“I think I’ll write a book someday,” said the young woman. “It will be poetry, verses about love and longing and the angst of being twenty.” That Christmas she received a suede-covered volume from her beau inscribed ‘Kate’s Scribbles.’ After he left her, she filled the parchment pages with poems and stories of love and heartbreak which were splattered with her tears. When she graduated from college, she clutched her teaching degree to her heart. Her mother’s advice echoed in her ears.
“Teaching is a good profession for a woman. You’ll be home when your children are—and you can always write in the summers when you’re off,” her mother advised.
The suede -covered book stayed on a shelf and the parchment pages remained blank. ***
“I think I’ll write a book,” said the woman.
Her husband laughed. “When will you have time for that?” he asked archly. “We have a child to raise. We can’t take chances like that, not with a mortgage and bills and obligations. Maybe someday—but not now.”
The woman nodded.
Yes, maybe someday she would take a pen in hand and write. She’d tell the story of a young couple, only in their thirties, with a child, finding their way in a sometimes hostile world.
The suede-covered book stayed on a shelf and the parchment pages remained blank.
“I think I’ll write a book someday,” said the forty–something matron. Life’s lessons had etched fine lines around her mouth and eyes, and added streaks of gray to her dark hair. Children were her main concern—her own child who was struggling to find her way and the ones she taught every day. Her marriage was in tatters from the battering of life’s realities: finances, personal problems and dreams that might never be realized. The woman could not remember the last time she had written anything other than a grocery list or a note to a parent. Sometimes, she would pick up a pen and hold it in her hand, hoping that words would flow onto paper. Once in a while they did, but the words spoke of anger and frustration and mostly of lost opportunity. So she hid those words from herself.
Her mother, now dead, had advised her well. Teaching was, after all, a steady, predictable job with an income she could rely on.
The suede -covered book stayed on a shelf and the parchment pages remained blank.
“I think I’ll write a book someday,” the woman said to her friends as they toasted her fiftieth birthday. She thought back to the earlier years, when the desire to write flamed in her heart. Searching everywhere, she finally found the suede bound book with poems so full of young love and loss and promise. Taking it reverently from its shelf, she blew the dust away. That night, she sat and read until her eyes grew heavy and a single tear traced its way down her cheek. And she felt like a part of her was dead.
“I think I’ll write a book,” said the widow, now in her sixties with hair that was more silver than black. Sadness was her daily companion. “I’ll write about loss and loneliness, and trying to make my life new.”
Her career as a teacher was a memory—one that over time had become more distant.
The woman’s child, now grown, lived in the great northwest forest with her beloved. Days were empty and the woman wanted—no—needed to tell her stories.
So, she picked up a pen, and began to write. Words flowed like water breeching a dam. And the woman wrote a book, and another book and another book. The pages were filled with the story of her life: of the things she had put aside, the sacrifices she had made, and the joys and dreams that had been realized. She wrote of the sorrow and the searing pain of loss. As she wrote tears and sometimes even laughter were her companions.
Surveying the shelf crowded now with the suede-covered volume and many others like it, she smiled.
With words as soft as a prayer, she whispered, “Finally, I wrote my book.”
I suffer from pen lust—an overwhelming desire to acquire pens. When I go into an office supply store, I gravitate to the writing implements aisle like a junkie to a fix. Admiring pens is an art form for me: what about the size of the barrels (because size DOES matter!), the thickness of the writing tip, the color of the barrel. Is the ink the same color as the pen I wonder? How does the pen feel in my hand—like it has a home there—or is it too think or thick—or does it nestle like a baby to its mother’s breast?
If there is a little pad of paper to try the pen out—well, then I’m in heaven! I write my name, my maiden name and my initials either printing them or using cursive—or even a sort of calligraphy! Oh, what joy!
And it’s not just buying pens that entrances me.
When I get the tab in a restaurant, I feel a tingle of excitement as I open the folder the bill comes in. What kind of pen will be hidden inside? Will I immediately WANT that pen? Or will it be a cheap BIC stick pen? Sometimes I hold the pen just a moment too long—and ask the server where they got such a terrific pen, hoping that somehow, it will be given to me as a perk for being such a delightful customer. I have never stolen a one from a restaurant—although I am sorely tempted on occasion. (Ok, full disclosure, I did take a pen once, but there were dozens of them—and it looked like an advertising gimmick.)
