Idle October

I sent my latest book to three beta readers this weekend after already doing a heavy round of edits with a critique partner. There’s nothing left for me to do right now besides wait—something I’m not very good at.  I asked my beta readers to try to get the book back to me by the end of month, but if I have to wait longer, I will. Honest, thorough, constructive criticism from trusted and unbiased third parties is critical to me for crafting a tight, well-paced, engaging, and sell-able book, so my self-imposed deadline is flexible. With the book temporarily out of my hands, October is kind of open for me, and I’m not one to remain idle for too long. I’m doing a manuscript critique for a new client (learn about my editing services here), I’ll work on my next book, and I suppose I’ll relax.  What? I know. Crazy, right?

I’ve decided to say yes to all social invitations (within reason), when I often think twice to make sure I leave room for writing. I’ll reach out to friends I haven’t seen in a while. I’ll probably give online dating another try, although I truly hate how casual the exercise has become and don’t have high hopes. Does anyone know an available, intelligent, funny, kind, attractive man around 39-53 so I don’t have to join Ok Cupid or Plenty of Fish? Anyone? I didn’t think so.

On a bright note, I’ll be a featured author at Saugatuck Storyfest, a three-day celebration of writing taking place from October 12th-14th, and organized by the Westport Library and the Westport Public Schools. If you’re local and around that Sunday morning, join me at Staples High School for an author breakfast. It’s general admission with no advanced ticketing required. I’ll be joined by authors Jamie Brenner, Marilyn Simon Rothstein, Fiona Davis, Lynda Loigman Cohen and more. We’ll be discussing our writing process, what’s new in our respective genres, authors who’ve inspired us, and what we are reading now. I would love to see you there!

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That’s all for me for today, but I’m also hoping to be more active on the blog this month.

Famous last words

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Weekly (er, Monthly) update

Remember that blog post I wrote a couple months back where I promised to blog much more often? Yes, that one. You’ve probably realized by now that I lied. I really tried, but time (and life) got away from me and a weekly blog post slipped through my fingers like sand from the beach vacation I haven’t taken yet this year.

You might be wondering what’s been keeping me so busy that I reneged on my promise to blog. No? Well, too bad because I’m going to tell you everything anyway! Well, maybe not everything

I spent a week in Denver in mid-July. I stayed at my oldest sister’s house for the first few days. One-on-one time with my big sis was my biggest priority and we accomplished it. As a family, we day-tripped to Red Rocks Arena. The altitude is no joke. I run approximately twenty miles a week and I was breathless after only a few steps! I went on a mini-hike with my sister and youngest niece. And my sister was shocked to learn I’d never seen the Ocean’s series, so we watched Ocean’s 11 and Oceans 12 in one sitting. A moment of silence for George Clooney. I also managed to write at least 1000 words of my new novel from her back porch while the rest of the family was at work/camp. Since I wasn’t expecting to write at all, it was a win!

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Sisters 1 and 3 at Red Rock. (There are three of us)

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Is this beautiful or what?

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A rare solo photo

After three days with the fam, I headed downtown for the Romance Writers of America Conference (RWA). It was the first time I’ve attended the conference and I was a hot ball of nerves! But I’m so glad I went! I reunited with online author friends I hadn’t seen in person in years (or ever), attended fabulous sessions on craft and marketing, and met with industry professionals, including agents and editors. One of my favorite sessions was The Writer’s Guide to Getting it All Done. Balancing my writing career with a full-time job and a personal life is a challenge, and the speaker, Sarra Cannon, provided so many amazing tips on how to prioritize tasks based on your ultimate writing goals. I’d never really visualized my dream writing career, and doing so helped me figure out what activities to focus on or toss aside depending on whether they would bring me closer to accomplishing my goal. I’m also a fan of Sarra’s young adult series, The Shadow Demons. I picked up the first one when it was free on Amazon and got so sucked in that I read the entire series!

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Dinner with my fellow authors from Chick Lit Chat

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From left to right, Kathryn Biel, Melissa Baldwin, Becky Monson, Stacey Wiedower, Kate O’Keefe, and me 🙂

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The gang from Chick Lit Chat again.

