Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An Open Letter to Jerry

I finally heard from Jerry. He dumped me in an e-mail. Ahem. This was my favorite part.

You are a truly great and inspiring person who I admire and respect deeply. I enjoy your company immensely and I've missed talking with you this past week. I'm really not a bad guy … I’m just a sensitive guy with a broken heart that is not ready to give up the woman I love (no matter how slim the chances). I hope that you can understand.

Well.

Here is my reply.

Dear Jerry,

I don't recall your mentioning this prior relationship. If you did, you certainly left out the part about you still being in love with her. This was critical information, for I was making decisions about how much of myself to reveal to and share with you during the weeks we were together. I held nothing back, and was encouraged by comments like "I think you might be really good for me." You even planned our next date; you were going to take me to Dante's, remember? I looked forward to it for two weeks.

This does explain, though, some of the "weirdness" surrounding our getting acquainted - why so much time went by between dates, why you texted sporadically and called rarely. Silly me: I thought you were just shy. Encouraged by our third date, during which you truly seemed to open up and after which we really stayed connected for a while, I thought the weirdness was past and we were on our way to something potentially great. (Note to self: in the future, flee at the first sign of weirdness.)

I don't know the circumstances surrounding your breakup, but based on what little you shared in your note, it doesn't sound hopeful for the two of you, especially considering the fact that a year has already gone by and you "rarely speak to her and doubt that you can ever have a future together." Only time will tell. In the meantime, you could have had ME. Now you have doubled your losses.

And you chose to share this with me in an E-MAIL? I *KNOW* I deserved better than that. Tacky, tacky.

I understand heartbreak all too well. I want you to know you have added to mine.

Someday, when you read my best seller, you will recognize yourself in one of its characters. And cringe.

Pam

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Of Lists and Men

You already know that I knocked Item #40 off my Amazing Life List. But it looks like I will be able to check off at least a dozen more items before this year is over. The simple act of creating the list brought these goals to the front of my mind, where they need to be if I am going to make plans to bring them to fruition.

For example, Nathan and I are going on a Caribbean cruise in June, and it just so happens that there are shore excursions at a couple of the ports of call which will allow me to swim with a dolphin and zip line through a canopy. If not for my list, I probably would have contented myself with lazy afternoons on the beach and ignored the other options.

Not only that, but other people are coming forward to help make my dreams come true. A friend who is also interested in reading Jane Austen's works suggested that we start our own Jane Austen Book Club. I think it's a great idea; we will have our first meeting in June. (If you would like to participate, let me know!)

There are a couple of items that REQUIRE outside assistance. If you aren't already a follower of this blog, please click HERE. And if you would like to follow me on Twitter, click HERE. Thank you in advance!

I acknowledge there are a few things on there that seem downright impractical. Plant a tree? A trip to the nursery, some time with a shovel, and it's done. Spend a summer in France? Not so easy. But I have decided not to limit my goals to what seems possible. I am going to keep the intention out there, and expect the unexpected.

As a matter of fact, the only items that really have me concerned are numbers 99 and 100, especially in light of recent experiences. Bachelor #1, who was never assigned a pseudonym, was forced by another love interest to choose between her and me; since I wasn't ready to be exclusive and she was, he chose her. "Jerry" and I had our third date two weeks ago - dinner, live music, dancing - and it was a blast, almost euphoric. Heavy texting and phone conversations ensued; a couple of days later we made tentative plans to see each other this past weekend, and then remained in close contact until Wednesday, when communication ceased. I determined he must have disappeared from the face of the planet - but then I got a text message from him on Friday mentioning absolutely nothing about the weekend, and I haven't heard from him since. I'm still confused and a hurt over that one. Finally, although we got along well and enjoyed each other's company, Jacob and I parted ways over theological differences. It was hard, but we knew it would only get harder.

It appears that Bill is winning the dating game by default. And he seems like one of the good ones. But is he Mr. Right? Only time will tell.

Have any of you started your Amazing Life Lists? Any unique items you would like to share?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Journey as a Novelist

Recently, a new reader asked me about the writing project I keep referring to on this blog. Here goes.

First, some background. I have always loved writing; if I hadn't been a music major, I probably would have been an English major. Until recently, most of my writing has been nonfiction: papers for school, pieces about education for home schooling publications, articles about teaching piano for my studio newsletter and website. I have been told that my style is clear and concise, and I am totally comfortable with the mechanics of writing: grammar, capitalization and punctuation.