One time, at a doctor’s office, I admired the pen I was given to fill out a form. Imagine my joy when the receptionists said. “You can have it—we get them free all the time!” I walked out of that office with a spring in my step and joy in my heart.
My late husband and I shared this obsession with pens. I had to carefully monitor my favorites to make sure they wouldn’t fall into his covetous hands! And, I must admit, I was not above tucking his pens into my purse when he left them around.
At any given time, I have at least three pens in my purse. I have pens everywhere—all different types. And it can take me a few minutes to decide which pen I want to use to write a check or sign my name. Often, when I’m given what I consider to be a substandard pen (the aforementioned BIC), I retrieve my own pen and use that. And I am delighted if someone needs to borrow one, because I can offer a selection of pens to that person. Needless to say, I always get mine back and I take my favorite one first.
Pen lust—alas, there is no cure!
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Recently, I was talking to a friend who enjoys reading my blog. She mentioned that it had been a least a month since I updated it. There’s a reason why. When I started this blog, my main goal was to attract a following for my writing. I promised that it would not be political because I subscribed the old fashioned notion of avoiding talking about religion and politics.
But somehow, writing a blog like mine in the midst of mass shootings, including sniper attacks on police officers and the death of Black citizens at the hands of law enforcement seemed frivolous. Every time I thought I had a good topic, another national tragedy would occur—so I decided to wait a week or so. The week turned into a month and threatened to become six months and then a year.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that especially because the news is so grim so much of the time, perhaps a blog entry that brought a smile or a nod of recognition to my followers might be cathartic.
This revelation came to me while I was perusing Face Book after the mass shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, which is the nearest big city to where I live. Even though I personally didn’t know anyone who died that horrible night, I still felt deeply saddened. Face Book was full of memes about “love winning” and posts about the night of terror. The news was brimming with stories about the perpetrator and most importantly, the victims.
Then my brother-in-law died. It was a tsunami of sadness and shared grief.
I found myself seeking out Face Book posts showing pictures of children, dogs and kittens—and gardens, rainbows and waterfalls and—well, you get the picture. I was seeking an antidote to all of the sadness around me.
So, I decided that it was time to get back to the blog and writing about the sometimes silly and quirky observations about my life.
I hope you understand. See you tomorrow.
(And here’s a picture of a waterfall and a rainbow!)
Picture courtesy of Pixabay
One of the most powerful boosts for many writers is Amazon.com. It provides a platform for unknown authors to bypass the stranglehold traditional publishing houses have on the industry. Services like Book Baby, Create Space and others support the independent writer by providing an accessible and affordable platform to bring their work to life.
There are many reasons why an author may resort to self-publishing. In my case, I made this decision after pitching my book for several years at writer’s conferences (where I paid a fee for the privilege) and sending numerous query letters to agencies. I sent the required three or whatever chapters, synopses of the book, author bio, and cover letters to agents I had investigated.
It was time consuming and ultimately fruitless—although I had at least two agents who would “have loved to promote my book if only…”
So, I turned to a small press publisher who did bring my lifelong dream of being a published author to life.
Then the hardest work began—promoting the book. I am not naturally good at self promotion.
I rely on word of mouth and whatever opportunities come my way to talk about my book and my writing.
But the one thing that all authors—including me—must have to survive is book reviews. And that’s where you, dear reader, come into the picture.
The five or ten minutes it takes you to write a few simple sentences telling other folks that, yes, you enjoyed the book you just finished are the greatest boost you can give to any writer. Just log onto Amazon.com, find the title and author of the book, and choose the option to review the book.
You don’t have to do an in-depth analysis of the plot, the nuances of character development, or compare the book to others in its genre. Just say that you liked it (or not) and why.
And speaking for all struggling authors like me, your review will be deeply appreciated.
It’s hard to chase a dream. Dreams are ephemeral and unpredictable. They’re illogical. They don’t follow the rules of physics.
Dreams can make you feel elated or leave you empty and confused.
When you wake from a dream, it can be a hard landing back to reality.
