Woman in the Mirror

It’s going to sound nuts, but I woke up yesterday with a really strong feeling that something bad was going to happen.  I made sure I drove carefully, I kept my eyes and ears open at work (in case of layoffs), and I tiptoed just about everywhere I went.  Didn’t even walk under the ladders that are propped up on the walls at work.  Then I came home and heard the news about Michael Jackson, and to be honest, I didn’t really like his music much (and I thought he was seriously weird, but I felt sorry for him for the crap that his fame put him through from an early age).  After a while it hit me that maybe the bad news I was expecting was that with an icon from my childhood dying, it means my childhood is pretty well over.  Well, duh, I’m 42, but talk about a midlife crisis.  Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died on the same day.  Two major celebrities as I was growing up.  Don’t tell me if Bruce Springsteen has high blood pressure and arthritis.  I don’t want to know.  They’re not supposed to get old because if they do, then I did too, and I’m not ready to be old. 

 I’m especially not ready to be old when I haven’t done what I set out to do in life.  I had a blowup last night with 3 very good friends because it finally started seeping out of where I buried it in the far, dark recesses of my heart that I’m jealous that they’ve reached a level of success that, at the current moment, feels pretty unattainable for me.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m not good enough or the timing just hasn’t been right, but I’m not there yet and they are.  I’m so fricking tired of being cheerleader to everybody else, and it feels like I’m never going to make that team myself, no matter what I do.  I’m just picking up jock straps and smelly towels, and handing out water and yelling “Yay team!”  But who cheers for the water kid?

 I gave a lot of thought to giving up.  Maybe it’s time to just face the fact that I’m not good enough at writing to ever get anywhere with it.  Maybe I’ve finally hit rock bottom.  (And the odd thing is that a friend of mine had emailed a few months ago, saying she was pretty sure she was going to hang up her keyboard and just write for the fun of it because success was too elusive to even think about anymore…and a few days later, she got the call that she’d finaled in the Golden Heart.  I was really hoping that if she could hit rock bottom and then get there, maybe it would work for me too.  As you can see, I’m not holding my breath.) 

 I even went so far as to open a junk mail that asked, “What’s your true purpose in life?”  I’m not sure I know what it is.  Knitting?  It’s fun, but will it save the world?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’ll save one person from cold feet on a winter night.  My kids?  One’s a little too much like his father to be the next Albert Schweizer, and the other has autism.  Playing writer’s cheerleader?  <SIGH>

 I feel like Tinkerbell at the end “Peter Pan”.  Does anyone out there believe in fairies?

Watch this.

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Opportunity Knocks

When you have the chance to say something nice to someone, do it.  You never know how much that other person needs to hear what you’re thinking.  (Think of “Pay It Forward”, or that Liberty Mutual commercial where someone watches an act of kindness and then does the same when he/she gets the chance.) 

Laura talked me into emailing a Sheila contestant whose entry I’d really liked.  I mean, really liked.  It was excellent, and by far my favorite of the 21 entries I read.  The voice was sharp, the language was concise and compact, the pace was quick and smooth and it flowed.  In short, she writes like I wish I could write.

As it turned out, the author had recently received 2 rejections that cut to the quick.  (Boy do I understand how that feels.)  She was on the verge of burning the MS when she got my email.  She said it made her feel much better, but I’m not sure that compares to how it made me feel to know I’d said something to encourage her, and at just the right time.  She really has a fantastic voice, one that would be an incredible shame to silence.  Very JR Ward-esque. 

If you’re interested, go check out her website.  www.jennstark.com  She’s nothing short of amazing, and trust me, while you may not have heard of 24 Hours to Midnight yet, you will.  You will. 

She posted on this blog yesterday (http://www.nobodywritesitbetter.com/), also.  Great blog, ladies!  Much success in your writing future!

It’d be so easy…

…to just give up, power down the laptop, and quit writing.  And yet, I can’t.

Friends around me are succeeding where I’m standing still.  I’ve heard it said (by a pubbed friend of mine) that jealousy is a waste of time, but it doesn’t work that way for me.  While I’m delighted for my published author friends, and I’ll support them every way I can and I’ll cheer for their success…yes, I’m jealous as all hell.  That’s what happens when someone else has what you long for, and for all intents, it feels like something you can never have.  The Bible calls it coveting.  Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street” says “Greed is good.”  (Never thought I’d put those two together in the same paragraph.)

But I’m learning to turn my jealousy around and make it productive.  If someone else has what I want, I’m going to learn how they got it so I can get it too.  Failing that, I’m going to keep reading, keep learning, and keep trying until something happens.  Already I’ve thrown some new irons in the fire.  One’s popped back out, but that’s okay.  I’ll find more. 

When I really started getting down after the latest round of “no, thanks”, I told myself I need to walk away for a little while, so I did.  As easy as it would be to say, “You’ve beaten this horse long enough.  It’s dead.  Time to start walking,” I can’t do it.  It would be so easy to quit, but I just can’t.  There’s this voice in the back of my head that keeps saying, “I can’t give up.  I can’t give up.  I can’t give up.”  It would be so easy, but I can’t quit.  Not yet.  Not when I haven’t reached the point where I can say, I’ve done everything I could, and I gave it my best shot.  There’s nothing more I can do.  Or, as I told a friend earlier, “Time to hang up the cleats and look into coaching.” 

I’m not done yet.

I love ya, tomorrow

I’m nervous.  Tomorrow is the Long Island Romance Writers annual Luncheon.  There’s a considerable amount of travel and coordination involved, since most of VFRW is going.  (Plus Laura’s determined to spend the time on the trains teaching me how to knit socks.  Me and DPNs just don’t seem to get along, but she wants to help me overcome that.) 

