Today I am back at the library, a different one this time. I forgot to pack my headphones, apparently I am more accustomed to writing with music than without it. Sunday and Monday were busy at work. We were setting up for the holiday season, setting out seasonal merchandise which in my department means cards, small fair trade ornaments, and holiday themed lotions, soaps, shampoos, and the like. Both days I worked with my boss whom I admire and adore. I've written about her before in poems such as work mom, but I feel as if I fail to capture the essence and spirit of who she is in real life despite these attempts.
It was a really good day for several reasons:
1. Last night a friend called me. He had wanted me to review his cover letter, but had to send it off before we had time to chat. He read it to me over the phone, normally I dislike being read to, but in this case I didn't mind. I felt it was particularly well done and told him so, he lacks the traditional credentials the job requires, he doubts he will hear back, he applied in the hopes that it could lead to some connections he lacks currently, but for some reason I am optimistic. I'm not my best late at night, but the call ended well. It was nice to have someone to talk to before I fell asleep.
2. Since I didn't have to work today I was able to sleep for as long as I liked. I've read the Covey book that speaks about planning out your week. I've been better about this lately, but am still in the very beginning stages and frequently fail to follow my plan. Today I didn't have a plan, but I had a list of things in my head that I wanted to get done and I'm pleased to report that I accomplished most of them. I cleaned out my fridge, did the dishes (twice!!), and the last load of laundry is the quilt my daughter used last time she was home.
3. Today I had a long talk with someone I met here. You never know where life is going to take you or who is going to end up being the coach and mentor you need on a chilly November day. It was a very productive conversation, I love to talk on the phone and am happy I have friends who care about my and can see how viewing myself as a victim holds me back. After the call I took a bath and laid down for a while. I ate the rest of my rice dish for supper and was proud of myself for eating three good meals instead of buying expensive snacks at work. It helps to plan and prepare, this is a positive feedback loop and I know that if I keep planning and preparing I will get where I want to go sooner.
4. My book is going well. I took a break from it for a long time, I could write, but the words felt forced and empty. The last time I was at the library I checked out a book called Sextimacy and an audio set of Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers. Since I started going to a different library I've read a series of romance novels written by an author whose work I read as a teenager and younger adult. Even then I knew that these were hardly great literary works, but as a woman I spoke to at the desk remarked, we need fluff in our lives. Whether it was her books, the audio set, time away, several of these factors, or none of them, things are coming together in a new and fresh way that feels exciting.
Typically I work with the characters I have, for this book I created a woman named Polly Parker. I think initially I was unclear about who she was and what her role in the book was going to be. Polly is the oldest of five children, her brother committed suicide last year before her birthday, her next two sisters are a set of fraternal twins, and she has a youngest sister that she feels closer to than her other siblings. We meet Polly on a cold dark night when she drives out to the farm address she has been given. She found a old letter in a book, traced it back to the writer, and hopes to meet him in person so she can ask him for a favor. Polly is disappointed to find that he is not home, and more upset when a deer comes out of the night to dance on top of her sister's car.
I haven't gotten to this part yet, but Polly formerly lived with an elderly woman and worked for her son who is an unscrupulous and unethical money manager. I feel kind of bad about that since the money managers I personally know are not horrible people, but the protagonist needs an antagonist, and perhaps there is hope for redemption at some point in time. I tend to feel bad for the villains in my story, but they are a fact of life so I sprinkle them in when I can. What I like about this version of the book is that it's lighter and less dramatic than previous versions. Polly is given a new job, invited to live with her boss and his wife, and starts a new life that is quite different from the one she had been living where she was at the beck and call of a demanding and frail old woman and caught between her and her son when it came to money they both needed to live.
Polly's first encounter with the owner's son Parker leaves her feeling insecure and foolish. The next morning she meets him in the hall and is critical of his appearance and mannerisms. When Parker complains to his mother she is largely unsympathetic, explaining that she feels badly for Polly who has a tumor on a nerve in her throat, is exhausted from working full time while caring for someone who is not related to her, is in some minor financial trouble, and has a very ill father who was diagnosed with lung cancer. Parker doesn't say anything to his father who offered Polly a job and seems to adore Polly for no reason other than she bears a striking resemblance to his wife who is not Parker's mother. Several chapters later Parker is in the bathroom with his girlfriend. During their time together he tells her he loves her and would marry her, but she throws his offer back in his face and tells him she hates him.