I feel like I am chasing a dream right now as I face the most difficult part of having my latest book, Elvis Saves a Marriage…published: trying to foster interest in it.
It’s an intricate ballet of pushing the book a little here and there and exhausting people. You don’t want your efforts at promoting the book to feel like forcing people to watch a never-ending telethon.
But it is a necessary step in being an author. Even mid-list authors have to promote their books—through personal appearances, radio interviews, and book signings. The only ones who are somewhat exempt are A-listers who are a sure sell. And they have staffs to plan their promotion campaigns—and get to travel to exciting places and be on TV interview shows.
Writers like me are the author and promoter all wrapped up into one person. It can feel daunting.
From the time I was old enough to envision a future, I knew deep in my heart that I wanted to spend my life writing. I describe myself now as a writer who was disguised as a teacher for many years.
But I am a dream chaser. And no matter how upside down, how illogical, or how difficult it is, I will continue to follow this dream.
Graphic courtesy of Pixabay
I am disorganized. There, I said it. Whew! What a weight off my shoulders.
I’ve spent the better part of the last five decades promising myself that I’ll get organized–only to break that promise thousands of times.
I admire organized people: the ones who always know where stuff is, who clean their files out every year, whose desks are cleared every day. I want to be one of them, to join their club.
I don’t know what it is about me. I set up systems and within days, I’m back to my disorganized ways.
Now, it’s not that I can’t find thing—often I can—especially when I stack them in the same place each time. But too often, I have to tear my files, (such as they are) apart, to locate some important piece of paper.
My late husband was the direct opposite. He filed everything, labeled it, and once a year cleaned out his files. After he passed away, I was so grateful for his organization because it made everything easier for me. Now I worry that when it’s my turn to ascend to the pearly gates, my daughter will go insane trying to find stuff.
So, I think I better try to at least find the urgent stuff, re-file it, and resolve to keep it where it can be found easily.
At least that’s my intention.
Now, where is that list of blog ideas?
Picture courtesy of Pixabay
Hello dear readers,
It’s been a while since I put a story on this blog–so I thought I’d give you a treat. This is one of the stories I plan to include in my next book, a collection of short stories.
Kathy Joyce Glascott
War Is Declared
It was Friday night, the first night of her new job waitressing at Murphy’s Bar and Grille, and Sandy was nervous.
Entering the bar, she quickly joined the staff sitting around a table in the back dining room. Tom, the bartender and manager, introduced her to everyone.
“Sandy’s going to be helping out on weekends as a waitress,” he said, nodding toward her. “So, this is the setup. You and Peggy work the dining room at your assigned tables. Peggy’s going to give you the fifty-cent tour, and show you how it’s done. Right, Peggy?”
Peggy looked Sandy up and down. “If you say so. It ain’t exactly rocket science. You take orders and bring food, and make sure you get the money.”
Ignoring his ace waitress’ cavalier attitude Tom continued, “I’ll show you how to order at the bar. Okay?”
Sandy nodded, wiping her sweaty palms on her pant leg.
“Don’t worry; it doesn’t get too busy until around six. And the rush ends by eight-thirty,” Tom said.
Peggy smiled smugly. “C’mon, green horn. Let’s get started.”
The restaurant soon filled up, and Sandy found herself rushing from bar to kitchen to dining room and back again. She thought that she had the routine down, but every time she went to pick up an order, Peggy beat her to the platters of food, insisting they were for one of her tables. Soon Sandy’s customers were complaining that they were waiting too long to be served. She apologized over and over again and finally resorted to offering free desserts and extra refills on the drinks to quiet their complaints of being slighted.
Meanwhile, Peggy sailed around the room like a queen visiting her subjects, flirting with the men, planting a baby pink lip-sticky kiss on the older men’s bald heads.
Tom called from the bar, “Sandy, here’s your order for number five.”
When she started to reach for the drink, Tom leaned forward and narrowing his eyes, said, “You’re embarrassing us, girl. All I hear are complaints. Maybe this job is too hard for the likes of you.”
Sandy’s shoulders slumped. The pace was so hectic; she didn’t have a moment to catch her breath.
“And how many free desserts have you served? You’re paying for them, you know.”
Suddenly Peggy charged up and began to load the beers and soft drinks onto her tray.
