Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

We have Groucho Marx to thank for this witty line. It pops into my head every time I think about how time flies.

Most of my life I’ve considered time, not money, to be my most valuable resource. Maybe I should have put it second to love, or joy, but if I’m honest with myself, I didn’t. Maybe I always thought I was going to die young. Lucky for me, I’m getting a little too old to do that ….

If you cherish your minutes like I do, you tend to be busy, focused and impatient. Friends marvel at how much you get done. They also wish you’d learn to relax more.

This last year has been more intense than most, as I seized the day, the week, and the months to re-release new versions of my six novels.  I was often up at dawn (not my normal), driven to get through one more chapter. I had to make these perfect. I had to get them done.

Then, I did. And, I was exhausted.

I had expected to finish a month sooner, and had scheduled some travel to unwind after my big push. Instead, I ended up rushing off on my trip, finally catching my breath on a five-hour cross country flight that was running over three hours late. Sort of like me. I woke up somewhere on the Pacific coast and thought now what?

Now what, indeed. I ate lunch at the beach. Put my feet in the ocean. Went to a party, saw a live show and a movie, and went wine tasting. I even tried my hand at some virtual reality game involving light sabers and music.

There was pizza and french fries for dinner, lots of ice cream, and plenty of wine. Sometimes that wine was drunk in the middle of the day.

I relaxed. I enjoyed myself. I had fun.

Wow.

Should I have wasted all that time?? You bet. You see, time flies like an arrow. Best use some of it to recharge your batteries and enjoy this wonderful gift of getting to exist. As the fruit flies will tell you, there’s no reason part of it shouldn’t be fun.

Warm-up Exercise: Your Life in One Page

I don’t write poetry often, and there’s a good reason. It’s not my gift. But I’m tackling my 165,000 word sixth novel with the goal of slimming it down to a less prosy 125,000. I really want to do this. I decided a warm up exercise was in order.

I’ll never know quite how I got the idea of writing a one page poem that managed to encapsulate my life story, but it’s where I landed. Two hours later, I had this. Turns out it takes a LONG time to say things in a few words.

I’m not considering switching careers and becoming a poet, but I am pleased with the result, for me. Plus, my big project is down to 147,000 already and its getting easier all the time.

Happy When

I’ll be so happy when I get out of my parents house and can do whatever I want. I’ll stay out late. Not have to tell anyone where I am.

I’ll be happy once I’m out of college. These papers and tests are killing me. A few more months. I’ll have a job and money to do whatever I want. Then I’ll be happy.

I’ll be happy once I meet someone. You know. The one. He’ll hold me and love me. We’ll have fun together. How can you be happy alone?

I’ll be happy once this project at work is done. Once I get a raise. Once my boss leaves town. I’ll be happy if I just get a window office. How can you be happy without sunshine?

I’ll be happy once the baby comes. I want my body back. I’ll be happy once he talks. Is out of diapers. How can anyone be happy changing twelve diapers a day.

I’ll be happy if this second pregnancy goes well. If this third one does. Once my husband gets that vasectomy. Once he buys me flowers again.

I’ll be happy when these kids are done with sports. Every Saturday. I just want to sleep in. Read a book. I love them but, do other mom’s find time to enjoy themselves? How?

I’ll be happy once the house is built. Our dream home. Everything has cost so much.  I’ll be happy once we get back on track financially. Once it’s spring. Once it’s summer. Once we go on vacation. Once we get home.

I’ll be happy if dad recovers. If mom lives through this. If my son gets into that college. If my daughter gets that job. If the package I ordered comes in time. If it doesn’t rain. If it does.

I sit on my porch and remember my career. Think of my children; busy lives far away. My husband, inside watching TV. Too much of it these days, but he’s here. Still loves me.

What now, I ask? What will make me happy? If one of the kids calls? If the garden grows? If he gets up off the couch and kisses me? If the sun shines?

A little voice inside speaks. Silly girl. You are happy. You have been all along.

 

The Hope Keeps Coming

This past March I was happy to find a blog by a writer named Cathryn Wellner, who had  set out to find 1001 reasons to be hopeful. I quickly got addicted to her daily discoveries of people who left her with optimism about humanity, and I wrote about her here.  The problem was that she had decided to find exactly 1001 reasons to be hopeful and she was at number 973 and going. Why hadn’t I stumbled upon this lady sooner? She picked the number 1001 because “that’s how many nights it took Scheherazade to soften the heart of the king” but it meant that I only had 28 more doses of hope coming to my inbox.foundation 4

Day 1001 brought a nice surprise. Her uplifting event of the day was how many people had written her and asked her to please keep going. She admitted that the daily schedule was hard to meet but she would now publish a weekly dollop of hope. True to her word, reason 1006 — a wonderful story of a elderly woman who refused to sell her house to developers in Seattle and ultimately became friends with them — is in my inbox right next to reason 1005 — the story of a man traveling the world with a piano in the back of his pick-up truck.  I’ve kept both stories there because I particularly like them and wanted to reread them once or twice before I recycled the electrons. Her ongoing compilation is called “This Gives Me Hope” and it will have you laughing, crying and feeling better about life on this planet. I promise.

