Posts Tagged ‘writing’

“It’s my time to go.”

Posted: March 28, 2013 in Writing
Tags: ,

“No it’s not,” I said and squeezed her hand.

“Yes, it is and I’m ready.”

“I’m not,” I said and brushed her hair away from her forehead.

Even at her very old age, her eyes were still crystal clear and a beautiful shade of blue. They really were piercing and I had not looked into them for too many years to count.

She had been my 5th and 6th grade teacher over 30 years ago and even then, I remembered her as old. I was 10 years old when I first met her. She was old-fashioned, kind and strict. The thought of talking back to her never entered your mind. You learned in her classes. You sat up straight. You said “Yes ma’am” and you turned your homework in on time.

When you received an “A+” you knew you had earned it. The same with a “C-.” Each and every piece was returned with her markings from her red pencil. You knew by her comments that it had been thoroughly read and critiqued.

She missed nothing.

She was my salvation when the math teacher I had decided she hated me and began her 2-year cycle of bullying me and another girl.

It was Mrs. Aronson who stepped in when she could. It was Mrs. Aronson who spoke-up and tried to stop it. It was Mrs Aronson who would tell me not to listen.

It was Mrs. Aronson who convinced me to write.

When she asked me to stay after class one afternoon, I gulped and nodded while I held my breath. I couldn’t think about what I had done wrong and tried to ignore the giggles of my classmates as they chanted “Susan’s in trouble! Susan’s in trouble!”

One look from her and they shut-up and scurried out the door.

I slowly walked up to her desk and waited until she looked up at me. She smiled and asked me to sit down. She was holding my paper in her hand. I racked my brain trying to remember what I had written and why I was in trouble.

I sat down and waited. Each second felt like a week while I watched her read it again. I could see some red marks on it. I was suddenly convinced that it was so bad, she was going to kick me out of her class. The fact that she couldn’t do that was beside the point. I had finally crossed some unknown line that kids aren’t supposed to cross.

I had written something that was bad and it was going to get me into trouble.

She turned and looked at me as she handed me my paper. I took it in my hand. The paper shook. I looked down and read her notes on it.

They were praising it. She commented on what she liked, along with her corrections on my grammar and sentence structure.

She had given me an “A+” and I thought it was a joke.

I looked up at her. She was smiling.

“Where did you learn to do this?” she asked.

“Do what?”

“Tell stories. Is this story true?”

“Yes!” I said. “This really is what happened on our vacation and my brother Jeff really did throw-up all over me in the back seat of the station wagon. My Dad was driving…”

“It’s OK, I believe you,” she said and chuckled. “I read your story and it’s wonderful.”

I nodded my head. I no longer felt as if I was going to vomit.

“You still need to work on your grammar, but that will come in time. But I want you to promise me something.”

“Anything,” I said. I loved her and always had.

“Promise me you’ll always write.”

“Who? Me?”

She laughed and put her hands on top of mine and pulled them towards her. “Yes, you,” she said and held them tight for a moment and then let go.

“Ummm….”

“No, you do NOT say ‘Ummmm.” That is not the proper way to speak. You either say “Yes” or “No.”

“Yes,” I said.

“Good. Now go home and I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said and began grading lessons. I got up and walked home, stunned.

Thirty years later, I saw her at a park. I recognized her immediately and felt a huge smile cross my face.  She could barely walk and someone was holding her hand as they walked around the lake. I stopped and just watched her for a moment and then walked up to her.

The woman she was with turned around and smiled. She tapped Mrs. Aronson on the shoulder and she stopped walking. I held out my hand and told her who I was. We looked at each other for a moment. Her hair was still in a bun, she was wearing the same perfume and she had her gloves on because that was the proper way for a woman to dress when she was outside.

She was very frail , but she was walking around the lake anyway.

“You probably don’t remember me, but I wanted to tell you how much you helped me.”

The woman with her hugged me. She was her great-great granddaughter.

I could see she was reading my lips. She smiled and nodded and took my hands in hers. “Yes, I remember you. Your eyes haven’t changed. Are you still writing?”

Her question floored me. “No, I never really…”

“You must,” she said. “You promised me you would, didn’t you?” she said and raised her eyebrow.

I was suddenly back in her class.

“Yes ma’am, I did.”

“You are not the type of person to break promises,” she said.

That’s all she needed to say.

“I will start right away,” I said and looked down and kicked some dirt.

“You start tonight, you hear me?” she said.

I kept looking at my shoes.

“Yes ma’am,” I said.

“Good,” she said and chuckled. She put her hand under my chin and lifted my face to hers.

