Natasha Oakley - British Romance Author

Writer of tug-at-the-heartstrings, feel-good romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thinking Positively!

I had one of those epiphanic moments last night. You know the kind that stops you in your tracks and makes you look at something again with fresh eyes.

Last night I met up with some writer friends - a nice mix of published and unpublished, fiction and non-fiction. I suppose we manage to catch-up every two or three months to swap writerly news and life stuff. Always nice to have a reason to get dressed! :)

So, we began ...

It's now just over a year since my lovely mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I spent the beginning of 2007 trying to make it possible for her to die at home. And I failed. Although I know she was happy to go to the hospice in the end, I still wish it had been possible.

Then, just in case things weren't bleak enough, the decision to pull funding on the place where my husband worked coincided with the reappearance of his cancer. Redundancy and illness is never a great combination, is it! Consequently he's spent the last six months redundant AND on chemo.

Anyway, I gave my update on all that - and my friends ask how my writing is going. The answer to that is 'slowly'. Still slowly. Under normal circumstances I write a fairly comfortable 2000 words a day. 50,000 publishable words in a couple of months. That's just not been happening this year.

For a start I've been incredibly tired. Bone tired. And, with five dependant children, I'm juggling lots of things. On the whole I think I've done well. The children are doing fantastically well. I'm so proud of them. But, of course, sometimes they've needed to talk - sometimes my husband has needed to - and by the time they've finished with me I feel like a wrung out wet towel. None of that is conducive to a productive writing life.

And that means I've committed the unforgiveable sin for an author under contract - I've missed my deadlines. I'm so cross about it, feel incredibly guilty, but I've reached the point of acceptance and my editor at Harlequin has been absolutely wonderful and very very supportive of me.

Sue, a published author sitting next to me, remarked 'your sales must be good!'. And I kind of shrugged and said I thought they were okay and that the last three books had made the Waldenbook Bestseller lists and the Romantic Times' Magazine had chosen 'The Tycoon's Princess Bride' as a Top Pick.

And that was that. We talked about other things and laughed a lot. I stuffed the diet and plumped for sausages and mash with an onion and balsamic vinegar gravy ...

Much later on someone said something and I replied that I thought thought the whole millenium had been fairly grotty. Then Sue provided my epiphanic moment. She said that, considering what I'd just been telling her about being on the bestseller lists and a Top Pick, she didn't think I knew how to celebrate the good things when they happened.

And, you know, she's right! This last year I've had some lovely things happen to me, all mixed in with the bad. There wasn't one person at that table who wouldn't like to be on a best seller list. Some who are still hoping to sell a book. How selfish am I!

I feel like I've been in a dark tunnel for the longest time. I don't 'do' depression. I have friends that do and I've seen how wretched that is. I've always been a glass half-full kind of a girl, but I think I've been as close to it as I'm ever going to get. I've been really busy getting through the day-to-day, making sure everyone else is okay, and I've not really paid any attention to me.

Now, tomorrow is my husband's final chemo day. Which is great, isn't it! Only he, of course, doesn't feel so great about it because he's going to be sick for the next week and continue to feel tired and ache for a few weeks after that. And then he has to find a job. Oh and then there's the scan in January and the prospect of a stem cell transplant looming after that.

And that's what I'd gone to dinner thinking. You know, I hadn't realised how negative I've allowed myself to become.

So, let's do better. Tomorrow IS the last planned dose of chemo. And my last three books HAVE been on the Waldenbooks Bestseller Lists, my contribution to the Niroli series IS a Romantic Times Magazine Top Pick and my editor is really wanting my next book whenever I can get it to her. I think I need to look up and see the light at the end of this particular tunnel, don't you?

Time for some positive thinking!



  • At 12:48 pm, Blogger Jill said…

    It is hard to think positively sometimes when the chips are down. My husband was looking for a job this summer and my problem was feeling negative and worrying. My friends had to keep reminding me "worrying doesn't help." It lets you feel like you're doing something, but really it is just taking up you're emotional energy.
    You're very brave to share all of this in your blog and I am sure there are better times ahead!

  • At 1:32 pm, Blogger Brown said…

    Happy to hear you're pulling through it all. So often, we equate worry with planning--but it so isn't, is it?

    Worry is worry, and it rips apart our immune systems, tears down our spirits and turns everything grey.

    Hold to the good stuff--life's a lot easier to get through when you jump from one good thing (even if all it is, is catching the bus on time for work) to another. Plus, an upbeat or can-do attitude has been proven to strengthen immune systems, and counter-act aging.

    Good luck and best wishes--we're all rooting for you!!!

  • At 1:47 pm, Blogger Kate Hardy said…

    Sending you a hug. You have a lot on your plate and you're coping really well, even if you don't think you are. Hang on in there!

  • At 9:26 pm, Blogger Nicola Marsh said…

    I think you're fabulous :)
    May all your 'glass half empty' days turn into full ones :)

  • At 3:25 am, Blogger Jennie Adams said…

    Natasha, that's the BEST cartoon clip. Where do you find them?

    All the best with your writing and family.



  • At 8:23 am, Blogger Liz Fielding said…

    I think you're pretty special, Natasha and so do your readers. Your family is blessed.

    Here's another hug.


  • At 2:29 am, Blogger Kate Hewitt said…

    Love the cartoon :) I think you're so right, it's easy to just focus on the negative and what's hard about life--and considering all that's going on in your life at the moment, it's amazing & admirable that you realise that! I just read the Tycoon's Princess Bride and I loved it--it kept me up past my bedtime!!



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