One of the highlights of the conference was meeting my writing idol, Kristan Higgins. She was moderating an early (very early…) writing sprint with another one of my faves, Tawna Fenske, and I couldn’t resist having them both in the same room at the same time! After the sprint, and approximately three hundred new words later, I summoned the courage to introduce myself to Kristan. I told her she’s not only one of my favorite authors, but she inspires me to be better. It’s true. I purposely read a Kristan Higgins’ book when I need a swift kick in the butt to up the humor, conflict, and swoon-worthy moments in my own work-in-progress. She seemed genuinely touched by the comment and hugged me. Kristan Higgins HUGGED me!!!

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That’s also my author friend (and amazing RWA roommie), Stacey Wiedower!

I returned from the trip incredibly motivated and anxious to continue working on my new book. It’s a romantic comedy for fans of Sally Thorne and (you guessed it) Kristan Higgins.  Hopefully, fans of Meredith Schorr will like it, too! That’s all I’m going to say about it right now…

I’ve also been busy with the day job, but nobody wants to hear about that!

Now that I’ve caught you up, it’s time to get my butt back in the seat…of my new writing desk. Check it out!

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Until next time (hopefully next week, but no promises)

XOXO

Come on, get happy

Back in the olden days, like 2015, I wrote a blog post almost every week. Then my life—my publishing life—became too chaotic to maintain that frequency. I was busy writing, editing, promoting, and releasing—wash, rinse, and repeat times seven—and blogging took a back seat.

For the first time in a while, I don’t have any writing deadlines, aside from the ones I self-impose. I’m busy writing my ninth book, but for now, that’s all I’m doing with it. I miss blogging, and so I’m focused on doing it more often—much more often. Not so frequently that you’ll see my name show up in your feeds and groan, “Not her again,” but enough that when a new post is sent to your email, you won’t think, “Meredith Schorr?” Who the bleep is Meredith Schorr?

Today, I wanted to talk happiness and what it means to be happy. I have many hopes and dreams, some of which will come true and others that won’t, but all I truly want is to be happy——not ten years from now, but today and in this moment. So, what makes me happy?

Feeling loved, whether in a romantic, platonic, maternal, or other type of way. I’m at my best when I’m with someone who 100% adores, accepts, and appreciates me for who I am. (Or at least 95%.)

Loving others. There are many people in this world who have filled my heart with loving feelings. Individuals for whom I wish so much good fortune, and whose needs I’d easily and eagerly put ahead of my own. The ability to love others is something we often take for granted, but we shouldn’t.

Waking up in the morning (or going to sleep at night) with something to look forward to.

Waking up in the morning (or going to sleep at night) with nothing to dread or stress over.

Looking in the mirror and feeling pretty. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my reflection and I appear tired and frumpy, my hair frizzy from a rainy day or high percentage of humidity. Maybe I’m sporting a PMS zit on my forehead or my jeans do nothing for my butt. Sometimes, however (and not only when I’ve been drinking), my skin is glowing, my hair is smooth, my smile is bright, my legs are slim and toned, and I look…wait for it…happy!

Writing, especially when the ideas (and words) are flowing.

Catching up with a really good friend face-to-face.

Laughing because something is undeniably hilarious.

Hugging my mom.

When my nieces and nephews refer to me as, “Aunt Meri.”

Great reviews of my novels, or when someone gives a shout-out of one (or all) of my books on social media.

A sweaty workout complete with inspiring and uplifting music

When my late best friend, Alan, visits me in my dreams (he does!) or otherwise sends me signs that he’s still with me.

When my stomach feels almost as normal as it did before I was inflicted with IBS last summer.

Feeling understood, reassured, and validated. Perhaps we’re not supposed to seek these things from outside sources, but I do, and it makes me happy when someone listens to what I say, hears me, says she understands, and agrees with me. (I’m looking at you the most, Sammy!)

Going to bed on Friday night knowing I don’t have work the next day.

I could go on, and that, too, makes me happy. But what about you? What makes you happy on a daily basis? Whatever it is, I wish you oodles of it!

