My Own List

I found an old journal today. I was about to go to church with my friends, Ashley and Charles, and was looking for a Bible to take with me and when I pulled one off the lower shelf of an end table I have in my bedroom, my journal fell onto the floor. I started writing in this particular journal on July 5, 2006 (My sister’s birthday!) and only wrote through about half of it. My last entry was sometime in 2008, but I’m not sure when because I didn’t date it (weird). I only know it was 2008 because the entry before that was entitled “2008 Reading List.”

So, I’m browsing through the entries and I find a list: “Things I want to Do Before I Die.”

I don’t remember writing it! And I certainly didn’t remember it when I sat down and wrote Twenty-Five. It isn’t surprising, but it is rather humorous, that several items on this list also show up on dear old Abby’s list in the book. Because after all, Abby is basically me- just a better me.

I’m going to put the list here, as a bit of a teaser, because I’ve decided I’m going to post Twenty-Five on this blog. Yes, the whole book. I’ll post one chapter every other day starting October 17th.  I’ve read a lot of warnings about posting stories, books, poetry etc. on blogs because you risk someone stealing it and passing it off as their own, but I’m still going to do it.  I know there’s a risk, but I’m honestly not worried about it.  I want the world to read my book.  I don’t know that it will ever be published.  So I’m going to send it out there for free.  Plus, I have all of the early drafts and the first draft is hand written, so I’m pretty sure I can prove it is my work if someone does try to steal it.  I hope everyone likes it and passes it on to their friends to read!

Okay, so here’s the list I wrote back in 2006:

Things I Want to Do Before I Die:

1. Get married/ fall in love

2. Have a child

3. Visit London

4. See another Broadway Show

5. Live in New York City

6. Go on a mission trip

7. Do something completely out of character

8. Watch every Academy Award winner of Best Picture

9. Own a brand new car

10. Learn how to cook

11. Read the whole Bible

12. Get accepted to NYU

13. Take a photography class/ learn how to develop my own pictures

14. Go to the dentist*

15. Work for a non-profit organization

16. Serve on a jury

17. Befriend a stranger

18. Meet someone famous

19. Take a tour of the White House

20. Visit the Supreme Court

21. Have 15 minutes of fame

22. Go to Disneyworld

* My parents didn’t have dental insurance when we were growing up and couldn’t afford to take 4 children to the dentist, so I never went as a child.  I have been now- it pays to work for an orthodontist!

For the record I have completed only 2 of these list items, #14 (as stated above) and #22 (as seen in my 5 part blog post about it).  I’ve come close to #16- I had jury duty a few months back, but I didn’t get picked for the actual jury.  I’ll have to work on the rest of them!

Milestone Updates: This is my 97th Post and there are 19 days left until my Blogiversary!  I’ve had 5,119 views! and I just received my 500th comment a few days ago- that wasn’t on the original milestone list, but I thought it was pretty cool.

And a little thing that makes me happy: A new pair of boots, or jeans, or a new cute sweater- anything new that I can wear, really!

I Dislike Conflict…

In real life.  I mean, I really hate it.  I can’t stand fighting or debating or even disagreeing with someone else.  And it literally makes me sick when someone is angry with me or thinks I’ve done a bad job or criticizes me.  Makes me want to vomit and keeps me awake at night.  And even months later, if I think back to a person who has been angry with me, I find myself saying “I hate my life.”  I’m totally serious about that.

So, aside from the obvious- I need a therapist- I tend to stay away from conflict as much as possible (okay that was probably pretty obvious, too).

Not really a very good quality for a writer.

Because a writer needs to understand conflict.  Needs to be able to dissect it and take out all the little pieces and understand why each character feels the way they do and why they would do what they do and why what they feel and what they do causes problems for other characters.  Still with me?

Also, if you can’t take criticism, your writing will never live up to its full potential.

But back to understanding conflict.

On the first draft of Twenty-Five I constantly got feedback that there wasn’t any conflict.  That the problems the characters faced weren’t really in the conflict realm because they were so easily resolved.  That there wasn’t one overarching conflict holding the story together.

So on the “second” draft I tried to bring out more conflict.

And now on the “third” draft, I’m trying to bring out even more, because if a book needs an overarching conflict, I still don’t think I have it.

Because in Twenty-Five, the conflict is life.  And living a new relationship.  And learning how to love.  Sometimes it’s really great.  Because falling in love is great.  And sometimes it’s a little blah, because life is a little blah.  But what real conflict do we have in life?  I don’t have one overarching thing that holds the story of my life together.  And I don’t think the characters in my book need to either.

Yes, I realize I’m probably crazy.  No publisher or agent is going to want a book that doesn’t have a conflict.  But when I started writing this book over a year ago, my goal was to write a book without a hook, without a gimmick.  Just a story as real-to-life as possible about the beginning of a relationship.  Isn’t that conflict enough?  I mean really.  What’s more difficult in this world than starting a relationship with someone new?

I think this whole desire to avoid conflict at all costs is one of the things preventing me from finishing any of my other novel ideas (characterization is another big problem I have.  And description.  I hate description.  And prose, too.  I don’t hate prose, I’m just no good at it.  Dialogue- I’m good at dialogue).  Because for the most part, a story has no where to go if it has no higher conflict.  That’s what makes Twenty-Five so special though, I think.  I managed to write a story about two people and that’s all it’s about.  Two people and their love for each other.  A love story is what most people want for themselves, right?

