I Prefer My Rubber to Meet the Road

We are about to enter the season of heightened expectations and goal-setting, so I’ll offer a story which I hope you’ll find helpful, then draw some lessons for the writing life.

Years ago, I was overworking and missing my kids with a ferocity I found almost frightening. I’d drop them at the sitter’s and go to the hospital with a pain behind my breastbone, and wouldn’t experience relief until we were together again.

The ToolMaster wasn’t faring much better, so we talked and developed a powerful fantasy: we’d buy a tent trailer and become one of those families.

We’d camp most weekends of the summer. As a result, our kids would grow comfortable with nature. They’d roam their adopted communities on bikes, acquire a posse of buddies. Our site would be a nexus of music, laughter, and a specified quantity of homemade fudge. (One pan of white-chocolate- peppermint and one of dark-chocolate-cherry for those who wish to know.)

Perhaps that dream would have come true if we stuck with the tent-trailer part of this plan, but when we entered an RV showroom and spotted their display of travel trailers, we allowed ourselves to be diverted.  Hours later, we left with lighter pockets, an unnatural high, and in my case, a gut that was already clenching.

The first reality check came when the welder refused to attach a hitch to our van, citing concerns we’d blow the engine. Seems our salesperson had overestimated its towing capacity.

Now, had we been thinking, this would have been a contractual “out” and our cue to recommit to our original vision. But when you are tired and want everything settled; and when you’re going to be working anyway, so what’s a few more payments for years of guaranteed bliss? And when the trailer has bunk beds so the kids don’t have to sleep together and you won’t have to settle fights about who first poked whom, you don’t reconsider.

You ignore your gut. You push down your screaming values. You invest in an SUV. And three years later, when a towing bar breaks on a rural highway, the trailer moves from resented object to lethal threat.

I’ll leave the second-person narration here, peeps, to simply say we were lucky. Many people don’t walk away from a rollover accident at 60 miles an hour. (I know this because after our accident we did research and found a then-emerging body of evidence that our SUV-trailer combo was dangerous.)

For our purposes, what lessons might this story hold for the writing life?

1. Life is not infinite, so consult your gut before you take on another writing commitment. The mind is easily fooled by ambition and external influences. Not so the body. Is that the fire of genuine passion warming your belly, or the stirrings of irritable bowel?

2. As an extension of #1, have you taken on a writing-related responsibility that depletes you though it’s theoretically “smart?” Are you stubbornly compounding the error because of inertia, shame, or other reasons? If so, welcome to the human race! Now do what you can to change it.

3. Protect your health. (See #1.) The ability to write is predicated on a functioning brain, and what’s good for the heart is good for your nervous system.

4. When you consume the news these days, I know things aren’t feeling very safe. There are few heroes and it seems people go out of their way to routinely hurt one another. But at the level of the average person, when there’s a crisis, that hasn’t been my experience.

Not counting our families, we had no end of help — from the white-faced, shaking trucker who helped free us, to the RCMP officer who gave us a ride in his caged back seat, to the wonderful insurance company clerk who settled our no-fault claim in record time.

Writing lesson: be prudent in your business dealings, but don’t brand a whole class of people as unethical or parasitic because some individuals fall short. Be willing to extend trust.

5. The expression “dying to see a man in uniform” does not have to be taken literally. In fact see that? See what I did just there? → I used my powers as a WU blogger for good so you could skip the experience of hanging upside down in a ditch and move right to seeing an RCMP dress uniform. Feel free to gaze upon the Canadian actor, Paul Gross, on the set for Due South.

6. Lastly, they don’t lie about a close call’s ability to provide clarity. For weeks after our accident, the most basic of comforts would pierce me with pleasure: the scent of sweaty, uncrushed children on an August day; the ToolMaster’s embrace; the first gulp of ice-cold root beer in a frosted glass; the creaminess of fudge, which miraculously escaped damage though our trailer and SUV were totalled.

You’ll notice, of course, that I didn’t have to have an accident or go camping in any type of trailer to savor these things.

Similarly, in the world of writing, no matter what the numbers or critics proclaim, we have access to the most basic of joys – the ones that pushed us to craft stories in the first place. Let yourself revel in a goofy pun, the scratch of pen on paper, the shape of a lyrical sentence.

Now I’d love to hear about you. Have you had a sobering experience that you use to calibrate goals and set priorities?  Have you identified a writing activity you need to discard so you can pursue more affirming plans? Have you decided on writing goals for 2012 or are you playing it loose and enjoying the process? Finally, what is your position on fudge — peppermint or otherwise?

 

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About Jan O'Hara

Jan O'Hara left her writing dreams behind for years to practice family medicine, but has found her way back to the world of fiction. Currently the voice of the Unpublished Writer here at Writer Unboxed, she hopes one day soon to become unqualified for the position.

Comments

  1. says

    Jan,
    I’m so glad you and your family were one of the lucky ones! Thank you for the wonderful post.

    I’m going back to full time work after 6 months between jobs. The good news is I’ll have a paycheck again. The bad news is I’ll miss writing full time. My goals will be to continue writing every day even if it’s only an hour at night. I want to finish the first draft of book 2 by May and continue submitting book 1 to agents and editors.

    As for fudge, I’m with Rachel on this one. Peppermint, baby!!!

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  2. says

    What a frightening experience for you and yours, Jan, I’m so sorry–but so glad you’re all all right. I too am a huge believer in the gut, and try to listen to it as often as I can. As a matter of fact, there will be writing-related changes in my life in 2012, possibly big ones. But my gut tells me to shaddup about that until a little later.