New Year’s Resolutions—2018

Happy New Year’s Eve! It’s been a couple years since I’ve made official New Year’s Resolutions, but I’m inspired to make some goals for the next 365 days. These are goals I hope to accomplish and principles I’ll aspire to abide by, but no pressure and no punishment for failure will be administered.

I hope to complete one novel and make significant progress on another (at minimum). I also want to continue to hone my craft so that each book is better than the last.

I plan to experiment more with cooking. Stomach issues have basically changed my life and made it really frustrating for me to go out to eat—one of my favorite pastimes. I aim to continue to learn more about what ingredients and combinations of food will/won’t trigger discomfort so that eating in restaurants will be fun again. I’d also like to broaden my menu at home. I’ve never enjoyed cooking—eating is much more my style—but I’m proud of how far I’ve come already. Maybe I’ll even host a dinner party in 2018 (but probably not…)

I will attend as many “writerly” events as possible, whether it be book signings, author panels, writers’ conferences, happy hours, etc. I enjoy spending time with other writers so much, so why not do it as often as possible? First up, my annual trip to California with my writing tribe is in less than two weeks!

I vow to nurture my friendships with those people who make me happy, accept me for who I am, and truly add joy to my life. I want the most important people in my life to know how much I love them and am there for them, and I am grateful to have friends and family who are there for me as well.

I do not want to waste time on relationships that require me to work too hard, walk on eggshells, or second-guess my own value/worth.

I will try to let go of the past, meaning I will hold hard to the good memories and try to learn from my mistakes, but also realize that change is inevitable and often meant to be.

I aim to truly open myself up to the possibility of meeting someone to share/spend my life with.

I plan to appreciate the quality time I spend with my family, my parents in particular.

I hope to stress the small stuff a lot less. I am definitely getting better at this one. I think it might be related to my entrance into middle age. Some things do get better with age, and letting go of needless worrying is one of them!

And there you have them. Wish me luck!

Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions? If so, feel free to share some of them in the comments.

 

Reading for research

Until recently, I thought of reading as strictly for entertainment value. I’m a self-proclaimed book nerd. I love getting lost in stories, and use every available moment, even while on a street corner waiting to meet a friend, to power up my Kindle. I read on the subway, in line at the grocery store, while blow drying my hair. My friends have been known to mock me over it (out of love, course).

Over the last couple years, I’ve discovered that reading is not only fun, but educational. Studying great writers and noting what works so well in their novels motivates me to up my own game. I’ve recently started writing a new book—the first in what I hope will be a three-book standalone series. This book will focus more on the romance aspect than my others, but I intend for it to be funny—very funny. I’m counting on inspiration from some masters of true romantic comedy to keep me on my path. In that vein, I’ve stocked my Kindle with some of the best and will be reading back-to-back romantic comedies beginning…now!

Some authors don’t like to read books in the same genre they write, but I’m the opposite. Some of these authors write books with a little more steam (read: sex) than what I have planned. Some of the romances are a bit mushier than my style of writing. I don’t plan to change my own writing style/voice, but I do hope the funniest of the bunch will remind me not to waste even a line of dialogue or opportunity for conflict, the deepest of the crew will serve as a lesson to add depth to my couples’ connection, and the quirkiest of them will implore me to keep my voice and characters as distinctive as possible. By reading these authors, I will work harder to be funnier, to create fleshed out characters, and to make sure my couples have the chemistry required to keep readers turning the pages of my book just as I am flipping the pages of theirs.

Curious what books are on my TBR for the coming months. Here you go:

MY ONE AND ONLY – Kristan Higgins (Just Finished. LOVED.)

