I’m Glad I Did It

It’s been three weeks since I self-published Twenty-Five, and I have to say, I am so happy I did it.  Before taking this leap, I really wasn’t sure about self-publishing.  I’d read articles saying that the stigma had been lifted and more books were being published by the individual authors than by publishing houses now, but it was still a big risk for me.  What if I pressed the “upload” button and then never sold a single copy?  What if I did sell copies, but then got bad reviews?  I struggle with rejection issues, so this was one of my biggest fears.  I didn’t want to fail at this, at writing.

My book is my proudest accomplishment.  But, it still is strange for me when people I know read it.  Again, that fear of rejection.  What if they don’t like it?  Will that somehow mean they don’t like me anymore?  It’s so silly to be so proud of something and hold it to your chest without giving anyone else the chance to see how awesome it is.

So, I did it.  I took the chance and I created the e-book and the paperback.  And you know what?  People like it.  I’ve actually sold copies!  Sure, a lot of the copies I sold were to family and friends, but then again, a lot weren’t.  It’s only been three weeks, and I haven’t had thousands of downloads, but my book is in the hands of hundreds of people.  Hundreds.  I don’t  know if I ever expected that.  I haven’t made much money because the majority of those hundred were free downloads, but money isn’t the point.  The point is, I wrote a book and now people can read it.

And I can’t even tell you how awesome that is.

I can tell you, though, that it really makes me want to get another book out there for them to read!  I’m working on that.

It Isn’t Always Easy

It was not easy to be happy today.

I woke up at 7:00, as usual, and as usual, I checked my email first thing.  I don’t know why I feel the need to check my email as soon as I wake up, but I do.  I had an email from a man I’d been on 3 dates with saying that he didn’t feel a “spark” and that we shouldn’t continue seeing each other.  I was utterly baffled, because it had been less than 36 hours ago that we were making out like teenagers on my couch.  I’m not sure what happened to the spark, but apparently, it’s gone.

I tried my damndest to be cautious about my feelings for this guy, because I didn’t want to get hurt when it inevitably ended, but our second date was amazing and our rapport seemed so spot on, that I let myself become hopeful.  We had just enough in common to keep us talking and just enough not-in-common to keep it interesting.  And he was nice.  And funny.  And shared my devotion to the Oxford comma.  And he kissed me first, dammit!

I can’t figure out what went wrong.  I don’t think I did anything crazy or desperate or clingy.  In fact, I was super careful not to, while still being my amazingly awesome and quirky self.  I understand that dates are for “trying people on,” but after that third date, I felt pretty confident that he’d chosen to wear me out of the store.  After we watched a movie on my couch, he literally said, “I can’t take this anymore,” and kissed me!  He’d been working up the nerve to make a move throughout the ENTIRE movie, then comes back with “There’s no spark.”  WTF.

So, yeah, it wasn’t easy to be happy today.  I repeated one of the commandments to myself, “Fake it til you make it,” but it didn’t do me much good.  All of my co-workers could tell I wasn’t having a good day.  I tried to remember, “Laugh more, cry less,” but only succeeded in keeping the tears at bay until 6:00 PM, when I arrived home.

I finally decided to force myself to do something that would make me happy, so I started a new blog.  I’m not dropping this one; the new one is under a pseudonym and with a different hosting site and is basically going to be an outlet for my misadventures in dating, love, and (lack-of) sex.  I think it’s going to make me very happy.  Especially if I can get some readers.  Writing the first post made me feel a little better.  And writing this makes me feel a little better.  Tomorrow I may work on doing some actual writing on my novel.  Because that will make me very happy.

Missing out

Days keep passing.  My life moves on every moment.  And I feel like I’m missing out.  I feel like I’m missing out on THE fundamental experiences of life.

I’ll turn 28 years old in three months.  It sounds young, but it doesn’t feel young- especially not for a woman.  Think about it- the potential for pregnancy complications and birth defects increases dramatically at age 35, which means I need to have children in the next seven years.  And even though that sounds like a fairly decent amount of time, you have to consider the time necessary to meeting, dating, and marrying the man who would be the father of my children.  Because, I’m sorry, but I’m not a person who would be strong enough to raise a child on my own.  Suddenly, seven years doesn’t feel like that much time, does it?  I think about my sister and her husband.  They started dating in high school and got married when they were 21.  He turned 30 this past November and she’ll turn 30 in four days.  They are expecting their first child in June.  Nine years of marriage, and almost 12 years together- that’s what they got before they had children.  And they still have plenty of time to have more kids if they want to.

