Who’s Writing Your Story?

“At any given moment, you have the power to say:
This is not how the story is going to end.”
~Christine Mason Miller

Germany

I’m not sure where my story will end, but this is where it began, in a tiny apartment above a meat market in Germany, with 18 year old parents. Where did your story begin?

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74,751

This is my new favorite number, and no, I didn’t win a jackpot. It’s not my salary or the balance in my savings account. It’s the word count for the historical romance novel I finally finished writing! It’s still rough in spots, but I was determined to keep at it, without stopping to nitpick, right until THE END.

Word Count

Hi Cortana, how many words in my recently completed romance novel? 74,751 did you say?!

If necessity is the mother of invention, then burning desire is the father of creation. My burning desire to fulfill my dream of completing and publishing a novel drove me to type like a fiend during a recent vacation. That, and the sudden clarity that if I truly want to achieve this long-held dream , I have to make it happen. It is entirely my responsibility to make this a priority, and to believe in myself, my story, and my ability 100 percent – no apologies, no excuses, no downplaying anything.

If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.  ~Unknown

My novel, my story, my baby, has taken on various forms over the years. I started it about 10 years ago, with nothing but a handful of characters, a loose premise, a seaside setting, and a cache of random scenes that I had to somehow connect. At one point, I learned that Harlequin Romance had an e-line which accepted un-agented novellas. This seemed like a manageable place to start as a novice fiction writer. I fleshed out the story to about 15,000 words and submitted it via email. Two years later, almost to the day, I received an email reply from a Harlequin editor saying how sorry she was, but they’d closed that line two years before and thought the email address closed with it. Only recently did they realize folks were still submitting to it. She encouraged me to submit another story to a different line.

I was inspired by the email. They hadn’t flat out rejected me. I decided to expand the story to 55,000-75,000 words, since the other lines required this range. Now I have to smooth out the rough edges, write a new query letter and synopsis, and attempt to navigate the mysterious world of publishing (I’ve decided not to re-submit to Harlequin). That’s where the real work begins.

So that’s where my beloved novel stands. I am beyond excited that it’s come this far. Whatever the outcome, I know that nothing which hails from the creative spirit is ever a wasted effort.

What’s your burning desire? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to set it in motion?

Light and Shadow

“All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”
~Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

The Moments That Make Up a Life

Yesterday morning I did something I haven’t done in months. I went to a heated power yoga class with one of my best friends and yoga buddies. Our favorite teacher was back from maternity leave, our schedules aligned for the first time in a while, so we decided to go on the spur of the moment. That’s always when the best things happen.

Neither of us had been to that studio in a while. In part due to our busy lives, and also because we’re fussy about our teachers. All right, we’re yoga snobs. We tend to prefer our home practices to a class where a teacher is forcing us to do yoga their way and we think their way stinks. Ten years ago, we enrolled in a year long yoga teacher training (otherwise known as YTT) together, so we know a little something about what we like and don’t.

YTT was a natural progression on our shared yoga journey. We’d met in a yoga class at a local gym over 15 years ago, progressed to studio yoga, and proceeded to become obsessed with everything yoga . Except, of course, the part where we’re supposed to give up coffee and wine. This is America after all, not India.

Back to yesterday. It’s summer in New England. That means it’s hot and humid. The teacher decided to crank the heat up to 95 degrees anyway, with the windows closed and over 50 people in the room. She kept it cranking for the entire hour and a half long class. She also didn’t  ease us into the practice. We started class standing up and didn’t lower down on our mats for over an hour. Could it be she was taking some kind of post-partum hormonal rage out on us?

Hot Yoga

Drink plenty of water. Bring a clothe. Take a break. Make sure teacher isn’t taking post-partum hormonal rage out on class (kidding!).

Mid-way through class, feeling like I was going to pass out, puke or both, I left the studio for a few moments to rejuvenate and guzzle water in the air-conditioned lobby. Toward the end of class, my friend announced, “I’m done,” and waited for me in the lobby.  It wasn’t just us. Several people simply rolled up their mats and left. The heat was that brutal.

Going out for breakfast after class was out of the question. Not when we were dripping with sweat, our clothes stuck to us, hair soaked and sticking up every which way. Later that day, the mild headache I’d developed from the heat turned full-blown, kind of a yoga hangover. I texted my friend, I have a headache from that class, WTF! She replied, I put a cool clothe on my forehead. It helped mine go away.

Despite the intense heat, the sweat, the not being able to keep up with the class, the headaches, we decided after Labor Day we’re hitting a studio together once a week. We used to be such studio rats,  going to three and four classes a week, taking spontaneous day trips to NYC to visit  various yoga centers.

While we don’t need or want that level of intensity anymore, we do need each other. We need to keep having yoga adventures together, after-yoga breakfasts and lunches, bash-the-yoga teacher powwow sessions. We need to get our butts kicked in a power class so we can remember that we’re alive.

It’s these precious, everyday, laugh-about-and-lament-them moments that make up a life. Without them, we’re just going through the motions.

What’s one of your favorite make-up-a-life moments?