About ten years ago, I started talking about writing a novel - based loosely on my experiences, but not a memoir; after all, the guilty must be protected. The next thing I knew, I was face to face with my 50th birthday. And I realized it was time to take some action.

It is one thing to TALK about writing a book; it is quite another thing to actually WRITE one. I decided to try an online fiction writing class and start with the basics. When it was over, I signed up for an novel writing class, and actually began working on my manuscript. A couple of weeks ago, I finished the "advanced" novel writing class; at this point, I am about halfway through with my story.

I love the process, although it is MUCH HARDER than I ever imagined. I have been an avid reader since I was very young, so I assumed writing a book meant starting at point A and going to point Z. NOT! There is so much to think about: setting, character, plot, point of view, dialogue and scene. Finding my "voice." "Show, don't tell." Figuring out whether I am a "plotter" (one who writes with a carefully devised plan) or a "pantser" (one who flies by the seat of her pants). I did have a rough outline in the beginning, but I have changed my mind about many details - including the opening scene and the name of one of my main characters - as I have gone along.

I try to write consistently; my daily goal is 1000 words, which takes me about two hours. Although I'm not always successful, even a couple hundred words moves me in the right direction. I also joined a writer's group, Georgia Romance Writers, the local chapter of Romance Writers of America. RWA membership is open to all authors pursuing a romance fiction writing career. According to the RWA website, "two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying ending." My book, which is women's fiction, definitely satisfies those criteria, as do books of many other subgenres: mystery, suspense, inspirational, paranormal, historical. GRW is composed of approximately 200 committed professional writers, and a large percentage of them are published authors. That alone is impressive. But even more impressive is the way these folks reach out to newbs like myself and offer their wisdom and support. I look forward to the monthly meetings in a big way; they are informative and inspirational.

Finally, thanks to published author Sandra Elzie, who critiqued the first 25 pages of my manuscript in a GRW workshop last Saturday, I know EXACTLY where my story is going to begin and have a much clearer picture of where I am headed. My goal is to complete the first draft of the book by the end of April. Then I will go back to the beginning and revise and revise with the goal of having the book ready to submit for publication by fall.

I realize the odds of actually being published are small. That is okay with me. Even though one of the items on my Amazing Life List is "become a New York Times bestselling author," what I want most is to write a book that I truly feel proud of. After that, whatever happens happens.

I am hoping that what I lack in talent, I will make up for in determination. Thanks to all of you who are sharing the ups and downs of this journey with me.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Item #40

I crossed Item #40, "Get another ear piercing," off My Amazing Life List today. Here is the result.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star...

This, of course, is my right ear; in the interest of symmetry, I went ahead and had my left ear done at the same time. I love it!!

One down, 99 to go...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Love me, love my music

It has come to my attention that there is a large number of folks from my generation--and even from subsequent generations--still living in the 70's and 80's where music is concerned. Not this girl! I just created mix CD's for a couple of new friends of mine in order to introduce them to some more contemporary artists I love. This is the playlist--some of my all-time favorites. All these songs have great personal meaning for me. The bands are great. But, for me, it's mostly about the lyrics.

  1. Unwritten/Natasha Bedingfield
  2. First Day of My Life/Bright Eyes
  3. Uprising/Muse
  4. 21 Things I Want in A Lover/Alanis Morissette
  5. That I Would Be Good/Alanis Morissette
  6. Viva la Vida/Coldplay
  7. Death and All His Friends/Coldplay
  8. Hollow Man/R.E.M.
  9. So Unsexy/Alanis Morissette
  10. Green Eyes/Coldplay
  11. 32 Flavors/Ani DiFranco
  12. Crush/Dave Matthews Band
  13. Two Step/Dave Matthews Band
  14. Life For Rent/Dido
  15. Who Makes You Feel/Dido
  16. This Kiss/Faith Hill
  17. Falling Slowly/Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
  18. The Middle/Jimmy Eat World
  19. Optimistic/Radiohead
  20. Let Go/Frou Frou
  21. I Like Giants/Kimya Dawson
  22. Girls Like Me/Mary Chapin Carpenter
  23. Undisclosed Desires/Muse
  24. Butterflies & Hurricanes/Muse
  25. Living Well is the Best Revenge/R.E.M.
  26. Fidelity/Regina Spektor
  27. Hurt/Johnny Cash
  28. Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise/The Avett Brothers
  29. On And On And On/Wilco
What are some of your favorites?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Amazing Life List

Some folks call it a "Bucket List." I am calling it "My Amazing Life List." However, I am hoping it won't take the rest of my life to check everything off. I prefer to think of this as my ten-year plan. In 2020, I will make a new list. I have organized by category to make it easier to track each item. Of course, I will keep you posted regarding my progress.

