Why You Need To Do The Tough Stuff

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Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

I was having a conversation with Noodge 2 the other night. She told me about a friend of hers, let’s call her Carolann, who has a bad habit of sucking face in the hallways at school. Carolann can’t seem to control herself when she’s with her boyfriend. Others aren’t pleased with her. I can’t same I blame them. I’m not a big fan of tongues, spit, and slurping sounds while I’m present. (Unless I’m the one doing it, with the Coffee King, in a very private place, and preferably in the dark.)

More importantly, no one is telling Carolann to knock it off. At least to knock it off in public. Do what you want behind closed doors. (Not that I’m condoning fifteen-year-olds make a habit of sucking face.) When I suggested someone take Carolann aside, and in a nice way say “Yo, keep your tongue in your mouth for crying out loud.” Noodge’s response was, “easier said than done.” Yes, true.

But nothing changes if you don’t make yourself uncomfortable once in a while. How can you expect to grow and learn about life if you always take the easy way out? You don’t want to be the person who watches life go by because you couldn’t stretch yourself out of your comfort zone. I’m not just talking about speaking your mind here.

Easier said than done sounds a little like a cop-out. Like there’s no point in really trying since whatever is easier said can’t be done without effort. “Well, since it’s easier to say I should quit smoking than actually doing it, I don’t really have to.”

 

Writing novels isn’t an easy thing to do, though there are plenty of people who think it is. They are wrong. Trust me. Those that sit down to write an entire novel and complete it will feel uncomfortable a lot. Writers can feel so badly while writing that suddenly cleaning the concrete of your sidewalk with toothpaste and an eyebrow pencil becomes appealing.

As writers, we are told to make our characters sweat. That’s what I tell my creative writing classes. The more uncomfortable your character is, the better. In fact, give your protagonist two choices neither of them with perfect outcomes and force her to choose. You bet your character is going to feel uncomfortable. In fact, the writer should feel the same way putting the words on the paper.

I’m working on the first drafts of book two in my Heritage River series, (book one, A Second Chance House, is in edits) and my heroine has a choice to make. She doesn’t like her choices and wishes she didn’t have to make one, but if she doesn’t hurry up and decide, fate will decide for her. I feel badly for her. I’d like her to have it all, and since I’m kind of in control of her world I’m going to attempt to give her what she really wants. I don’t know if I can, though. Neither choice has a good outcome.

Nothing happens in a story if the characters take an “easier said than done” approach. Sure, make-believe people aren’t the same as real life fifteen-year-olds trying to navigate through life. I understand why a teen would rather say nothing to the friend who’s tongue performs acrobatics during study hall. Who likes confrontation? Well, except me, maybe. But characters on the page, even teenage characters, shouldn’t get the same pass. Not if you want the reader to keep turning pages.

It’s interesting to me how people shy away from confrontation in real life and how authors shy away from confrontation for their characters. When I edit, I often find myself saying, don’t let them out of it so fast!

You can’t grow as a person if you don’t do the tough stuff. Someday you will have to say the words, “please stop.” You’re also going to have to say, “I’m the most qualified, the best choice.” You can’t grow if you don’t ever ask, “what could I have done better?” Even my character has to come to terms with the fact she was too afraid to tell the truth. Speaking up is always easier said than done. But it’s well worth it.

 

A New Adventure

I’m always up for an adventure. Well, almost always and it depends on the adventure. I’m not sleeping in the woods for all the chocolate in the factory. But when it comes to writing adventures, I’m pretty much in.

Pull up a seat. I’m going to tell you a little story. A long time ago, in a place not so far away, I worked for a mobile DJ company. It was one of my favorite jobs. I got to play music, dance, and eat at the weddings of total strangers and they paid me to be there! I worked with some fantastic people and have kept in touch with a few of them over the years. Decades, in fact. I am eternally grateful for that opportunity.

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So here I am with the guys I DJ’d with circa 1994. Yes, I was the only girl. It was cool. And yes, I took a picture of a picture. This one is framed. Wasn’t even going to try and remove it. 

Recently, I was asked to be a part of NJs Best DJs owned and operated by my friend and amazing DJ, Dave Nase! Dave has asked me to come on board and handle the writing of his blog. This was an adventure I couldn’t pass up. I’m thrilled to be included.

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Dave and I hanging out, present day, and getting the blog ready. Excuse my deer in the headlights look. 