SUNSET IN CENTRAL PARK – Sarah Morgan

GOOD AT GAMES – Jill Mansell

UNTIL THERE WAS YOU – Kristan Higgins

MEET ME AT BEACHCOMBER BAY – Jill Mansell

NEW YORK, ACTUALLY – Sarah Morgan

YOU AND ME ALWAYS – Jill Mansell

AT THE HEART OF IT – Tawna Fenkse

BET ME – Jennifer Crusie

SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE – Rachel Gibson

TRUST ME ON THIS – Jennifer Crusie

HOLIDAY IN THE HAMPTONS – Sarah Morgan

IRRESISTIBLE – Stephanie Bond

HOW I MET YOUR BROTHER – Janette Rallison

DAISY’S BACK IN TOWN – Rachel Gibson

NOTHING BUT TROUBLE – Rachel Gibson

AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS – Lauren Layne

DATING YOU, HATING YOU – Christina Lauren

HEAD OVER HEELS – Jill Mansell

TRUTH OR BEARD – Penny Reid

You’ve probably noticed several repeat authors. This is because they are tried-and-true masters of romantic comedy fiction and if I’m going to learn, I want it to be from the best. True confession: I’ve never actually read anything by Rachel Gibson, Christina Lauren, Lauren Lane, Janette Rallison, Stephanie Bond, or Tawne Fenske, but I’ve heard enough positive feedback to trust I will love them as much as I adore the others on the list.

But enough about me. Who are your go-to authors when you want a romantic yet hilarious story?

Advice I’d give to my college-aged self

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase: “Youth is wasted on the young.” I often wish I could go back to my days as a college student at Suny Albany with the knowledge I have now and live those four years again. But what would I do differently?

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What I’d change: I didn’t discover my passion for writing until I was in my thirties. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I “grew up,” but it wasn’t a writer. I majored in criminal justice with a minor in sociology. Armed with the knowledge I have now, I’d go back and major in English with a minor in communications or journalism.

Why I wouldn’t: My interest in the law resulted in my career as a paralegal. Even though it’s not my passion, I am financially secure because of it. I’m extremely grateful for that. My day job at a law firm also brought people into my life I’d otherwise never have met, in particular my late boss, Alan. Over the course of eighteen years, Alan became my best friend, confidante, mentor, cheerleader, therapist, and comic relief. The thought of beginning my writing career right out of college and never experiencing a friendship I consider one of my greatest accomplishments makes my heart hurt. If given the chance to go back, I’d still sit through lectures in criminal justice if only to ensure I’d meet Alan again.

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My late, great best friend and boss of almost two-decades. I miss him every day!

Work
What I’d change: I didn’t come from a wealthy family. Most of my college tuition was paid for with financial aid. (For a lot of people, student loan debt is a big issue. Refinancing your student loans through a company like Earnest can be a great resource for graduates who didn’t get as much financial aid. Check out more information here.) I also worked summers as a camp counselor and was fortunate to have a small allowance from my grandmother for my spending money during the school year. Despite having to stretch every dollar as far as I could, it never occurred to me to get a job during the year. I wasn’t prepared to balance my school work, my social life, and a part-time job. In hindsight, I don’t know how I didn’t starve. Two of my roommates had jobs at the campus bookstore. If I went back in time, I’d try to get a job there, as well. I could spend hours at a bookstore. To get paid would be the chocolate sprinkles on my ice cream cone!

Why I wouldn’t: The fact that my impoverished self was able to manage financially without a job is something of a miracle. The post-graduate version has been working continuously since she was twenty-three, and retirement is about two decades away. Knowing there would be forty-plus years of work in my future, I’d probably skip the job again and enjoy the freedom while I had a chance!

Romance:

What I’d change: I never considered using college to get my M.R.S., i.e. to find a husband. I was way too young to think of getting married. I didn’t even have serious relationships in college. I’ve had them since, but none of them have led to marriage. I often wish I had spent less time partying in college and more time making meaningful connections with the opposite sex. Maybe I’d be married now with a house full of children (or an empty nester by now). If I could go back, I’d be more aware of how much harder it becomes to meet attractive, interesting, smart, kind, and available men as you get older.

Why I wouldn’t: While I sometimes give myself a hard time over the romantic choices I made in my younger days to explain my single status today, if I fell in love at university, I doubt we’d still be a good match today. I’ve changed so much since college—my priorities, interests, etc. I don’t think I was ready back then. Besides, I spent those years making countless memories with my four best girlfriends—Jesse, Laurie, Christine, and Gina. We’re still friends today, and I wouldn’t give up any of my time with them.