I realize that my posts lately have really been lacking in the substance department.  I hope this makes up for it a little bit.  But what you have to understand about me is that I really don’t have a lot of substance- at least not in the way a writer/blogger should have substance.  I wish I did, but I know that I don’t.  I’m not deep.  I read a lot, but I usually can’t have an intellectual conversation about books.  I can’t really put into words how something makes me feel.  I find it difficult to stay on topic and to argue a point of view.

Because arguing, after all, is too much like conflict.

So, these random, journal-like, entries are what you get when you come to I Picked Up A Pen One Day.  I’m sorry if you wanted advice on how to be a better writer.  Or to see the process of what going from start to finish on a book looks like.  Or the kinship of another intellectual pursuing their true passion while the world holds them back.  I can’t be those things.  I wish I could be.  But I can’t.

I know what you’re thinking- Never say “I Can’t” because you can!

I don’t want to be someone I’m not.  So, sometimes, saying “I Can’t” is the best thing I can do for myself.

Wow, this has really wandered from my original topic.

Back to conflict.  I don’t like it.  I don’t want to write it.  So maybe I’ll try and be the conflict-less writer.  And maybe I’ll still be unpublished 50 years from now.  And maybe that is just going to have to be okay.

Milestone Update: This is my 96th post!  There are 23 days until my One year Blogiversary!

And a little thing that makes me happy: GLEE!  That show is so stinkin’ amazing!

I Forgot a Title for this One. So Here it is Now.

I don’t want to be one of those people who gives up on their hobby because they don’t have enough time for it.  I really really don’t want to be that person.  And I don’t want writing to be just a hobby for me.  I want it to be a career and a lifestyle.  But I’m torn in a thousand different directions every day and usually writing time is what I have to sacrifice because no one is depending on me to do something  in the writing world.  Everyone seems to need something from me in the real world.  I know I should do it for me, but it’s hard when I know that if I take a half hour to write, I’ll have to ignore the 10 emails in my inbox that have already been waiting all day while I’ve been at work.  And if I start to answer those emails, I have to finish, and usually one answer lends itself to more work.

I want to write!

But I feel guilty when I use my very little free time to work on my writing.  And it has really put a damper on my writing life.  I can’t remember the last time I actually worked on one of my stories.  How does everyone out there do it?  I want more than anything to just stop.  Breathe.  Take out a pen and my notebook.  And spend hours writing.  But when I have the time, I’m too exhausted.  And when I have the ideas I don’t have the time.  I need rejuvenation.  Where does that come from?  How do I get it?

I need help!

A little thing that makes me happy: Bright orange toenail polish.

Milestone Updates: This is my 95th post and there are 29 days until my blogiversary!

It’s Not October 15th Yet!!!!

But I reached one of my milestones!!!

I didn’t have a chance to log on at all yesterday, which is totally weird for me, I didn’t even open up my laptop yesterday, but here it is, 10:09 PM on Monday September 13th, a whole month and 2 days before my Blogiversary and I reached 5001 views!


That’s pretty much all I have to say today.  But I’m super stoked about it.

Now, if you do want to hear more from me, I’ll be posting Wednesday (9/15) on my company’s blog about the last wedding I coordinated.  Check it out:

A little thing that makes me happy: A blank page.  It’s a clean start every time, even if you are just carrying over the sentence or paragraph from the previous page.

Milestone Updates: This is my 94th post and I have 32 days until my Blogiversary!

Instant Gratification: I Blame America

So, I’ve decided that one of my problems with the whole writing/querying/having a real career thing is that I am used to this instant gratification lifestyle we have here in America.  Who wants to spend month after month after month writing and editing and writing and editing and then sending queries and waiting for rejections and then sending more queries and waiting for more rejections when I can get a meal in 5 minutes from the local McDonalds or a new book online in 2 minutes or a new song in 30 seconds?  The whole writing to publication process takes TOO DAMN LONG and I don’t have the patience for it.  And I blame America.

Growing up, weren’t we told that we could be anything we wanted to be?  That we could do anything we wanted to do?

I was.

But you know what- it’s not true.  Not really.  I worked really hard in high school and college.  I got great grades.  But you know what those great grades got me?  Absolutely nothing.  Because I didn’t really know what I wanted when I was getting them.  And now, I know what I want but am not really in the position to get it.  I don’t have the time to work on my writing.  I don’t have the time to research agents and write and send queries.  Then wait for the inevitable rejections before sending out another round of queries.

I want it to be instantaneous!

I want the first agent I send my first draft of my first novel to read it and say “Yes!  Please let me represent you!”  And then I want to get a call from said agent a day later saying that the first publisher she sent the book to wants it and is willing to pay me a whole boatload of money for it.  And then I want it to go straight to the top of the NY Times Best Sellers list.

I realize this isn’t how the world works.  I just wish it was.  I know it’s probably a good thing the world doesn’t work this way.  But, man, it would make my life a whole lot easier!






A little thing that makes me happy: single servings of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!






An update on my milestones:

This is my 93rd post.

There are 39 days left until the 1 year anniversary!

And I’ve had 4,950 views (only 50 to go!)