Month: February 2014

The Big Stupid Smile

photo by Rhett Maxwell
photo by Rhett Maxwell

It’s interesting to note how people react to the idea of me writing a novel.

I don’t talk about my writing unless someone asks, and then, my answer is often colored by what I think that person wants to hear.

If the individual is a friend who’s a writer, reader, or an artist of any kind (which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a professional artist, but have a love for creativity), I willingly talk, share, and listen for hours. And when this friend and I part, I inevitably feel changed – deepened – by my friend’s personal pursuit for a meaningful existence.

I also have acquaintances who almost always begin a conversation with, “How’s the book coming?” I think they mean well, but I’m learning that those folks are really just using the topic of the book as a conversation opener, much like talking about that day’s weather or how bad construction is on Pima Road. The novel is what I’m identified with, which, as long as I restrict my answer to something like, “Good,” or “Fine,” is kind of nice.

Then, there’s the person who’s a Challenger.

I met one of my Challengers the other day as I walked the dogs. She’s a woman I’ve known for a few years. When I’d last seen her during the holidays, I’d mentioned that I’d finished the first draft of the novel.

“How’s the book coming?” she now asked as I stood there with the dogs.

“Fine,” I replied. “I’m now moving forward, inch by inch, on revisions.”

She looked at me with a stupefied expression on her face. She was almost angry.

“What do you mean? Wasn’t the first time good enough?

There was a time, not so long ago, when her remark would have cut through to the bone. Anxiety would have tightened its steely grip around my heart. I would have felt extremely guilty for not having achieved more, and for not having done it perfectly the first time around.

Instead, what I experienced was a deep sense of joy within myself. I began to smile, and I couldn’t stop. It was a smile so big and so stupid that I fought the urge to jump up and down and point it out to her.

I tried to explain my process by creating an analogy to painting, where the first draft is a sketch, and revisions are where things like color, texture, and emotion are added. It is, I said, all about depth of story.

I don’t think she understood a single thing I said, but that’s okay. It’s not my job to convert her, or teach her, or persuade her to think in any other way. Right now, my job is to go deeper within myself and take all the time I need, to tell my story the best way I know how, without forgetting to take joy from every minute of creating.

Each day, I live more and more for the big, stupid smile.

Snapshots: The Greatest Show On Earth

photo by Jason Hargrove

Good morning, Mirror!

It’s a beautiful day and WE are beautiful!

Look at those blue, blue eyes, that American Beauty nose.


We are going to make it the best day ever!

We are EXTRA-ordinary and we do EXTRA-ordinary things!

Here are our Post-Its for today, Mirror, which I wrote last night and am sticking here as reminders because we both know if I don’t write them down before going to sleep, my mind just buzzes and buzzes with everything I need to do and everything I THINK I need to do, which includes making a LIST of to-dos, which I did and can already cross several things off before I’ve even put on my makeup, like, empty Mr. Whisker’s litter box (check!) and call pharmacy to renew prescription (check!).

(New Post-It: Add “Xanax” to tonight’s bedtime thankful list, because GRATITUDE.)

Okay, Mirror, let’s remember to pick up bagels for Ann Marie’s birthday surprise at the office (is that a zit on my chin?) and whatever you do, do NOT get poppy seed. Ann Marie did nothing but bitch after Jason’s birthday surprise last month about finding poppy seeds stuck in her teeth for two days afterward. She always HAS to have something to be negative about, like last week when we rode with her to the bank. She pointed at the building and said, “You know, I hate that color of brick.” YEESH.

(Add “Glad I’m not Ann Marie” underneath “Xanax” on thankful list…)

Today, we MUST get that email out to the announcer for the Broadway channel on satellite radio to suggest (once again!) that they really need to be playing more Gershwin. Also, demand that they increase their Sondheim rotation. Not NEARLY enough Porgy or Sweeney, as far as we’re concerned.

That reminds me… we need to find a pianist for this Saturday at the Best Western lobby bar, so we can make sure our rendition of “Someone To Watch Over Me” is in perfect form when our blind date walks through the door. (Create new Post-It!)

Before I forget, Mirror (am I imagining things, or is my right boob sagging lower than my left?): Don’t forget to pull together the contracts for Mr. Berenson so he can take them (once again!) to Legal for review. As if you and I haven’t already had it UP TO HERE with attorneys (and boyfriends!) this month, thanks to Mr. I’m-Banging-Chloe-The-Barista, and the unfortunate incident that followed with the bagel and venti Americano.

(New Post-It: Do web search for Liebeck vs. McDonalds, to give to lawyer. Look up how hot coffee has to actually be to qualify as “scalding,” especially in pelvic region.)

Finally, be sure to pick up some flowers and a package of Hello Kitty stickers for Mr. Lubovitch’s cast, even though we’re really NOT sorry we hit him with our car because, for God’s sake, how can we be expected to see a pedestrian in our rearview mirror when we’re busy backing out of our parking spot AND singing along to “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Hey, come to think of it, maybe we can practice “Someone To Watch Over Me” on Mr. Lubovitch. He’d probably appreciate a bit of entertainment in his hospital room, being stuck in traction and all.

(New Post-It: Buy batteries for boombox; record pianist playing accompaniment for use in hospital karaoke.)

Yes, Mirror, this is going to be the best day ever!

Gorgeous, that’s what we are!

What’s NOT to love? MMMWAH!

Curtain up! Light the lights!

We’re ready for our close-up!


© Michele Miller Nelson 2014