What Do You Think This Means?

Dan Fogelberg’s song The Innocent Age is one of my all-time favorites. That’s also the name of the album. On the cover is a doll propped against a gravestone, symbolizing this bittersweet journey from childhood to old age.

In my opinion, it’s musical poetry at its very best. The line that continues to haunt me since I heard it is “Yearnings unanswered reckon the wage we pay to recapture the innocent age.”

How do you interpret this? How costly is it to exhume the child we once were?

If I’ve done this right you can leave your comment below in the Leave A Reply box. Seriously, I want your interpretation of this line.

  1. Our desires and needs that were not fulfilled as a child. That keeps us moving forward looking for what was…

  1. Our desires and needs that were not fulfilled as a child. That keeps us moving forward looking for what was…

  1. Our desires and needs that were not fulfilled as a child. That keeps us moving forward looking for what was…

  1. Our desires and needs that were not fulfilled as a child. That keeps us moving forward looking for what was…

  1. Our desires and needs that were not fulfilled as a child. That keeps us moving forward looking for what was…

  1. Our desires and needs that were not fulfilled as a child. That keeps us moving forward looking for what was…

  1. Our desires and needs that were not fulfilled as a child. That keeps us moving forward looking for what was…

TUESDAYS WE PLAY GIN RUMMY

Lila woke up and wondered where she was. This wasn’t home but it kind of was but certainly not the home she lived in most of the time. Her bed had been…no, not an Ace. Not a king. Oh, well.

Whatever kind it was, this wasn’t supposed to happen. She’d have to tell Arthur to call someone. The roof was leaking. Had it rained last night? Must have and now her gown was wet. “Arthur?” she called out. He didn’t answer. Where was that man? She padded into the hall and then the den. Her daughter, Jean, rose from the breakfast table, just visible past the half wall. Having coffee with her was…was…

She couldn’t remember. The man Jean had married. What’s his name. “Mother?” Jean asked.

“Where’s your father? The roof is leaking. It got me and my bed all wet.”

Jean came to her and put an arm around her shoulders, turning her back the way she’d come. “You’ve wet the bed again, that’s all.”

“I did not!”

“It’s ok, Mother. Let me help you get cleaned up and dressed.”

Lila went into the bath next to the room she’d come out of. Jean turned the water on to warm it and fetched a washrag and that stuff that smelled so good. It was kind of vanilla-y. “You don’t have to baby me,” she groused. “I can do it.”

“Okay. I’ll strip the bed and start the washer. Take off your gown and put it outside the door. I’ll throw that in, too. And your underwear.”

Jean gathered up the wash and went to the laundry room, smiling at Joe as she passed the table. “Maybe it’s time for the adult pull ups,” he suggested.

“I guess so,” Jean sighed, a little piece of her heart breaking off. She knocked on the bathroom door. “Mom? Have you washed up?”

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From behind the door came a scared voice. “Come in here, Jeannie.”

She entered the bathroom and stood behind her mother, looking at their reflections. Mother smelled a little fresher but it was definitely shower day. Pointing at the mirror, Lila asked, “Is that me or someone else?”

“It’s you, Mother. It’s just time for a dye job and a perm.”

“I’ll say.”

Jean held out the robe. “Put this on and come pick out what you want to wear.”

Lila moved the hangers around, looking for…”Here it is! I just love this dress!”

Jean crossed her arms. “It’s too cold for that. How about that pretty peach sweater and the white slacks?”

“Oh, I guess so,” she grumbled. “It doesn’t feel that cold to me.”

“That’s because we’re inside where it’s warm. This afternoon we can go for a walk if you want.”

“Maybe.”

She followed Jean to the table. Carefully, she examined the flatware for spots and made an appreciative noise when a cup of coffee was put in front of her. The husband stood up and kissed Jean, folding the paper and putting it under his arm. He bent and planted a kiss on top of Lila’s head. “Behave yourself,” he told her.

Lila smiled. “Have a good day, Gerald.” She caught the look that passed between them. “What?”

Gerald shook his head and walked to the door. Jean sat and looked at her with thin lips. “His name is Joe. Gerald was the boy I dated in high school.”

“Oh.”

“How about some eggs and toast?”

“That’ll be fine.” She’d really wanted pancakes but decided to not make a fuss. Maybe she’d make pancakes for everyone for supper tonight. “Where’s your father?”