Parker's girlfriend is pregnant, her name is Taylor and she got drunk at a party after Parker showed up with a woman who was much older, very striking, and more worldly than Taylor will ever be. She has never been drunk before, feels wretched, and goes to lie down in an upstairs bedroom. The bed is already inhabited by Parker's cousin, Taylor has known him her entire life and recognizes that since she is plain and unpretty she is safe from seduction. I haven't figured out how these two end up hooking up, perhaps there's nothing more two it than warm bodies in a bed, but she gets pregnant and turns to Parker after her best friend tells her to ask him out. Taylor's plan to be a single mom scares her, she contemplates giving the baby away, and starts asking others what she should do. She gets a lot of advice, but no clarity on the issue. These chapters have yet to be written, but I'm excited that I have a plan for the future.
Meanwhile Polly slams Parker's hand in a car door, breaking it in a manner that will require surgergy. It's an accident, but it just so happens that Parker drove to the building where she used to work, inquired about the job she had, and was offered it at a much higher salary than she had been paid. There is bad blood all around and I haven't got an ending in mind yet, but I've always been carried along by the characters apart from the one time where I wrote the ending and worked backwards from that. I had read a series of tweets that instructed authors to start with the end in mind. Perhaps this works for some, I can see the value in doing it, but for me it wasn't valuable advice. Maybe it's a strategy that works for some and I hope it does for you if you choose to adopt it, however I think I have a style that works for me and plan on sticking to it.
Years ago Jill and Jane's father downloaded books using LibriVox. We listened to Black Beauty on the way to Florida and I had forgotten about it until someone I follow on Twitter retweeted a post that reminded me of the effort. I'm currently listening to The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace B. Wattles, I'm not very far into it so I can't give much a review here, but it's something more educational than pop music, and a welcome distraction from the news and politics. These have their place, but I'm getting more out of audio content than I have in the past and I feel like this is an important step forward. I'm still working on the exercise component. I have a mini trampoline, a foam roller, a wobble disc, a yoga mat, DVD's, and pretty places to walk, but for some reason, lack of discipline I suppose, I don't get out and enjoy the fresh air which is silly when I think about how much better I feel after even a short stroll. Something to aspire to apparently. It's good to have healthy habits and goals that will lead me closer to where I want to go.
Random change of subject; I charge Jill $5 for every trip to or from school. I said I would drive her to and from school for one year, did so, and thought I was done when she turned sixteen since her father had spoken to me about purchasing a vehicle for her once she received her driver's license. That never happened, I explained that I had upheld my end of the bargain and there were quite a few fights and drama about where the girls were going to attend school this semester. Their father didn't want to pay for Jane to attend boarding school and I refused to drive Jill to a school that is out of the district and requires me sitting at work for 30 - 40 minutes because she starts school at 7:20 and I can't punch in before 8:00. Then there is the matter of her eating food she isn't supposed to, I have nothing against charter schools in general, but I was opposed to this school for the sheer inconvenience and expense it caused and cost me.
If I ever contemplate getting married again I will insist that my future partner go to a licensed counselor with me and I will very carefully consider my options. I do not plan on getting married again, but if I do, I want that marriage to last. Jill has a job, but had been very lax about paying me for rides. She had trouble getting up on time to get to school, I told her I didn't care if she was late, that wasn't exactly true, but the consequences of being late to 11th grade classes are less than if she shows up late to her job. I was once responsible for that and offered to apologize to her manager, but in a very adult like fashion she explained that she had already called and explained the situation. This is all prelude to the knock at my door last Friday evening.
I hadn't been expecting anyone, Jill was at the door and I assumed she would be picking up her things. Instead she handed me several twenty dollar bills. I didn't count them until I was upstairs and when I did I was stunned to find that she had given me $200 worth. This was double what I had been expecting. We had discussed how much she owed me and I told her to figure it out and get back to me. Partially because I wasn't exactly sure what the charges should be without going back to my calendar, and partially because I wanted her to have some experience with keeping track of how much she owed someone with whom she had made this type of arrangement. I felt like $100 would be sufficient so I sent her a text asking her about the extra money. She replied that she owed me that amount, every parent has that moment when they are unspeakably proud of their child, this was that moment for me. I have wonderful children and I forgot that I am a part of why they are who they are today.
Would love to write more, but am being informed that the library is closing. All my best,