As many of you know, I write stuff down and, on occasion, people pay money to purchase said words. When I put my feet firmly on the path toward life as an “author” I could run on three hours sleep thanks to the raw, invigorating adrenaline rush of being able to DO such an amazing thing. To concoct characters, scenes, plot twists, and of course, "naughty bits" that were utterly devoid of the words “purple” and “mushroom shaped.”
It was a total buzz. I sucked at it of course, as all newbies do and I’ve endured a lot of harsh editing sessions, which have gone a long way towards making me slightly less sucky.
The muse struck me at an odd time. I’ll admit it. I was not one of those kids with the spiral notebooks stuffed full of story ideas spilling out of my closet and desk drawers. I was what I considered “the consumer,” not “the producer” of books. I was, and still am, a rabid consumer truth be told. Grandma Wench (a.k.a. “me mum”) taught me to read as a project using Montessori methods, whatever that still means. What it means practically speaking is that I can read in “clumps” of words. I can take in whole sentences somehow—don’t ask me how, Mr. Wench is still amazed/annoyed by it. And as a result I read very fast. Ergo, I consume books at a very high rate.
But I digress.
Recently, I have found myself with a fair bit of time on my hands. I also discover myself doing a fair bit of staring into the nearest available mirror with a dismayed look on my face. The method to the madness that had been my life for nearly seven years dictated the ebb and flow of my days and nights. It was crazy, but it worked. So I thought. But that carefully constructed chaos got upended like a cheap wheelbarrow, leaving me panting on the side of the road, literally hyperventilating at odd times (like in the grocery store), wondering what in the hell I had done (and my startled physician scrambling for his prescription pad, bless his helpful heart).
What I had done was to exchange a sales career in favor of a dream. One I believed in 150%. Hell, 250%. Hell....if you ask me to be honest, I STILL believe in it.
For the past 6 years, I have written books between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Or, sometimes when I’d fall asleep at 10 p.m. that rascally Muse would rouse me at 5 a.m. and we would spend some Quality Time together until 7 a.m. The hours I would spend in the car or coffee shop during Wenchling soccer practice were extremely creative. I had a two-track dream. I was a writer who didn’t call what she did for a salary the “dreaded day job.” I was really lucky.
"This is an awesome opportunity for you!” many of my friends said last month as I gripped whatever alcoholic beverage they’d shove in front of my sniveling face. “Now you can write during the day! You can participate in the final Wenchling’s final days at home! You can stop living burning the candle at both ends! It’s an opportunity. A door closes! A window opens! A hang in there cat poster!"
***at that moment I’d be ready to heave said friend out that open window, but you know, I was emotional. Here's your damn cat poster***
For the last 30 or so days I have been doing what some would call Extreme Introspection (others would call it “navel gazing” but they’re probably the same ones who think the World Cup is a liberal conspiracy to turn normal Americans into cheese-eating, skinny Europeans).
And I have decided that all the Deborah Downer-ism regarding my self worth is just plain wrong. There will always be dreams around to pursue. And for me, nothing worth doing is worth a damn if I don't sweat blood over it, no matter where I decide to direct my creative energy now that I'm in a "one door closes" stage of my career.
I built something, you see. I built myself. I learned about an entirely new industry more or less on my own. I went out of my way on my own dime to know all I could, to write about it, and to meet everyone I could find who had succeeded at it. I made some amazing new friends. I learned how to temper my opinions and tolerate those that I disagreed with. And along the way, I wrote 24 books, got a few of them published and managed to remain married. This is no small feat I assure you.
Yes, I was irreverent at times dare I say shocking but yet amusing.
Yes, I was drawing attention to myself.
But when all you have to start is a personality and a dream, well, you go with ya got. So I did. And I continue to do so. Hate all you want.
I have a lot of people to thank for muddling through this period of my life with me. First of all Mr. Wench, who, by way of his unflagging support interspersed with annoying bossiness, taught me the value of reaching out for something that seems unattainable, while remaining firmly rooted in the reality that "data don't lie." This, above all things, is my live and learn take-away.
During this last 30-day period of tiptoeing-around mom-lest-she-burst-into-tears-yet-again-or-scream-and-throw-her-glass-at-me, my entire family has been amazing. I also need to shout out to Grandma Wench, who not only dragged her friends to every damn event I asked her to, she also stayed steadfastly supportive, providing the bottle of wine I needed at midnight without a single question while Mr. Wench was overseas for his day job.
I won't name any names but the rest of you know who you are.
Having finally admitted I'd lost the joy I once got from the act of reading and writing I can acknowledge that the pressure I put on myself to Be the Bestseller NOW to make up for my apparent failure at Beerwenching drove me to all sorts of strange behavior. (See above: hyperventilating in Busch’s on Main Street when I realized I was standing in their beer section for no real reason.) I now despised something I had once enjoyed. I would sit down to a fresh document, ready to create my way out of my funk and just seethe. I swear smoke came out my damn ears.
And so, by way of this little bit of “personal essaying” (inspired by none other than Michigan’s own Mardi Jo Link, author of the coolest bit of “get over yourself and get on with it” I’ve ever read and who signed my copy at the Ann Arbor Book Fest last weekend. Insert a "squee" here if you are the type.) I am declaring myself “negative pressure free.” At least for a few days.
I am writing for pleasure again. Without an eye towards "the lists" or any of that crap.
I think we can all be accused of starting things only to drop them. I've done it, usually with regards to "diet" or "exercise." But never, ever with regard to a real dream--even when I come to find out that the dream was, at the end of the day, no longer mine to worry about. (aside: "Being a size 6 again" has morphed into the "fantasy" realm. And I like to drink too much to worry about that nonsense anymore.)
I don’t know what my future may bring, but I know I have some viable options. The career I heaved aside so casually beckons. My former colleagues seem to (gasp) want me back. And you know, the books about those naughty Realtors are STILL my best sellers… I detect a new story, perhaps a sexy thriller, set in empty houses around The Deuce, with beer, or more possibly bourbon from a new craft distiller in town since I'm deep into research about such things now anyway. I don’t know…But it sure was cool to hear the words "you should keep writing" in conjunction with "we want you back."
Either way, The Wench Clan is on the verge of a few massive changes (of house) among other things. And I guess that, even though I had to get almost all the way to 50 years old to have such a thing happen to me, I have learned a lot about myself along the way. The most important thing being: I can do anything I put my mind (and my heart, time and 100% effort) to, and I value every god damned second of what I did.
Want to read a bit of what I’ve managed to produce? Check out my AuthorPage on Amazon. I have books set in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Manistee, Traverse City, Las Vegas and (yeah) Istanbul, sometimes around the beer biz, sometimes soccer. There's even one inspired by the Falling Rock Bar in Denver (and the GABF). And while some call them “romance” I call them “relationship novels with unpredictable endings, many times with the sex left in the story, so don't say you weren't warned.” Thanks again for listening, and for propping me up.
Today's playlist....a mix of things....shoot me down if you will, but I am...
and I don't know, Marshall is speaking to me here...probably because I'm pondering a new Black Jack Gentlemen novel and THIS is their warm up tune. OR maybe 'cause I just love me some Eminem 'tude:
P.s. Because many of you claim all I know is "hot man torso" here ya go! hate to disappoint!