Jean’s mouth made an O as she brought the plate to her. “Don’t you remember? Daddy’s gone.”

“Yes, but where?” Lila frowned and picked up the pepper shaker. “I suppose he’s off with that little tramp of his.”

Jean patted her hand. “No, Mother. I mean Daddy passed on. He’s been dead for six years now.”

“He has not!” Lila exclaimed indignantly.

Jean clamped her lips shut. Perhaps it helped her to cope, thinking he was catting around instead of in the ground. “Do you know what today is?”

Lila bit off a corner of her toast. “Veterans Day?”

“No. It’s Leta’s birthday.”

Smiling warmly, she chuckled. “My sweet little Leta. She’s ten this year, isn’t she?” Jean looked so crestfallen Lila got embarrassed. Maybe she was eleven. Or was it nine?

“Sweetie, Leta’s a sophmore in college.”

“Is she?” Lila forked up some eggs to cover her blunder. “How time flies.”

“Do you know what day of the week it is?”

“It’s not Sunday or Gerald—I mean Joe, wouldn’t be leaving for work. Is it Friday?”

“No. It’s Wednesday. Can you look at the clock and tell me what time it is?”

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Lila dropped the fork on the plate and threw her napkin across the table. “What is it with all these questions? Why do you want me to tell you what time it is? You have a perfectly good watch on your wrist.”

Jean leaned over and retrieved the napkin. She wouldn’t look Lila in the face. Small wonder. She was acting funny. “I’m just checking something.”

“What?”

“Never mind. I’m sorry if I upset you.” She got up and cleared the plates while Lila finished her food. Once the dishes were in the dishwasher and the skillet had been washed she looked to see if her mother was done. To her dismay Lila was pouring coffee over her toast. “Mother, what are you doing?”

Lila looked down at the plate then into her coffee cup. “I could’ve sworn this was syrup. Guess it’s because I woke up with a taste for pancakes.” Her bottom lip quivered and she looked up at Jean like a confused child. “I made a mess, didn’t I?”

She barely heard Jean’s soothing and recoiled just a little when she hugged her. It had seemed all right at the time but now that she’d done it Lila was surprised. And scared. She’d never had coffee on toast before. Why had she thought she’d like it this morning? “I’m full, Jeannie.”

Jean opened the sliding glass door to the patio and handed her the leftover piece of toast. Lila remembered what to do with it. Crumbles for the birds. She scattered the little balls she made of the bread then took an out of the way seat to watch. “Hey, Mr. Bluebird,” she sang softly. And to the robin red-breast, “When the red, red robin comes nob, nob, nobbing along.” She couldn’t remember what the smaller birds were called but a gospel song went with them.

She poked around the rose bushes and made spluttering noises over what a shame it was that someone hadn’t watered them. Not a bloom one! She uncoiled the water hose and proceeded to give them a good drink. Just as she was getting something done Jean came out and made her jump when she cried out. “Mother! You’ve gotten your feet wet. Come in and change your shoes or you’ll catch cold.”

Lila dropped the hose, couldn’t remember what to do with it now. Jean stalked past her and now it came back to her. You had to turn the water off. Chastised, she followed her daughter inside after pulling the muddy shoes and socks off. She’d done it again.

But she hadn’t meant to do anything bad. “Don’t be mad at me, Jeannie.”

That got her a nice hug and smile. “What were you doing with the water hose?”

Lila blinked back her tears. “The roses are dying. No one’s watered them.”

Now it looked like Jean might cry, too. “It’s winter, Mother. They’re supposed to look like that.”

“Are they?” Lila ruminated on it for a minute. “Are the lilies dead, too?”

“They’ll all be back in the springtime.”

“Oh, that’s good.” She took the socks from Jean and pulled them on. “Just like that?”

“Just like that. We won’t have to do anything. It’s like magic.”

“Awww.” She put on her lace up booties and bent to tie them but must not have done it right because Jean shooed her hands away and did it slowly, explaining each step. At one time she knew how to tie them, hadn’t she?

Jean turned on the t.v. to a cooking channel and after a minute Lila got tired of it and went to the cabinets beneath the bookshelves. It was like finding old friends, all that junk in there. She pulled out a red handbag and found her missing bobby pins and

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a wadded up handkercheif. Way in the back was a pair of dress shoes with those skinny heels. Lila hadn’t seen them in ages.