“I don’t have much time left and I always wondered about you and how you turned out. I’m glad I got to see that you turned out just fine,” she said.

“Yes I did,” I said.

“I’ll be gone soon. I’m ready.”

I wasn’t. I had just found her again. I still heard her voice telling me I was good enough, that I could write, that I must write no matter what, that I didn’t deserve to be bullied.

It has always been her voice in me that kept me going, through unbearable heartache and loss, through all the rejection.

It’s her voice I hear when I make a typo or write a sentence wrong.

I cringe and fix it because she believed in me and loved me and cared about me enough to push me and never accepted a reason why it couldn’t be done.

She saw the best in all of us and never accepted anything less.

And that’s what we gave her. Our best because we knew she was right. No matter where we went or what happened to any of us, she forced us to know we were good and worthy.

It’s her voice I hear that I can do it and I will do it.

She’s the reason I teach.

She’s the reason I write.

She’s the reason that teaching is a noble profession and no one can take that away from me.

She is who I write for.

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Word count: 50,012.

Yeah, got it done and it was almost impossible to do. If you are or have participated in this, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Nothing replaces one’s own intention and this last week was proof of how stubborn and pig-headed I can be. I put a lot of things on hold to finish this, but the one thing I was not going to do was blow-off Thanksgiving. My original target was to finish the day before, but life had other plans for me.

On Friday, my car decided it was time to start acting up. I woke-up with an almost flat tire and wasn’t sure if I could make the drive to the gas station right down the street, but I HAD to get to work as I had a client that had flown in from back East for the week and there was no way I could reschedule. During the agonizing drive was the time the “check engine” light decided to go on – again. I knew I needed to take it in and get the spark plugs replaced but you always thinks you’ll have time to do that. Nope, not anymore.

The guy takes a look at my tire and tells me he can’t fix it because it’s too worn out and not safe. This was news to me, but who am I to argue with a mechanic? I ask him if he can put the spare on for now and I’ll get a new tire later. He says he can and gets out the thingy to take the lug nuts off. I’m texting my client while he’s doing that and telling her I will be there soon as I am getting a tire fixed. I look over and the mechanic is waving me over and I suddenly don’t want to know why, but I wander over there to see what the trouble is.

The problem, he tells me, is one of the lug nuts is stripped and he can’t take it off without breaking it. Even I know it’s not a good idea to drive around without one but I try to get him to tell me that it’s OK to do. No such luck. So all he can do is fill the tire with air and hope for the best because I now need to drive the car to a tire shop and have them deal with it.

I am now running late and not sure how long the tire will hold, so I take city streets to work and all is fine. I get there on time and life moves along. I leave for home Friday night and cautiously approach my car with my fingers crossed that the tire is holding up. It is and I do a quick happy dance in the parking lot. I get home and cross my fingers again because I have to be back at work the next morning and I can’t do it if the tire is flat, so I call a friend as a back-up driver if I need it. He says no problem.

The next morning, with my fingers crossed again, I check my tire and it’s fine. I drive to work and again go through the same routine when I leave. All is good and I figure I will get a new tire tomorrow and all will be right with the world until I start driving home.

My car now doesn’t like me accelerating and is being a real bitch when I drive home. I wish now I hadn’t gotten on the freeway and would like to personally apologize to all the drivers behind me when I couldn’t get my car to go faster that 35 MPH while merging. By the time I got it up to 45 MPH, I was ready to take my exit.

The next morning I find out the tire place is closed on Sundays! Who the hell closes on Sunday? I snap and snarl but at least the tire is fine. I run a few errands and my car REALLY does not like me pushing on the gas petal. Too bad, I have places to go and things to get done.

I also have to get this all done before Wednesday as I am driving 4 hours to see my family for Thanksgiving. I start to feel a sight panic start in me but I push it aside and tell myself everything is fine and not to worry.

I can’t go on Monday because of another client and by now I am so nervous and worried when I drive that I start to get a headache. I am now staying off the freeway and praying for slow cars on the road that I can stay behind. Better they get honked and yelled at than me.

I finally get it to the tire place and come to find out, I need two tires replaced and I can see exactly what he’s talking about. I tell him that he needs to give me a break because I am the 99% and after he was done laughing so hard I thought he would die, he tells me that he will give me a discount because I am so funny and adorable. Shit, I’ll take it. Then he tells me they can’t fix the broken lug nut and give me the address of a guy who can.  So now I have to go somewhere else to get this done.

I thank him and again drive carefully over there and trying to keep visions of two tires falling off and me crashing into the retainer walls and dying a fiery death.