But I’ll never have that.  It’s impossible.  I know not all relationships are the same.  Every person is different- no one has the same path in life.  I don’t know exactly how to put it, but it makes me sad – that kind of relationship was NEVER a possibility for me.  It’s unfair.

I’m turning 28 in three months and I’m not just upset that I haven’t had kids or a long term relationship.  What bothers me the most is never loving at all.  And never being loved.  In Twenty-Five, Abigail told Ben that no one had ever made her feel pretty, that no one had ever cared about her, or even liked her.  That’s me.  It’s a true for me now as it was three years ago when I wrote it.  I can’t figure out why.  It seems so incredibly unfair to me.  I can’t understand what I’ve done to deserve going through life completely alone.  Unless you’ve gone 28 (or more) years completely single- you have no idea, no idea whatsoever how it feels.  I can’t even describe it really.  Some days I’m fine.  It doesn’t even register on my radar that I’m a single person.  Other days, everything reminds me that no one loves me, and at this point, the likelihood that anyone ever will seems to be steadily decreasing.  You can’t imagine how that kind of thing affects your self-worth and overall happiness.

The absolute worst part of it is that I have no one I can really talk to about it.  The few people I have in my life who do genuinely care about me don’t understand, no matter how much they try to.  Comments like, “It’s better to be with nobody than with the wrong person,” are not helpful.  Getting advice on dealing with being single from a person who hasn’t been single since they hit puberty is not helpful.  I appreciate the thought, but it doesn’t make me feel any better.

So many instances have happened recently to bring on this onslaught of self-pity.  I’ll mention the two that are most prominent in my mind.  I was at a meeting a couple of days ago with a couple and their officiant, planning their wedding ceremony.  The officiant asked them to share something personal about themselves to be included in the address and they mentioned their belief that one of the great things about marriage is having someone who is always your fan: someone who cheers you on and supports you no matter what.  The officiant likened it to being each other’s # 1 fan.  I teared up a little during the meeting, it was so sweet.  Then later, thinking back on it, I teared up again, realizing that I had no one who could claim to be my biggest fan, and no one I could claim to be their biggest fan.

The second instance happened during the St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl I went on with my (other) sister and her husband.  At some point in the evening, my brother-in-law told a story about how he once almost punched a guy my sister hugged while they were out at a bar.  Apparently, she used to date the guy, and my bro-in-law was drunk and jealous.  I know girls aren’t supposed to want their men to be jealous, but a little bit of envy shows passion.  And once again, no one has ever felt that kind of passion for me (nor have I felt it for anyone else).

This post probably makes me sound crazy.  At least, if you are a guy, you are jumping to that conclusion.  I don’t know- maybe I am a little insane, but I don’t think I am in a bad way, and truth be told, I think guys like to use the “crazy woman” explanation any time a woman behaves in ways they can’t (or won’t try to) understand.

I don’t expect to accomplish anything by writing this, except maybe a little relief.  I know it’s not the first time I’ve indulged my sadness and bemoaned singledom via the blog, so for those of you who have read through it more than once, thank you and I’m sorry.

Hello, Reality

If my life were a movie, here’s how last weekend would have gone:

I would have dreaded going to the 3-day conference about the unique technology we use at the office where I work in a job I’m way over-qualified for.  Because the conference really had nothing to offer me- I’d be leaving this job I’m way over-qualified for soon.  But I’d put a smile on my face and cheer in my voice and go along with the seemingly pointless classes and group activities.  At the end of the first day, I’d carefully curl my hair, apply fresh makeup, and slip into my brand new dress to attend the opening night welcome reception along with my co-workers.  While saving a table in the over-crowded hotel restaurant, I’d spot two very cute young men at the next table over, and being bold, would walk over and introduce myself.  We’d laugh, flirt a little, then I’d rejoin my party and the cute boys would have spent the rest of the evening thinking what a cool chick they’d just met.

