Writer Syndrome

Sounds like it could mean a lot of things, but today I'm imagining it to be parallel to something I call (starting five minutes ago) "Mommy Syndrome."  Mommy syndrome is a malady parents come down with after taking care of their family all day--they just want someone, anyone, to take care of them for a while.*  Writer syndrome is something writers get when they've been working hard writing for what feels like forever and they don't want to write for readers anymore--they just want someone to write for them for a little while.

Let's face it, writing isn't easy (if you think it is, you're probably too busy sucking eggs to try it).  It takes a serious toll on your creative faculties.  Imagine for a moment that you're trying to put together a 1000-piece puzzle of clear blue sky.  Now imagine that you have to make each piece yourself.  Sure, that almost sounds like it would be easier--aren't you just taking the last piece you used and cutting one out to fit it?  And they're all blue, right?  But remember that this puzzle has to be a thousand pieces, that each piece has to fit into another piece without overlapping or leaving any gaps, that people are going to look at and point out to each other every piece that's a slightly different blue and each piece that isn't cut just perfectly, and--most importantly--that the very last piece has to complete the puzzle.

If I'm the only writer that ever gets a little frustrated trying to make and piece together this puzzle that, for some unknown and idiotic reason, I decided had to be of clear blue sky, I'd be very much surprised.  I know for a fact there are writers out there who are infinitely better and harder-working than I am.  Surely there are times when they think, "You know, I'd just like to read a book today," too.

*I guess if you're me, though, you want someone to take care of your kid for a while.

I Doubt It

Just yesterday night...um, last night, I guess...I reached a milestone in my story (which I would have to explain if I told you what it was, and which I suppose I could have done here in fewer words, but won't) and the page 400 at the same time.  This isn't that big of a deal since some stories are really long, especially single-title romance novels which cover epic stretches of time, but it's a big deal for me because this is the first time I've ever estimated how long something would take to happen (a few weeks ago Joshua asked me how long I thought it would take to get to this particular milestone and I said "It ought to happen by page 400.") and been right.  I'm not sure, but I might be well-known for thinking I can fit a story into a certain amount of space (20 pgs, writing school kids?) and realizing later that the story was in fact a very arduously compressed novel.  So I'm pretty excited.

I'm also pretty excited that I've reached page four hundred because it's the farthest I've ever come on a project (2/3 of the way, baby!), although it presents me with a new problem: repetition.  A four-hundred page novel is bound to repeat phrases from time to time, but if you're a writer and you're anything like me you remember exactly how you phrased everything on every page...

What I'm trying to say is, when there's no other way to write that "____ slammed the door,"  "slammed the door" really starts to grate on your mental ear.  Suddenly you start feeling like everything you've written has been written before and you start to wonder whether you're just phoning this book in, but there's nothing else you can do, you have to say that they slammed the door because they did slam the freaking door, and--

And your brain gets paranoid.  Which it probably shouldn't bother doing since you (meaning me) are going to be called a hack for writing a romance novel anyway whether you use the same phrase over and over again or not, so you (me again) should just do it up right.

Good advice, self.  That's what I'll do, then.


A List of Random Stuff

1.  Blogspot informed me today that there is a new template organizer or something that will make my blog totally awesome and easier to look at.  Naturally, this made me laugh.  I hate unnecessary change.  Even a small unnecessary change is enough to really upset me.  For example: Every few months, or sometimes weeks, Joshua decides our house/apartment/camper/tent (wherever we're living at the time) needs to be rearranged.  Unless you're someone who also really hates unnecessary change, you wouldn't believe how mad I get.  I'll sit and glare while Joshua moves everything around and I'll point out why something shouldn't go there or why I liked it here.  My view on arranging things is, if something needs to be moved, I'll move it.  If it hasn't been moved in a month, it's probably fine where it is.  So, thanks Blogspot, but no thanks.

2.  Are you that bored that you read that entire last paragraph?

3.  I hate it when you read a name, then you hear that name said out loud and the pronunciation is nothing like what you made up in your head.  For example: Siobahn, which I learned to day is pronounced 'sha-baun.  Lame.

4.  I've put a lot of thought into it and decided that any mom could be the kind of mom who goes out for milk and never comes back.  Deciding not to is what makes the difference.  There's no doubt in my mind that if I left with the intent not to return, I wouldn't.  But I'm too jealous to do that.  There's no one I'd trust to raise my son right and I sure as heck am not going to let some other chick sleep with my husband.  I mean, I'm a writer.  What makes her so special?

