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.
I decided that it was probably time to get this blog back on track, seeing as it started out as a blog about writing and has somewhere along the way veered into a blog about randomness. So, I’ve asked a few of the writer friends I made two years ago on The Next Big Writer to whip up some guest blog posts for you to enjoy. They are all embarking on the process of having their books published, either through self-publishing, or through a traditional publishing house and I applaud them for that! They believe in themselves and their writing and they are putting it out there for the world to see and enjoy and that is not only impressive, it’s courageous. My first guest blogger is Angela, who I knew for the longest time as “penang” or “Ang” in the TNBW forums and whom I’m happy to say is a talented writer and a great friend. I asked her to talk a little about why she first “picked up a pen” to write and to give you a little information on her latest book, Songbird. Here’s what she had to say:
Writing was never my number one passion. In fact, writing didn’t even come onto my top ten list until about six years ago. I’d always dreamed of being an artist, a flight attendant, or the next Diane Fossey or Jane Goodall. I ended up teaching. Then I read the Twilight series. Okay, so not the best example of amazing YA literature, but it did make me think I could do that. Until then I didn’t even know that Young Adult was a genre.
When I first started writing, I had no idea how to approach it, and honestly I still don’t. Every writer I talk to approaches it differently. For me this means sitting down at the computer and typing as it comes to me. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. My first novel is still under the revision process thanks to my unplanned approach.
Songbird is actually the second novel I wrote and most of it was done within a month during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Finishing Songbird, along with revising and editing, took a bit longer, but this story just flowed for me much better than my other novel. There was never a point where I sat down and didn’t feel the story come to me.
There are parts of Songbird that are so close to my heart. Some of the experiences, good and bad, that Dani goes through were inspired by things that either I’ve experienced, or people I know have lived through. At times it was hard to write because all I could see and feel were the real reactions and emotions.
Songbird is a story of death, loss, love, friendship and moving forward. Seventeen-year-old Dani is haunted by memories of her abusive parents and her murdered brother. Those memories constantly influence her choices and when her love for her best friend Reece is rejected, she struggles to find a way to put the past behind her for good. A struggle mad harder when a former foster brother reappears and brings back even more of the past.
You can learn more about Angela and her writing at her blog: Turning the Pages.
I’ve wanted, for a while now, to be able to take a memory, something from my past, and write a deep, meaningful, reflective post about it. Problem is, I can’t seem to come up with a memory that would allow me to write anything of significance. I could talk about choices I made that, in retrospect, were probably wrong or I could talk about moments when I thought my heart was breaking, but again, in retrospect, it probably wasn’t, but I don’t think I’d get the reflective piece I was hoping for. I should probably be thankful I’ve lived a fairly even-keeled life. There have been no times of great tragedy, only disappointment and regret, but there have also been no times of tremendous joy, only fleeting happiness. In the grand scheme of things, I should consider myself lucky.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble writing for a long time now- pretty much since I finished the second big edit of Twenty-Five. Poetry, short stories, attempts at novels- nothing is working. I have begun to wonder if I should put the pen down and forget about this whole writing thing. Not that I want to, necessarily.
I’ve never been successful at anything I’ve attempted to do. At least, I don’t feel like I have been. Always good, never great. Which makes me think I’m not choosing the right things. Honestly, when I think about it, the only thing I ever really excelled at was school. So, I’ve been thinking about going back to school. I’ve wanted to get a graduate degree pretty much since I received my undergraduate one, but the timing has never been right or the money’s never been available. I still don’t know if the timing is right and I know there isn’t money available, but if I keep waiting, I could be waiting forever, right?
I don’t know for sure yet what I’m going to do with the rest of my life, or even the next couple of years. I wish I did. I wish I knew if I had it in me to write another book. I keep trying and failing. And I hate failing. I keep thinking one day I’ll have the time to devote to another story. One day I’ll develop characters that really speak to me. One day I’ll come up with a plot that is so freaking fantastic that it will basically write itself. But how long can I wait for one day?
I feel lost and confused and really guilty that I haven’t had anything of quality to post on this blog in a very long time.
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.
The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:
The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.
A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2010. That’s about 12 full 747s.
In 2010, there were 106 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 135 posts. There were 45 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 61mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.
The busiest day of the year was January 6th with 54 views. The most popular post that day was What’s at Stake.
