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A New Year For Keeping Promises

promises

We’ve all got history.

Some we honor with nostalgic fondness. Some we barely remember. Some we only fess up to after liberal helpings of liquid encouragement plunge us into bouts of facepalm retrospect, leaving us with that one gnawing question…

What the eff was I thinking?

And then, of course, some history…

We wish like hell we could forget.

But each experience teaches us something fundamentally important, no matter how far or well we’ve traveled within the circle of life.

Even as I nudge my way through the upper echelon of middle age, life continues to teach me, sometimes in jarring ways, that it is full of change. And, often…

Of endings.

Yet, I also take comfort in having learned long ago that some things are forever, like the certainty that I will always love my family, my children, and my soulmate.

And that I will always hold precious…

My dreams.

After all, passions provide purpose, and they are omnipresent…

In all of us.

Every January, we tend to embark on quests for self-betterment, reuniting our dreams with the due diligence that abandoned them sometime around mid-February the previous year.

We ache to be reborn. We pitch Stuart Smalley-esque affirmations to our expectant reflections. We make promises. And then, gradually…

We break them.

Why?

Because the vows we make to ourselves are the hardest to keep.

I can personally vouch for this.

Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time could probably guess that my dreams heavily revolve around writing, books, writing, romance, writing, and…

Did I mention writing?

So call me Captain Obvious, but I love to write! LOVE. IT. Always have, always will.

However, when I bid adieu to 2016 with champagne flute in-hand, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the writerly promises I’d made to myself that went unfulfilled—namely, the stories in my head that were supposed to end up in print, but didn’t.

Sure, I could blame everything from chronic PMS to those cat-versus-cucumber YouTube compilations that are oh-so-addictive, but the truth?

I allowed my aspirations to fall out of focus.

If you’re a word nerd like me, you know that life as a writer can be incredibly isolating. Keeping the dream alive requires persistence and sacrifice, which can pose a challenge for those of us who suffer the guilt of said sacrifice, conditioning us to then give precedence to everything else.

We assign our dreams “hobby” or “back burner” status, a confusing contradiction since we don’t actually think of them in these terms.

But sometimes, that’s all it takes to bring our active pursuits to a grinding halt. We may even try convincing ourselves that none of it really matters, especially when there are so many other things that require our time and attention.

But deep down, we know better.

My love affair with the written word began as an adolescent. I discovered the freedom and catharsis of gliding ink across paper, an exercise inspired by one of my idols at the time, author Judy Blume.

Back then, I was struggling to find myself and where I might fit in the world—a literal work in progress. But despite not yet knowing who or where I wanted to be, as long as I had words, I was moving.

And that was good enough for me.

Whenever I reminisce on that time, I not only fall in love with writing all over again, but I realize…

I am still a work in progress.

So this year, whether I finish writing one book, six, or even zilch, the part of me that thrives on stringing words and chasing stories will always be there, even when life throws curveballs that try to tell me otherwise.

I don’t know about you, but I feel a responsibility to keep those promises I left hanging in 2016.

So, with that, I raise my pen…

And feel a novel coming on. 😉

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: pexels.com – Ed Gregory, photographer

 

To Hell With Resolutions

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As another New Year nips at our heels, these are the moments I’d typically spend hunched over my desk, pressing fresh ink into crisp white parchment, constructing a tidy and aesthetically pleasing list of resolutions. And when I’d sit back to admire my work, I’d discover that the list had grown and stretched beyond my wildest imaginings, and I’d ask myself why, when in fact I already knew.

The grand majority of those resolutions had carried over from the previous year…and the year before that…and the year before that…and the year…

Well, you get the point.

Sure, I’d always manage to cross at least a few to-do’s off my list. After all, I’m not a complete lazy bones. But by and large, each year I’d find myself conducting a stare down with the same tired goals, wondering why I still hadn’t managed to score those six pack abs, a bestselling novel, or an invitation to perform an acoustic set with Jason Mraz.

Ok, so maybe some of my aspirations are a wee bit unrealistic, but still..

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking lists. I love lists. They keep me organized. They elaborate upon that old-fashioned notion threaded in a single piece of symbolic yarn tied around my finger, reminding me to keep my head on straight.

So what is it about New Year’s Resolutions in particular, that glorious list of promises we make to ourselves, that seems to stall right out of the gate? Is it in making such a list that we actually jinx ourselves? Is it because we lack the wherewithal to get our shit together?

Unlikely.

