Archive for February, 2012

How I got here: Part 2

Start with Part 1.Then a weird thing happened. That January, a close friend of mine emailed me a link to some motivational speaker who wrote about letting your dream have a voice, no matter how crazy you think it is. I took it as a sign, and I emailed my friend about what was going on with me and this obsession. She was delighted! I thought maybe she was nuts. She told me to write down the episodes immediately and send them to her. Crap. I have to write it down, give the delusions life? I felt so guilty that I didn’t even tell the husband what I was doing. I just did it.

I wrote a script of the first episode, like a script for a play because that’s what I knew. I sent it to my friend. She told me another friend of hers was writing stuff for other characters too, except for the Harry Potter series, and it was called Fan Fiction. OK, that was all right with me. Maybe that’s what I was compelled to do. It would be an acceptable hobby, and I could return to reality. So I  found the fan fiction site for my show and did some reading. There was only one problem. These people were writing in story form, and I had written a script, and scripts aren’t allowed on fan fiction. So I was stuck again. I didn’t want to write in story form. In my head, it just felt wrong. So I did some more research on line, trying to desperately figure out what to do with this apparently unacceptable thing I had just created.

It turns out there is a term for what I made. It’s called a spec script, and TV writers make them all the time. Wow! Was I a TV writer? I got books from the library about it. It sent out the other three scripts that I had made, now to a couple of other friends. Finally, my husband, no longer zonked out on cold meds, confronted me with my secretive behavior and I had to come clean. Even he didn’t reject my idea. So I did more research. I also sent out a script to one of those TV writer contests.

So what happened? Nothing. The show I was so obsessed with has been off the air for a couple of years now. TV writing is an extremely exclusive club of very thick skinned people who live a  tenuous existence from season to season. If I were a doe-eyed twenty-two year old, ready to relocate my entire life to LA, maybe. You know what all the TV writers pretty much said? Write books. When my husband told everyone I wanted to be a writer, they all asked, “What book is she writing?”

I’m not sorry my brain went to TV scripts first. I learned a lot about the process, and I think it made me a better novel writer. And I’m not closing the door on the idea of writing for television someday. I even wrote a pilot with three episodes, and my friends love it. But for now, I’m writing books. For now, this is how I bravely expose my insanity to the world. Enjoy my crazy.

How I got here: Part 1

I wasn’t a big reader as a little kid. I simultaneously fell in love with both mysteries (Thank you Henry Shlesher and Agatha Christie) and romances (Thank you Kathleen Woodwiss and Sandra Brown) while in high school.

To be honest, the act of writing has never been difficult for me. I’ve started lots of fictional stories in my life. It’s the act of finishing that has always been the problem. As mentioned in other posts, I am a HUGE procrastinator. I can stall like nobody’s business. I can rationalize myself out of just about anything that resembles work, and wrapping up the loose ends of a story is work.

Then there’s the fear of success/failure. Exposing myself to others with this whole writing business is extremely uncomfortable for me. If no one knows you’re a writer, it’s so much safer. I had lots of other things in my life that seemed more acceptable than being a writer of all things. It didn’t become a necessary compulsion until a few years ago. I blame it on the voices in my head refusing to stay hidden any longer… and a hard winter.

My husband and I had just bought an old drafty building out of which to run our business. It was a bitch to heat. Combine that with my wonderful husband catching a succession of colds that lasted from November to March, and you’ve got the makings for a difficult home life. Also that winter, my sister gave birth to my beautiful niece. On the one hand, I was thrilled. On the other hand, I was internally devastated. My sister and I had both been trying to get pregnant at the same time. It was the beginning of my realization that I would probably never conceive a child by conventional means. My reality was starting to suck.

Enter the voices. They started out as many fantasies do, from a regular outlet in my life. At that time it was a TV show. So I started building an alternate universe for the show in my head. It wasn’t the first time I had done that. I remember in elementary school creating a new cousin for the Dukes of Hazzard. I hope those of you who are as nuts as I am can relate. If not, too bad.

Anyway, so I began this alternate universe for this show in my head and would let my mind go there whenever I needed a break from reality. The more things would suck, the more I went there. When I had done this before in my life, I would create one episode of the TV show, and that would be it, but not this time. One episode turned into four. I could rewind and fix everything in my head, all the characters’ dialogue, scenery, props, plot twists, everything. It became distracting. I would mentally vacate from conversations with real people. I would go off alone and fixate on this illusion for sometimes twenty minutes, maybe an hour at a time if I could get away with it. I began to think I was crazy. Go to Part 2

Straght American Men and Relationships

This particular fight started with a room, the bedroom to be exact. It’s not about sex or sleeping positions or anything like that. It’s about the actual room. Let me bore you with over-explanation.