If you want inspiration to create your own list, click here. You will be busy for hours.

TRAVEL:

1. Spend a summer in France.
2. Spend a week in New York City: see all the sights, attend a Broadway play.
3. Cruise to Alaska.
4. Vacation in Hawaii.
5. Go on a walking tour of Ireland.
6. Vacation in England/Scotland/Wales.
7. Spend a summer in the Mediterranean: Greece, Spain, Italy.
8. See Australia and New Zealand.
9. Go to Africa.
10. See the Grand Canyon.
11. Set foot in all 50 states.
12. See the Great Wall of China.
13. Visit ancient Egypt.
14. Spend a summer driving across the United States, coast to coast, with no itinerary.
15. Go back to Nantucket.
16. Visit Seattle.
17. Visit Los Angeles.
18. Cruise through the Panama Canal.
19. Go on a cruise with my parents, children, and brother and sister-in-law.
20. Go on a cruise with Pat.

EVENTS:

21. See the Rockettes Christmas Show in New York City.
22. Go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
23. Attend the Grammy Awards.
24. Be in the audience of the David Letterman show.
25. Drink beer at Oktoberfest in Munich.
26. Attend a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado.
27. Do the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th.
28. Walk with the Sweet Potato Queens in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Jackson, Mississippi.
29. Attend the Academy Awards.

READING:

30. Read all of Jane Austen's novels.
31. Read "War and Peace."

WRITING:

32. Finish, revise and polish my first novel.
33. Find a publisher for my novel.
34. Become a New York Times bestselling author.
35. Sign my book at an autograph session.
36. Have an article published in a magazine.
37. Have 100 followers on my blog.
38. Have 1000 followers on Twitter.

RANDOM & MISCELLANEOUS:

39. Get a tattoo.
40. Get another ear piercing.
41. Brush up on my French and speak it fluently.
42. Speak Spanish conversationally.
43. Learn salsa dancing.

EXPERIENCES:

45. Throw myself a fabulous, no-holds-barred birthday party.
46. Bowl a 200+ game.
47. Speak in front of 1000 people.
48. Do a somersault.
49. Fly first class.
50. Ride in a limousine.
51. Have dinner at the Sun Dial Restaurant atop the Peachtree Westin Atlanta.
52. Serve on a jury.
53. Be an extra in a film.

HEALTH/FITNESS:

54. Stop biting my fingernails.
55. Weigh 110 pounds.
56. Make a habit of daily healthy eating and exercise.
57. Overcome water phobia and become a strong swimmer.

ADVENTURE:

58. Learn to sail.
59. Go sky diving.
60. Go snow skiing.
61. Zip line through a canopy.
62. Swim with a dolphin.

PEOPLE TO MEET:

63. Meet Oprah.
64. Meet Elizabeth Berg.
65. Meet Anne Lamott.
66. Meet Sark.
67. Meet Meryl Streep.
68. Meet Matthew Bellamy.
69. Have dinner with Jamie Oliver.

HOME AND HEARTH:

70. Get rid of everything I don't absolutely need or love.
71. Own a house on the beach (might be on a lake, might be on the ocean--doesn't matter as long as it's someplace warm).
72. Make it my dream home.
73. Establish an herb garden.
74. Plant an Eastern red cedar tree.
75. Keep chickens.
76. Get a kitten and name it Panzer.

MUSIC:

77. Master Chopin's Scherzo in B-Flat Minor.
78. Master Mozart's Concerto, K. 466, and perform it with an orchestra.
79. Learn how to play the hammered dulcimer.
80. Learn how to play the mandolin.
81. Write a song (piano and lyrics).
82. Sing in a Messiah singalong.
83. Sing karaoke in public.
84. Learn to improvise jazz and play with a jazz band.

STUFF:

85. Own a grand piano.
86. Own a sexy sports car.

HOBBIES:

87. Crochet a granny square afghan.
88. Knit a pair of socks.
89. Knit a sweater.
90. Make a scrapbook photo album for each of my children.
91. Make a scrapbook album "Book of Me."
92. Organize my loose recipes/compile a family cookbook.
93. Make soap.
94. Make divinity.
95. Own a bakery.

