Collections, Writing, and Criticism

People collect things; stamps, porcelain dolls, thimbles, light houses, towels, kitchen gadgets, Faberge eggs, shoes, Princess Diana dolls; the list goes on and on. There are as many collections as there are individual interests. Some of which are quite harmless; others not so much (like things a serial killer might collect).  I’ve got a collection of two Princess Diana dolls, currently living at my daughter’s house, but I’ve never really felt like I had a collection of anything. There was nothing I could put my finger on and say, “I am a collector of this (insert item here).” But I was wrong, I have a collection – books.

This is a guess, but my love of books naturally lead to a desire to be a writer. It’s been with me since I was quite young. I can remember sitting on the roof of Lori Hill’s house writing my first novel. The genre was historical romance and I was, maybe, twelve. So, have fun imagining what my twelve-year-old self might have come up with in the romance department. I blame the romance genre for my unrealistic expectations when it comes to men and, it has not escaped my notice, that my perfect man only exists in fiction. Go figure.

Books are one of my greatest loves. Getting lost in their pages is one of my greatest pleasures. So, I was wrong. I’ve had a collection; a houseful of books which I donated to the public library when I moved because they were too heavy to bring along and wouldn’t fit in my new, tiny home. I’ve still got a small collection of physical books – more than one person needs – but the majority of my collection lives on my Kindle. Thank God for Kindle! While I still enjoy the tactile sensation of an actual “flesh-in-bone” book, gone is the angst of having to choose just one or two books to bring on a trip. I can bring them all with Kindle. Gotta love technology, really cuts down on dusting.

I majored in journalism in college but graduated with a major in social sciences and a minor in journalism. It was the fewest hours to graduate not some humanitarian desire to save the world. I’m not that good. But I’ve always wanted to be one of those writers – you know the writers with a conversational style of prose that gives you the feeling that you’ve just sat down with an old friend for an evening of margaritas and conversation. You’ll spend the evening retelling all your best adventures and commiserate that life hasn’t turned out quite the way you’d planned. You’ll remember how you dreamed of escaping this place. It’s not for you. And yet, here you are in that place you’ve spent your life trying to escape. You’ll laugh a little uncomfortably at this revelation and thank God for margaritas, friendships that have stood the test of time, adventures you’ve had, and adventures you’ve yet to discover. You’ve not given up you see. There’s still time. It could happen. I often have, what I believe, are thought provoking and entertaining thoughts that I want to capture and turn into a masterpiece of sorts. But, for some reason these thoughts only occur at two or three in the morning and I fail to commit them to paper with the certain knowledge that I can recapture the moment at some more convenient time. That time never comes. There’s no way to measure the greatness no one will ever read because I was too interested in sleeping or too entertained by the ramblings of my mind to write it down. I wonder if I really have something to say and then I think it doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, my wanting to say it, is enough.

            Recently, I decided to do more than dream of being a writer. I decided to actually write. It seems likely that I suck at it, and yet, I forge ahead. I’m writing a novel; it’s total shit but I believe it has good bones. Today, I sent it to a few beta readers because I knew there were problems and I was looking for some constructive criticism. Criticism is hard even when it’s constructive. The beta reader identified problems I was already aware of; her criticism was kind, it was constructive, and it will make my story better and make me a better writer. But . . . Damn! It hurts.

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