I think it has more to do with the fact that we all want a clean slate, and we seize the New Year as an opportunity to leave the untidiness of the past in our dust. And we craft our resolutions to be used as escape vehicles, only to find that there is more untidiness ahead.

But you know what? That’s not a bad thing. Because reality is a wild, bumpy, sometimes hairy road of unpredictability, and yes, even broken resolutions. Life doesn’t travel a straight path, despite our efforts to pave one, but it’s in the twists and turns that we take in the most vivid scenery, and our most valuable lessons.

So with that in mind, this year I say, “to hell with the resolutions!” Goals are healthy, and I’ve got loads of them, but I don’t need to write them down to know what they are. Nor do I need to put a time limit on achieving them. Whether it takes me a year or an entire lifetime to get it all done, who cares? As long as I keep trying.

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the incredible ride as my husband, kids, and I all take turns at the wheel. Sometimes we’ll get lost. Sometimes we’ll hit road blocks. But most of the time we’ll crank the stereo, roll the windows down, and discover new and exciting places together. I couldn’t ask for better travel companions, and I am so grateful.

Each year delivers its share of the good, the bad, and the ugly. And if you’re tempted to get down on yourself for failing to scratch every resolution off your list, don’t. Because if you have the love of your family and friends, you’ve already achieved the important stuff.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2015. May the year bring you many blessings.

Me1

S A Healey, a happily married mother of two, is and will forever remain, a lover of words and a sucker for romance. You can find out more about her novels and other works at http://www.sahealey.com

 

 

Stuck Places

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Wow. Time passes in a blur, doesn’t it? Seems like just yesterday I was ringing in the new year with a bottle of bubbly and a list of resolutions stretching from here to Timbuktu. Among them, sitting pretty in candy red ink between the gold standard, lose weight and the overambitious, run a marathon, was a bold proclamation…a statement deemed important enough to have been underlined in triplicate:  that this was going to be THE YEAR for achieving my dreams as a writer.

But seeing as how it is now June, and the only resolution I managed to cross off my list was eat more fiber, I figured it was high time I gave myself a swift talking to, launching into bursts of inner dialog laden with phrases like  “no more fucking around,” “get serious and buckle down,” “you can do this” and my personal favorite, “it’s go time!”

So, with that much needed pep talk under my belt and a fresh stream of determination running through my veins, I popped open the laptop, hammered out an action plan, and set the whole shebang into motion.

Sounds doable, right?

Not so fast.

Part of that plan was to write 1000 words a day.

Oh, come on! How hard could that be?

Hmm. Harder than you think.

You see, I have a problem with what I refer to as “stuck places.” Meaning that I really really REALLY want to write, but sometimes, the words simply won’t reveal themselves. They get stuck somewhere between good intentions and overthinking. I suppose you could call it writer’s block, but it’s not so much the ideas that are missing, but rather, being able to formulate those ideas into a written representation that makes sense.

Words. Stubborn buggers.

Do you ever get stuck? If so, what do you do about it? Do you simply bide your time until the words come? Or is there some secret formula for getting unstuck that I haven’t yet been privy to?

I’m open to any and all suggestions.  🙂

Me1

S A Healey, a happily married mother of two, is and will forever remain, a lover of words and a sucker for romance. You can currently read her first novel, Empty Me Out, for free on Wattpad.

http://www.wattpad.com/story/3361337-empty-me-out

Chin Hairs, Muffin Tops, and Dusty Private Parts

A couple eat breakfast before work
Oh, how I love a good romance novel. In the last year alone, I’ve probably read over fifty of them – no lie. I’ve even been known to develop a crush on the lead male character from time to time. And once in a blue moon I might have even imagined myself as the story’s leading lady. Is that so wrong?

Don’t answer that.

One thing that I’ve noticed while immersing myself in these stories about love and perseverance is that the hero and heroine are often portrayed as unrealistically beautiful people with insatiable sex drives. The man always has an Adonis-like physique and the woman always looks like a supermodel. And they have constant, mind-blowing sex. Putting aside the fact that I’m insanely jealous of said fictional characters, let me ask this question:

What gives?

I mean, don’t average-looking peeps with cellulite and pot bellies fall in love too? Sure they do. What about couples who are too overworked and under rested to do the nasty every five minutes? Is their love any less meaningful? Of course not. So, why aren’t they portrayed more often in romance novels?

Oh, I know!

Because it kills the fantasy. Am I right?