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were networkedblogs.com, WordPress Dashboard, mybadpants.com, clairelazebnik.com, and thenextbigwriter.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for pen, pride and prejudice 2005, while you were sleeping, bridget jones diary, and colin firth bridget jones.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.
What’s at Stake January 2010
About the Aspiring Author October 2009
The Look December 2009
Instant Gratification: I Blame America September 2010
Twenty-Five October 2009
I’m pretty happy with how things went here at I Picked Up A Pen One Day. I hope my wonderful readers have enjoyed my writing, rambling, and random insights and comments this year and I hope you’ll continue to enjoy them into 2011!
I found an old journal today. I was about to go to church with my friends, Ashley and Charles, and was looking for a Bible to take with me and when I pulled one off the lower shelf of an end table I have in my bedroom, my journal fell onto the floor. I started writing in this particular journal on July 5, 2006 (My sister’s birthday!) and only wrote through about half of it. My last entry was sometime in 2008, but I’m not sure when because I didn’t date it (weird). I only know it was 2008 because the entry before that was entitled “2008 Reading List.”
So, I’m browsing through the entries and I find a list: “Things I want to Do Before I Die.”
I don’t remember writing it! And I certainly didn’t remember it when I sat down and wrote Twenty-Five. It isn’t surprising, but it is rather humorous, that several items on this list also show up on dear old Abby’s list in the book. Because after all, Abby is basically me- just a better me.
I’m going to put the list here, as a bit of a teaser, because I’ve decided I’m going to post Twenty-Five on this blog. Yes, the whole book. I’ll post one chapter every other day starting October 17th. I’ve read a lot of warnings about posting stories, books, poetry etc. on blogs because you risk someone stealing it and passing it off as their own, but I’m still going to do it. I know there’s a risk, but I’m honestly not worried about it. I want the world to read my book. I don’t know that it will ever be published. So I’m going to send it out there for free. Plus, I have all of the early drafts and the first draft is hand written, so I’m pretty sure I can prove it is my work if someone does try to steal it. I hope everyone likes it and passes it on to their friends to read!
Okay, so here’s the list I wrote back in 2006:
Things I Want to Do Before I Die:
1. Get married/ fall in love
2. Have a child
3. Visit London
4. See another Broadway Show
5. Live in New York City
6. Go on a mission trip
7. Do something completely out of character
8. Watch every Academy Award winner of Best Picture
9. Own a brand new car
10. Learn how to cook
11. Read the whole Bible
12. Get accepted to NYU
13. Take a photography class/ learn how to develop my own pictures
14. Go to the dentist*
15. Work for a non-profit organization
16. Serve on a jury
17. Befriend a stranger
18. Meet someone famous
19. Take a tour of the White House
20. Visit the Supreme Court
21. Have 15 minutes of fame
22. Go to Disneyworld
* My parents didn’t have dental insurance when we were growing up and couldn’t afford to take 4 children to the dentist, so I never went as a child. I have been now- it pays to work for an orthodontist!
For the record I have completed only 2 of these list items, #14 (as stated above) and #22 (as seen in my 5 part blog post about it). I’ve come close to #16- I had jury duty a few months back, but I didn’t get picked for the actual jury. I’ll have to work on the rest of them!
Milestone Updates: This is my 97th Post and there are 19 days left until my Blogiversary! I’ve had 5,119 views! and I just received my 500th comment a few days ago- that wasn’t on the original milestone list, but I thought it was pretty cool.
And a little thing that makes me happy: A new pair of boots, or jeans, or a new cute sweater- anything new that I can wear, really!
But I reached one of my milestones!!!
I didn’t have a chance to log on at all yesterday, which is totally weird for me, I didn’t even open up my laptop yesterday, but here it is, 10:09 PM on Monday September 13th, a whole month and 2 days before my Blogiversary and I reached 5001 views!
That’s pretty much all I have to say today. But I’m super stoked about it.
Now, if you do want to hear more from me, I’ll be posting Wednesday (9/15) on my company’s blog about the last wedding I coordinated. Check it out: www.daringdevoted.com
A little thing that makes me happy: A blank page. It’s a clean start every time, even if you are just carrying over the sentence or paragraph from the previous page.
Milestone Updates: This is my 94th post and I have 32 days until my Blogiversary!