When Cupid Needs a Little Nudge …

One autumn morning the library door opened, and I looked up from my work at the circulation desk to greet a dark-haired, dark-eyed man. He gave me a quick smile and walked past, followed by a woman and teenage boy.

Whoa! He’s good-lookin’! I thought. But obviously he had a wife and son. Besides, after an extremely unhappy five-year marriage in which I’d endured a lifetime’s supply of sorrow and humiliation, I wanted nothing more to do with men or romance.

Ever.

I worked in a small public library in a rural area, went to the university campus at night in pursuit of my degree, and wrote during free hours – which weren’t many. I had plenty to keep me busy and was not in the market for romance. But sometimes ….

The handsome stranger returned to the library frequently, occasionally with the woman and boy, at times alone. He was always courteous, well-spoken, and had a killer smile. We usually chatted a bit at the desk as he checked out or returned books.

A handsome, intelligent, articulate man with genteel manners who loved to read. Be still, my heart.

I found myself thinking (more than once), If only he wasn’t married ….

That winter, our area received a storm with plenty of ice and snow. The town pretty much shut down, but libraries are troopers. A library will be the last man standing on a field of battle. In spite of the ugly weather, we were open.

The woman and her son walked in. I greeted them, we chatted a moment, then she said, “I hope my brother can get down the hill at our place soon and pick us up. Otherwise my son and I are stuck in town for a while.”

My brother. MY BROTHER? She was his sister, not his wife? The boy was his nephew, not his son?

My heart leaped.  Then I remembered: “You do not want another romance. Ever.”

I ignored this reminder. The next time he came into the library, I greeted him with a big, warm smile and held his gaze. He tipped his head courteously at me, as he always did, said hello, and went about his business.

Hmmm.

When he brought his books to check-out, I talked to him longer than I usually did. I smiled some more, right into those brown eyes.

In the following days, I put on just a bit more mascara, made sure my lipstick was fresh, my hair neatly combed, and dabbed on perfume – just in case he came in. And if he did, I made sure I reshelved books near where he browsed. I engaged him in conversation. We talked at length about books, and different authors. We talked about movies. We talked about the town. He told me he and his sister had recently moved into our area. We talked about where he came from and why they’d moved across the country.

I practically twirled my hair and batted my eyelashes. He didn’t seem to notice. I kept waiting for him to ask me out, because I was sending signals as strongly as I dared.

What’s wrong with me? I wondered. Maybe he didn’t like redheads. Maybe he didn’t like blue eyes. Maybe he simply wasn’t attracted. He certainly did not seem shy, so maybe he had a girlfriend. Maybe he was gay.

Again I reminded myself I wanted no more romance in my life, ever.

I told myself to shut up and be more proactive. What’s the old saying, “If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain”?

Our library was so small that only one of us worked on Saturdays, and we always closed for the weekend at noon. I formulated a plan.

The next Saturday he came to the library, he settled at one of public computers to get on the internet. I watched the clock. At noon, I made sure everyone else was out of the library, and I locked the door. He was still at the computer, reading an article.

“The library is closed now, but go ahead and finish your article,” I said, as sweet as apple pie. “I’ll unlock the door for you as soon as you’re ready to go.”

So while I did the end of the day tallies and paperwork, made sure the library was tidy, and turned off most of the lights, he finished his reading. The minute he was done, I sat down in a nearby chair, and we talked. We talked and talked and talked. The more I visited with this man, the more I liked him. An hour, maybe two, passed.

“Well, my sister is going to wonder where I am,” he said finally, and started to get up.

It’s now or never, I told myself.

I took a deep breath, looked him in the eyes and said, “Would you like to go out some time?”

He stared at me, a deer caught in the headlights. My heart plummeted.

You silly, silly woman. You’ve made a complete fool of yourself. You’ve embarrassed him, and you’ll never see him in the library again. Proactive, indeed. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Then he blinked, a big smile broke out across his face, and he said, “Sure!”