NJs Best DJs offers a very personal approach to event entertainment. The blog will be dedicated to not just information about DJs and music, but help and advice on all areas of the wedding industry. And of course, we’re going to have a little fun while doing it.

Once the blog is live, I hope you’ll stop by and say hi just so I can see a few friendly faces even if you aren’t planning any event at the moment. (I’ll let you know exactly when that’s happening.) But if you or someone you know are in those planning stages, poke around. We might just have the information you’re looking for. And between you and me, you won’t find a better entertainer than Dave.

I’ll still be blogging here with my editing tips and adventures in motherhood. And don’t forget, my next book, A Second Chance House will be out soon. I won’t be neglecting my editing clients, but like I said, I couldn’t say no to Dave.

Are you ready for a new adventure? What’s on your bucket list for the new year?

 

Life Lessons of a Mom: Nothing Is As It Seems

Image taken from the Amazon buying page.
Image taken from the Amazon buying page.

I read a fantastic book, How Yoga Works, by Geshe Michael Roach. It’s a story about a young woman who must teach her prison warden about the ways of yoga. The book takes place a very long time ago. There’s a wonderful scene where our female protagonist, Miss Friday, takes the warden’s bamboo pen and throws it out the window to the cow below. The cow eats it. To the warden, the piece of bamboo is a writing instrument. To the cow, it’s a snack. Nothing is as it seems. And nothing is all good or all bad. It just depends on how you look at it.

This school year I haven’t been very fond of the Noodges’ music teacher. And that’s putting it nicely. I won’t bore you with the details of how I’ve come to this decision, that’s a post for another time. But something happened recently. During the 8th grade band concert, the music teacher was introducing the next song with a little explanation about the piece. He mentioned “Oh, Danny Boy,” the Irish classic, was part of the number and that song was something his father sang to him as a child. (The music teacher is about five minutes past puberty, so to us old folks, when he was a young child.) Music Teacher introduced his father sitting in the front row and thanked him for sharing that song with him. He held out his hand to his father who gladly shook it and Music Teacher found his words were being cut off by emotion and tears.

And that’s when it hit me. I was having my own bamboo pen moment. This young man standing on the stage isn’t all bad. He’s clearly capable of emotion. He loves his father who loves him back. As a mother witnessing this special moment, I found myself with a tear or two. Or maybe it was an eyelash, but go with me on this.

I thought, if Music Teacher would show a little of this side of himself to his students and to the parents of those students he’d be liked more. But that’s a lesson he might learn with experience. Or not. It’s all up to him.

But for me, I’m going to try and remember that moment on stage when I have to deal with this teacher over the next two school years, as Noodge 2 will be alone to navigate the many moods of music. I will try to be more patient and understand that for some the music teacher is an instrument made from bamboo and to me he can’t be a snack.

Noise Polution

The school year has ended and summer vacation has gotten under way. “Hooray,” I shout, but not before I cover my ears. With the kids in the house, all day long, the noise decibel is killing me. Holy cow. Daughter spends large blocks of time singing and playing the recorder. Do you know this instrument? It’s a plastic clarinet that sounds like a pig trying to shimmy through it. Dear God, who made that thing and gave it to elementary school children and told them it was music?!

As I’m desperately trying to put this blog post together Son is pounding away on the drums. He’s in the basement on one side of the house and I am on the second floor on the OPPOSITE side of the house. I’m too lazy or crazed, you pick, to shut the office door. And guess what? He’s a GREAT drummer. I say this, because if you’ll allow me a moment of bragging, Son played “Dance The Night Away” by VAN HALEN at his drum recital. Those of you that know me personally, know Son could have given me no greater gift. And guess what? He surprised me! I didn’t even know what he was going to play until he introduced himself. Thirteen years of yelling, “stop that, don’t touch that, go to bed, and get off the video games,” paid off. He loves his mother. Collective sigh.

And of course, because the kids are home I hear a lot of “Mom, can I, can you, when will we?” non-stop. It would be quieter if I took my lap top and tried to write on a corner in New York City. Don’t my children know an author needs quiet to create?

I remember the days when I longed for them to say, “mama,” to call to me instead of the undistinguishable screaming of a baby. Now all they do is scream at each other.

My mother tells me I’m going to miss all the noise in the house some day. Could she be right? Will I long again, but this time for the disruption, the fighting, the playing of the pig squealing recorder?

In the words of Gabriel Hunter, “As if.”