The next day, I’d go to more classes, say fabulously witty things to all the conference presenters, and get an email from one of the graduate schools I’d applied to saying they’d made a decision regarding my application.  I’d bite the nails for the rest of the day, just waiting until we had a long enough break for me to check the school’s graduate website to see if I’d been accepted.  Finally, finally! the classes would be over for the day- I’d rush up to my room, log into the site and Yes! I got in!  They wanted me!  Armed with new confidence and excitement for the future- I’d get ready for the huge sports-themed party the conference was throwing.  Hair curled again, makeup re-applied again, and skinny jeans plus totally awesome black and pink Bowling shirt.  I’d enter the party with my co-workers, head held high, wondering when it would be appropriate to tell my boss that I’d be leaving for school in August.  The first person I see is one of the cute boys from the night before.  He’s dressed as an old-timey football player, complete with leather helmet, and he looks adorable.  He slyly makes his way over, looks at me with that “Hey, I recognize you,” look, and slowly says, “Rachel?”  I grin, and say back, “Joshua?”

Somehow, Joshua and I end up talking away from my group.  He offers to get me a drink.  We spend most of the party talking and dancing and as things are winding down, he walks me to my room and kisses me goodnight.  I can’t believe this is happening- the best news of my life on the same day as the best kiss of my life.

The next day, we spend as much time talking together as conference demands will allow.  He’s working, I’m attending.  I tell him about getting into school, and he’s impressed by my intelligence.  When the conference ends later that day, he insists on getting my number and email address- the long distance doesn’t matter, he wants to keep getting to know me.  A few days later, he’d show up unexpectedly in North Carolina at my office with a bouquet of flowers and the insistence that he knew we had a once-in-a-lifetime connection.

That's me on the far left, in the black dress. Too bad you can't really see my shoes, because they are AMAZING.

My life is not a movie.

What actually happened:

I was kinda looking forward to the conference.  I’d never been to Dallas (where it was being held), and hey, anything is better than answering the phone all day long.  And for the record- I didn’t have to answer the phone a single time while I was at the conference. Also for the record- we didn’t leave the hotel once while we were in Dallas.  So I might as well have been in North Carolina.

At the end of the first day, I did indeed curl my hair, re-apply my makeup, and put on a brand new dress I actually bought for a rehearsal dinner for my friend’s wedding, but wanted to test out somewhere not as important to make sure I actually liked the way it looked and was comfortable enough to wear all night.  When we got to the reception, I did hold a table for our group, and I did introduce myself to the two cute guys at the table behind ours.  We talked for a few minutes, the other guy, Jason, was the one I was initially attracted to, but the next night, he seemed kinda douche-baggy.  But anyways.  After a few minutes of (probably badly-executed on my part) flirting, I returned to my group and the boys returned to theirs.  I wondered for the rest of the evening if I’d get to talk to them again, they joined a table of “Woohoo” drunk girls who insisted on shouting and singing random songs for the remainder of the reception.  Joshua did shake my hand again and say it was nice meeting me as we (my group and I) were leaving.

The next day, as I sat waiting for the first class of the day to start, I checked my email and saw a new message from one of the schools I applied to: a decision had been made about my application and could be found on their website.  I couldn’t check the website on my phone because the password I needed was upstairs in my hotel room.  So, I had to sit through 6 or 7 hours of classes just waiting, waiting, waiting.  When I was finally dismissed, I went straight to my room, located the password in my red notebook, logged on and… Found rejection.  A form letter.  I didn’t get in.  I figured I should check the other schools’ websites while I was at it, even though they hadn’t sent me any kind of notification.  Another rejection from the second school.  I didn’t get in.  And the third school hadn’t posted anything.  I started crying while my roommate showered.  I laid down on my bed and cried and cried.  When I heard the water shut off, I sat up, wiped my face, and tried to compose myself.  I started ironing my awesome bowling shirt, then offered to iron hers.  I curled my hair.  She left to help one of our co-workers with makeup.  I cried some more.  Then re-applied my makeup and changed into my outfit.  By the time I went downstairs to meet the rest of my group, I managed to pull myself together and my eyes weren’t nearly as bloodshot as they could have been.

Joshua did approach me when we entered the party.  He was an adorable old-time football player with adorable leather helmet.  But he never offered to get me a drink, and while we did talk away from my group for a few minutes and we did dance for a few minutes, he spent just as much time with me as he did with everyone else there.  He certainly didn’t walk me to my hotel room and he most definitely didn’t kiss me goodnight.

The next morning, he was moderating the very first class I walked into.  I did not know he’d be there- I didn’t choose that class because I thought he’d be there.  He greeted me by name again, but then he had to work and I had to listen.  We kept running into each other throughout the day and it felt flirty and nice and I thought, maybe- maybe he likes me.  I also thought, maybe he’s just really good at networking.  At the end of the conference, we shook hands, said it was nice to meet each other, and “hey, maybe I’ll see you at next year’s conference.”  We didn’t exchange any contact information.

