A Writer’s Silver Platter

When is the last time you counted your blessings? Is it possible to prioritize them?

Health might be the most important, neck and neck with family; food is a necessity, as is financial security; intelligence cannot be minimized or taken for granted—and with that, education; and don’t forget love. No, this is not an impostor sitting in for Karolyn… who only a few short years ago might have mentioned new black pumps, Prada purses and pearls. Now all I want is to be published—and to retain the aforementioned blessings.

Why do I not have a whiskey in my hand?

As I type this, I’m sitting in a beautiful Colorado home, where my husband and I will spend the next week. He’ll be drinking coffee and reading. I’ll be transcribing pages and pages of notes I took last week when we were lucky enough to spend the week in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on my research trip for my current novel… the one I wrote while we spent the winter in Costa Rica.

Please forgive me here, I’m not bragging. This admission scares the shit out of me.

I spent eight years as an art dealer with an evermore lucrative art gallery (i.e. it started out paying me zero, and ended up paying me a monthly pittance). When the moment came to re-up my lease or close, I closed it so we could travel and I could begin writing. Now I’m back to being paid zero.

The scary part is that I have every opportunity and every bit of the responsibility. I have been given the Writer’s Silver Platter: a laptop, a location, loving support and lots and lots of quiet time. When I publish, I will have so many people to thank: my husband for his unending support, my parents for my brain and their encouragement, my children for growing up and leaving the nest, and countless friends who’ve given me so much encouragement and advice (specifically my former artists and Twitter friends who will not let me quit). But no excuses, and no one to blame if I can’t make this happen.

So, now I must produce. I have counted my many blessings, and I’m ready to test my skills. By October 1st, I will be querying agents for “Invented Lives.” Get ready World, here I come.

What Have I Done For You Lately?

My last post (below) was about losing friends and being okay with it. My primary point was that as we grow, change, move on, it’s only natural that we’ll lose touch with some friends. I mentioned the theory about how people enter our lives, perhaps teach us one of life’s lesson, or at least are there when we need someone, and then it’s likely that, in time, we’ll go our separate ways. But, I must admit, I was thinking about the people from my past who had faded away and what they had done for me.

How narrow-minded! What about all times when I/you have touched someone else’s life? If you look back and think of a lost friend, wondering why you connected with her, why for a brief moment in time she was important to you, perhaps it is you who taught her something. Sometimes we are The Giver instead of The Taker.

I am repeatedly fascinated by listening to others’ memories (especially when they involve me)(it’s a little like looking at group photos and focusing mostly on myself). What’s most shocking is what moments stick out in their memories, and how that differs from what sticks out in my mind. Sometimes a friend/parent/spouse/child will tell a story about an event that I cannot for the life of me recall.

People remember moments that strike them the hardest emotionally. That’s my theory about memory; I’ve never heard this from any experts, but it seems logical. We rarely remember random Tuesdays, unless something dramatic happened. We remember highs and lows.

As a writer, it’s important to realize that readers will remember your stories if there are extreme emotions—good or bad—e.g. The Joy Luck Club, A Prayer For Owen Meany, Sophie’s Choice, Anna Karenina, Hoosiers, The Color Purple, and on and on and on. Those moments in your story should not be rushed or minimized. You must make them memorable!

Funny thing is, you don’t always know what moments or words will strike other people, or when that moment is because of you. Go forth, friends, cautiously. You don’t want to be anyone’s bad memory!

The Power of Losing Friends and Being Okay With It

Quick, how many friends do you have? Not Facebook friends, or Twitter followers, not even People-who-will-come-to-your-funeral friends… but ‘It’s- 3 AM-and-I-need-to-talk-to-someone’ friends. Whoops, bet that number dropped a bit. Yes?

We all know a lot of people, but from my perch in life, I realize that true friends are rare. Yet sometimes good friends slip away. I’m here to tell you that we don’t have to feel badly about that—not necessarily.

People change and grow. WE ARE SUPPOSED TO! (Did I make myself clear there, with both CAPS and the exclamation point?)

My first marriage ended when I realized I had changed and my husband apparently didn’t want to accept that. (He might see it differently.) At first I felt badly about that, guilty even. Then I realized, how sad it would be if we were the same person at 31, 41, 51, 61 that we were at 21 (the age I got married). How sad if we never opened our eyes to new thoughts, dreams, goals, and wisdom. Or careers, or political parties, or sexual orientation.

It was difficult for me when I suddenly lost a set of good friends (at least I thought at the time they were) when I got divorced. But what was more difficult for me was, years later, when I realized some of my new “good friends” had faded out of my life. For a long time I wondered why I don’t talk to certain people anymore, whether I might have offended them, or what happened. Now I see that, perhaps, life happened, and that’s all.

I believe the theory that people come into your life at a certain time for a certain reason. We can learn from others, thank goodness. That being said, there are some good friends who fade away, possibly because we’ve learned our lesson from them, or because we grow one way and they grow another. Still, I grow nostalgic when I think of certain friends whom I rarely talk to anymore. Alas, life is busy.

People change, grow, evolve, like The Tree of Life. (Ooh, great segue into the new movie starring Brad Pitt that my (second & final) husband and I are going to see tomorrow.) This is a good thing. This is why Character Arc is so necessary and vital to the success of a novel. (Had to get the literary link in there somehow.)

Then again, sometimes friends have a falling out… But that’s a subject for another day.