Sitting on the couch, she removed her booties and slipped the heels on. When she stood and walked around to get the feel of them she began to teeter. Her legs wobbled and her ankles bowed then she fell right on her rump. It scared her more than it hurt. When Jean came running in that scared Lila more. “What on earth! Are you all right?” She knelt down and took the shoes off her and wiggled her feet. “Does that hurt? Did you twist your ankle?”

“No. I’m not hurt. I landed on my pillow.”

Jean laughed with relief. “Sweetie, we talked about not trying to wear heels, don’t you remember? No? Never mind. Let’s get you off the floor.”

Lila did as she was told and put her arms around Jean’s neck. Jean grabbed her by the waistband of her pants and lifted her, setting her into the rocker. It made her mad at herself. She didn’t know she was doing something stupid until it fell apart. And if she couldn’t quit doing crazy things Jean might put her in a home. “I’m so much trouble, Jeannie. Maybe it’s time I went home so you don’t have to be bothered.”

“That’s not a good idea, Mother. If you’d fallen at home who’d have gotten you up?”

“Your father, of course.”

Jean clamped her lips shut and put the booties back on her feet. “Do you remember catching the stove on fire?”

“I did that?”

“Yep. You, Joe and me sat down and discussed why you shouldn’t live alone.”

“But I’m so much trouble,” she pointed out.

Jean took her face in her hands and looked deep in Lila’s eyes. “No, you’re not. I want you here and so does Joe. It’s my turn to take care of you, okay? Just as you took care of me when I was little.”

“But mothers are supposed to take care of their kids.”

“Yes. And it’s perfectly fine for daughters to take care of their mothers when they can’t do it anymore.”

Lila’s heart melted. She had raised a wonderful girl. “I love you so much, Jeannie.”

“I love you, too, Mother.”

“Always?”

“And forever.”

Lila felt agitation rising and she clutched Jean’s arms. “Please don’t put me in a home. I’ll stop wearing high shoes. Tell me what not to do and I won’t do it.”

Jean swallowed the lump in her throat and sniffed. “I’m not going to put you in a home. Cross my heart and hope to die.” She stood up and took her mother’s hand. “How about we get out for a while?”

“Can we go to the flea market? Maybe get ice cream?”

“Why not?”

After the first five minutes of browsing through the stalls Jean knew she’d have to keep an eye on Lila. So many things about her behavior had reverted to the age of five. More than once she had to tell her mother not to put things in her pocket without paying first.

Lila was having the time of her life. It was good to get out of the house once in a while and if you could see old friends at the same time, all the better. Judging from

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the way many of her acquaintances didn’t seem to remember her, a trip to the salon needed to happen this week. She argued with the vendors and talked them down a little on the price and was, on the whole, pleased with her purchases. And Jean didn’t need to know about the little ceramic dog in her pocket. She’d worried her daughter enough for one day.

After ice cream they headed over to a neighborhood she thought looked familiar. When Jean pointed out the church she and Arthur had attended all through Jean’s childhood she was excited. “Oh, I want to go this Sunday! Do you think they’d let me play the organ again?”

“They might.” Jean went into the cemetery and they got out. She led the way to her father’s grave. “Look, Mother. Who’s name is that on the headstone?”

“Arthur McLellan.” Her head popped up, eyes wide with surprise. “What do you know? Just like your daddy.”

Jean hid her smile. “No, this is Daddy’s grave. And on the other side of the stone is your name and birth date. When you’re laid to rest beside him we’ll add the date of your death.”

“Are you sure it’s not some other Arthur?”

“Yes. Positive. There couldn’t possibly be two Arthur McLellans with the same date of birth with a wife that has your name and birth date.”

“I suppose not.”

“So do you see now that daddy’s not running around on you with another woman? He didn’t leave you, he died.”

Lila burst into tears. “Why did you show me this? It was easier thinking he was out there being naughty but would come home when he got tired of it. Now he’s dead and he won’t ever come back.”

Jean hugged her mother and let her cry. “I’m so sorry. It worried me that you couldn’t remember he was gone. That’s something I didn’t think you could ever forget. And I didn’t want Daddy’s good name besmirched, even by you.”

Lila took the tissue Jean offered and blew her nose. “I guess it’s better that he’s dead than fooling around on me. Thinking that just about killed me.”

