The life of a Writer ~ Amazing Adventures in the Face of Adversity

Written By: Jackie Weger - Apr• 15•19

Some Writers do astonishing things ~ Surprising herself and  the rest of us, too.

In eNovel our members are usually talking about writing books, publishing books and trying to find the best way to market books.  Every once in a while a member will drop a side note in our forum that catches my eye or our attention. Our members live on three or more Continents so we often learn of mud slides right up to their front door or fires engulfing their whole neighborhood or earthquakes that leave them stranded.  Those are adventures in themselves. Not happy ones and first thing we want to know, is everybody safe? Thus, emails are flying around the World until we’ve touched base with all who were in danger to find them alive and well.

One of our authors  who found herself in the path of a tsunami and an earthquake lives in New Zealand, an utterly magical land if you’ve ever watched National Geographic.  But she also found herself facing a different kind of life event when her husband walked out of her life one day. A Woman’s emotional peril many of us have suffered.  So, I want to introduce you to Susan Tarr, who was in the midst of planning her beloved daughter’s wedding when the hub took his walkabout. Here’s her story.

Cows stranded atop hill when NZ earthquake dropped all the pasture around them.

Susan says: When life serves you lemons, you make lemonade, right? At least that’s what I’ve heard said by quite a few wise people, and it’s what I tend to do. A year ago, down here in New Zealand, I was busily celebrating the marriage of my only child, Anna Elisabeth. My life was putt-putting along on its own path, and I could not envisage it changing. I was, and still am, an author managing a book every couple of years. Little was I to know that one full year later my whole world would be completely different; I would climb a whole new mountain, taking a route I had never before contemplated.

Adventure has always been my game although I will make it clear I’m a follower not a leader. Like when I sailed to Kenya in a 28 ft yacht just because someone invited me. I’d never sailed in my life and didn’t even know if I’d get seasick or not. And I couldn’t swim. Not that I’d need that skill way out there on the ocean. But an invitation was an invitation, so I accepted. I think that was a courtesy drummed into me by my mum at a very young age. So we made it to Kenya and that’s where I married and had my two daughters.

But years on and life served me lemons…After my girl’s wedding I found myself alone. No one could have been more surprised than me. This was not what I had even considered, let alone planned for.

So I joined a conservation group in their efforts to rid New Zealand’s national parks of rats, stoats and possums. As recently as yesterday I was using a lathe to thickness wood ready for more kitset traps. Each Friday, regardless of the weather, teams of us would trek for four  hours up into the mountains clearing and setting traps. Every kill counts.

Soon I had acquired tramping boots, thermal gear, a back pack, water bottle and all manner of other necessary gear.  Next, in October 2018, I headed for Marlborough Sounds at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. Over 60 kms I tramped up and down hills, around bays, evading seals and deep holes, rocks and slips. I learned how to pitch a tent and eat the most basic of food, because it weighed less in my pack.

My next adventure was anti-fouling a 40 foot yacht. It took me a couple of days to finish that job and my reward was a two month cruise around the north of New Zealand, visiting the Great Barrier Reef, and the Bay of Islands. I fished and ate oysters off the rocks, got a great tan and weathered a pretty violent storm. Having hooked a good-sized king fish, I then had to share part of it with a shark before it could be brought into the boat. I learned a lot about myself that trip.

Hard on the heels of that adventure, I made my way to the deep south of New Zealand to trek the Kepler Track, 60 kms round trip. Mount Luxmore at 4829 feet  was my goal, and amidst miserable, out-of-season weather: snow, sleet, hail, rain and chilling wind gusts that blew me right off the saddle, I did it.  Yes, the satisfaction of knowing that in my advanced years, I did it. I’m a 40’s baby.

Add into that horseback riding on a remote West Coast New Zealand beach. I hadn’t ridden in 25 years, and I don’t think I need to do that again. Not.

Perhaps my next adventure will be somewhere with aqua seas lapping, palm trees waving and a sunny mild climate, cocktails and fizzy drinks with umbrellas. It’s a year on since  I was served sour lemons and I think I made the best batch of the sweetest lemonade I’ve ever tasted.  Moreover, it’s getting sweeter:  I’m celebrating the imminent arrival of my first grandchild. I’m thinking that being a first time grandmother is an adventure in itself. End.