“O-h-h-h, no, you don’t,” Sandy said firmly. “This isn’t your order.”
“Try and stop me,” Peggy answered, flipping her straw-like bleached blond hair.
Sandy elbowed Peggy out of the way, quickly picked up her order, and delivered it to the waiting couple. The wife, a bulky woman who wore knit pants and a sweatshirt with Buffalo Sabers emblazoned on it, scowled and said. “Finally! We could a died of thirst waitin’ for you.”
Sandy wanted to snap at the woman—and her husband who wore a baseball cap with the Buffalo Bills logo. Instead she bit her lip.
“Sorry ma’am, I’m new and I’m just learning.”
“Well, next time we’re askin’ for Peggy. At least she can get the food out before midnight.”
The woman shifted her bulk on the chair. Sandy saw Peggy scurry across the room with yet another tray laden with food.
“Oh shit,” she snapped. The woman looked startled.
“What did you say, miss?”
“She’s got my orders again!” Sandy said angrily, as her tray fell to the floor. It clattered. Everyone in the small dining room sat at attention.
“You witch, give me those!” Sandy shouted as she lunged toward Peggy.
“Help someone! She’s gone crazy!” Peggy screamed frantically.
Sandy grabbed at the tray Peggy held in front of her like a shield. She yanked the tray toward her, and the plates started to slide toward the floor. Peggy righted it, and pulled hard in her direction. Sandy countered with a solid tug. The plates clattered and filets of fried fish the size of a baseball mitt became airborne. Both women watched, mouths agape, as the fish spiraled toward them. They ducked, sending the large tray clattering to the floor while cole slaw, macaroni salad, French fries, rye bread and butter rained down on the nearby tables.
The patrons screamed and covered their heads with their hands. A few of the women held up overstuffed purses like umbrellas.
Other diners sat with their forks frozen in mid air.
Tom emerged from the bar, his face scarlet. Sandy thought she saw a pulse throbbing on his temple.
“What the hell are you two doing? Pick up that mess. And serve these customers.” Tom’s voice was filled with rage.
No one breathed in the silent room.
Hours later, after the frenetic rhythm of the dining room calmed down, Tom cornered Sandy and Peggy in the service area of the bar. A few of the regulars were seated on high stools, drinking beers and badgering each other.
“Listen you two. The only reason I didn’t throw your sorry asses out of here earlier is because it’s hard to find help.
Peggy sneered. “You ever think of paying better?”
Tom glared. “Another night like this and you’re both out on the street. Think about it, ladies—there’s only one other job where you get take-home pay the day you work…is that what you want to do? Everyone can be replaced.” He strode away.
Peggy leaned forward and, with her face inches from Sandy’s growled, “I can make your life pretty miserable. And if you think tonight was bad …well, I’ve been known to send other waitresses home crying for their mommies.”
Sandy wondered if working at Murphy’s would be worth the hand-to-hand combat in the war Peggy had just declared. Fingering the tips she had earned that night in her pocket, she imagined the money piling up, paying for new clothes, and maybe a car. She raised her water bottle as if as if proposing a toast.
“Don’t worry, Peggy. I’ll be back and ready for combat tomorrow. Cheers!”
I looked it up on the internet, and I present these typical symptoms:
- I will sit and read for hours at a time, sometimes until my eyes are so tired I can hardly focus on the words on the page.
- There are stacks of books everywhere in my house—on tables, on chairs and footstools and, of course, in bookcases.
- I have been known to not answer the phone if I am in the middle of a chapter that I find fascinating.
- When I finish a book, I am anxious and at loose ends until I start the next one.
- I think about the characters even when I’m not reading the book.
- I have a Kindle and an I Pad with books loaded on them.
- When I read a book for my book club, I can’t wait to discuss it.
- I find it hard to give books away—even ones that I know I will never read again.
- I love libraries and bookstores.
I’ve been like this since I was a child, so I think that my case may be hopeless.
When I was a kid, my sister complained that I read too much and wouldn’t put my book down to play. And one of my teachers thought that I might have read every book in our local library.
Friends have suggested a support group to help me deal with this addiction… but I can’t go anywhere until I’ve finished reading this chapter.
Picture Credit: Kathy Joyce Glascott