When I arrived back in North Carolina, my bag did not.  It decided to stay in Dallas.

I tried to find Joshua on facebook, but couldn’t.

I still haven’t heard back from school # 3, but I’m not keeping my hopes up.

I like the movie version a lot better.

The most awesome Bowling Shirt, ever.

The Plight of the Nice Guy

I’ve been thinking about this off and on for the last several months.  The nice guy.  Why does he get such a tough break in the dating scene?  I was recently an audience member at a comedy club and the opening comedian talked about this- how he often was rejected by women and given the explanation, “You’re just too nice.”  He asked the crowd if that is really possible.  My immediate reaction?  YES.

How is it possible to be too nice?  It seems like a ridiculous thing to say, I know, but I can’t help but feel it’s truth.  And here’s why.  In my (limited, I’ll grant) experience, a lot of guys are nice, but I don’t refer to them all as “nice guys.”  If the only way I can think to describe a man is “nice,” then he is just too nice.  If nice is the only descriptor I can come up with, then he isn’t showing me anything else.  He isn’t displaying any passions or any flaws.  And those are two very critical things I need in a man.  I personally don’t want to be with a guy I feel I’m always going to get along with, or who always lets me have my way.  Guys who are “too nice” present absolutely no challenge, and therefore, no fun.

And that doesn’t mean I’m not looking for a nice guy, because believe me, I am, but a nice guy (as opposed to too nice) is someone who treats women with respect, honesty, and consideration WHILE ALSO holding his own ground in opinions, interests, and other relationships.

So, for all the guys out there living with that “too nice” cloud hovering over your heads, my advice to you is to think about what a woman is really saying when she gives you that reason.  It doesn’t mean she wants you to ignore her phone calls and texts, call her mean names, break plans, and sleep with other women.  It means she needs a man who can speak for himself.  Who isn’t afraid to disagree, who lives his own life with his own hobbies and friends.  She wants a nice guy who is also an interesting guy.  You may be those things, but you probably aren’t showing them.  And if you are, and she’s still not feeling it, then the chemistry just isn’t there, and she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings (but at least she gave you a reason, instead of not returning your last phone call).

Make sense?

Rejection = Failure. Or does it?

It’s probably time I go back to Twenty-Five, do a little more editing, re-write my query letter, and try and get it published.  This article (click here) has inspired me.  I’m afraid of failing- it’s probably the biggest fear I have, so instead of going for it, I don’t even try.  I bury my nose in a book, I go off to a job I’m not proud of, and I hide away from the world.  Well, that has got to stop!  If I can go on the radio and make a complete ass out of myself, I can send out some freaking query letters!  Even if that means getting rejected 100 times.  *and for the record, I’ve currently been rejected 14 times by agents*  I know I could go the self-publishing route, but I kinda want to see if there’s any shot at all of doing it the traditional way.  Hell, getting rejected by every agent and publisher under the sun could be a good thing for me- it could teach me resilience, show me that there are worse things in life than failing.  And maybe it won’t be failing at all to be rejected, just a rite of passage every writer must go through.  Doesn’t it already sound like I’m getting healthier?

A True Gemini

I’m not really into astrology, but I’ve always identified with my sign: Gemini, the Twins.  My mother likes to say she never knows which of me she’s going to get: Happy, bubbly Rachel, or Sad, Angry, Snaps-all-the-time Rachel.  Most days I don’t know myself which girl to expect.


It’s a strange balancing act- trying to reconcile the two selves.  Happy Rachel is motivated, enthusiastic, and yes, happy.  Sad Rachel, well, she’s none of those things.  She’s a downer, really.


A couple of weeks ago, when I wrote about using 2011 to write a second book and my write-an-hour-straight every week challenge, I was Happy Rachel.  I was excited and couldn’t wait to write.  But I haven’t done any writing since then.  I’ve been so busy with work that when I have had time, all I’ve wanted to do is relax- do nothing.  It makes me incredibly sad that writing has come to feel like more work.  It used to be a hobby, a passion.  Something I did only for me.  Now it’s like I’m trying to prove something to the world.


I don’t know what’s changed, honestly, and therefore must attribute my inability to write to my destructive Gemini side.  See, I used to write about really personal things- people would tell me all the time that the quality they liked most about my writing was its honesty: the way I put myself out there on the page without apology, without embarrassment.  Well, maybe with some apology, but definitely without embarrassment.