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In closing, I’ve shocked myself with this post because I’ve realized that if given the chance to go back to college, I probably wouldn’t do things much differently the second time around. For sure, I’d drink a little less, study a bit more, have more confidence in myself, and not worry about the minutiae. But it’s comforting to discover that the eighteen-to-twenty-two year old version of Meredith Schorr would make the forty-something version very proud simply by following her heart.

news from my editing cave

I’ve once again been lazy with my blogging, but I assure you I haven’t been lazy in general. I’ve been editing like a mad woman. I told an author friend how exhausted I was after revising three books in a row and she said that editing is so draining, it’s like being hit by a truck. Make it three trucks in my case. I’m not complaining though. Well, I’m grumbling about the exhaustion, but not what caused it.

So far, I’ve completed edits of Blogger Girl, Novelista Girl, and A State of Jane. I started How Do You Know? yesterday and Just Friends With Benefits with be last. If my books were days of the work week, it would be Thursday. Thursday morning, but Thursday all the same. I’m over the hump :).

For those of you who have read the books already, Blogger Girl and Novelista Girl are still the same novels post-edit as they were pre-edit but with more drama and development. Much of the drama revolves around antagonist Daneen and much of the development centers around Kim’s relationship with Nicholas. If you were fans of the series before, I’m positive you’ll still love it now. I consider the edits more enhancements than changes.

The modifications to A State of Jane are more significant. I changed A LOT while keeping the general story the same. I won’t spoil anything, but I can tell you that I removed the epilogue, added several new scenes, deleted a few that we didn’t feel moved the story forward, and tweaked almost all of the others. Jane is still “Jane” but a somewhat softer version of the original. I am so proud of the new and improved version and I adore my editor for knowing exactly what my second novel needed to truly make it shine.

As I head back into my editing cave, I keep my eyes focused on the end goal: a full-body massage, a bottle of champagne, a fattening steak dinner, and an expensive hair smoothing treatment, not necessarily in that order (the champagne will be first). Joking aside, I’ve always put my best effort into all steps of writing and marketing my books, but I’ve never been pushed this hard and I’m so grateful for Henery Press for inviting me into the Hen House and helping me turn stories that were very well received in their original conditions into even better versions of themselves. That, my friends, is the real end goal.

because I’m “middle aged”

I dreaded turning forty and the unofficial entrance into “middle age.” I think I started worrying about it around thirty-seven and remember going to bed on my thirty-ninth birthday vowing to take advantage of the next three hundred and sixty five days of my thirties. I’m not sure I really did. Honestly, there is only so much “taking advantage” one can do when they work a full-time job, have professional and personal responsibilities, and the days just go by so fast. I lived the year as best as I could. I enjoyed the good times, got through the bad ones, had fun, worked hard, traveled, paid my bills, blah, blah, blah. I handled my fortieth birthday well, but I will admit to anyone who asks that it was mainly because I was dating someone and hoped he would be “The One.”  My biggest fear was turning forty and being unattached romantically. Kind of shallow, I know. But it is what it is and I’m grateful for the timing of that relationship :).

It’s been a few years and I still struggle with aging often. A lot of it is because of how media makes women “of a certain age” feel irrelevant. I don’t want to feel that way, but I’m easily swayed, at least if I’m already feeling down about something. At the same time, I’m beginning to accept the whole “middle age” thing. I’m certainly at the beginning of it so that’s good, right? And, really, all it means to be “middle aged” is to not be “young” and not be “old.”

I’m even able to embrace some aspects of “middle age.” Sure, I have to go to more doctors for prevention than I used to, cover my greys more often than I did a decade ago, if I didn’t exercise regularly, it’s quite possible my slowing metabolism would not bode well for my stomach and thighs, and there is a group of men out there who might not consider me good on paper merely because of the year I was born (even men born five years earlier than me). But I’m not yet at the age where I need to get a colonoscopy (cheers!), I’m not even close to being fully grey, I don’t have many wrinkles yet, my shape is more or less the same as it was in my thirties, and any man who will only date younger women or who would dismiss me based on being over 40 is not a man I would want anyway.

