The sheet of rain that cascaded down over the windows all night long finally altered now, as the first light of day began to bleed through the billowing canopy of gunmetal sky, seeking the relative solace of ground.
If the definition of insanity is said to be doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then perhaps the definition of blogging insanity is continuing to maintain one when it seems that there's no one listening.
Maybe doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result is the reason that I've come to be so dissatisfied with my life online.
I keep blogging in the same circle, hoping that something I say will touch someone, will matter, will make a small difference somewhere.
I've found that it does, to about half a dozen wonderful people that I absolutely adore (and don't plan to lose track of.)
But as far as everybody else goes...since my departure from Facebook in May- no, make that since I announced that I was going to be getting a divorce (the fact that divorce didn't actually go through notwithstanding) the reaction overall was, well, underwhelming and actually pretty heartbreaking.
People. Just. Vanished.
It's not like I asked anyone for any help. There were a precious few who offered it anyway. But it's become clear to me since then (and even moreso since all I hear are crickets since I announced my new medical news) who is interested in friendship, who is interested in simply networking (read: using) people to promote their books and who isn't interested, period, but leaves their name on the Followers bar because they don't want to risk looking like they've snubbed anyone even if they've long since stopped reading a word that person says.
Not to mention I've picked up a reader or two that I'd rather not have, frankly (statcounter is a wonderful thing...IP logging doubly so) and so I'm asking myself why am I putting myself out here anymore, so publicly- if: A) it's not helping anyone and B) the only people reading it are people who would drop me an email to see if I'm still alive anyway or people I'd really rather didn't know what's going on in my life?
So I am pondering a few options:
To take this blog private and people who want an invite can drop me a note to let me know;
To delete this blog and start a new one privately
To leave this blog stand as it is and start a new version of it privately, picking up from here (cloning it in the new location so my 'old readers' still have all the posts and things in one place)
...or just finally give up blogging altogether.
Remember, this isn't my first rodeo. I blogged for years in other (non-writing) circles and that doesn't include the other websites I've had/run/administrated over the years.
Maybe I'm just burned out on virtual living.
Maybe I just want connections that can't be had over blogs any more than they can be had over Fakebook or Twitter.
Maybe I'm just so old that I long for the day when people didn't go everwhere with a phone attached to their face, but actually lived in the world immediately around them.
The world immediately around me may not be the one I'd like at the moment, not by a long shot. But it's real. And real is all there is.
While I ponder this I just want to say clearly to those of you who have stuck by me (and you know who you are) I'll still be peeking in on your blogs and keeping tabs on you and your projects. Cheering you on from the wings as my health allows.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one's there to hear it, it may still make a noise.
But if a writer blogs and people only lurk- then I really don't think there's a point.
I want to thank Dianne, Anne, and Carolyn for their kind words and encouragement yesterday, it was really so very much appreciated. As a couple of you seemed to like what you read, I wanted to ask you to take a look at this- tell me what you think, if it's the kind of thing you'd be interested in reading more of.
You see, this is the first novel I wrote (technically novella by length but I know exactly how to add another 10k or more to it painlessly now...) and what I never told most of you is that I queried it once- and that very first query I ever- yes, ever- sent, garnered a full request. From my Dream Agent at a Huge Agency. They held onto it for awhile before finally passing on it (though they did say I could send them something more in the future if I wanted to).
That was almost a couple years ago now and I've been stuck ever since. And while I am obsessed with the novel I've been working on more recently (Yes, Dianne, I really do want to finish it...and I'll be emailing you...) I still feel FIREWORKS FLOWERS is probably the most marketable thing I've ever done.
So many people have encouraged me to go the self-publishing route- and I know if there's ever a chance of getting my work 'out there', it's that way. But I just wonder if this is the one I should start with or if I should shift to the other genre and go straight for Godspeed.
You see I have to start asking myself this- if I'm ever really going to feel like a 'writer' again. And I'm trying to. So hard. Because if I'm not that then I really don't know just what I am. I keep wanting to go the Dickinson Route as I call it (you know, stuff it all in a chest and let my progeny decide if it's worth anything after I'm dead) but with so many people getting their books out there for e-reading, well...I'm finding myself longing just a bit for the chance to try it too.