They drove home and had lunch. Jean got out the calender her mother marked on and gave her a pen and her address book. Lila stared at the squares and tried to recall what they meant. This was her handwriting but what had she written? Jean glanced over her shoulder now and then. It cut to the bone to see it so clearly how much her mother’s dementia had progressed in just a year. The notations for birthdays and hair appointments and small daily plans had become a string of letters and numbers or untidy scrawls.

“What did you say today is?”

Jean answered, “Wednesday. December the second.”

“All right. Next Tuesday is when the girls come over to play cards.”

“Yes. Tuesday is rummy day.”

Lila wrote it down. “I think I’ll serve…those things. You know, those things. The serving dish looks like a parfait glass and you put shrimp in them and that red stuff.” She stopped and stared at the wall for a moment. “I forget what else.”

“You mean shrimp cocktail.”

“Well, it’s not something you drink, you know.”

“I know. That’s just what they call it. The only thing you forgot is the lemon slice.”

“Do we have those kind of bowl glasses?”

“If we don’t I think we can make do. The girls won’t care.” She set a tuna salad sandwich and a glass of tea in front of her mother. Getting her own sandwich she sat across from Lila and watched somberly as she planned a card game that wasn’t going to happen. One of the foursome was in worse shape than Lila. Two had died and the other was in an assisted living facility.

Well, now, hold on a minute, Jean thought. Why not have a rummy game on Tuesday night? She and Joe and Mother. It would be good for her and she could serve shrimp cocktail. The game would in no way resemble gin rummy but what did that matter? The important thing was to let her do what she could for as long as she could. Keeping the brain active is a must the doctor had said.

Lila flipped through the address and phone book and wrote down her friends’ numbers because she couldn’t keep them straight anymore. What fun, what fun! Lots of gossip and reminiscing.

Jean said a prayer of thanks for each day her mother held on to the woman she was and brushed back tears for the woman she had been and would be no more. It hadn’t been easy moving her into their home and giving up the job she loved to care for Lila full time. Would she regret it later? No. The only regrets she could imagine were those if she didn’t take this fragile, broken time and cherish every sweet, exasperating moment.

She pushed her sandwich plate away and leaned over toward her mother. “Hey, Lila Belle.”

The face that still held traces of the young bride she’d once been lifted when she heard her name. Soft blue eyes looked at her with the web of smile lines around them. Lila knew those wrinkled cheeks were as soft as a little girl’s. Her sweet mama. She hoped this second childhood was as happy as the first. “I love you,” she said, reaching for Lila’s hand.

A beautiful smile lit up the young-old face. “I love you, too, baby.” Lila squeezed her hand then let it go and picked her pen back up. “When you’re not being a bitch.”

Jean burst out laughing and it wouldn’t stop until tears were rolling down her cheeks and her belly hurt.

HA! IT WORKED!

                           How Can I Help?

That’s a viable question since I’m unpublished. I can tell you what to avoid, what didn’t work and where you might want to go.

If you’ve created a page you blog on regularly, had a poem or article accepted on Facebook or have a website, you’ve been published! You’re not a New York Times bestseller, yet, but you’re on your way. When I submit a bio now, I mention that I’m from Texas, give my web address and say I’ve been published on Facebook and Pinterest. It’s not much but it’s better than no creds at all.

This is where you start, though! Launching your boat in social media is a way to show editors, agents and publishers you know what it takes to get readers and you’re prepared to work for your book.

Unless you’re a trust fund baby you probably don’t have much cash to get that boat. It’s okay. Pinterest is free. Subscribe and they’ll ask you what your interests are. What you choose creates your “boards.” Hundreds of contributions will be shown and each has a stickpin on it. Click the pin and it’s saved to your board. What you’re reading now is the first article I’ve created for Pinterest. If I do it right you can pin it. If not my “say something about this pin” description will lead nowhere and I’ll have to save face by removing it.

This isn’t easy. At least for me. I’m 60 and new things aren’t as quickly grasped. Sometimes what I thought would work, didn’t. I did quite well on Facebook. The Disenchanted Poet’s Society accepted my membership and those dear people have said nice things about my postings. My page about elder care for those with Alzheimer’s/dementia, Their Own Little World, is read by others but I have had only one person contribute. Thank you, Joyce Prejza.

See? By bringing up the names of the sites that I’ve written for, I’ve pointed to my writing. https://uneasywriterblog.wordpress.com is the link to my website. You must be seen. That’s what it’s all about, how to do the hokey pokey.