I also see the world in a different way than I did in my twenties and thirties.

Because I’m “middle aged” and not “young,”  I’m able to appreciate how I look now knowing I’m going to keep changing. Even ten years ago, I’d probably take it for granted.

I’m also able to understand that if a man wouldn’t “swipe right” solely based on my age, it’s about his ego and I don’t let it shatter my own. I’m not so sure I’d have been so strong in this conviction even a few years ago.

Because I’m “middle aged” instead of “young,”  I’ve been around long enough to make mistakes, to recognize that they were mistakes, and to acknowledge that they were my fault. Although looking back often makes me want to turn back time and get a do-over (it really does), it also helps me from making the same mistakes in the future. I hope I get the opportunity to use these lessons while I’m still middle aged and not old.

Because I’m “middle aged” and not “young,” I’ve seen a lot of people get sick and die. I hate this fact of getting older, but it also keeps me from taking the people in this world I love for granted.

Rather than look back and lament the ending of my “youth,” why not appreciate all the things I can still do now that I might not be able to do when I’m “old?” For example, today I run upwards of twenty miles a week. Who knows if I’ll be able to do this in a couple of decades?  I hold down a full-time job and just signed a seven-book publishing deal because my brain is intact and I’m healthy. This can change at any minute and I’m “middle” enough to know that. Today, I can go out with my girlfriends and still get hit on by men (“boys”)  in their twenties. I doubt this will happen when I’m in my seventies. God willing, I still have plenty of life in me and opportunities coming my way to make my life a great one.

A big pet peeve of mine of late is when people in my age group refer to themselves (and me by association) as “old.” We’re not old. We’re in the middle! And it’s a pretty great place to be. Let’s enjoy it before we’re old!

Editing (again)

In my last post, I announced that my five chick lit novels were picked up for republication by Henery Press, along with two future ones. I didn’t go into details about what would happen next, specifically editing. Several people were surprised that my new publisher wanted to edit five books that had previously sold well and received predominantly positive reviews, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. In fact, I would be wary of a publisher who re-released the books without first doing more quality control and making their mark—in my opinion editing is part of a good publisher’s job and a major way they earn their share of the royalties. While I love the stories I’ve created, including the characters, the troubles they get into, and their happy-ever-afters, there is always room for improvement at the hands of another skilled editor. I’ve also honed my own writing ability significantly since penning my first novels, and welcome the unexpected opportunity to make tweaks.

In truth, I’m both anxious and intimidated by the volume of revisions in my future. One of my concerns in signing with a new publisher was being asked to alter the original story lines or character’s personalities in a major way, but I was assured this was not the case and that all changes would involve developing and strengthening the novels. I’ve already received the revisions for Blogger Girl and spent most of the weekend and this afternoon working on them. My new editor, Erin, is fantastic. Existing fans of Blogger Girl might want to read the new version for some bonus scenes, including additional development of Kim and Nicholas’s relationship and more ammunition for Kim’s hatred of condescending Daneen. I had fun writing this new material and reacquainting myself with the characters.

Once I finish Blogger Girl, I’ll take a week off to work on my new book—editing is exhausting and I need a break in between books if time allows. After that, I’ll begin the edits of Novelista Girl, take another short break to make progress on my work-in-progress (again, if I have time), edit one of the standalones, work on the new book, and the cycle will continue until I’ve completed all five. The edits themselves will be hard, but equally challenging will be fitting them into my already busy life. I’m trying to focus on the end result: an even better product that will hopefully get into the hands of many more readers.

Are you tired yet? I am!

If you’ve read my books, how do you feel about these impending changes? Are you excited? Worried? If you’re an author, how would you feel about revising a previously published book for a new publisher? Would you embrace edits, like me, or would you prefer to leave well enough alone?

What are you afraid of?

