Sometimes, it’s difficult to be grateful. There are days, weeks, occasionally even months when it seems like the cosmos entertain themselves by hurtling flaming balls of gas towards earth with your name on them.
Personally? This hasn’t been one of those years. In fact, it hasn’t even been one of those decades. Oh sure, I’ve had challenges. There have been a couple obstacles that made me wonder if I’d actually be able to scale them. But guess what? A scraped knee or two later, and here I am.
I try not to let this time of year be the only time I count my blessings. I’m a pretty optimistic person, in part because I’ve always believed that unfortunate events often result in unanticipated joys. Truth be known, I can’t think of too many people I’d want to trade places with--not even Rachel Weisz, and she’s married to Daniel Craig. That right there should tell you how content I am with my status quo.
You see, I’m in the enviable position of living my dream. A couple years ago, I retired from law enforcement after twenty-two years. I’d always been scratching down the odd story, and I wanted to explore the creative side of my personality. I wanted to write a book.
Now, I’ve written two. The first short story I ever submitted to a contest earned second place. I’ve made the finals or received special recognition in each flash fiction contest I’ve entered. I’ve had the opportunity to study with some amazing teachers.
I share my life with an incredible man. I’ve added several new stamps to my passport. I’m healthy, active and curious. I have wonderful family and steadfast friends.
I recently blew the dust off the first book I'd written and opened it up. Enough time had passed that any emotional attachment I had to a particular phrase had faded. Some parts pleased me, others horrified me, and, dare I admit, one emotional beat left me laughing in a place that wasn't meant to be funny.
But it was my first book.
First books are like puppy love--full of fumbling, good intentions, and no clue where it will all lead. Aspiring writers are naive; innocent of passive tense, cliches, and point of view.
Bliss, I tell you, bliss.
Embarking on a second manuscript is like skipping school and not getting caught.* To pull it off, you have to plot, get crafty, maybe even enlist an accomplice. The more you prepare, the better your chance of pulling it off.
Third books just make you crazy. Ask any of my friends, they'll tell you. Sometimes, it helps to switch things up a bit--write some short stories, a couple articles, a compelling letter to the parole board asking for clemency. The key is to keep plotting.
Hence, the photo.
Being the Type A personality that I am, those are the scene cards for the first book--the ones I just made, cuz, you know, I wanted to pinpoint where it went off the rails. Turns out, kinda early. Now I have to figure out if the story can handle a mature relationship, or like a first crush, should just be remembered with fondness.
Do you have a manuscript you just can't let go?
*No, Mom, I never did that. I'm a writer. I make shit stuff up all the time for illustrative purposes. Just like the time I told you...well, never mind.