5.  The scars from my surgery are going away, which is too bad because they looked like someone had shot and stabbed me.

6.  Condoms aren't as effective as you'd think.

7.  I have so much work to do if I plan to finish this romance novel by August.  And just imagine how much I could've gotten done if I'd worked on it instead of this post.


Scary Story

Something that frightens me is the fact that, despite my love for my husband and my son, I find myself thinking at times that I could be one of those mothers who leaves and doesn't come back.


Abject Failure

Today is my 4th wedding anniversary!  In honor of that, I'm finally getting around to a subject I keep meaning to write about: Joshua.  I was hoping to write an essay about him as a Christmas present, then for his birthday.  If I don't do it today, I doubt it will ever get done, and 4th anniversary is the blog-post anniversary, right?

Once, along with my class (twice, really because it happened in two different classes with the same professor), I was given the assignment of thinking about how I would write about the most important thing in the world to me.  Everyone in the class did it wrong (both times).  I hope that this time I will at least approach coherence.  Please forgive me if things get crazy.  When I write about Joshua, I feel all Shakespearean.


Joshua is a man in a world where it has become unpopular to be one.  He takes pride in the sweat of a hard day's work because it means that he is providing for his family and because coming home completely exhausted makes him feel like he has "accomplished something."  We live in a time when men Joshua's age are expected to be little more than tall boys.  Go to college, the world says, find yourself, then be a grown up.  Joshua went to college for a year and realized that an expensive four-year daycare wasn't worth his time, so he quit, got married and started supporting me.

In New York City, he built a thriving business out of nothing, paid our rent, bought my books, and kept me from giving up even though he hated Brooklyn as much as I did.  Our second year there, a man turned a gun on my husband in broad daylight and told him to hand over his money.  There was $400 in his pocket, but Joshua didn't try to be a hero and wasn't a coward; he used his brains.  He eased a twenty out of the roll, then pulled it out and handed it to the guy.  Our last month in Brooklyn I had such severe morning sickness that I couldn't go an hour (sometimes thirty minutes) without throwing up.  Joshua worked every day, built and delivered furniture that had taken two of us to carry before I was sick to 5th-floor walk-ups and basement apartments.  He never rested and never complained and by the end of the month our bills were paid and we had enough money to move back to Missouri.

There are a lot of things that Joshua is now at the age of 23 that it isn't cool to be.  Responsible, intelligent, logical, moral--and there are times when he can't understand why the rest of the world isn't all those things, too.  Even the hint of infidelity on a television show is enough to hurt him.  There isn't any reason to be untrue to your spouse or girlfriend and nothing will ever convince him otherwise.  When it comes to me, Joshua is a jealous man, but I can't fault him because I know it comes out of an overwhelming love, not a guilty conscience.

Joshua is the only person I've ever met without that evil in his heart that makes him want to hurt other people to make himself feel better.  He's a good man, truly good.  I've done things and said things that should have made him pack his stuff and leave, but he stays.  No matter how terrible of a person I am, no matter what awful thing I've done to him, he won't let go of my hand.  Sometimes I wonder if it's just his promise to have and to hold me as long as we both shall live that keeps him by my side.  He's dedicated enough to honor that I wouldn't be surprised, but the dedication he has to seeing things through from start to finish is stronger.  He didn't just promise to stay with me, he promised to love me, and he does.

I’m very good at writing romantic leads.  This is because I base everything good about them on my husband.  His selflessness.  His sense of honor and justice.  His honesty.  His devastating good looks and his spot-on comic relief.  Which isn’t even to mention the things I've refrained from talking about here because they’re just for husbands and wives.

I give up.  This is too hard and I'm not even approaching organization.

Joshua, I plan on you reading this tonight.  I’m sorry I couldn’t turn this into more of an essay and I’m sorry that this is the worst example of my writing yet.  I wanted to do so much better for you, to show you somehow all of the beauty you’ve brought into my life, but how can I even begin?  I know how you’re going to react to all this praise: you’ll find nice things to say about me, turn the conversation away from you, and I appreciate that.  Don’t forget that you’ll always be my knight in a scuffed-up leather jacket and blue jeans.  You’ll always be the only man I've held hands with, dated, or kissed.  You’ll be the father of my child and the man who agreed to name our son Oak Elijah for the sake of a pun.  It almost goes without saying that I love you, but I do.  Happy anniversary.  Sorry about the mess.