Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Whopper of a Change

New year. New beginnings. And a whole new lifestyle for me. I am moving from the place where I have lived for the past 16 years. The last home I shared with my husband. The little plot of land fondly called Grandma's Ranch where I happily played farmer for those past 16 years. Many wonderful friends. And my beloved Winnsboro Center for the Arts where I found new expressions of art on stage and with a paintbrush.

Many things have prompted this drastic change in my life, the major one being chronic health issues that demand specialists that are 100 miles away. The drive for appointments is, well, always a challenge.

Then there's the fact that I live alone, except for my dog and my four cats, but they are not much help in an emergency.

I have amazing friends and neighbors, who have been so helpful and supportive for the past few years, but last August I realized that it was not fair to keep relying on them when an animal got sick or a tree came down on a fence. It was clear that I could no longer take care of the property, so I made the tough decision to sell and move closer to my kids. They have made it abundantly clear that I can rely on them all the time.

So, why am I posting this here on The Blood Red Pencil? What does my little saga have to do with writing?

Change, big or small, can be fodder for a new story, or something you assign to a character in an existing story, and see how the change affects him or her.

Or you can reflect on all the ramifications of that change and examine the emotions that are created, and those emotions can also be assigned to a character.

How would your character feel when walking away from the home she shared with her husband? A home where they were so happy?

How different would it be if they did not have a happy relationship?

How would your character feel leaving a community where she was well-known and much loved to go to a place where she did not know anybody? What kind of character is this? One who is strong and resilient, or one who is scared and uncertain? Would she boldly go forward, or leave heel marks between her old home and the new one?

Now switch gender and look at a major change from a male perspective. Would he spend time considering all the emotional ramifications of the change? Would he be the first one to suggest "goodbye" rituals to mark this significant time? Or would he simply be more focused on the logistics? Would he be more pragmatic about it all?

For the most part, women enter into openly acknowledging and discussing the emotional effects of a significant change more easily and more quickly than men, so we have to be aware of those differences when trying to write cross gender. It will be the subtle things that make it real, which is what I used to tell my Young Players at the art center who were playing cross gender. So we owe it to our readers to make sure we are making it real.

How do you deal with change? Is it easy for you? I have a friend who said she would cheerfully sell her place and her horses and move on to something new and exciting with her husband. She does not put down deep roots. I do. Mine go very deep, which is maybe why I have such an affinity with trees.

If you would care to read a little more of my personal reflection on this move, I wrote about it HERE on my blog. And the next time I post a story here on the blog, it will be from my new home.
Maryann Miller is a novelist, editor, and sometimes an actress. She has written a number of mysteries, including the critically-acclaimed Season Mystery Series that debuted with Open Season. Information about her books and her editing rates is available on her website.  


  1. Big moves like yours can change you life is so many wonderful ways, Maryann. I've made big moves five times in my life, and each one brought new excitement, new friends, and new opportunities and ideas for my writing time. I hope your move brings joy and happiness.

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words, Patricia. I keep trying to look ahead with a sense of anticipation, and it helps to have this kind of encouragement from friends and family. I need all I can get. :-)

  2. Moves can be hard at any time, but they seem especially difficult when we are older. Energy wanes. Agility to do the physical work is almost non-existent. Nostalgia runs high as we cling to the familiar. Such an experience is trying to say the least, but it is also great grist for the writing mill. Many of my protagonists are not spring chickens, nor are my target readers. Sharing experiences from the heart through characters certainly lends a realism to their feelings about big moves as well as many other things. There really is a positive side, one which was alluded to by Patricia Stoltey: big moves, new beginnings. Lots of ways a story can grow out of this.

    1. So true, Linda, and I agree that our age does make a difference in how we handle the changes and the moves. As I consider the moves in my life, I can see that the earlier ones were much easier in many respects and I did look forward with a greater sense of anticipation.

      Applying this to characters of different ages is another interesting way to pull our life experiences into story.

  3. I'm so sorry to hear that your health issues have necessitated such a drastic change (and loss). I'm sure you will grieve, along with embracing the new chapter of your life. And yay for your awesome kids. At least being close to them will take a lot of the sting out of closing the previous chapter. And as Pat said, New chapter: who knows what wonderful opportunities and experiences will come your way.

    1. Thanks so much, Elle, and you are right about the myriad of emotions I have been experiencing over the past few months dealing with all this move entails. And yes, yay for my awesome kids. They have done so much for me.

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  5. So sorry to hear about your health issues. Sadly, Ill health changes our options and affects every decision. My one regret is that I didn't start learning about and writing books in my 20s instead of 40s. Health now limits my ability to do all that I wanted to, especially traveling.

    1. We appear to be in similar boats floating down the same river, Diana. My ability to travel is limited, as well, but I can get a bit of writing done every day. For me, that is what is most important.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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