My heart renewed itself. I grinned like a monkey, and we made arrangements to go to a nearby city for a movie and dinner the following Saturday evening.

He explained later that he’d not been put off by me asking him out. He liked me, and thought I was “cute.” In fact, according to him, that “deer in the headlights” look was because he’d never realized I wanted to go out with him.

“If I’d known,” he said, “I would have asked you out a long time ago!”

How clueless could that poor man be when I’d all but chased him all over the library, shrieking, “I think you’re hot, let’s get together!”

At any rate, the following Saturday night we had a nice dinner, saw Shakespeare in Love, went back to my house, and … to this day, he has yet to go home, back to his sister’s place. In fact, this year, our first date will have lasted seventeen years.

brett and I

Sometimes Cupid needs more than just a little nudge. He needs a strong, determined shove.

Mae B Continues to Sabotage Herself

Well, I’m ticked off, and I don’t care who knows it. I just wasted a perfectly good weekend and $50.00 to attend a writer’s conference where Mr. Hot-Shot Editor from Major Publishing Company was the featured speaker.

For two long, dreary hours, I listened to that man drone on about what makes a good story, what his company is looking for and the way he expects a manuscript to look when he receives it. He said something about queries and synopses and I’m not sure what all, because I finally just tuned him out. Well, I ask you. When you have a masterpiece of fiction and you absolutely know it will be the biggest thing since Harry Potter, why must you listen to all those rules?

I waited on pins and needles for that scrawny five-minute pitch session I was scheduled for in the afternoon. Why, what do they think I am, a Reader’s Digest Condensed writer? It takes at least thirty minute to tell what my book is about. And he had the nerve to tell me that I should be able to describe it in one or two sentences. I’m telling you, that man is out of his mind.

When I told him I hadn’t actually written the book yet, he said he wasn’t interested. Even when I told him, in a very firm loud voice, that my novel was special, unique and groundbreaking, he insisted he couldn’t offer me a contract.

I’m so mad I could bite a nail in two. Someday I’ll write that masterpiece, then he’ll be sorry he tried to impose his rules on me.

Mae B Gets Down to Work. Or Does She?

It’s time to work on my book. I’m so excited.

First, though, I can’t stand to have my cereal bowl sitting in the sink, so I’ll clean the kitchen and take out the trash. I need to return my library books, and while I’m there, I’ll pick up another about writing. I eat those things up!

But before I do any of that, I’ll grab a few minutes of the Today Show, and maybe watch The People’s Court.

While I’m here in my recliner, I may as well watch The Price is Right and The Young and the Restless. (I love that soap, don’t you?) And of course, I can’t miss the hour of back-to-back I Love Lucy reruns. She’s my all-time favorite. I bet I’ve seen every episode twenty times or more.

It’s nearly noon, so I’ll catch the news as I eat lunch. After all, a writer should be up on current events.

Jeopardy! comes on right after the news, so I’ll take just another thirty minutes out of my busy day and watch it. One thing is sure: I’m smarter than most of those contestants. If I lived in New York City, they’d put me on that show in a heartbeat. Once my book is published, I know I’ll be on Celebrity Jeopardy!. Why, the producers will  pay me for being there and even pay for my plane ticket.

I should get down to writing, but I need to catch up on my email first. Can’t have my friends think I’m too busy for them. And I’ll check Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates, then play some Solitaire to relax.

Gee, now I’m so relaxed I need a nap. Just a short one.

Well, it takes me a while to wake up from a nap. I ought to work on my story, but my brain doesn’t work very well when it’s fuzzy from sleep. Besides, in an hour it’ll be time for dinner.

Right now Judge Judy is on, and after that, reruns of Law and Order. I get some really good story ideas from those shows. Afterward, I probably should catch the news again – see if anything new has happened that will impact my life and my writing.