Well, lately I haven’t been writing anything personal because the personal things happening in my life involve other people and I haven’t wanted to splash their names or information all over the Internet.  It’s nothing bad, not really, I’ve just learned that while I can be completely open with my own feelings and beliefs and actions without embarrassment, that might not be the case for everyone else.  And I need to respect that others may not like my talking so freely about them, even though it has put me in a bit of a block, writing wise.


I struggle a lot with wishing that things in my life were different while not really sure how to make different happen.  Like with dating, people like to give me all kinds of advice, but the two major things I hear is “You have to stop looking,” and “You have to put yourself out there.”  How do you stop looking and put yourself out there at the same time?  Don’t answer that- it’s a rhetorical question.  It’s just, I don’t know how to make my dating life different.  I can’t force a guy to be interested in me or want a relationship with me.  And I refuse to be anyone but myself.  What’s the point in lying or pretending to like things I don’t in order to get a guy to like me- eventually he’d discover the truth, right?


I’m at this point where I feel like I need to make major changes in order to get the life I want, but I feel guilty about what those changes mean.  Mainly because I know that I’m going to probably have to leave one or both of my jobs and find one that actually pays decently.  I’m so freaking stressed about work and I never feel like I’m off-the-clock.  But I feel guilty because I know that both places depend on me and have done a lot for me.  At the same time, though, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for either if I left.  Which sucks.  I like to be indispensable.  I so rarely am.


All this thinking about my life, career, dating, writing, making changes, made me think about the first piece I wrote back in March 2009 when this whole writing thing started.  I checked, and I’ve never shared it on the blog, so I’m going to now.  I don’t really want sympathy or advice, I want to get back to a place where I can write with honesty and share my deepest emotions without feeling self-conscious.  Because that’s the only way I’m ever going to write a second book or have the courage to go after what I really want for my life.





I felt a sudden panic seize me as the words left my mouth.  I’d said these words before, to myself, to others as a joke.  I’d only believed them half-heartedly before.  Deep down, I’d always believed I couldn’t have such a strong desire for something I was destined to never have.  And yet, tonight, as I stared into the mirror and said those words again, the truth behind them threatened to crush me.  What is the point of living when you have no one to share your life with?


I looked back at the mirror, trying to see something in my face.  Something worth caring about, something worth hoping for.  But I found nothing and the truth of my words stung as I said them a final time:


“No one will ever love me.”


Wow, what a melodramatic way to begin.  But, this is honestly how I felt, how I feel.  Sure, I guess I am still pretty young.  Twenty-five isn’t exactly middle-aged.  I know there are many people who will (who do) think I’m crazy for feeling so despondent that I am not blissfully happy with the love of my life.  But they don’t see it from my perspective.  How can they possibly understand how much my heart aches?  It isn’t so much about the fact that I haven’t found “the one,” it’s more about the fact that I’ve found no one.  No One.


I guess you could say I’m average.  I think it would probably be fair to say that I have always been average. It’s not hard to be average in childhood.  You get along with most of your classmates, teachers, family, etc.  You have friends- even close friends.  Being an average child is not a bad thing.  You find your niche.  You grow in your interests, try and find something in which you are possibly above average.  And maybe you find it and it takes you into your teen years.


I found my niche.  I did pretty well at school.  I always had good grades.  In elementary school, it never really occurred to me that other children didn’t have report cards that looked like mine- all A’s.  My niche followed me through high school.  And I did feel above average.  I thought I was special.  I had a knack for picking up what the teachers were talking about and understanding it.  I never felt uncomfortable raising my hand to answer a question or putting off a paper until the last minute- I always knew it would be finished on time and be returned to me with a bright red A on the first page.  I had friends and I was fairly happy.


But at some point, the average person who thinks they are special is going to find out the truth.  They are average.


I didn’t truly discover this until my last year of college.


I glided through the first three years.  Almost perfect grades.  Friends.  Jobs.  I was constantly busy, constantly feeling the pressure to be above average.  And loving it.  Senior year should have been great.


But that’s when the rejection started coming.  Friends who I loved, relied on, suddenly seemed to lose interest in me.  (Had they, at this time, discovered my inherent averageness?)  My plans for the future began to crumble around me.  I had intended to go to law school, but my near-perfect grades weren’t good enough for the schools I wanted to accept me.  (Was there something about my applications that screamed AVERAGE to the admissions committees who reviewed them?)  I remember wanting to get out of the town as soon as possible.  I felt like I didn’t belong anymore to the world in which I was living.