Proper English is usually required. Save the incomplete sentences for your second book. Bad punctuation and spelling will get you tossed in the trash. I like WPS Writer as my word processor. Libre Office is also a good one. Both are free and both will point to grammar mistakes. I downloaded Grammarly and when I ran it they corrected things like “comma needed here” or “remove blank space” but I noticed many more hadn’t been. Ah, you need the premium version to correct those. Ginger is another program that will pull the black rabbit out of the hat. Just because you ask to download a free program doesn’t mean it is. It might be partially free or just free to download with an investment required to make it work.

I’m attending a free creative writing class at Purdue University online. Also a smart idea is getting your hands on English textbooks and refreshing your communication skills.

Don’t forget hashtags. Read more about them here: https://www.takeflyte.com/hashtags-explained

Finally, when you do submit something be sure you’ve done your research on how to get accepted. Pinterest has loads of advice from those who know. What makes an interesting cover letter, query and bio are covered. I got a ‘regrets email’ telling me to pay attention next time because I used a font other than Times New Roman or Courier New. Always use 12 point. Don’t double space between sentences. That was hard for me to do because that’s now how I was taught in high school typing class.

Be sure to read back copies of the journal or magazine you’re submitting to. They’re usually available online at their website. If you don’t you’ll likely get an email, as I have, that they appreciated the chance to read my work but “it’s not a good fit for our publication at this time.” I was going to send some poems to a British nonprofit magazine of modern poetry before I checked a few of those they’d printed. I thought to myself, ‘What the heck are they talking about?’.  I’m sure they’d have sent them back with a big red C at the top, judging them trite and sappy. Modern poetry doesn’t hold pretty rhymes in high esteem.

Subscribe to Pinterest, get on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. Don’t get so involved in marketing yourself you have no time to write. Download a good word processor and brush up on your grammar. I built my website at WordPress.com for $39 per year and that’s the only money I’ve invested so far. Naturally, you get what you pay for and I’ve found it less frustrating to type on my word processor, copy and paste the blog.

Last thing: don’t use profanity on your public pages. It’s unprofessional and could cost you the chance to hook

an agent or editor. Save it for your second book.

#dcaples, #uneasywriter, #writingadvice, #grammarcorrection, # dcaples7195     

IN THE NAME OF BECKY

 

I’ll never see Paris or Rome

Or have a mansion for my home

But the longer I live it matters less

I go nowhere requiring a designer dress

I can’t end poverty or give the masses what

they need

But I believe in the magnitude of small deeds

You don’t have to be rich or shine like a star

Take care of yourself, love who you are

You may not have legs, you may be old and sick

It’s never too late to make things tick

Don’t ask why God allows hunger or hatred on our streets

Child, you are God’s hands, you are His feet.

We don’t have to reach thousands to make our mark

Push until light cracks the dark

You are precious, worth more than you see

For this is the only one of you there will ever be

People create life but kill with words best left unsaid

That’s why we walk where angels fear to tread

There’s A Jerk Everywhere You Go

A good friend signed me up for Instagram. Almost immediately I had followers. Wow, me! Followers! Click on the little kite-looking icon at the top right and you can instant message other people on the site.

Now. A word of caution. Most of the folks on there are nice people. They’re just posting pictures and information. Having a good time, getting to know each other. If you’re into online dating then it could lead to the love of your life. I’m afraid I might link up with my first ex-husband, so, no thanks.

Beware of those who start complimenting you very quickly or telling you how lonely they are. If they sound foreign while passing themselves off as one of your countrymen, beware. Biggest tip-off of all…hitting you up for money. “Can you do me a little favor? I need an I-Tunes card, baby.” Actual quote from petersmith55556. I replied, “No, I’m not sending you anything. Scam someone else. Better yet, piss off.” He come back with, “Baby why you saying that? It’s ok am gonna ask someone else. I trusted you baby. You hurting my feelings. I never expected this from you.”

He doesn’t know me.

Another just won’t let it go. I have a man and, God knows, I don’t need another. This guy also asked for money until I made it clear he wasn’t getting a dime from me: ericrankin115. He’s supposedly in Syria and wants to get a plane out. When I wouldn’t jump at the chance to send him money for a ticket he now says he just wants love. Sure. And when I love him he’ll likely ask for money again.

Watch out, ya’ll. There’s a con man on every corner these days. And every internet site. They can take in people who consider themselves to be pretty savvy. Listen to your gut feeling. And look for someone closer to home.