I can’t believe it’s evening already. My shows come on at seven, so I could probably get in thirty minutes of writing. But I’ll check my email and Facebook once more, hang around Twitter and tweet a little. Have to keep building that platform, you know!

Goodness, it’s bedtime. Guess I’ll wait and get a fresh start tomorrow.

I don’t always sleep well, and I’ll tell you why: I worry that I seem unable to succeed as an author. I am sure I can write as good – better, in fact – than most of those hacks who spin out that trash on the bookstore shelves.

I don’t get it. I want to write. I want to succeed. I’m willing to do whatever it takes.

So…why isn’t it happening!?

The Discovery of Mae B

Years ago, on one of my walks through the ruins, I discovered a tattered attaché case with a broken lock. Inside were many scraps of paper and handwritten pages that were ripped from a notebook. Folded neatly on top lay a wrinkled, stained newspaper article about a woman called Mae B. Apparently she planned to become a world-famous author. I took the attaché case home with me and read every page.

In the coming days I will share with you what might have once been destined for a book of memoirs, or perhaps a blog. Today, they are the scribblings of a mad woman. “Mad” as in angry AND insane. I think you will find them enlightening.

Here’s the newspaper article:

Mae B lives in a gorgeous airy castle on Someday Isle. She raises Wannabes and fusses over them frequently, pinching back their buds so they never produce those pesky blooms that might take on a life of their own. Mae B says her Wannabes will break through their tough shell unless she sighs over them several times a day.

Mae B’s hobby is “all things creative.” She loves to daydream about the novels, stories and poems she plans to write someday. Her favorite reading material is articles and books about writing.

Her office is an ongoing project.

“I won’t sit at my desk to write until my little study is perfect,” she says proudly. She recently repainted it for the fourth time, and is now on her third computer.

“It’s amazing how quickly times passes when you play Spider Solitaire or visit on Facebook and Twitter and look at photos on Pinterest and Instagram. Plus, I need to network and build a platform for readers! The computer gets old before I know it! But, I believe there is a wonderful word processing program on it. I’ll use it for my novel, one of these days.”

Someday Isle is a hypnotic little place, and although millions of people inhabit it, there is always room for more. Mae B loves it, and she tells everyone, “If you come, be prepared to stay. It’s hard to get away once you’ve put down roots!”

December 22, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Let me take you back to the olden days, back in the early 1980s. Personal computers were around back then, but they were quite expensive and few people had one. The internet? Barely even thought of, let alone used.

The following occurred more times than I care to count:

I carefully typed my manuscript (as error-free as possible) on my trusty Sears electric typewriter. I then placed my book in a stationery box along with a cover letter, title page, synopsis, and an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope).  With a rubber band around the box to be sure it held together for the transit to NYC, it went into the toughest padded envelope available . Included with the box was another large, padded envelope, addressed to me, with enough postage attached for return if the book was rejected.  Then I hauled my precious burden to the post office, had it weighed, paid what felt like a year’s salary in postage, blessed the package with good vibes, prayers, and hopes, then sent it on its way. After about six weeks, I would literally stand at the front window about 10 a.m. every day, waiting and watching for the mailman.

Step into the 21st century. I am basically doing the same thing, sans the packaging, the expensive postage, and trip to the post office. I’m anticipating affirmation (or rejection–but we won’t think about that) so I check my email a hundred times a day. What I’d really love is a phone call, but happened to me only once, when I sold my first book. The editor actually called me at 9 o’clock one night to tell me she loved my book, wanted to publish it, and asked if I had anything else to send her. Boy howdy, that was a sleepless night, I tell ya!

At any rate, the jumpy feeling in my gut, the shivers of anticipation, the uneasy dread … those feelings haven’t changed. It’s been a long time since my work has been rejected. If this new series I’ve created is turned down, I have a feeling I will suffer disappointment just as keenly as I did years ago, watching as the mailman brought that battered returned manuscript to my door.

Send some good vibes my way, will you?