Tag Archives: work

Muddle

Frustrated Woman Using Laptop

I’m in the middle of the first draft of my anti-romance novel and have hit the wall. I know how the story begins and how the story ends, but the middle is where I am fumbling.

Much like life imitating art, I often know what I want but do not know how to go about getting it.

And I know from experience the only thing I have going for me is the combination of patience and time and writing my way through it.

Many authors feel the same way about the muddling middle. Forty-thousand words into the story and the complications get so intense and the stakes get so high no one in their right mind would ever want to live through it if it was real life. So why do I willing sit and stare through tears at the screen as each painful letter is pounded out?

Because I want to get to the end where the conflict is resolved and everyone lives somewhat better even if it is an anti-romance. Maybe there is a funeral or a wedding or a showdown in the back alley of a bar where both parties realize they’ve drawn blanks, but whichever way the story ends, the puzzling middle is long gone.

In the midst of sleepless nights, I struggle to write through those 40,000 words to crest the summit and head toward those last 40,000 words to finish.

But until I start coasting toward THE END, I’m a miserable person to work with, live with, and love….

Resilience

Girl Jumping on Bed

“A hard fall means a high bounce…if you’re made of the right material.” –Unknown

Every single phenomenal story seems to take the same route: guy has a dream, guy fights and sacrifices and loses everything for his dream, but at the last possible moment, his dream comes true and everything is restored.

This week I endured another round of rejection. Everyone who read my query, synopsis, and sample chapters said the same thing: we love your writing, but we hate your concept.

Concept is the core story. Changing it is the equivalent of starting over and writing a completely different book.

Or is it?

When I asked the last literary agent what she meant by her comment, she suggested I just keep dating to see if I can find the right match without changing my hair color, losing 20 pounds, and getting Lasik surgery. In other words, she didn’t want me to gut my story and start over.

“If 65 agents say the same thing, then you should probably rethink your concept,” she said. “Anything less, I would keep looking.”

I’m only down to a dozen rejections. That leaves 53 more to go before I have to sharpen my pencil.

In the meantime, I have to stop fretting and doubting and worrying.

The only way to do that is to continue working.

After all, as the stakes keep getting higher and the sacrifices keep getting bigger, the payoff gets better.

Don’t let the rejections keep you down. Bounce back, higher and higher. Continue to strive toward your goals.



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Encourage Education and the Pursuit of Passion

graduation cap

When I read an article on Yahoo! Education, Don’t Let Your Kids Study These Majors, I tweeted the link and titled it, “Another Way to Discourage Kids from Following Their Passion.” My comment sparked a lively debate, which I decided to follow up with a letter to all our children, although I addressed it to my daughter.

Dear Daughter,

Soon you’ll be applying to colleges and selecting your major. You’ll receive a lot of advice from high school counselors, college advisers, teachers, friends, and experts. You may be so overwhelmed with what to do and what not to do that you may feel paralyzed to make any decision.

You’re not alone. A lot of teens feel the same way.

When I was getting ready to apply for college, everyone advised me to major in engineering or computers. At the time, these fields commanded top dollar for highly-educated, skilled workers. Although I enjoyed math, I had no desire to learn engineering or computers. I didn’t want to spend my life thinking in a linear way. I wanted to explore the outer edges of philosophy and psychology through literature and writing. But everyone kept saying we needed women engineers and computer scientists. I tried to find the enthusiasm for these subjects, but I couldn’t.

Luckily, I had enough courage to pursue my passion to write. I studied journalism, technical writing, and creative writing. I learned how to write clearly and concisely on demand under an unyielding deadline without sacrificing creativity.

People ridiculed me. My classmates said I would be unemployable. My college adviser suggested I apply to law school and become an attorney. My parents weren’t paying for my education, so they felt they had no voice. Only your dad was supportive. He said the goal of attending college is not to land a job. It is to become educated. By being educated, you show an employer you have ambition. You can set a goal and achieve it. You know how to learn. You are resourceful. You can plan for the future.

Your dad was right, of course.

By the time I graduated from college, the job market had changed. Engineering and computer science were no longer the most desirable fields of study. Business had taken precedence. A few of my college classmates applied to graduate school, hoping to chase the next wave of the job market. Others took jobs that were not related to their majors. Of course, a few remained unemployed.

Not me.

I found work immediately. My writing skills allowed me to enter the field of real estate as a marketing assistant, writing advertisements for listings and open houses. From there, I entered the world of finance and banking, both without a business degree. At the same time, I continued to follow my passion, publishing hundreds of articles and short stories and four books. I also painted dozens of landscapes that grace the walls of other people’s homes and offices. Not to mention my greeting cards.

So don’t worry about college. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you study. It matters that you learn and grow. And follow your dreams.

Birthday Surprise

It’s my daughter’s birthday. I promised her I would visit her during lunch and surprise her for her birthday. That was the plan until my boss scheduled a luncheon meeting, which is another way of saying I was working through lunch.

But I didn’t want to disappoint my daughter. After all, I was working more than I had ever worked before during her short life and the following week I was going out of town for business. I would not see her for a few days, which seems like forever when you’re young enough to count your age on your fingers and your toes. I had to do something to stop those big crocodile tears from ruining her pretty face.

So…I devised a plan. I would tuck a birthday gift inside her lunchbox.

I bought cherry-flavored lip balm and an ice cream cone-shaped mirror in a gift bag that said, “A girl can never have too much stuff!” along with a card signed by her father, her brother, and me.

When she woke up in the morning, I told her I had already packed her lunch. She eyed me suspiciously, but went along with it anyway since she had been sick the whole week and knew I was wont to spoil her. But on the drive to school, her tell-tale smile gave away the fact that she knew my little secret.

I thought the surprise was ruined, but it was not. “I saw the gift, but I didn’t open it,” she said. “I was just looking to see why my lunchbox was so heavy.”

“It’s because I packed you a drink,” I said. “The gift doesn’t weigh much.”

“I promise I won’t open it until lunch time,” she said.

“It’s all right if you open it up sooner,” I said. “I know you want to show your friends.”

“I’ll open it at lunch time,’ she said.

For a long moment, neither one of us spoke.

I parked and started the short walk with my daughter to school.

I didn’t know what my daughter was thinking or feeling, but I knew what I was thinking and feeling. “I knew you were disappointed that I had to work so I just wanted to surprise you.”

“You did surprise me,” she said.

In front of the lavender tulip tree, my daughter and I embraced. “Happy birthday,” I wished through her freshly straightened hair.

“Thanks, Mom,” she said.

I strolled down the sidewalk, thinking about how different my childhood would have been if my parents had valued imagination over facts. Maybe I would have had a few surprises in my lunchbox instead of the big things that caused so much heartache in the end. As a child, I had very little control over my environment. But as an adult I could act in ways that I felt were not only appropriate but lifesaving. By choosing to take the time and the creativity to show my daughter how much I love her, I was able to fulfill both my role as a provider and my role as a mother without anyone losing anything.