I get to the new guys and it takes them about 1.5 hours to take care of my car BECAUSE ANOTHER LUG NUT BROKE OFF! What the hell is it today with cars trying to kill me? I am wondering if I need to name my car “Christine” and start looking around the parking lot for Stephen King.

Now once that’s done, I still need to take my car over to the mechanic who is going to fix the “check engine” light and get my car past her fear of acceleration. I get lost going over there, can’t find the damn place and am about to pull over and have a nervous breakdown when I see it. I mentally bitch slap Mapquest for HAVING THE WRONG ADDRESS!. I pull in and throw myself on his mercy to fix my car.

He does – 2.5 hours later – and now I’m toast. I am spending money I don’t have, I haven’t been able to get any writing done because of all errands I’ve had to run the last few days and now I have a headache because I haven’t eaten all day. He also gives me a discount because I was funny and nice to him and I drive off wondering how I am going to pay for all of this. I decide that it doesn’t matter because the important thing is to make it for Thanksgiving and now that my car is safe, everything will work out.

I rush over to work but it’s pointless. The day is shot. I’ve only had 2 days off for the month, so I figure I deserved a break. I grab a check, run to the bank to cover my expenses and go home. I am too tired to move. My toenails hurt and I don’t have anything for dinner. I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and decide to watch  movie and pick-up my writing the next day after a good nights sleep. Besides, it will be the day before Thanksgiving and the office will be quiet, so I’ll have time to catch-up and finish my word count while I am at my family’s house. Everything will be fine as I hit the “Power” button on my laptop.

I won’t boot up and keeps dying on me.

“NO!” I scream and scare my cats so bad that they run for cover under the bed. I don’t care. I lost count of how many times I hit that power button but I knew – I was totally and completely screwed.

I sit down and cry. I cried for a long time. I was exhausted, broke and at my wit’s end. I sat there for a long time and no matter how hard I tried to figure something out, it was useless. I was out of money, didn’t know what to do and was tired of thinking.

I finally got up, packed up my laptop and headed out to Best Buy. My friends were there. The Geek Squad was there and all I needed them to do was wave their magic wand over my laptop and everything would be fine again and I could take it with me, get my writing done while everyone was asleep and have a nice Thanksgiving.

Instead he told me the mother board was dead and couldn’t be fixed. I suddenly realize I had not backed-up anything and my book was gone. Gone. It was all over for me. All my files were gone, all my notes, my pictures and all my documents for work.

I was an idiot and now everyone was going to find out. I confess to him that it wasn’t backed-up and casually asked if there was anything they could do about it. I was calm and he had no idea he was talking to a woman who was hysterical. No reason for him to know that. It might have scared him away.

He tells me they can try, quotes me a price and then points towards the computer section and says I’ll need to buy a new one in order to transfer the data. I quietly look at them and all I can see are the prices. I have no idea what to buy or how I am even going to do it. I walk out, go home and cry some more.

The next day, Wednesday, I go into work and tell my boss what happened and I feel myself wanting to cry again. We talk and we work out a way for me to get a new one and off we go, back to Best Buy. I love these guys. I had called Fry’s and you would have thought I had just killed their kitten with the way they treated me.

I get the computer but it’s going to take a few days to transfer the data. I smile and tell them it’s fine and that I understand there’s no guarantee that they can but they will try.

I leave early Thursday morning for a long drive of coffee and rock and roll blasting out of my radio. I don’t care anymore. If I have to take another month to finish this damn book, I’ll do it. If I have to re-write it from memory, then so be it but I am GOING TO HIT 50,000 WORDS EVEN IF IT KILLS ME.

I come back late Saturday afternoon. I had called The Geek Squad (some of the nicest people I have ever met) the day before but they couldn’t say exactly when it would be done.

Then suddenly on Saturday night, they call! It’s done and I can come get it. I rush through dinner, grab a friend to come with me because I hate crowds and am too wired to speak rationally and off we go.

I pick it up and now I’m terrified that something will happen and I’ll either drop it or run it over with my car. They told me they recovered all the data and it’s ready to go.

I power it up and hold my breath. YES! It’s all there! I immediately grab the flash drive that I bought and back-up the laptop. I did that again today. Yes, I do learn things on occasion.

This morning I start writing and writing and writing. I forgot to eat, so around 1:00 I forage and find something. I write some more and suddenly realize I have to go to work tomorrow morning and haven’t done my laundry. I jump up, go and get it done and come back.

(Out of respect for my male readers, I’ll not write about the “period from hell” I got on Thanksgiving. You can thank me later).