When I’m being swept off my feet by the likes of Christian Grey or Gideon Cross (yes, I enjoy erotic fiction every now and then, so sue me!), I like to imagine myself as having flowing auburn hair, a tiny waist, and legs that go on for miles. In my fantasy I am a sexy, unending bundle of energy – a gymnast in the bedroom who is ready and willing to satisfy my man at the drop of a hat. For that moment in time, I live up to the perfect ideal of myself.

But what if tried my hand at inserting my “real” self into the story scenario? Hmm…somehow my double-chin, flabby thighs, and constant state of exhaustion don’t seem to fit the bill. I mean, let’s face it; it’s not as much fun focusing on the harsh realities of dwindling libidos and sagging body parts.

But wait! Would that really be so bad?

I wonder if the premise of the average couple, falling in love under real-life circumstances, and dealing with real-life struggles, would make for a more interesting love story. Granted, it’s not what most romance-seeking readers wanting an escape are typically drawn to, especially in the era of Fifty Shades of Grey, but I think the idea has merit.

What if we took away the stick-thin, porcelain skinned heroines and replaced them with the thicker-padded, stretch-marked women that make up a good part of the population? And what about the leading men? What if, instead of rock-star hair and six-pack abs, we switched those out for receding hairlines and spare tires with love handles?

And what if, for the sake of argument, the novelty of their relationships have worn off, causing their sex lives to take a nose dive? Would you still want to read their story, even if it didn’t feed your fantasies?

Rather than add to a genre already saturated with tales of unnaturally gorgeous nymphomaniacs, I’d like to see more writers breaking free from the typical fairytale-esque formula. It might take some getting used to, but perhaps reading love stories based on realistic, relatable characters, could make for a more meaningful literary experience.

I’m going to explore that possibility in my next novel, Log On, Get Off. I figure it’s worth a shot. We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

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S A Healey, a happily married mother of two, is and will forever remain, a sucker for romance. You can currently read her first novel, Empty Me Out, for free on Wattpad.  http://www.wattpad.com/story/3361337-empty-me-out

Play it Safe? Or Take a Risk?

nailbiting
I have a dilemma. There’s a new story knocking around in my brain. It’s been loud and boisterous all week, itching to break free from the confines of my mind. I like this story…a lot. I want to write this story…a lot. But, there’s a problem – it may not attract much of an audience. It’s highly controversial in nature and will likely make readers uncomfortable. It’s suitable for strictly mature audiences, leaving my young teen readers out in the cold.

Writing this story would be risky, sharing it even riskier.

Then there’s another story, one I had already fully outlined months ago. It’s the story I had originally planned to write next, the book I intended to publish, the book that would sell lots of copies and hit Amazon’s bestseller list (ok, so maybe that scenario’s a bit far fetched, but a girl can dream, can’t she?). Sure, this story also carries an element of controversy, but the characters are more likable and the premise is much less cringe worthy. It’s a story that could offer a broader appeal, which is important to note since my current readership consists predominantly of teens and young adults.

So, that brings me to the question: Which story do I write? The answer probably seems obvious – go with the more marketable story…the safer bet. Makes perfect sense, right? I mean, why shake things up now when I’m still trying to gain exposure, build a fan base, and make a legitimate go of it as a novelist?

On the other hand, the less marketable story is the one on my heart. It taunts me, challenges me – it dares to be written. Thinking about it gets my blood pumping, my gears churning, and my excitement building, which further fuels my motivation to write it. Deep down, I know this story will be stuck in my head until it becomes unstuck.

With that in mind, I guess I just answered my own question: Take a risk and write the story I’m more passionate about. Right?

But. But. But…

I don’t want to alienate my current readers, the people who have taken the time to read and support my first novel, Empty Me Out. They’ve meant so much to me, and their encouragement throughout the writing process is what’s kept me going all these months. The last thing I want is for them to feel let down or slighted.

But then I am reminded of something T.S. Eliot once said: “You have to risk going too far to discover just how far you can really go.” He made a good point, didn’t he?

But then on the other hand, there’s the Filipino Proverb which states; “Caution minimizes loss.” Again, some sound advice.

Both offer their own brand of inspiration, their own significance. But which is the right wisdom to follow in this situation?

Honesty, I have no freaking idea.

Can you see my dilemma?

So now, as I approach the end of this blog post, I find that I am no closer to a solution than I was in the beginning. What would you do? Would play it safe? Or would you take a risk? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading!

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S A Healey, a happily married mother of two, is and will forever remain, a sucker for romance. You can currently read her first novel, Empty Me Out, for free on Wattpad. http://www.wattpad.com/story/3361337-empty-me-out