 

THE ENEMY IS FEAR. WE THINK IT'S HATE; BUT, IT IS FEAR.GHANDI

I was pretty fearless when I was younger. I went on all of the roller coasters, even the ones that went upside down! I would try almost any food and, according to my mother, liked just about everything. I auditioned for (and landed) roles in school and camp plays. I collected caterpillars and let them crawl up my arm. I went to summer camp not knowing a soul and came out with great friends. At nine years old, I had a crush on a boy in camp and so did another girl in my group. Despite rumors that the boy liked my campmate, I expressed my interest and it turned out the boy liked me back! My first boyfriend 🙂 Basically, I was up for any challenge. There were a few exceptions. I went through a weird stage where I adopted other people’s fears as my own, and I spent a couple of months terrified of bridges. I stole the fear from Jennifer Davidson during our sixth grade trip to Washington D.C. and my mom still brings it up on occasion. But for the most part, fear wasn’t really part of my vocabulary.

As I hit my teens, I was not quite so courageous. I stopped going on the roller coasters for a few years, became too self-conscious to follow my passion for acting, and was too afraid of what other people might think of me to express my true feelings or stand up for myself.

I’ve never recovered my bravery toward performing in public aside from Karaoke in groups, but I’m back to going on the “scary” rides (except for the REALLY frightening ones), learning to embrace speaking in public (kind of a necessity as an author), and I definitely do not cower away from defending myself when necessary. I care what some people think of me, but only the people whose opinions I actually respect. In short, I’m no longer afraid to be myself.

But I’m still afraid of a lot of things. For example:

My mother dying – She’s healthy, knock wood, and not exactly ancient, but whenever I think about it, I start to cry. I even had a panic attack in the shower the other morning. (I know you’re reading this, Mommy, and I’m sorry I brought it up. I love you and wish you the happiest of birthdays!!)

My sister dying – Apologies for the morbid trend here. I don’t worry about this on a regular basis at all, but when I do, it’s a doozy. I can’t imagine my life without her in it.

Driving – I had my driver’s license back in the day—only took me three tests—but I let it expire by accident. I was never comfortable behind the wheel and haven’t done it in close to twenty years. I probably should take lessons again, but I don’t want to. I have chronic nightmares about being behind the wheel and losing control.

Living without Alan – I’m panic-stricken over being forced to go my entire life without ever seeing, speaking to, or hugging my best friend/boss/mentor/cheerleader/shrink outside of my dreams. I miss him so much, it physically aches, so I can still only think short term—today, tomorrow, or the next day.

Never meeting “The One” – I’ve always assumed when the timing was (finally) right, I’d meet “The One” for the long haul at last—the man I want to spend the rest of my life with who feels the same way about me—but between the wrong guys and the unavailable ones, it’s like searching for cellphone service in 1979.

Meeting “The One” – As much as I want to commit fully to someone, I’m terrified I’ll feel smothered or find it difficult to balance the freedom and lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed with my new coupled life. I hope giving up some independence will be worth it for the right person.

Losing my ability to write – Whenever I’m going through a tough time, writing makes me feel better. It’s really the one thing I can do that is guaranteed to wash away stress from my “real life.” I don’t know what I would do if something happened that prevented me from writing. What if I went blind or suffered from permanent writer’s block, or some other brain malfunction?

Cancer – Getting it, my family getting, my friends getting it.

Getting old – I’d much prefer aging to the alternative, but I dread the aging process—wrinkly skin, sagging neck, losing muscle tone despite working out five-six times a week, inability to stand up straight, people treating me like I’m a non-entity or a sweet old lady, losing my faculties. My grandmother told me after the age of twenty, life moves really fast and she was so right. Although every Monday, I wish Friday will come quickly, I don’t want life to pass me by!

Becoming invisible to the opposite sex – I’m not ashamed to admit I enjoy attention from men. I like being flirted with and checked out. I don’t know if I will ever get to a point where I don’t care what I look like or whether others find me attractive and so the aging process (see above) scares me.

Dying – I don’t want to! Maybe if I knew what happened after we left the physical world, I wouldn’t be so afraid. Experiences I’ve had in the last year have convinced me that there is something else, but I don’t know what it is and hope not to find out for a long, long time.

Those are the major things on my list. What are you most afraid of?