I am 2,000 words away from my target when the toilet stops working and floods the bathroom floor. I stand there, watching it overflow and suddenly I start laughing. Well, it’s either that or cry, so I decided to laugh. I clean it up and call a friend who comes over but can’t fix it, so tomorrow he will get some different tools and try again. All of this strikes me as so par for my life. You set your sights on something and it’s as if you called forth the God of Murphy’s Law.

Have you ever noticed that when your toilet doesn’t work, you have to go to the bathroom more often? Fortunately for me, there’s a gas station right across the street, so in-between going over there and putting my laundry away, I wrote. I ignored the looks I started getting from the attendant the third time I used the facilities.

Then I hit the 50,000 word mark and screamed and scared my cats again. I did it, somehow.

And the best part is this – I love my book. There’s more to go but I learned that any one of us can do what we set our minds to. Busted cars, broken laptops, impossible working hours, clogged toilets, horrible cramps and PMS and lack of sleep and money but I kept going and I did it.

I did it.

I DID IT!

Word count: 36,295.

I can’t believe I’ve gotten this much done with an impossible schedule. I realize it’s far from being done as it will have to survive a few re-writes, but yesterday the story started to flow and suddenly I knew the characters inside and out.

I really dove deep into them and I must say, I like them.  Suddenly, there they were and it was so easy to write about them. Almost as if they wrote the story themselves. They didn’t, of course, but there was a point where they came alive in my mind.

I’ve had this happen a few times but not quite like this. I know these people and they fascinate me. I would have kept writing tonight, but it’s getting late and I’m tired.

But something tells me they will be here in the morning when I wake up.

One of the things that prompted all of this, ironically, was some recent rejection I had experienced the other day. The details aren’t important, but it was something that really pissed me off and hurt my feelings.

I wasn’t in the mood to write but I’ve got this ridiculous target to hit and I can’t let my emotions get in my way. So, I picked-up the story where I left off but I was in a pissy mood, so my main character had a bitchy side to her.

I sat back and wondered where that had come from and realized I was taking my upset and putting it into the book. Well, that’s fine if it’s part of the story, but today it wasn’t. What I was feeling was not what the character should be feeling.

I know we all do this as writers. Use something that happened to us or someone else and spin it. It’s quite therapeutic to do but not in the middle of a story.

I put the brakes on, took my emotions and parked them, and went back to the story.

I rocked it. I just nailed it and then some. I didn’t go and change anything because someone had hurt my feelings.

I stuck to the story and was true to it. That was the exact moment the characters came more alive and the story took off.

It’s not easy doing this, but we do it anyway.

Word count: 21,149.

It always happens. You become brain dead. The words on the page/screen no longer mean much of anything and you don’t care.

It’s Saturday night and I’m already in my pajamas. Dinner has been eaten, ice cream has been consumed, the dishes have been done and the cats are sleeping.

7:00 on a Saturday night and I’m ready for bed.

This IS the life of a single woman. It’s nothing like Sex and the City. God, maybe I’m wrong here and it’s like that for everyone else BUT me. If so, I don’t want to know.

I am a bit behind where I want to be on my writing. I worked another 6-day week in addition to a couple of nights, so being able to be home and relax is exactly what I want to do. I have tomorrow off with a million things to do and then I start it all again Monday morning.

That means I have to somehow find a couple of hours tomorrow to write and I don’t want to.

And I am actually embarrassed at how trashed my house is right now. Plus my cats don’t do shit around here except shed all over the place and nag me when their food bowls are empty. Boots has now started waking me up at night when he wants me to move and take my spot. This morning at 4:30, he started to tap my nose to wake-up and move over. So of course I did.

So, yeah, just a bit brain dead. Bored with my book right now. It’s like the story sort of died out in the last chapter. I’m not going to worry about it now, but at some point when this is all done, I’ll have to change some things around.

I think doing NaNo really makes you decide if this is something that you want to do – write. I know a lot of people worry about getting published and as much as I would love that, I have come to realize that I write because I like to. I don’t like it every time I do write – tonight would be an example of that – but there’s this wonderful feeling of when you have written something that is perfect. You somehow managed to get the exact right words and write them down and they communicate perfectly.

For me it is one of the best feelings in the world.

Some say there is such a thing as writer’s block. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but there is such a thing as being bored and disinterested in your work. I am learning to keep going and blow right through it because if I stop, it’s much harder to pick it back up again.

I’ve had it happen before and I just kept going and it seemed to get better. I’ve been working on this story for over a year and I think in the future, I’ve got to get it done much faster.

I bore easily, so I’m not surprised to have run into it again.

So I am tired, worn out from a very long week and looking at an even longer week starting again.

How do you keep yourself going? Do you ever run into boredom with your writing? If so, what do you do to get interested in it again?