So if you have a little time, please take a read through. If it even mildly amused you- let me know. If you hated it...well, please be kind (or let the crickets do the talking for you.) This book is a romantic comedy- though there are some moments that could make you cry elsewhere in the book (if I did them right).
Almost three years after he moved from minor character to star and stole the book from me I'm still in love with Mr. Flynn.
I wonder if anyone else could fall for him, too. A beta reader or two of the first draft said they wished it'd been longer- and that he'd been real. I wonder what you think.
love to all
Warning: The following does contain a couple instances of profanity- though I will **** the words out, you'll still be able to figure out what they were. I still consider it PG rated.
Aidan Flynn was a man who rarely ever swore-- until today. Today he cursed repeatedly, at high volume, and with impassioned creativity.
Elaborate strings of dirty words dwindled as his frustration peaked, mutating into the basest of all primordial slime: single, sputtering curses.
His tirade finally culminated in the use of one specific and most explicit word…the one that began with f and used to end with his tiny, devoutly Catholic mother warning him never to use it again, as she held a bar of ironically yet appropriately named Irish Spring aloft and made a grinding gesture with it, indicating she was fully prepared to introduce it to his teeth.
Still, today Ma was nowhere to be seen, and it was the only word that seemed violent enough to express the immensity of his frustration. So he repeated it.
“Sounds like fun, honey, but we really don’t have time right now." A head popped through the doorway, its face bore a wide, wicked grin. “Do we?"
Geoff swaggered toward the focus of Aidan’s ire, the antiquated fax machine, and regarded it with feigned curiosity.
“Were you trying to send dirty pictures of yourself to your boyfriend and the heat of the image caused the old prude to melt down again?"
Aidan eyebrows elevated and seemed to hang, suspended mid-air.
“Of course you didn’t." Geoff said. “That would have been me. Wish I could just use a smartphone to do it but on what they pay us I can't afford an idiotphone let alone one with brains.”
Aidan’s chest rose and his shoulders fell in a great, heaving sigh.
“It is so past your naptime. Here, let Mama have a look." Geoff pulled the half-eaten fax confirmation from the machine and held it up on display. “There you go. This would be your problem. The paper is jammed. You would have figured that out a lot sooner if you’d paid attention to the little flashing red light that is indicating a paper jam to you like a happy little Broadway marquee.”
“Thanks." Aidan took the wad of thin, torn paper and tried unsuccessfully to straighten it. Even without the most obvious damage it was of no use. The ink was smeared, there was no way to prove to home office that he’d actually sent in the weekly sales reports as scheduled before going home.
He really wanted to go home.
It never failed. The worse he wanted to get out of this place the higher the likelihood that the tills wouldn’t balance zero even against the receipts. Or worse, the last two customers of the night would be trying, one to break up with the other and the lover spurned would be desperate to save what they felt was their last chance at love and happiness. Finally, they would have to be told that there was a twenty-four hour diner two blocks away and they would have to move negotiations there if they wished to continue because Run Aground was closing for the night and they had to get the hell out, already.
It didn’t even seem to matter that he wasn’t working closing shift today. The universe was dead set against him. All he had to do was finish up the paperwork and then he could sneak out before anyone had a chance to start bitching at him about next week’s newly posted schedule.
“I hate my life,” he declared.
“Tell me about it, Sugar. I counted ten, ten hairs in the shower drain this morning. All from up here too, damn it." Geoff pointed to the top of his head as he plunked down onto the edge of Aidan’s desk. “Why couldn’t it be back hair that’s falling out? I’d save a fortune on waxing. But you’re so much deeper than I am, that’s why you’re always just one last gasp away from drowning.”
Aidan tilted his head, simultaneously surprised and bewildered by the most substantive thing that Geoff had ever said to him.
“What is it that’s causing you such twisting, existential angst this time? Is Corporate cutting your discounted rate on French Roast? What?"