I had intended to pitch “Gabriel’s Angel”, if anyone asked, but yesterday morning it hit me that the ending needs to change.  Liz has to revert back to who she was, before she fell in love with Gabriel, in order to save him from the student with a crush on him.  (Tracy went over the deep end when she realizes Gabe wants Liz and not her, and she turns into quite a nasty stalker.)  That would make it tie in all nice and neat, but I have a few problems.

A.  I’m already at 87K words.

B.  I have 2 more scenes to add in, which already omplicates problem A.  Add one more scene and this could rival War and Peace for size.

C.  I haven’t got the first clue how to rewrite the scene.  I’m waiting for inspiration to hit me but with the department picnic yesterday (I was on the planning committee; it went really well) and the LI Luncheon tomorrow, my inspiration has flown the coop.

So if I pitch “GA” tomorrow, it’s not ready to go.  I don’t even have the synopsis drafted yet, let alone polished.  I realize that if I do get asked for material, they’re not going to be looking for it in their e-mailboxes on Saturday morning, but still, I want to be prepared, and I’m not.  This is making me slightly neurotic.

But either way, tomorrow will be an excellent learning opportunity–as I told Ryan, “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you want”–and I’ll get to meet some fantastic people (and I’ll blog about it when I get back, but probably not ’til late Saturday because I’ll be on the go all day tomorrow and I may not be able to lift my head from the keyboard tomorrow night), and if nothing else, I will (hopefully) have mastered DPNs and the art of knitting socks.

Great.  I need another addiction in my life.  🙂

I Owe You for That, Harry

So here I am at home, testing out the surround sound speakers because we watched “Leatherheads” last night on DVD but at some points we heard a buzz from one of the speakers.  I put the iPod in the dock to test it out.

On top of the TV, next to the iPod dock, is our Harry Kalas autographed baseball.  I remember how much I miss him.  The broadcasts are still excellent–love ya, T-Mac, Sarge, Wheels!–but it’s not quite the same.  It’s never going to be the same.  I miss Harry. 

So when I go to test the iPod, I decide to put on “Bridge over Troubled Waters”, which was the song played when the team and staff carried Harry’s casket to the car.  Still one of the classiest things I’ve ever seen.  I get all teary-eyed, and I look at the baseball, and I touch the case, and I miss him all over again.  I think about how I heard he’d passed, and the radio broadcast that afternoon (which I have favorited on YouTube; it’s there, go look), and I’m about to get all sniffly again.  Then I hear the buzzing in the speaker again, so I figure out what the problem is.  No big deal; just move the speaker a little. 

I’m satisfied, so I pick up my bowl of low-fat chips and get ready to go back to business.  I pick up a chip, ready to eat it, as the song reaches the crescendo, and I pause.  The song ends and the chip is halfway to my mouth when the next song comes on, “Sweet Caroline”.  I almost snort potato chips up my nose, laughing.

Message received.  Thank you, Harry.  🙂

Runner’s Euphoria

I’ve never been a fan of running.  When I was in high school, Mrs. Ryan made us run around the gym for however long it took for her to finish her coffee and donuts (and trust me, that woman didn’t need donuts, but she could sure give you the stink-eye if YOU didn’t hustle), and it never occurred to her that I was getting red-faced and out of breath because I had asthma.  The official DX didn’t come ’til I’d already graduated, and after that, the meds started, but before that, gym was a really bad way to start a Wednesday morning.

I”ve heard about runner’s euphoria, initially from watching the Robin Williams’ “Live at the Met” act  (my favorite comedian EVER) and otherwise from rumor.   Based on that information is how I know I’ve experienced it myself, firsthand. 

I was stuck on “Gabriel’s Angel” for a while.  I just couldn’t seem to make the story move, but last Sunday night, after picking the boys up in NJ, whining in my head the whole ride home about how my writer friends were succeeding and I was going nowhere, and going home to sink lower into my misery, it finally hit me.  The reason I was going nowhere was because I was on the couch, in front of the TV, crocheting.  It’s, uh, kinda hard to succeed at writing when you’re NOT WRITING.  The only way to make something happen is to get up and make it happen.  So I did.  I got up off the couch, planted my butt in front of my laptop, and went at it.  The only problem was, once I got started, I couldn’t stop.  (Yeah, right; that’s me complaining about having too much to write.)  I’ve probably alienated most of my friends because they kept emailing me last week, and I hardly responded.  Eek!

Between last Sunday night and yesterday afternoon (6/7/09), I wrote upwards of 40K words, so that now the story totals out at over 87K words.  Just a hair over the 80K I planned on, but there’s plenty of editing to do.  “Gabriel’s Angel” is now a completed first draft.  I have two scenes to fill in (they weren’t coming to mind so I wrote myself a note of what I wanted to go there, and I moved on) and I have to “write” Gabe’s four books for him (I have titles and character names but no plots), but I got all the way to a point where I realized, there’s no more story left to write.  The questions are answered, and where I left off is where the characters pick up their lives and move on. 

And hopefully, they “have legs”, as the saying goes.

I love the characters in my previous manuscripts, but Gabe and Liz were SO much fun to write, I don’t think I’ve had a better time writing a story than I did with this one.  They came alive; they talked to me; they made me laugh and cry.  And considering I knew all along what was going to happen, I’d like to believe that’s saying something.

Editing and fleshing out is going to be so much fun with this story.  I hope to have it fully polished and ready to go by the time I’m ready to enter the Golden Heart and pitch it to an editor/agent at the NJ conference in October.  I’m going to discuss it, if anyone asks, at the Long Island luncheon on Friday.  Right now, “Gabriel’s Angel” is very definitely the book of my heart. 

I can’t wait for you to meet them!