Master of my own universe

These days, I’ve been actively trying to take control of my own happiness rather than relying on others, circumstance, luck, or fate to bring it to me. This post outlines two recent instances where I took action to be the master of my own universe. In this blog post, I am publicly giving myself a pat on the back and saying, “Go Meri!”

After spending time with my writer friends, I’m always super motivated to improve the quality of my writing and try new things for marketing. I also feel so understood by my author buddies because they share so many of my dreams and frustrations, and if they don’t have the answers to my questions, it’s usually because they are seeking them as well. Being united in cluelessness is pretty bonding. My friendships with some of these people go beyond our shared writer identities. I’ve gotten to know and love them as individuals, which only adds to the positive effect they have on my life. Unfortunately, most of these friends do not live close enough for me to see them with frequency, and we are limited to communication mostly by email and social media. Although I can’t simply clone the heart of these people in my hometown, I’ve been wishing I could at least find a group of published authors in the city who would want to meet in person monthly and dish about writing, publishing, marketing etc. There are plenty of groups out there for writers in general and still more for people looking for feedback in their writing, but I’d never seen a club for published authors who simply want to talk shop over a drink, coffee, snack etc. Rather than continue to wait for someone else to organize such a group, I took matters into my own hands and I started one myself. Announced a week ago, the group already has close to 100 members, although meetings will be limited to fewer people, about 10-20. I hope this group yields the comradery I’m seeking, but if the result doesn’t meet my highest expectations, I’m still proud of myself for taking the initiative rather than leaving it in someone else’s hands.

I’ve also been trying to think outside of the box with respect to marketing my novels and my own author brand beyond the “usual.” Of course, I post blogs on my own website and am active on social media, but aside from that and the occasional sales of my individual books, I haven’t done much lately to really put myself out there. Because I have a full-time job as a paralegal, I prefer to spend my “writing” time working on my novels or my blogs. I rarely write guest posts for other authors unless the other author has a large following. It’s nothing personal to the author, but I really need to balance my marketing efforts with the time I have available and the likelihood that the results will be worth the time spent. But how does one find third party websites with the potential to reach a large, relevant audience? It would be wonderful if someone like Sophie Kinsella or Jennifer Weiner would invite me to post on her blog, or if Glamour or Cosmopolitan magazines came calling, but it’s highly improbable. But seeking out publications I think would appeal to my target reader and pitching my writing to them is something I can do. And so I did. I was told the pitch letter is as important as the article itself because if the person who reads the pitch is not sufficiently intrigued, they won’t ask to see the article. In my efforts to take matters into my own hands, I came up with an idea for an article, drafted a pitch letter (with the help of an author friend with more experience) and wrote the article (also with my friend’s keen eye). Thankfully, the pitch did its job by piquing the editor’s interest enough to ask to the see the article and I’m thrilled to say that my first ever article for a magazine “5 Tips for Making a First Impression inspired by The Bachelor” was published today in the Happy Ever After column of USA Today. You can read it here.

There is so much in this world that we cannot control, but some things in life do require us to make the first move in order to get anywhere and, to the extent possible, I want to continue to be the master of my own universe, both professionally and personally.

Bachelor Pad Jamie/Chris

Does anyone else watch Bachelor Pad? It’s so ridiculous and most of the time I am only half watching while doing other things, like writing or switching the channel to the Olympics or baseball. The participants have the biggest egos ever and I really can’t stand any of them. Almost none of them have the same personality they had while contestants on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette (not that they were much better on those shows) and, yes, I know it’s scripted. But still. Anyway, Jamie has a crush on Chris and they’ve made out a few times. As far as I know, that’s all they’ve done but I’m probably being naive to assume they haven’t had sex just because it hasn’t been broadcast. Chris is playing both sides of the fence – he knows that Blakely is a good competitor and he wants to remain her teammate because of it (and probably also because she’s a bit psycho) but he’s not interested in her on a romantic level. He assures Blakely that he’s loyal to her but he also wants to score with the ladies. Initially, he seemed to like Jamie – when they were just flirting and shared a mutual crush. But Jamie made the mistake that so many of us women do and assumed that just because he showed some interest in her, he owed her a relationship and just because they made out, he had deep feelings. A kiss does not equal a relationship and an initial spark of chemistry does not come with the promise of a true emotional connection. And beyond that, even if Chris did like her at first, he might have changed his mind. It happens in the real life dating world so why wouldn’t it happen on Bachelor Pad? Just as a women’s prerogative is to change her mind, a man can do it as well. And regardless of his initial intentions, Chris has now made it clear that he’s no longer interested in her. He told her it wasn’t her, “it’s me” and she responded by accusing him of never initiating, never pursuing her, making her do all the work, blah, blah, blah. Duh, Jamie – he just told you he wasn’t interested. If a guy is not interested, he is not going to initiate or pursue. It’s totally normal to feel bad and maybe even shed a few self-pity tears but don’t let him (or the rest of the world) see it.  You’re a cute girl – hold your head up high, stand up straight, stick your huge boobs in the air and move on. Game over. Except that the coming attractions for next week show them hooking up again! Chris rejected her on national television and she’s coming back for more. My stomach cringes in agony as I imagine Jamie explaining away or simply shrugging off Chris’s previous rejection and playing right into his hands. STOP IT!!

OK, I’ll admit that I’ve given some guys more chances than they deserved in my past due to wishful thinking on my part and some denial of reality but it wasn’t on television in front of millions of people and I felt beyond stupid after the fact. I’ve also made the mistake of assuming that some expressions of interest would ultimately morph into something more, like dating or a relationship. And I felt completely rejected when the guy seemingly lost interest and started dating someone else. It hurt, but even then I knew I had no hold on the guy, no basis to yell at him or even confront him about it because he didn’t owe me anything. All he did was express interest but he was never mine to lose. It’s not easy to get over someone you feel a connection with, especially when he dangles the goods in your face and then pulls them away without warning. When someone shows no interest at all, it’s much easier to accept than when something seems to start and then never takes off. It makes you wonder “what did I do wrong?” but the danger there is you start to give the guy more credit than he probably deserves, you start to romanticize what could have been, and you lose complete sight of reality. I’ve been there. Jamie is making so much of this “relationship” with Chris when in truth, all they shared was a casual hook up. She doesn’t even know him, other than that he looks amazing with his shirt off. He blows hot and cold with her. She saw him with another woman in his bed and most importantly, he already rejected her. He’s not worth her emotions. I really hope she sees him for what he is before she wastes even more time and makes an even bigger fool of herself on television but if I was a betting woman, my money would, sadly, be on Chris.

I still have to ask myself – why do I watch this show???