FINANCIAL:

96. Write a will.
97. Pay off my credit cards.
98. Achieve financial peace.

PIE IN THE SKY:

99. Fall madly in love with Mr. Right.
100. Have the wedding of my dreams.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A New Way to Think About Creativity

While roaming the internet in search of inspiration a couple of days ago, I came across this video. Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat, Pray, Love resonated deeply with my spirit, and so did this lecture she presented at the 2009 TED conference. If you are a creative person, regardless of your genre, I highly recommend that you find twenty minutes to watch her presentation. Then let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Free Falling

I discovered Danielle LaPorte's blog today. Click HERE to read her post. Then come right back.

* * *

This is what my friend PAT had to say about it.

"Reading that was like setting the right side of my brain on fire and causing an explosion. I haven't seen that kind of spin on reality. I liked it so much, I have to read it again slowly to get all of the juicy out of it."

That's exactly how I felt.

* * *

In these pages, I have often expressed a desire to find balance in my life. Well, I am finally beginning to see the futility in striving for balance when most of my days are controlled pandemonium at best. It is very freeing to think that maybe there is nothing "wrong" with things being the way they are.

Instead of resisting the chaos, I can choose to revel in it.

I love a good road trip, but after a few hours of driving, I become fatigued. Still, as tempting as it might be to find a comfortable hotel where I can stop and sleep for a few hours, instead I tend to seek out places of interest or scenic beauty where I can get out of the car and stretch my limbs and rest my mind, if only for a few moments. Then, when I get back behind the wheel, I am renewed and invigorated. Sometimes I even have a story to tell.

I need to look for similar opportunities as I travel down life's road, and grab them when I can. I have long understood that I function best when I have an adventure to look forward to. I have a lot of responsibility--two sons living with me, a home to maintain, and a full time job--and very little backup. I love what I do, but the nature of it makes my financial situation somewhat precarious. To make matters worse, I am a recovering perfectionist and I am inclined to worry.

But there is more. I have friends that I love, and lovers yet to meet. And I have a dream. I dream of being a published author. However, this dream requires the investment of hours and hours of time without knowing the outcome. This borders on crazy, right? But I'm going to keep running with my scissors. Grinning from ear to ear. Fearless.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring Cleaning

I have spent the past couple of weeks dealing with one of those life-altering scares that smacks us mortals up the side of the head every now and then. It started with some abnormal postmenopausal bleeding (apologies to my male readers and their delicate sensibilities) and ended with outpatient surgery at Gwinnett Medical Center last Friday. The good news is that my doctor didn't find anything unusual during the procedure, and fully expects the biopsy to come back negative. I will know for sure later this week.

All those involved in the process were wonderful: Dr. Kim, my nurse practitioner Kristy and the rest of the staff at Maternal Gynerations in Lawrenceville, and absolutely everyone who worked with me at Gwinnett Medical Center. And then there was my sister-in-law, SeDonna, who took Friday off work and drove me to the hospital for my 6:15AM appointment, brought me home afterwards, and stayed with me until Nathan got home from school in the afternoon. For them, and for the results, I am very thankful.

I was so crazy busy during the two weeks leading up to the big event that I almost didn't have time to worry. The details are boring. But most days I got up early and stayed up late and behaved like the rabid cousin of the Energizer bunny. Unfortunately, I have very little to show for all this effort. I wrote little, I read less, I did nothing creative. I forgot to eat; I gained weight anyway. If I think about it a certain way, it makes me downright depressed. But I did what needed to be done, and it really isn't fair to beat myself up for that.

Then on Sunday, when I was supposed to be taking it easy, recovering from surgery, I decided it was more important to pay some attention to my sorely neglected home. So I bolted out of bed and washed curtains and sheets and did mounds of laundry and vacuumed and dusted and swept and mopped and scrubbed bathrooms. About six o'clock, exhaustion swept over me like an ocean wave. I made popcorn and tried watching a movie with Nathan, but I fell asleep before it was over, and slept for ten hours. Despite this, it was hard to get up yesterday morning. This morning, too.

I am trying to pace myself a little bit better now. As a matter of fact, my prognosis has left me feeling inspired to take better care of myself in general: to eat healthy, exercise daily, and get back in the habit of writing.

I have lots more to share. One day at a time.