“She’s getting married today." Aidan hadn’t meant to say the words out loud to anyone let alone to Geoff. It hurt his head to even think them, his heart to really consider them, and his ears to hear them. His throat ached suddenly; his jaw set as he fought the sensation of the lump rising in his throat and the fresh wave of nausea it brought with it. He gulped the knot back down and with it out of the way, words began pouring out of him. “I’m in love with her, and she’s marrying somebody else." His eyes involuntarily returned to the clock on the wall, the same clock he’d been trying to avoid looking at all day long. “In half an hour.”
“She?" Geoff batted his lashes, hoping the motion would sweep every other thought out of his mind’s eye for a moment so he could focus. He tried really hard to remember now just which ‘she’ Aidan might mean. “So many coworkers, so many love interests, and my attention span is nonexistent when it comes to anyone with breasts. You know I have no ability to consider those people in any sort of romantic context." He folded his perfectly sculpted arms over his chest. “I give up. Which she?"
It was the look on Aidan’s face and the tone of his voice more than the name itself that finally clanged the rusty bell inside Geoff’s head. “Oh! That dowdy little thing from over there?" He raised a hand and gestured emphatically toward the wall, indicating the general direction of the dining room that existed on the other side of it.
“She’s not dowdy. She’s sweet. She’s…complicated.”
“Geoffrey!" Aidan was in no mood for Geoff’s flamboyant disregard today. “You might not happen to see the appeal of a girl like that but some of us can.”
“’Course, she could be one of those Brazilian swimsuit models and the only interest I’d have in her would be to find out who does her manicures." Geoff shrugged. “Well, no matter. You like her, and she seems to like you well enough and… wait." His mouth fell open and he spun toward Aidan, only now processing the newsflash that had come in moments before.
“You’re in love with her, and she’s getting married today. To whom?"
“That blond guy with the two-hundred dollar haircut and wardrobe of coats unlike anything you’ve ever seen outside a theater’s prop department.”
“OH GOD! Not Glam Man!" Geoff began to fan himself like a swooning teenage girl. “Dev and I had a huge fight one night when Glam Man was in here. Dev caught me staring and I caught him staring too and then we argued over who had been staring first. We almost broke up. Again.”
He brought his hand up to his chin thoughtfully. “You sure that guy is straight? I’ve never seen one with fashion sense like that before. Well, not unless someone had previously spent some quality time with Carson Kressley in Oprah’s Make Over My Man Van." He sighed. “I miss Queer Eye. I still can’t believe they cancelled it.”
Aidan tried to keep to the original topic no matter how it pained him. “Yes, he’s straight, damn him. His name is Bryce Halsey and he makes a freaking fortune in sales.”
“What does he sell- no, know what? I don’t care. I’d buy anything he was selling,” Geoff swooned.
“That’s why he does so well at it." Aidan’s antiquated desk chair squeaked and groaned as he plunked his weight down into it, resigned to the fact that he was going to have to re-fax the whole pile of documents again or face having the flames of holy Hell held to his feet when district management arrived and inspected the logs on Monday. “That’s exactly why guys like that do so well at everything.”
“Now, don’t you go getting down on yourself, my pretty. Look at you!" Geoff hopped up and poked a finger into Aidan’s shoulder repeatedly. “You’re twenty-seven years old, you manage the busiest and dare I say it, most chicly personnelled,” he frowned, thinking even to himself that his latest word invention didn’t quite pass muster, “coffee bar in town. Count your blessings, sweetheart. You could be working at Crazy Cream Donuts and have to wear one of those god-awful aprons every day. Life can always be so much worse than it is.”
“Glad to see that your priorities remain as solid as ever. Crazy Cream aprons. Global warming. Third world injustice. In that order.”
“And those evil fabric freshener sprays, don’t forget those. Those are the third most heinous invention ever inflicted upon mankind, after the A bomb and Anthrax.”
