Writing…and all those other crazy things you do when you get to be a certain age

Seriously, as I dive head first into, hmm, middle age, I find more and more of my friends have developed what one of them has dubbed “the crazies,” which, according to that friend, is a blessing, as well as a curse. And from what she describes, I think maybe I’ve got a bit of the crazies in me, too. Now I’m not yet using pure olive oil (a girl has to get her fruits and veggies, after all) for moisturizer, but I do have symptoms that lead me to believe things are achangin’.

Irresistable urges. I’ll eat anything that even remotely resembles chocolate. FYI, those chocolate chip doggy biscuits? They won’t do it for ya.

Temper tantrums. I once considered throwing a pickle jar across the kitchen because the shade of lipstick I’d just purchased didn’t go with my new dress. But when I realized I’d be the one cleaning up the aftermath, I instead went into my calm zone. Talk about mood changes.

Rash decisions. Okay, maybe this wasn’t a rash decision, only time will tell, but quitting your job to be a full-time romance novelist may be premature if you’ve never written anything longer than a college term paper.

Then, again, how hard could it be to write a book?

Very.

What I didn’t know about writing, back when I first put pen to paper, could have filled a book the size of my bookshelf. Keeping all those details straight, developing characters, WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW! What?! Okay, so I’m not a world traveler. But I do know some things…like, um, how to do laundry, how to grow flowers, and how to cook (but only if I’m working from a recipe).

Yet, here I am. I’ve got a couple of books out, a couple more ready to go, a couple more first drafts…and I did it all by writing what I know.

Relax your furrowed brows, girlfriends. Writing what you know doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have been there or done that. It simply means that if you’re going to put it in your book, you’d better know what you’re talking about. If you have a pelican in your story, for instance (ahem, as I did in my first book, Good With His Hands), then find out what kind of sound that big ol’ bird makes. And while you’re at it, find out what color his eyes are, too.

That’s right. It’s all about research, ladies. Subscribe to a magazine, pick up a travel guide, read other novels that contain snippets about your subject. Anything that adds little details to your story makes it all the more real for your reader. And guess what? You might even learn enough that you’ll finally win one of those blasted Trivial Pursuit games.

But back to the crazies. My friend, who shall remain nameless, lest she go “crazy” on me, says crazy has taken over her life. She says she was recently on the verge of incinerating a good friend via email. It went something like this: “Dear Former Best Friend, Sending me a birthday card a week late is confusing. Are you early for next year, or do you simply think so little of me that you can’t even get your @$$ to the post office to mail me a card so that it gets here on time? And, furthermore, you only came to my tenth book signing because you happened to be in the neighborhood shopping for shoes at Nordstrom’s fifty percent off sale!

Wait! That wasn’t me she was talking about, was it?! No. I didn’t even go to her tenth book signing. Whew!

Okay, so mayby every now and then I go crazy with a pickle jar, but at least I know not to hit “Send” after I’ve written an email in a moment of heated passion. And if having the crazies is what finally drove me to write romance novels, I hope I continue being crazy. Too, if I suddenly have an urge to buy a new house, refrigerator, or maybe even a new car, I hope it’s something in silver or black, ’cause those colors look really good with my blond hair.

So, tell me, ladies. Have the crazies ever played such a big part in your life that it’s changed who you are…how you live…who you love? If so, I’d like to hear about it…believe me, it helps to get it all out.

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