It’s All Rachelle Gardner’s Fault.

As I said in my last post, I subscribe to Author’s Publish Magazine. It has a lot of encouraging words for the poor hopeful saps who read the articles and sigh, thinking, These guys made it into print so maybe I can, too. Especially of interest to me are the ones that begin something like, Do This, Don’t Do That. Or 12 Ways To Be Sure No One Will Read Your Query.

I opened one issue and followed threads that began with Jane Friedman and led to Rachelle Gardner.

The title of the article was 13 Ways to Convince a Literary Agent to Represent You. I’d read enough to know it’s better to win a contract with a reputable publishing house than taking the self publishing route. Also made clear was a bumbling naif like me needs an agent to secure said contract. Agents know which dues must be paid. They’ve paid their’s. It’s why they’re writing articles wannabes are reading.

While I read my head’s nodding. Yeah. Boy, am I glad I came across this. Good point. Essentially, she said: No story line can be original but you can make it your own by putting something unique and wholly YOU into the telling. Be aware of what the public is buying in the genre you’ve chosen and how your book will fit in. Be market savvy and prepare the groundwork for your book’s sales. Be serious: writing is a craft, an art. Write a really great book. Be professional and willing to put in some hard hours toward your success.

And then, the thing that caught my attention: Have some social media presence. Anyone can have at least a modicum of fame if they have a following and if you have loyal followers you can most likely sell books.

Join social media sites. Create postings. Blog. Make hashtags. Follow and be followed. Okay. I can do this. I was likely the cause of AOL putting the kibosh to surcharges as a means to connect to their network. EZ Mart beefed up their sign-on security after I filed my taxes on the graveyard shift one night. You bet. I can create a website. I WILL blog.

It was not the single most frustrating exercise of my life but definitely that month. Create a column and when I finished pasting the next one the first has migrated to the bottom of the page. And where the @#% are my pictures? Aggravation notwithstanding, I stuck with it and https://caples250.wixsite.com/dcaples was launched.

And it’s all your fault Ms. Gardner. I was convinced by the incisive guidance of that article. Joining Pinterest was smart. No sooner do I read one thing I’ve saved before my eye is caught by something I didn’t realize I wanted to learn.

You said pique the interest right away. Have a catchy title. I’m willing to bet if you see the title to this blog you’re going to read it. And if you read it you could possibly #follow me. Hope you don’t mind me #following you. I promise not to send flowers or call and hang up. If you’ll agree to be my agent, that is.

Seriously, thank you for the #information.

The Day I Fled From Literary Fame

Since I was in junior high and was challenged by another student to write the dirtiest short story I could I’ve dreamed of being a respected and widely-read author. Translated into fifteen languages, millions of copies sold worldwide.

I won the contest, by the way. Hands down. Somehow the filthy reworking of a paperback porn book my sister and I had found on the side of the road got lost on it’s way back to me. My chance for hometown fame at the tender age of 13 fell flat. A boy shoved my purloined folder under my nose and asked, “Did you write this? ‘The Wild Virgin’?”

“Nope. Not me.”

If I hadn’t run from my first brush with a chance at the Pulitzer Prize you wouldn’t be reading this. My parents would have killed me and I’d already had too many close calls. In my mid-twenties I sat down to an old manual typewriter and hammered out an absolutely awful historical romance. At the time it seemed everything I attempted to write, except for my kid sister’s biology term paper, came out sounding like the racy cousin of a Harlequin.

Never say die. I mulled it over, thought of a fascinating time period, a plot that hadn’t been done to death and characters cut from cloth no swooning heroine or brooding hero had ever dared dress in.

Well into the third draft I laid out my plan one night over a dinner out with my husband. If I quit my job as a domestic engineer (a maid, ya’ll) and devoted my time to finishing the book and finding a publisher it just might take wing. “I feel good about this. You know Ted, my boss, has read thousands of romance novels and she really likes my manuscript. It’s original. No one’s written a plot like this. And if it sells a lot of copies people will recognize my name and my next book will allow us to do something besides work ourselves into an early grave.”

He was looking at me, listening. He knew how much this meant to me. My man wasn’t so insecure that he couldn’t bear having a wife that made more money . If I was in the public eye that would be okay. He’d be right there by my side.