“Yep,” Aidan nodded, swearing again as the fax machine gave him a busy signal every time he dialed Corporate’s phone number. “G*****n it, I missed my window. Now everyone on the ******* planet is trying to send in their weeklies. I don’t know why they haven’t just gone to email yet.”
Geoff clucked his tongue. “My ears are bleeding! That is much more profanity than I ever like to hear a sailor use in peacetime.”
“You know, if they did go to email it would mean the end of the world as we know it. Would mean that the dinosaur was joining us in the age of modern technology. Ain’t ever gonna happen.”
Geoff sauntered over toward the manager’s copy of the new schedule, which was tacked up to the pitted corkboard he was certain was actually the load-bearing support holding up the entire building.
“You know, this won’t work. Leslie won’t work Wednesday nights." He lowered his voice, putting his hand to his mouth and whispering conspiratorially. “Standing appointment with her shrink. Not to be missed under threat of ‘Lizzie Borden’." He sighed, growing bored with the fact that no matter how charming he tried to be nothing was improving Aidan’s mood. “If you liked the girl so much why didn’t you ever tell her? She spent enough time here for awhile I thought she was actually on the payroll.”
“I- I don’t know. I tried once. No,” Aidan raked his fingernails back through his hair until it hurt as he stared past the confines of tiny office, which had puke green walls and was actually smaller than the janitorial supply closet up the hall. “A hundred times, maybe. A thousand." His voice shriveled and nearly died away. “At least twice a day every day that she came in here the past year.”
“What stopped you?"
“We were just, friendly. Then I found out she was already dating him so I didn’t want to freak her out. After she got engaged to him she seemed either really happy or really sad and it just seemed so…inappropriate." Somehow he knew these were only excuses. He’d had every opportunity in the world to tell her and lacked one thing necessary to do it; sufficient courage to face the risk she’d reject him.
He had no one to blame for the pain he was in now but himself.
“The timing was always just…off,” he mumbled as an afterthought.
“Well call me crazy but I think any time before the day of her wedding would’ve been good.”
“Very helpful. Thanks so much.”
“You know what? You’re really bringing me down and I am way too fabulous to ever be down. Get the hell out of here. Now." Geoff ripped the stack of paper away from Aidan with one hand and spun his chair back toward the door with the other.
The gesture told Aidan more than anything Geoff had ever done just how much he valued their friendship, because Geoff hated paperwork and if he was willing to voluntarily take it on at any time and for any reason that meant he really must be feeling something in the vicinity of his heart.
“I can’t do that to you, man.”
“You can do anything to me but call me man. Really, your buzz kill is deading me. Go home. Go get drunk. Go get laid. Go get anything that will allow you to be functional when you come in here tomorrow morning to open.”
Aidan wondered why he fought the suggestion of taking off even a few minutes before the end of his shift. Was it that he was afraid to be alone with his thoughts or could it be he was afraid of where he might go if he got out of here before her wedding was over and done with?
He pulled off his nametag, tossed it onto the desk and snatched up his jacket and backpack without giving Geoff a chance to change his mind.
He was halfway through the dining room when a very flustered Leslie came barreling toward him, her considerable weight carrying her forward past the point where she intended to stop and propelling her right into him.
“Aidan, I can’t work Wednesday nights,” she shouted, her voice wavering. “I keep telling you people that but no one listens to me!”
“Go tell Geoff, he’s in back,” Aidan said, for once in his life not stopping to take care of every last concern of his staff of baristas himself.
“But can’t you fix it? You always fix everything. That’s why we call you Saint Aidan.”
Aidan sincerely wished in his moment that he really did have it in his power to fix everything.
“Sorry, Leslie, can’t. I have to go. There’s a wedding I’m not going to.”
“Not going to?" Leslie considered the oddity of his statement only a second as he shuffled away. Then she stomped through the store, past two customers who wanted to ask her advice on selecting a home espresso machine and straight back into the manager’s office.
“Geoff,” she bellowed, bursting into a fit of utterly inappropriate tears. “I CAN’T WORK WEDNESDAY NIGHTS!”