I like the poster above, shared by the Facebook page of Foundation for A Better Life and I don’t dispute what it says. However, it is easier to find that sunshine to bring when you take in a weekly dose of  hope.

 

Try not to care about reviews? Yeah, right …..

Jeffrey KeenI’ve read a lot of discussion lately about how reviews are meant for other readers, not for the writer of the work that is being reviewed. I understand the point, of course, but think that almost anyone who pours their heart and soul out for months (or years) into a book ends up craving some feedback. Sales only provide a cold, dry number, and if you’re self-published like I am, it will seldom be an encouraging one.  Friends and family can and will give opinions, but of course they are biased and usually they aren’t part of the target audience anyway.

A writer wants to know what total strangers, ones who like the kinds of books she writes, think about her book. So yes, reviews matter to a writer, whether they should or not.  I imagine they must mean as much to an actor, or a musician or anyone who puts themselves out there to entertain and amuse the world, and there is no way around that. Once a books has hundreds of reviews, I suppose that individual ones matter less. I hope some day to find out.

One knows that one shouldn’t respond to any review personally no matter how badly one wants to, and no matter how much the review has made your spirits soar or forced your mood into a deep abyss. I’ve been doing a virtual book tour with Reading Addiction Blog Tours these past few weeks and four reviews have been posted so far.

The first, on A Life Through Books, appeared on April 22nd and it begins with “This novel was quite surprising in the fact that it was much deeper than I was expecting from a Science Fiction novel. We are giving everything we love from a good Sci-Fi novel as well as focus on the deeper family/drama aspects of life.” Talk about a reason to jump for joy. “Yes, yes” I wanted to shout. “You got it. You understand.” But of course I didn’t shout anything. I try to be a well-behaved writer.

April 30 A Shelf Full of Books published a review that said “Z Squared is a multi-faceted novel not only about a teacher with the ability to manipulate the speed of time, but about the mystery of the treasure related to a Mayan artifact and racism with overtones of the Klu Klux Klan. There was definitely more to this novel than the synopsis implied.” Another reader who got it. I’m squirming in my chair now, but I’m still not saying anything.

May 1 Pure Jonel reviewed z2. She only gave it three stars (sigh) but her words were so positive that I hardly cared. Her review begins “What a unique story. It took me a bit to warm up to the story, but once I did I was hooked.” I’m so glad that she stuck it out!

Then yesterday Mommasez reviewed it and she said “Being interactive was the first highlight of this book. The second was that the story was so well-written and entertaining.” Okay at this point I have to do something. This is so exciting for me. So I figure one little blog post here, mentioning how happy these reviews make me, is surely within the bound of good taste.

(Thanks to writer Jeffrey Keen on Facebook for sharing the image above.)

Meet hope

hippiepeace7I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s blogs lately, thinking that it’s good to look up once in awhile and see what is going on around you. Amidst the silly, the funny and the introspective, one finds the occasional post that just tears at the heart. I reposted one such story yesterday on my x0 blog. It was about the children of Syria and the atrocities so many of them have been forced to endure.

We can’t fix much as individuals, but we also shouldn’t run away from the knowledge that something needs fixing. I think that it is important to confront the the pain in this world, and to use the information as a call to whatever action we can take.

On the other hand, it can be easy to loose sight of the fact that there is much that is good in the world. It is even less common, I think, to find the blog that fills one with optimism. Luckily I have stumbled on a great one. A writer named Cathryn Wellner has set out to find 1001 reasons to be optimistic and as of today she is at number 973 and going. She picked the number 1001 because “that’s how many nights it took Scheherazade to soften the heart of the king” and she invites readers to share their own stories of people, places, photographs, and events that have given them hope. Her compilation is called “This Gives Me Hope” and it will have you laughing, crying and feeling better about life on this planet. I promise. You can check out her Facebook page too.

While you’re on Facebook, drop by the Hippie Peace Freaks page and give them a like for the great image shown above. They are another bright spot.

What about the fact that there are folks out there posting such positive messages? This gives me hope, too.