I have been resting on my laurels. I have heard that phrase many times before but never thought it would be a string of words I would use in reference to me. And I really do not have any real laurels to rest on. I have written a book, but until I have an agent and am soon to be published those laurels don’t mean much.
After having completed my first novel, doing several edits and having many beta readers love it to the point of not wanting it to end, I rested. There was a brief resuscitation of my writing but the moments were fewer and further between than they should be. Writing a novel is a huge commitment. It is saying “I do” to a keyboard and a collection of strange characters who slowly become family (except for the bad guys).
Book number two is in the works. A few of the characters have formally introduced themselves and we are slowly acclimating. But their stories cannot be told if I don’t make time to listen to them and jot down what they have to tell me. I know they are eager to get the ball rolling and I am the only one who can give that ball the first push and watch it gain momentum.
It’s time to give this ball a shove. This book isn’t going to write itself!
Dear Mother Nature and Old Man Winter,
While I can appreciate your exuberant spirit this time of year, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my lack of sharing your enthusiasm to the extent at which you seem so willing to share with the rest of us.
Although I too enjoy a white Christmas, your overwhelming desire to coat the world in an abundant layer of winter frosting has become exaggerated to the point of becoming meddlesome. The charming Northern snow globe in which we reside has been clamped into a paint shaker and set to convulse at an alarming rate, leaving us armed with nothing but shovels and good intentions.
Similar to Anthony Michael Hall’s geeky character in The Breakfast Club, I have been assigned the task of writing a letter on behalf of the disgruntled local residents who share my sentiments.
I could write an essay telling you how much this ridiculous amount of snow is defining our lives, but it wouldn’t matter. You would still see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. Through this barrage of lake effect snow and churning vortexes of flakes, you found out that each one of us is a brain for surviving the storm, a princess for not wanting to drive in it, a criminal for stealing a few extra minutes hiding under the covers, an athlete for shoveling for three days straight and a basket case for forgetting all those other things and thinking it is still beautiful outside.
Does this answer my question? No. But I certainly feel a little better having rested between the previous and the next battle with the effing shovel.
The Winter Club
PS: I had to cancel my appointment to get my snow tires on because of you two!
Some realities are harder to accept than others. As I crest the hill of my fiftieth year and prepare to enter the next phase of my life, I have slowly come to grips with the fact that I can no longer read without glasses. I have not gone so far as to see an eye doctor for a prescription but that trip is inevitable. I purchased a pair of readers from our local apothecary shop and I have come to rely on them more than I care to admit. Without those readers, I liken myself to Schultz from the classic TV show Hogan’s Heroes, “I see nothing”.
This truth became much more apparent last night as I was enjoying my hobby of cake decorating. I had whipped up a batch of buttercream icing, iced the cupcakes and small cutting cake and began the more tedious work of creating the decorations. As I got involved in the intricacies of the smaller parts, I realized I was squinting and couldn’t focus on what I was doing.
I had accepted that I needed glasses to read. I had made myself comfortable with the fact that those cheaters also made it easier to navigate what was on my screen as I spent countless hours at my laptop. What I had not prepared myself for was the fact that these glasses would insinuate themselves into every facet of my up-close life. As I tried to convince myself that my cheaters were not required to create the decorations I had been working on, I could feel lines being etched into my skin the more I scrunched my eyes to be able to see what I was doing.
Whether I like it or not, this is me at almost fifty. These glasses have found a comfortable spot at the end of my nose so I can see things up close and look over the rims to focus on anything beyond that. This is now my every day life. I have even purchased a second pair of cheaters to keep in my car should I forget to bring my glasses with me. With age comes understanding and with understanding comes preparation. One day I know for certain I will absolutely need glasses to find my glasses.
I have the great fortune of having a good memory. My bosses will reach me in the office through the intercom to give them a phone number rather than look it up because they know I will be able to produce that number from the depths of my mind faster than they can Google it. My memory for numbers also comes in handy when they are buying anything online and I can rattle off the company Visa number without hesitation.
My ability to be able to retain faces and names is one of the things for which I am most grateful. Having been in the hospitality business for the majority of my working life, this gift has served me well. If I have the benefit of meeting a guest face-to-face and hearing their name, that name is locked in the vault of my memory. I make a point of using their name each time I address that person so our interaction feels much more personal for both of us.
