they fix things and we get to add evidence to the "It's Always Ok In The End" file.

One of my favorite quotes is "It's all okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end." So yes, DO hang in there!!!!

Jordan McCollum said...

I'm so sorry, Diana! I was laid off over four years ago. On my way into the office that day, I saw a house for sale and thought about how the owners must have some new opportunity elsewhere. On the way out for the last time a couple hours later, I saw the same sign and grumbled to myself about how the owners must've lost their job.

However, I ended up with a job that worked better for our family (less work, better pay, still working from home). I was sad to leave that position when the time (and baby #3) came.

My dad spent a decade on the "short list" as his employer cut two-thirds of their workforce. Eventually, after 26 total years with the company, he was laid off. He was out of work for a long time, but now he has a new job that he loves—and I think they love him back just as much.

Often when I or people close to me are going through hard times, I have a hard time writing—not just finding the time, but the will. (When my cousin went through a horrible break up, for example, I felt like a fraud writing about imaginary people's heartache.) It varies for all of us.

Good luck!! I just told my best friend that this season of life may last longer than you wanted, but eventually seasons change. Here's hoping your season changes soon, too.

(Oh, and totally apply for unemployment. My husband has fired people for abundant, well-documented cause—and they appealed and even after a full hearing, the state gave them unemployment.)

Michael Offutt said...

This is terrible news and my heart goes out to you. No one appreciates employees anymore. I hope that your husband qualifies for unemployment. He is lucky to have you there to emotionally support him because being fired makes you feel terrible. Try to stay positive (I know it's hard).

Diana said...

Thanks for all the kind words. In the grand scheme of things my problems are minute compared to those of Japan. A sock in the face, have to get back on my feet. Not fun.

Mary said...

Diana, sorry to hear about your difficulties. Here's hoping this will lead to better opportunities for all of you.

Austin James said...

I like to think everything bad that happens to us has the potential to be good... perhaps a better job awaits, or a job where the employees are better...

I'm convinced you can't control what happens in life... you can only control how you react to it...

Of course, all that sounds good, but it doesn't take away the fact that something bad happened... Just try and stay positive and write your feelings out... it usually helps.

Carol Riggs said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your troubles, and I hope your husband can get unemployment. He could doublecheck--some people even get unemployment when they've voluntarily quit, depending on the reason. My husband got laid off in November--right before Thanksgiving (good timing, guys!) but luckily we get unemployment, though it's less than a paycheck. Best wishes for you!

LTM said...

whoa. OMG, so sorry to hear that. And yes, we're actually in the middle of a huge, work-related move ourselves. ((big hug)) to you guys as you make it through this challenge~

Trisha said...

So sorry to hear about this :( Surely he will have to qualify for unemployment if there's no money at all coming in. I hope so *hug*

Angela Scott said...

Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad. Life sucks. It does sometimes. I can only imagine what you're going through, but I want you to know that you have so many people on your side, so many people who have your back (I;m one of them, just in case you didn't catch that).

Writing may have to take a momentarily backseat to what you have going on right now. But you will come back to it. You may need to juggle, but you will write and you will finish this WIP of yours, and the next one, and the next one. You ARE a fantastic writer. Don't doubt that.

Things will get better. I know I keep saying it and I know you probably are sick of hearing it, but it will. Hang there sweet lady. Hang in there. And when you feel like you can't hang in there anymore, I will grab a hold or your wrist and not let go.

Danielle Rose said...

Ouch! Best of luck. I don't envy your situation and will be hoping for the best for you and your family.

Ah... conflict. I suppose that's what makes writers in a way. We KNOW all about it. For me, it provides endless fodder for my stories . . . if only I could get through the situation itself and get back to writing. That's the hard part (outside of the conflict itself, of course)

M Pax said...

What a horrible story. Sorry to hear about this.

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

I love how you wrote that--the stand after the fall. I think that's what I enjoy reading for, knowing how badly someone wants something and then seeing them succeed.
I know you'll have your happy ending too. We're praying for you.

Draven Ames said...

I'm so sorry about this. That happened to my father-in-law. Some terrible people are in the world, and they don't care about other people. The job market is horrible and who knows what else is out there. I hope he is looking for new employment before they give official word of a firing.

So many people are living in poverty. We send as much as we can into donations, trying to help people out. We've all been here before.

Reading about happiness seems to make people bored to death. Maybe that is why so many people mess up their relationships when things are going good. We are animals who only imagine the ability to be good. Some imagine better than others, and others imagine they are being judged or watched, but few ever forget what their animal self wants. Many act on impulses and never fully become aware that they are the choice maker, not the choices themselves.

I don't know where I'm going with all that, but you sparked conversation. Good luck in your search. My wife is in HR, and she finds people jobs all day. There are a lot out there, if you look 8 hours a day. If you need resume advice, my wife is the best. Let me know.

Draven Ames
http://dravenames.blogspot.com/

Kienlen-Martinez Family said...

It seems that whenever bad happens we get those wonderful words of encouragement. Everything happens for a reason, we never get more than we can handle, bad things happen to good people. Yeah yeah yeah, heard it all before.

The truth of the matter is we are really the only ones that can find our way through the rough. Yes friend are wonderful and words of encouragement are helpful, but we really rely on ourselves first and lean on others for support second.

Quite a few years ago someone I knew had a massive heartattack at my work. I was the only one that knew CPR. To make a very long story short he took his last breath as I was doing chest conpresions. I was a train wreck. Talk about dealing with a massive rush of unknow feeligs and emotions. I did not know how to deal with it. I not only would not listen to those words of encouragement, but I pushed them away and didn't listen to myself.

I ended up losing a relationship and closing myself off to everyone including me. It took some time but I finally realized I needed to make it better for me and my friends and family that may want to be around me.

There is no quick fix or real words that will make it better. The best thing to remember is to take care of yourself first. You are the support this time, and if you breakdown and fall apart your husband has lost his biggest cheerleader.

So just remember...one day at a time, baby steps and all those other wonderful cliches that make me want to vomit.

Robyn Campbell said...

Following you back, fellow crusader. (I'm way behind due to an operation. ugh)

Gosh, I'm truly sorry about your news. But. I won't sugarcoat it by saying everything happens for a reason. I will tell you this, it will get better. I speak from experience. I will pray about this though, if you don't mind. Prayer moves mountains. But continue to support your hubby. And I will say the same to him. That will get you through. The hug for no other reason than to say, "I love you."

TheDLBurton said...

It has taught me to write in spite of the dark days. As writers we taught to cherish our muse and love our inspiration. Sometimes the inspiration won't come and in those moments I am learning to write ahead of the inspiration.