Happy Endings

"Never complain.  Never explain."

I think it's good advice so I've been trying to follow it.  God knows the first half is easy for me, publicly at least.  For years, it was my job to listen and follow through on complaints of patients and families.  It was rewarding and legitimate work.

It also changed something in me that has taken more than a year to get back.  Or perhaps get around.  You see, that constant negativity gets on you.  And then it gets in you.  And eventually it starts to become you.

Or at least it did for me.

So I don't complain, at least in public.  And I avoid hearing other people complain if I can.

Privately? I'm still working on that.

But the second half is a real struggle.  I'm constantly explaining myself.  Justifying myself.  Apologizing for myself.  That's a residual from the job, where I spent my days saying I was sorry, so sorry.  So very, very sorry.

It became a habit.

Tomas hates it.  He reminds me that it makes me sound weak, unsure, unconfident.  Things he reminds me I am not.

Of course, I apologize.

I don't mean to misrepresent myself, I explain.  And so it has gone.  Explaining, justifying, apologizing.

Needless to say, the second half of that advice has been harder.  Especially when I decided to write a book.

And did I mention that I finished?

I did.  I've been cradling that news for three days.  I knew if I started telling people, I'd start saying that it needed to be edited, proofed.  It's my first book, so it's probably pretty shitty.

Explaining, you see.

And then there's the part about it being a romance.

Now, let me interrupt to say I have two confirmed readers of this blog.  One is my brother, who I love as much as any person or thing in this world or the next.  He helped make me what I am.  He taught me to read.  He embedded words and worlds of books with love.

 I write for many reasons.  One of those is my brother.

So it's naturally difficult for me knowing that I just exploded his rectum.

He hates romances.

And it turns out he's not alone.  But first let's take a moment to recap.

After mom died, I quit my job.  I finished school. I looked for a job, disconsolately. And then I sat down to write.  But I've blogged about all that.  I refer you to those posts.  I mean, feel free to read them.


In the meantime, I would occasionally see past co-workers, past fellow students.  I would update them.  Yes, I quit.  Yes, Mom died.  Yes, I graduated.  No, I wasn't currently searching for a job.

I was writing.

Obviously, people thought I'd had a complete nervous breakdown.

After the initial shock, the gentle pats on the arm, the question would come, it would always come, no matter how dreaded.

"And what are you writing?"

At first, I was naively honest.


And if you've never seen the exact expression someone might have if you were to throw a big bag of shit in their face, then I invite you to try this game at your next dinner party.

No, apparently not everyone likes romance.

But, many do!  And so the explaining began.  It's the highest grossing genre in book sales.  It's surprisingly open to new authors with many publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts.  Writers join a community with support and transparency.  Education is abundant and accessible!  Oh, and I read it!  Yes, I do.

Blah, blah, blah.

Most of the time, the expressions just went from outright revulsion to patronizing condescension.

"I prefer literary fiction."

Well, fuck.

So, I started to become coy.  "I write about love."  That's advice I took from an Iowa Writer's Workshop video on how to write fiction.  You know, it worked.  It shuts down the whole conversation.

Oddly, no one tries to talk you out of writing about love.  Just romance.

In the meantime, I was writing that romance.  And it was hard, much harder than I'd ever imagined it would be.  I suppose, if I'm honest, I was as guilty as the next person thinking it would be easy to write one.  It wasn't.  I doubt it will be any easier selling it.  Or writing the next one.  But that's what I'll be doing.

Because as I finished, I realized something.  I was my own worst detractor. I mean, I'm still not sure how my brother is going to take it. But I figure he has some time to adjust to the idea while he figures out how to get that rectum fixed.

(I love you, Bub.  Forgive me.)

Wait, did I mention I wrote a book?  I wrote a fucking book.

I'm proud of that.  I'm proud of the discipline I had to learn and practice to finish.  It turns out I'm even proud of the fact that it's a romance.

You see, right after I stopped being embarrassed and ashamed, I realized I was the only real obstacle.    What's love but man's greatest emotion?  Those lucky enough are bred and birthed into it.  We can be driven to the greatest highs or plunged into the deepest lows by it. Worse, we can become numbed without it.   We can be redeemed or betrayed by it.

I chose to be healed by it.

It turns out I was the one that needed a happy ending, so I wrote one.  And I think that's really the only explanation I ever needed to give.

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