Word count: 14,959.

I took a quick road trip yesterday to see my family and didn’t get much writing done. Now that I’m back, I am wondering why I thought it was such a good idea to have blueberry pancakes for breakfast.

Oh, yeah, I remember – BECAUSE THEY TASTE FRICKIN AWESOME! That’s why.

Plus my Mom and my cousin made me do it. Yes they did. They actually did. My cousin put a gun to my head (right there in the restaurant and no one called the cops) and my Mom said she would be disappointed in me if I didn’t eat them.

Because I’m a writer, I get to make shit up. Like the above. I get to do this all day long. Well, most of the day I don’t because I have to earn money and I can assure you, no one is paying me to be a writer. I don’t know if anyone will, but no matter; I’ll write anyway.

I am tired but it was worth it. I had a great weekend with my family and will be going back up there for Thanksgiving. That is one reason I am trying to keep such a high word count. I plan on being done with NaNo before Thanksgiving so I can take some time off, take my writing and shove it in a drawer where the sun don’t shine and start on my next project.

But, back to the carbs. I don’t eat them hardly ever, but when I do, it’s like a drug. I get the immediate high and then the crash. Plus the fact that it took me over an hour to drive through Sacramento due to some horrendous car accident, by the time I got home my butt was killing me.

I have not figured out how to write standing up, so here I am again. Sitting down with a headache and pounding out the words.

The story is going fine and I’m just getting into the next section of it and am at a bit of a loss on what to do next. I’ve got the outline but I am learning to segue better. I still suck at it, but it’s getting better.

I am also way behind in my own personal reading. I just picked up a book called “Once bitten, twice shy” by Jennifer Rardin. I’ve been hooked from the first paragraph. I will be reading everything she wrote. Godspeed Jennifer.

Word count: 12, 644.

I’m still here with the rest of you. I am reading your blogs and comments on G+ but mostly too bleary eyed to say much back. I can handle a comment here and there on a thread and I must say, reading how everyone else is doing is helping.

The book is going very well, humming right along. I’ve written this one character (based on a true story) that is a real asshole and the more I think about him, the more I want to kill him off. I don’t know if I will or not, but it is quite amazing how we can take things that happen to us and turn it into a story.

I have had a few things come up on this book that stirred some long forgotten memories and emotions. My book has a bit of truth mixed in with the fiction, but I think we often use that to tell our stories.

I also know enough not to slam down a true story carelessly or to write about people I know. That I would never do, but it’s interesting the things I am using from the past to write fiction.

Whether this or other characters stay in the final draft, I do not know. Right now it’s all about getting it written the first time and letting the story evolve.

Last year when I did NaNo, I was completely alone with no support system. Now I have G+ with a bunch of writers that I chat with and it has been an amazing difference.

I’ve never taken myself seriously as a writer until a few years ago when I just jumped in and started doing it. There really is no way to prepare for it or to really understand it. You can’t easily explain to someone why you would rather stay home and write all by yourself than go out that evening.

But now that I am this far into it and it’s going well, I am enjoying my time with the story. I am now finding it relaxing and not hard. I am magically making the time for it and that is becoming a bit of a struggle, but that’s OK.

I like what I’m doing and I’m proud of myself.

That says a lot.

I am tired and bleary eyed, so I’m keeping this short. Hopefully get some sleep and start this all over again.

Word count: 8,808

I mean, really? What was I thinking about when I decided to write this story? I’m not going to bore you with the details of it. Besides, you can buy it when it’s published and I’m rich and famous.

Yeah, right! It sure doesn’t seem that way right now. I thought my story would be easy to tell. I have it outlined and all I’m trying to do is follow the outline.

Why didn’t anyone tell me that the outline doesn’t mean shit when suddenly you have characters showing up out of nowhere and won’t leave?  An outline is supposed to be how your book begins and ends with a bunch of stuff in the middle, right?

Wrong! Oh no, not for me apparently. It seems that while I’m writing, if I have a thought about a scene or a character, suddenly I am writing something that isn’t even planned. It’s like I’m possessed.

But then I’ve got to explore the idea and see where it goes. Because I have to. I HAVE TO.

Sure, it’s great for the word count and is probably one of the reasons I’m a bit ahead of target. That plus I’m blowing off everything I can in order to write this month. So I realize it’s about the quantity more than the quality.

But that is a lie that I tell myself because the quality of what I write IS more important than the quantity.

My story is starting to get complicated. I’ve turned off my inner editor and am slugging it out, but I had hoped to keep this story simple and lean and it’s not cooperating with me. At all. Whatsoever.

How well do you follow your outline?