“So, what do you think?” I asked at the conclusion of my pitch. He blinked, swallowed his bite of enchilada and began to talk about something so far from the topic of conversation I’d thought we were having. Even if your audience isn’t listening you know when you’ve gotten your answer.

Twenty odd years and a divorce later there was no reason to not give it another whirl. The nudge came in the form of poetry. Where did that come from? Poetry wasn’t a literary form I’d used to express myself unless assigned by a teacher. But sitting among friends one afternoon a thought came into my head and that was my head was like a tin roof with too many holes in it. An hour later I’d penned a paean to addiction and broken love, my yearning to chuck this crazy life and follow the road to the departed custodian of all I’d come to know of myself. It was just a part of the worst year of my life.

I survived. Yes, I believe people have actually been killed by their broken heart but mine wasn’t the death of me. Over the next few years a sentence would spring to life in my imagination and the rest would pour out. The ones that finish themselves in fifteen minutes or so feel like the best I’ve put on paper.

What came next was a short story. It’s said that an unproven writer can cast his or her bread upon the waters in this manner. Not much money in it and you get your name on the contents page inside a magazine rather than 40 point type on the front of a book on the newsstand. But so what, right? Stephen King and Dean Koontz did, too, and they ended up okay.

I returned to the unfinished romance novel I started so long ago.

What the hell. It was closer to being completed than anything new I might have come up with. Then something new pestered me until I started typing just to shut it up. Do you do that as well? Maybe you have two or three publication wannabees in your desk. That’s normal, I’m told. It’s also normal to wonder if anyone will ever read what you’ve created Our stories are like children and we hold their little hands and pray they won’t be the outsider on the playground, friendless and passed over when sides are chosen for the game.

And if I never become a mediocre seller, much less Pulitzer material? I’ve lived long enough, failed enough, been wrong enough and broke enough that it won’t kill me. It’s almost been enough to entertain my friends and hear the members of Facebook’s group The Disenchanted Poet’s Society tell me how much they like my posts. The praise of friends is tempered with love and peppered with diplomacy but they seem to mean it when they say they like what I’ve written. I choose to believe them. Who knows? I might actually sit down and give life to the XXX screenplay my adolescent self started four years before she was no longer a wild virgin.

All I can do is go for it. My whole life I’ve swam the middle waters. I’m hardly an apex predator. What I am is dogged and thick-skinned. Dr. Seuss was on the verge of giving up writing when he at last heard “We’re going to put you in print.” It took over a hundred submissions before Chicken Soup For the Soul was optioned.

Besides, I’ve read some books that made me think ‘If they printed this book surely they;ll print mine’. How can they not?

Chin up. Go buy another book of stamps.

Let Me Explain

The line at the top of my page is part of a quiz called How Ladylike Are You? I feel I should warn you that I occasionally stray into the adults only realm. Though I’m not as crude as I once was I failed my own quiz miserably. The lower the score the less butter will melt in your mouth. How about you? Ready?

First, give your mama this quiz. If she scores over 10 points go ahead and award yourself 5 because the apple don’t fall far from the tree Sandra Dee.

1. Do you smoke?

a. Yuck, no 0 pts.

b. I used to 1 pt.

c. Like a train 2 pts.

2. Do you drink liquor?

a. Never! 0 pts.

b. On certain holidays 1 pt.

c. Maybe one eow 2 pts.

d. When do I not? 3 pts.

3. Can you fold fitted sheets?

a. No, I wad ’em up 3 pts.

b. You must not have a mama 0 pts.

4. Have you ever blown a snot rocket?

a. What’s that? 0 pts.

b. Yeah, but no one saw me 3 pts.

c. I showed my son how to 5 pts.

(If you wiped your nose on your sleeve afterward, 3 more points.

Shame on you!)

5. Ever been arrested?

a. Most certainly not 0 pts.

b. Hell, no! 1 pt.

c. Please don’t conduct a background check on me 5 pts.

6. The man you’ve dated for the past month invites you to his

house and puts on a porn movie. You:

a. Leave and never speak to him again 0 pts.

b. Tell him you’re uncomfortable with it 1 pt.

c. Ask if you can pick out the next one 5 pts.

d. Kneel and bob 10 pts.

Scoring: 0: Get outta here, Miss Perfect

1-11: Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee!

12-20: Just don’t tell your pastor

21-30: Liar. You’ve been arrested

30-40: Maybe you should check your math

41: Yeah, me too