Thanks a Lot, Kurt

I’m currently working on a piece I wrote in college called The Hideout. I may keep the title, but most of the story will get tossed in the garbage soon, but it’s given me enough to work with, and though I’m sure I am barely a decent writer now, seventeen years ago, I sucked.

A horrible writer, but showed flashes of possibilities, ever so slightly, and today I’m trying to right my wrongs. It’s a big task, and only when my mind is saturated with enough alcohol do I believe I can succeed. It is late. I am drinking – writing – while watching a documentary on Kurt Cobain, and though I didn’t embrace Grunge when the music first hit the scene (because it knocked the #uck out of the long-haired, hard-rock bands I loved so dearly and I was bitter), it brings me back to my teenage years. I may not have connected instantly with the angry and depressing sound that was Grunge, I did love the fashion trend that came along with it. Flannels. Baggy jeans. Jesus sandals with socks. It was suddenly cool to dress like a lesbian…or the grumpy old man three doors down.

Plus, the ozone layer needed a break from all that Aqua Net. Goodbye high-hair!

And now, in the solitude of the late hour and the fog in my head, with Kurt’s tragic life playing in the background – I’m sure I can write this story – fix my mistakes as though they were never made because no one will ever know. No one needs to know how bad I was. The beauty of words written down that have never been read is that they are easy to erase.

And like magic, tonight, I will make my mistakes disappear. The mistakes I’ve made on paper. The mistakes not already revealed. The mistakes I don’t have to drink to forget because I can make them go away… and no one will ever know.

Usually I eat a bag of Doritos when my head is this heavy, but tonight I write. A half-filled glass sits next to me that was filled four glasses ago, and I want to sleep, but tonight I write.

I erase.

All of my old stories, finished or not, have death in them. I hadn’t noticed this reoccurring theme in my writing while I was writing them so many years ago, but there it is. Every damn story has a character who dies.

I reread a piece that I had submitted to a publisher fifteen years ago when I was twenty-four years old. This was before submissions were sent electronically and everything was sent through the mail. The response time was slow, about six months. Writers spent a lot of time waiting. I had sent a query letter, a precis, and the first couple chapters of my story. Some time later, a woman from the publishing company called me, talked about the process, and requested the entire manuscript. I was heart-pounding ecstatic.

Shortly after I sent my complete story to her, I received a thin envelope regretfully informing me that my book was rejected. After a phone call and talk about book tours, I was denied a chance at my dream.

A few months ago I reread that story. The piece needed heavy edits, but I didn’t think it was too terrible, until I got to the end. The book was about two women who, after a lot of push, pull, and resistance, fall in love and then in the end one of them dies in a plane crash.

In my precis I didn’t divulge the ending, but I did set the tale up as a love story because that’s what I believed it was, and this was the last line of my lovely love-story:

“Loneliness never killed anyone, though sometimes she wished it would.”

That was my romance novel – my version of a love story. It was depressing as $hit and I was only twenty-two when I wrote it.

I don’t know how I became so jaded about love and life. Maybe it was all that Grunge music I learned to love so much.

Thanks a lot, Kurt.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

No Regrets

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The days remaining of 2014 have hit the single digits and when a new year approaches, reflection over the past year can bring forth profound emotions. There will be regrets. Some big. Some small. But hopefully with those regrets come moments one wishes to relive everyday for the rest of his or her life.

2014 had a few of those moments for me.

I published my first book this year and my second will be out early next year. Being a published author had always been my dream and the timing of that dream coming to fruition couldn’t have been more perfect. It came while I was at an extremely low point in my life and the news gave me the lift I desperately needed. I finally had a reason to be proud.

For the moment, I was assured I could offer this world, this life, something, anything. I felt the satisfying emotion of self-worth that every person needs to feel in order to live each day with the confidence that he or she belongs here.

It’d been a long time since I felt I had accomplished anything and the sensation that ran through me when I finally achieved this was life-saving. But once the jubilation of signing my first book contract eased, I realized, “Holy Crap! I need to do it all over again!”

Yes. I had to get to work on my second book because nobody wants to be a one-trick pony. I hit more walls while writing that second book because the inspiration just wasn’t there. Not like it was with the first book, but eventually, I finished it and sent it to my editor. She liked it and contracted it. (Thank you, Jeanne!)

I’m in a much better place going into this new year than I was at this time last year. I was still a month away from being published and filled with severe doubt about everything I did. In some psychic way, I knew how much was riding on the outcome of my submission to the small epublishing company I had discovered online. I wrote the query letter but was cowardly close to not sending it at all. My emotions were out of control. I was crying a lot and was certain that I was in no state of mind to handle a rejection.

Looking back, reflecting on this past year, I’m relieved I took a chance with my writing. Sure, I had risked getting rejected and crying more than I already was, but I would have gotten over it eventually because I knew I couldn’t live with asking myself “what-if?” all the time. It only brings regrets.

Heading into 2015 I have another “what-if” scenario haunting my mind and it won’t go away. But I’m not sure I have the courage to do what I know is right. This could blow up in my face in a very bad way.

A year ago I put my dream on the line. I took a risk. I need to do it again because I don’t want 2015 to be the year of regrets.

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Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net