Tag Archives: gratitude

Susan Speaks: Doing the Hard Work


Recovering is hard work.

Spin that, twist it, turn it however you like. But the simple fact is that recovering is hard work. It may not seem like it — even I am now a pro with drops, and I’m not doing much more than hanging out on the couch with a cat who’s decided he’s my therapy cat — because, really, how hard is it to sit on the couch all day?

You’d be surprised. It’s hard, and not just because if you’ve followed me for the past year, you’ve seen me happily and gloriously transition to a standing desk.

My teenagers have been phenomenal, helping with laundry and dishes and the boy has taken over the litter pans as his own project, no resentment that his sister isn’t helping with them (she’s getting pretty much the full brunt of the laundry, and they are splitting dishes). It’s working.

We have a hodgepodge of friends helping out with the driving. A few strangers. And last year’s captain of the boy’s ultimate team thrown in for good measure. And food still shows up every now and then, although with less frequency. That’s a good thing. My freezer is full of red sauce and meatballs!

And yet… and yet… snags happen. One happened yesterday: the pressure in my eye is still too high. We have to get it down. No options. We HAVE to get it down. Two pharmacies, two new eye drops and an oral something-or-other, and a lot of crossed fingers, toes, arms, and legs. I’d cross my eyes, too, but … yeah. Maybe not right now.

This would be a good time for more prayers.

But there’s a lot to be grateful for. Kids who bravely face this with me. The cat who’s decided he’s my therapy cat and rarely leaves my side. Health insurance that’s saving me from bankruptcy and letting me keep my house.

And, of course, a sense of humor. Some of the bad jokes are slowing as this progresses from a shocking incident to become a new way of life. Doesn’t mean I’m not seizing opportunities. It just means I’m not searching them out, trying to use levity to keep my cool.

Except… right now, I’m kinda scared. This was a hurdle I knew we had to jump over, but when I’m standing in front of it, it’s a pretty tall one, although the surgeon is concerned but not terribly alarmed. Keep the good vibes coming.

And work! Work is rolling in and I was going to turn yesterday into my first work day, but wound up spending first most of the day at the doctor’s and then a couple hours trying to find the medicines I need. (And in the middle of that, my father had the misfortunate of Face Timing me and I think I scared him more than I needed to, but my transportation was on a strict timeframe, so chatting wasn’t the best idea.)

Overall, it’s a mixed bag. I’m looking forward to working today, on the couch. Sitting on my butt, per the doctor’s orders. Taking my medicines and eye drops and hanging out. And healing. Thursday, I go back to see how things are progressing. And I’m scared of what the answer will be.

Recovery is hard work. But you gotta do the hard work to get the payout. Vision. Standing desks. And clients who write amazing fiction and keep me on my toes.

As one of my favorite clients says, Excelsior.

But keep those prayers coming. I’ll keep doing the hard work.


#SaystheEditor June, oh June


It’s the second week of June. I think we can all agree to that.

But here’s where it gets weird. It’s the second week of June.


So what, I hear you saying. Or, Good for you. You can read a calendar.

Know what else I can read? The balance sheet at West of Mars.

It’s the second week of June and already, it’s the  most lucrative June I’ve had since I came out of retirement a few years ago. And we’re not even halfway through. And there’s more client work lined up, more manuscripts to work on.


Gratitude doesn’t even begin to touch how I feel when I look at simple facts like that. I have said it before: I have the best clients anywhere. They are funny, they are (mostly) loyal, they are smart and they are oh, so creative, I routinely sit back to savor and appreciate what they come up with. Scenarios, characters, alternate worlds, plot twists… all of it. As a writer, I pale beside them.

But I’m glad to be the proverbial red pen who helps make their brilliance shine.

I have openings in July still. Not many, but there’s space. Let’s join forces and let me bring out your best while you dazzle me with your raw talent.

No wonder I love my job.

And it’s only the second week in June.


A Day for Thanks


I know. You’re deluged by the posts and Tweets and Facebook status updates that are all about Thanksgiving.

But for the first time since life officially fell apart on Thanksgiving 2009, I’m sitting here on Thanksgiving day 2013 and I’m able to see that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a freight train. It’s the sun, and man, it feels good.

I’ve got a flourishing business. The best editing clients ever, who push me to be a better editor as they push themselves to be better writers. But they also help me shape my vision for what West of Mars can (ought?) to be, and by seeking my help and advice, they enable me to take those scary steps that make it all happen.

I’ve got two fantastic attorneys and I’m always glad to share them with anyone in need. One turned a vague dream of one day owning a business into something real. Something with the letters LLC after its name.

My business mentor has been a boon and a balm. She pushes me when I need it and holds my hand and promises me it’ll all be okay when I freak out. So far, she’s been dead-on right. Next time you ask me what I do for a living and I reply, “I play with words. Your words, to be exact,” you can thank her.

All of this has come together for me just since August, when I poked my head out of the tunnel and found the world on the other side isn’t so scary after all. And it’s only the start. An exhilarating, whirlwind of a start.

Did you know I have a non-fiction department? Here’s one I bet you didn’t know about… the non-fiction department now has an intern, too.

And there’s more. A new While Writing service and the existing Back Cover Copy (or query letter) service, both which are available only to my current clients. More subcontractors, so that I can help my clients with all their needs. More relationships with other author service providers. And more to come.

For those of you who’ve been here for a long time and have watched the transformation, thanks for being along this crazy journey. I know you haven’t understood about 95% of it, but thanks for sticking by me as it’s evolved. Five years ago, I’d have laughed if you’d told me I’d be here now.

But as I look back, I know life is so much richer, sweeter, and rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

Never fear what lies ahead, I’ve learned. Sometimes, you’re standing in the worst. And then you wake up and realize the worst is behind you.

I may never stop fearing the worst will come back for another attempt at swallowing me whole. But I survived the last time. I’ll survive it again.

After all, if this fails, there’s always real estate.