So we just bought a house a couple of months ago (yes it has the original kitchen cabinets, but half of the trim is painted, and there is one room with knotty pine paneling, so there.), and it was decided at that point to have a particular room upstairs be the bedroom. So me being me, I set my heart on it, and in my attempt to be the perfect attentive wife, I included my husband and his opinion on the matter.

This is the beginning of the problem, because, in general, men typically don’t care about their bedroom in terms of aesthetics. Don’t get me wrong, they might bitch a little if you do the whole thing up in some sort of tribute to Gone with the Wind or your obsession with American Girl dolls. I’m guessing, however, that after the initial shock, they are all thinking the same thing. “What do I care? It’s usually dark when I’m in here anyway.” (You’d get a lot more of a rise out of them if you surprised them with a TV or a sex swing in the corner, but spoiling them for no reason is only going to make them suspicious)

The common sense part of me knows this, but as a writer, I’m always running scenes in my head that have expectations that have almost nothing to do with reality. I’m picturing this room with the furniture and the wall color and the rugs and drapes.  As I’m painstakingly painting the walls, I’m imagining waking up in this room, what a peaceful oasis it will be, etc. I think you get it.

So, we go to move the bed into this newly painted and prepared room…and wouldn’t you know it, but our queen size box spring won’t fit up the stairwell, at all. It’s a 70+ year old house. Most people didn’t have Queen size beds back then. We would have to cut holes in the trim or get a different bed, not gonna happen.

Obviously I’m disappointed. The bed is resigned to the only bedroom downstairs, which was suppose to be my home office. I had already formed preconceived notions about that room, and they didn’t include a bed. That room has not been painted the perfect color that I saw in my head. My expectations are dashed.

And so, I expect my husband to be equally put out by this unforeseen chain of events, but, of course he’s not, and of course, I’m upset by the fact that he’s not as upset as I am. This causes a fight, because I interpret his lack of empathy for my disappointment as him not caring about things that are important to me, and in turn him not caring about me in general… Does this sound familiar?

So, my husband saw the writing on the wall and left me to my own stewing. This only made me feel abandoned on top of being misunderstood and generally neglected, so I decided to pop on my MP3 player and take a  long, angry walk.

Very long story short, while on my walk I came up with two proposals to keeping a satisfying relationship with the straight American man. Obviously, this portion of my gripe is geared toward the female members of my viewership, but let’s face it. I probably lost the guys after “sex swing” anyway.

The first is simply a change in attitude. I propose that you have no expectations when it comes to your man. I mean it. Other than what you can really leave him for (infidelity, abuse, and addiction problems), expect nothing. Don’t expect him to hold you when you cry. Don’t expect him to help with household chores, pets, or kids. Don’t expect him to listen to you when you talk about your day. Don’t expect him to initiate sex. Don’t expect him to clean up after himself. Have no expectations, period.

I know it sounds crazy, but here’s why I think it just might work. If you expect nothing from your man, when he does actually do something that is not exclusively for his benefit, he will automatically surpass your expectations. Suddenly, he’s great. He’s awesome. You will be so delighted that he actually thought about someone besides himself, that you will gush with praise and happiness… And just maybe your reaction will be so validating to him, that he will attempt other selfless acts just to repeat the reaction. It may have a cumulative effect.

My other proposal requires a change in attitude and a bit of physical maintenance. Get Hot. Work out like crazy, make yourself up like you’re going out dancing with your girlfriends, always look like you’re trying to make other men, not your man, check you  out.

Again, I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but bear with me. Not only will you feel better and look better, but you will be playing to your man’s baser instincts. In my opinion, straight guys tend to come off as not caring because they are biologically compelled to only care about conquest. The testosterone that makes them so attractive to us is also what makes them not give a rat’s ass if we ask them how we look in those pants. If they can’t kill it, eat it, protect it, fix it, or screw it, they really don’t care to be involved.

So where does looking hot come in? It’s about territory. If they think you have the potential to be taken by a rival, you become the conquest. They have to work to keep you. Suddenly, they’re more attentive, because they feel they have to be. They are protecting territory. You get to feel cherished and appreciated, and they get to feel…well, manly.

Both these proposals seem all well and good in theory. As far as practice though, don’t ask me. I’m still pissed about the bedroom.