All it takes is moving back in with your parents and working as the best-educated waitress at a local restaurant to realize how completely and utterly average and ordinary you are.  There is no way to feel special when the thing that has made you feel special your whole life is suddenly gone.

I’m Going to Write a Second Book This Year, I’m Going to Write a Second Book This Year

I’m going to write a second book this year.  I’M GOING TO WRITE A SECOND BOOK THIS YEAR!


I’ve been really slack about writing for at least the past twelve months.  I lost all faith in myself and my writing abilities and I couldn’t seem to find a story where I liked the characters enough to want to get to know them.  I kept telling myself that writing Twenty-Five was a fluke and that I’d never be able to write another book because I don’t have what it takes.  That Twenty-Five was the only story inside me.


But I’m determined.  I want to write.  I want to be someone and do something.  I’m sick of feeling sorry for myself that I’m in debt and stuck in a dead-end job and living with my parents.  When I was writing and editing Twenty-Five back in 2009, I felt like I was moving forward and doing something with my life.  I don’t know why I let that momentum slip away.  Fear of rejection and failure, I guess.  Fear that the nagging thought of “I’m not good enough” would be confirmed.


But that’s all bull shit.  In the end it doesn’t matter if I’m never published or if no one else reads what I write.  If I’m happy with it, if it makes me happy, then everything else is inconsequential.


In order to boost this determination and momentum that I’m feeling right now, I’ve gathered some books and tools to help me make 2011 the year of my second novel.


Candice at I Don’t Want To Write! posted a character profile a few days ago that I’m hoping will help me develop real, complex characters.



I’ve started reading the weekend novelist by Robert J. Ray and Bret Norris and while I don’t plan to actually use it only weekend by weekend, so far it’s giving me some great tips on plotting and I’m only on page 34.


Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger.  I began reading this last year, but never finished.  I think I found it too much work, honestly.  But I know that’s what it takes to create an unforgettable character.  Work.  Hard Work.  So I’m going to work harder.


On Writing Well by William Zinsser.  I haven’t read any of this book yet, but I’m excited to!  It’s meant for nonfiction, but I think the techniques for writing good nonfiction are the same as writing fiction, but nonfiction is more difficult!  Hopefully if I can master nonfiction than fiction will be a breeze!






And for fun, I bought How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely.  It’s a fictional account of how one man tries to become rich and famous by writing a best-seller.  I wouldn’t mind being rich and famous (obviously) but I don’t think I ever will be.  I bought the book because I’m hoping it will help me see writing with a more comical and lighthearted view and not take myself so seriously.


I also plan on reading extensive fiction this year, classic and modern.  You can be my friend on Goodreads to follow my progress.  My screenname there is rach_elle19.


I’m really excited to read My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares, which was recommended to me by my friend Jaclyn.  (Maybe this mention will get her to finally COMMENT on my blog!)  Here’s the blurb:

Lucy Broward is an ordinary girl growing up in the Virginia suburbs, soon to head off to college.  As she prepares for her last high school dance, she allows herself to hope that this might be the night her elusive crush, Daniel Grey, finally notices her.  As teh events of the night unfold, though, Lucy discovers that Daniel is much more complicated than she is imagined, and perceives that there’s something going on here that she really doesn’t understand.  Why does he call her Sophia?  And why does it make her feel so strange?

Daniel Grey is no ordinary young man.  Daniel has “the memory,” the ability to recall past lives and recognize the souls of those he’s previously known.  And he has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl.  Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Lucy (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together — and he remembers it all.  It is both a gift and a curse.  For all the many times they have come together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart.  A love always too short.

As we watch Daniel and Lucy’s relationship unfold during the present day, interwoven are glimpses of their history together.  From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes tortuous path of seeking each other time and again.  But just when Lucy begins to awaken to the secret of her past, to understand her relationship to Sophia, and to understand the true reason for the strength of her attraction to Daniel, the mysterious force that has town them apart in the past reappears.  Ultimately, they must confront not just their complicated history, but a persistent adversary as well, if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.


Sounds pretty good, right (if you ignore the cliched language, which I really hope is from the publisher and not the author)?  You guys know I’m a sucker for a love story.


So everyone, please cross your fingers for me that I don’t crap out!  I really want to write a second book this year.  I’m GOING TO write a second book this year.

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!