We had a group check into the lodge a few weeks ago and I missed the opportunity to meet the guests upon check in. At breakfast the next day, I made a point of introducing myself to each member of the group and was able to remember every one of them. The fact that I could refer to each of them by name did not go unnoticed. Several mentions were made about my being able to call them by name after such a short time and that level of service was compared to the service at the Ritz Carlton! Although we are a small, family run lodge that distinction made my heart swell with pride.
Hospitality has many synonyms that describe what it is about and the descriptions that ring true for me are welcome, warmth and friendliness. Those are the things I hold closest to me, not only in my job but in my life and I hope to be able to deliver those things for a long time.
I have written a novel. I’m sure many of you know that by now because I won’t stop blogging about it, but there are times I need to remind myself that I have painstakingly crafted a full, fictitious story from beginning to end from nothing more than my imagination. I am still in the process of querying agents with the hope that one of them will be consumed enough by my story and my writing to send an offer of representation. In the meantime, the continued effort of my writing is fueled by the comments from those who have boldly nestled into my story and offered their wonderful words of encouragement. The subject line of this blog is one of those encouragements after telling me he was engaged by the characters, wanted to pick the book up again as soon as he got home from work and was sad when it ended. That’s always a good sign!
I am well aware that the road to being published is a long and arduous journey. This knowledge is my waking thought, my mid-day crisis and my evening justification for losing those precious moments of sleep while I try to add five-hundred or more words a day to my latest manuscript.
The message, ‘keep writing and don’t give up’ was shared today by a woman who had her third book launch celebration on Saturday. I was fortunate enough to attend the launch and the message during her speech was the same, writers should never give up. I met another author at the launch and her journey took twelve years to get published. Thankfully, I have never been under the impression that publication is lurking around the corner.
So I am going to keep writing and then writing more. And I’m going to keep querying and then querying more. One day, I will be published. Perhaps I will decide to self-publish at some point but I’m not there yet. I know the story is good and it would make a fantastic movie with some great special effects. The thing I am most sure of, though, is that I’m going to keep writing and I will never give up.
It is interesting to see how my life has evolved over the last twenty-five years. I’m certainly not going to tout that I walked uphill to school both ways in the snow in bare feet but there are some long-forgotten truths about things that happened when we were surviving our impressionable years, some that our parents were oblivious to…..and for good reason. Back in the days when not wearing seat-belts and driving under the influence were almost socially acceptable, there were some essential unwritten rules shared by siblings and friends. The most important being – “Things that happen in your teenage years, stay in your teenage years”.
But, after the Earth had orbited the sun a sufficient number of times, I felt a little more comfortable regaling my parents with a few of the stories that happened in the good ol’ days since I had a nice cushion of “time gone by” and didn’t think I was eligible to be grounded anymore. The sealed records had been expunged, the statute of limitations had expired and I was ready to open the locked vault that contained the evidence of our teenage shenanigans.
Running with scissors would have been a much more acceptable behavior and a much easier tale to share over a cocktail or two but my folks took everything in stride, just like I knew they would. All things considered, after leaving a 19 and 15-year-old home alone while they went to Florida, they were not as shocked as I thought they would be to find out why the kitchen linoleum had tiny burn holes directly in front of the stove (it wasn’t the bacon) and why the giant satellite dish was perched at a precarious angle at the top of the steep hill behind our house.
My brother and I, for all intents and purposes, were respectful human beings and responsible kids. My parents knew our friends well and we were trusted to roam about town in our pimpin’ ride – the Pontiac Acadian. If I had to guess, I would say my brother had a Rum and Coke held firmly between his legs (maybe not so responsible) when the little blue car crested the hill. It was winter and the steep decline was more than treacherous. All of the defensive driving techniques my dad taught us could not have prevented the outcome of this evening. The momentum carried them down the hill and my brother strategically maneuvered the tiny car as it tipped on its side and wedged itself between a tree and a telephone pole at the bottom of the hill. My brother impressively “stuck the landing” and all of the occupants were completely unharmed. The car, that only weighed what felt like 100 pounds, was pushed out, righted and driven away with minimal damage.
(ours was a 4-door, but you get the idea)
After spilling the goods to my parents, a little bit at a time, they seemed unnerved. I always wondered if they had known these things all along and were just waiting for us to come clean. Was the omission of truth a lie? Were we terrible children for wanting to shield our parents from the horrors of the real world? Was it wrong to want to keep them in their safe little bubble? Only time will tell.
Now that they have both passed and have access to all of the details of our lives, my brother and I may eventually be in for a long overdue time-out when we are all together again.