Weger says: Actually that is not the end. I wanted maps and more from Susan, but she’s an off grid Kiwi and actually only has intermittent  Internet or none at all where she calls home.   You can Google New Zealand and find the land is two small islands in a very big ocean.  I’ll warrant you know more than you think of NZ because of Wellington’s dramatic Mt. Victoria, along with the South Island’s Fiordland and Southern Lakes, stood in for mythical Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” films. If you’re a fan, pick up The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook.

However,  I can share with you a pair of  Susan’s most well loved books. The first of which is heart-wrenching about abandoned children in a psychiatric hospital. Susan not only worked in psychiatric hospitals, she did  a phenomenal amount of research.  Phenomena is a must read.  At the other end of the spectrum is a joyful fun read: Jack, just an ordinary dog who keeps a journal while housed in a kennel while his ‘parents’ are on a voyage.  Both are Read Free with Kindle Unlimited and both will tug at your heart.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Susan Tarr. Writers often share bits and pieces of the good stuff in our lives with our fans and keep our heartbreak tucked into a corner of our lives.  Romance writers, more than any other group I know live ordinary lives until we’re challenged by divorce, death of a child,  caring for our elderly or handicapped family, or some other unforeseen disaster.  Next, without giving it a thought, our moxie comes forward in a force we didn’t have a clue we owned to meet a challenge and make it our own.

@JackieWeger, 2019.  Comments Welcome. Join the discussion. I know you have a story to tell. We all do.

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  1. Emily Kaplan says:

    Wow! What an amazing story.

  2. Wow, Susan, your story is the stuff movies are made from! Kudos to you and all your accomplishments. Congrats on the upcoming grandbaby!

  3. susan Tarr says:

    Emily, thank you! It exhausts me to read it again since I am currently tucked up with the flu!

  4. susan Tarr says:

    Hi Jacquie, Thank you. This is a long awaited baby for us all.

  5. P. C. Zick says:

    One word response – Wow! I’m impressed. And congratulations, Susan, on grandchild.

  6. susan Tarr says:

    Thank you, Pat. I guess my ‘ moxie’ came forward. lol

  7. Even though I’ve known Susan for a while now, there’s so much about her I didn’t actually know! Many thanks for the feature, Jackie. It was lovely to get to know her (and her work) better.

  8. Oh Susan! What an amazing woman you are… I fear you may have raised the bar too far high for the rest of us. I am certainly in awe of you after reading this. And I hope your next adventure brings you to Greece some day 🙂

    • susan Tarr says:

      You know what, Frossie, having watched the TV series The Lotus Eater back in 70-80’s, Greece was on my hot list. I later made it to Italy, Switzerland, France and Germany but…never made it to yours.

  9. An amazing life, Susan, and you have great resilience!

  10. What a remarkable story, Susan! I look forward to the next chapter. Thanks, Jackie!

  11. Donna Fasano (@DonnaFaz) says:

    Holy moly! What an adventurous life. I am so impressed!

  12. susan Tarr says:

    Hah! You and me both, Donna. I would never ever have imagined my new life would be so exciting. Just goes to show…

  13. Linda Lee says:

    You’ve had quite the adventure, Susan. All your outdoor activity has left you trim and well-toned. You look happy and healthy!

  14. Traci Hall says:

    What an adventure is right–congratulations on not only surviving but thriving!! I met Jackie and started writing contemporary romances right after a similar thing happened to me. And you know what? Life is sweet!

  15. Robyn M Ryan says:

    Your adventures leave me breathless! Congrats on your lemonade—sounds like you’ve conquered the new “normal”

    ~ Robyn

  16. Bravo! It takes a strong woman to face adversity like you did and come out on top.

  17. I can’t imagine you’ve stayed still long enough for the flu virus to zap you. Here’s hoping you’re back to climbing mountains, sailing boats, and finding new adventures. BTW, I read Jack some time ago and loved it (he must be part of your alter ego).

    • susan Tarr says:

      Mean and nasty flu! Over it now all bar the coughing. And there’s been mention of a mountain over Taupo way that I haven’t met yet. Lol. And Jack? Yes, he’s a little bit me too.

  18. srmallery says:

    Talk about survivalist! So proud of all that you’ve done and will continue to do. Only now, it’s all with only happiness! ox

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