I've just finished reading the final draft of a novel so brilliant that I'm actually dazed today, in such awe of the way the writer pulled it all off.
I find that now that I've finished it I can't concentrate on anything else today.
This feeling is making me wish I could remember how, and why, I used to write the way I did just a couple years ago.
Why I write at all- and especially why lately I say that I 'used to' write instead of 'I'm a writer'.
Maybe it's just been too long.
Maybe it's just that so much is going on with me medically that right now I can't remember how good it felt- how driven I used to be, unable to sleep, kept awake by the stories the characters all had to tell me and just trying to take them down as quickly as I could.
Whatever it is, I'm trying (still) to remember today how it felt to write fearlessly, and looking at a bunch of flowers I bought this week in sheer and utter defiance of the fact that all the leaves are dying-- I started thinking about my first novel manuscript. There is so much I want to do with it- I know that there's heart there, yet. I just don't know where to begin.
So I think it's time to pay a visit to an old friend: the character who stole the show in my FIREWORKS FLOWERS, one aspiring writer/coffee shop manager, Aidan Flynn.
Hope you enjoy the visit, too. And the photo. The cat has tried to eat these more than once- I have video proof. I may have to post that later...
Aidan darted around the corner just as Mrs. Beatty turned over the ‘closed’ sign affixed to the front door of Jewel Box Gifts and Flowers.
“No, wait, please!” He tapped on the glass and she looked up at him over the bridge of her nose. Spectacles, suspended from a chain around her neck, were quickly elevated by her hand up to her eyes. She peered through them without putting them on, wrinkling her nose to punctuate her disapproval.
“We’re closed, young man. If you want flowers try MegaMart."
“MegaMart doesn’t carry carnations..."
“Come back tomorrow," she interrupted. "We’ll sell you all the carnations you want then.”
He turned and pressed his back against the door. “What’s the matter with me?" he muttered, running a hand back through his hair and then down over his beard. "She’s getting married, what good will flowers do anyway?”
Now Mrs. Beatty recognized something familiar in the voice issuing from beyond the barrier. She put her glasses on all the way and peered out from between the panels of sheer pink curtains.
"Hey. You’re the young man from the coffee shop.” Her demeanor changed, but still she opened the door only a crack. “You really need carnations?”
“Like I have never needed a flower before in my life.”
She sighed. “Well, do you want them arranged? Because if you do there is no possible way that I can-”
“No. Just a big bunch. If you sell me some ribbon I can tie a bow around them myself. I just need a huge bouquet of those specific flowers in a hurry.”
She thought back to all the times he’d opened up Run Aground a few minutes early to sell her coffee so she could get in and do the books before the customers started to arrive. She thought of all the small kindnesses she’d seen him show to others. Again, she sighed. “But the till is counted and the register is closed...”
“I’ll come back and pay you tomorrow. Or I’ll leave this here..." he began pulling crumpled dollar bills from his pockets and holding them up on display, "and you can just keep the change, whatever it is. I don’t care.”
She considered his pleading tone and expression carefully before responding.
“Mostly I have mini carnations left this late in the week."
She finally opened the door and allowed him in. She switched on the lights and moved toward a large refrigerator in the back. “Any specific color?”
“Anything that looks like fireworks.” Aidan whispered, which prompted her to ask him to speak up.“Anything," he repeated. "Everything. The more colorful the better. Please.”
Within two minutes she had a huge bundle of flowers all tied up in a lovely bow made of pure white, satin-trimmed tulle. Aidan’s lips parted in surprise and he nodded once with gratitude.
“How much do I owe you?”
“A double espresso and one of those decadent little chocolate cheesecakes you sell ought to do it.”
He actually leaned over and kissed her quickly on the cheek.
Her cheeks flushed and her hands shooed him back. Such a fuss he was making over a few dollars worth of carnations. “That, and you have to explain to me why it is you needed these in such an all-fired hurry.”
“I will, I promise. Thank you. So much.” He dashed and she locked the door behind him; wistfully remembering a time when there was a sweet young man who brought her bouquets of daisies because he couldn’t afford roses.