    The fudge question is easier. Go here. Scroll down until you see PEPPERMINT STICK BARK. You can thank me later. ;-)

    Thanks for the post and for the writerly lessons!

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    • says

      I haven’t figured out how to insert a comment into the stream, so I’m going to snip in ever few comments and address the people preceding. That way it’s not All Jan All Day All the Time.

      @Rachel, woot for peppermint. (That’s my favorite, though I tried to set the question up in an unleading manner.) As for writing pressures, they are undeniable, but in my wee bit of experience, reframing helps put them in perspective.

      @Heather Reid, here’s hoping you’ll be one of those people for whom outside work is a boon to the writing.

      @Therese, sometime you and I’ll have to compare contemplative phases and see how much of the time we match. Will look forward to whatever you’re planning.
      Jan O’Hara´s last blog post ..Two Tiny Triumphs and a Writer Unboxed Redirect

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  3. says

    A few years ago, we slammed into a tree in the wee hours of Christmas morning coming back from Grandma’s house. I walked away with a couple of lessons:

    1) Any mayor who brags how much money the city saved on salt this year should be voted down at the next opportunity.

    2) Never trust a relative you’re giving a ride home who says they’re going out for a drink with Dad but “promises” they’ll be back before the roads get icy.

    3) Air bags hurt.

    It was technically a near-death experience, since a branch punched through the windshield and ended up a few inches in front of my face, but it didn’t feel like one otherwise. I wish I could say I reevaluated my life and decided to live it to the fullest, but years of conditioning aren’t trumped as easily by a single disaster as the movies would like us to believe. Right now I’m in an embittered battle with my gut over whether to take a bureaucratic 8-to-5 job to pay the bills or be ridiculously irresponsible and try to peddle stories online.

    On a lighter note, I vote for the dark chocolate cherry. But unfortunately, most fudge recipes use condensed milk or cream, and I’m lactose intolerant. I found a soy alternative recipe a few years back, but it’s labor intensive and not nearly as soft…just like a big block of chocolate. Peanut butter fudge does the trick though :D
    Tamara´s last blog post ..Nooks and Kindles and Kobos, Oh My

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  4. says

    First things first: Fudge should NOT be adulterated with sissy flavors any more than amarato anything should be allowed close to a steaming cup of joe.
    Loved your lessons learned but abhor your way of gaining received wisdom. From now on, just take correspondance courses from the comfort and safety of home and hearth. Longevity is a virtue.
    My personal jolt into the writing life was boringly pedestrian; a lost job and an encouraging mate. Did not require vehicular gymnastics to show me the light.
    alex wilson´s last blog post ..When you find a good one….

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  5. says

    Jan, thanks for sharing your experiences and I’m so glad your family was not hurt. I just blogged the other day about my professional development goals for 2012. My goals are probably no different than others: participate in a writers group and engage online with writers, read at least two books on the craft, attend a writers conference, adhere to a word count, etc. My position on fudge? If it contains chocolate it’s all good.
    CG Blake´s last blog post ..What is Your Professional Development Plan?

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    • says

      @Tamara, peanut butter fudge is lovely. FYI, my experience with soy -based fudge has turned out fine. Almond-milk based? Not so much.

      I’m very glad you made it through the accident, and I hope you find a way to be at peace with whatever you decide about your work. As for the life-altering properties of crises, it’s human nature to habituate to whatever present circumstances bring. I have to relearn lessons all the time.

      @alex wilson, you are are to be commended on your Cliff Notes version of enlightenment. As for your philosophy on fudge and other libations, we will have to agree to disagree. ;)

      @CG Blake, aha. You are more organized than I’ll ever be to have not only made your goals but blogged about them. Well done, sir!
      Jan O’Hara´s last blog post ..Two Tiny Triumphs and a Writer Unboxed Redirect

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  6. says

    Goodness, how terrifying.

    I am a goal-oriented sort of person, so I have my goals all set for the next year. I am also old enough to know myself pretty well :D so my goals are realistic. I did well well in ’11, and hope to meet them again in ’12. One of them is to get myself back in shape, on the “healthy body healthy mind” theory – that will probably be the hardest!

    Fudge should be just plain fudge.
    Rebecca´s last blog post ..2011 Goals Revisited

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  7. Vaughn Roycroft says

    Wow, that one sounds harrowinging to say the least–especially with your offspring hanging in the balance.

    Quick gut-trust story: After a family lawsuit, my wife and I were forced out of our own company (by my step-father). We were we’ll respected enough to be courted by several similar large companies. We narrowed it to two, one a family biz in Chicago, the other a much larger corporation Minneapolis. The one in MN was stable, higher-paying–we accepted, packed, got ready to move there. Literally on the way, car loaded, my wife says, “This isn’t right. Turn south…now.” We went to revisit the Chicago company’s new owner, who we knew and considered a friend. He was unable to reassure us. His company was in transition. Didn’t even know what he’d pay us or what our titles would be. We took the Chicago jobs, and one year later became part owners (with lawsuit settlement proceeds). We owe our house, our lifestyles, my ability to pursue writing–everything–to trusting our guts that day.

    Well, it wasn’t so quick, but that doesn’t surprise you, does it, Jan? ;-) Really wonderful advice here. Here’s to trusting our guts in ’12. Merry Christmas! (Oh, and as for fudge, I’m afraid I’m with Alex–plain old chocolate. Maybe some nuts, but not too many.)

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    • says

      @Rebecca, it’s a real gift to be able to calibrate goals to be both inspiring yet realistic. Good luck with your fitness goals!

      @Vaughn, maple-walnut fudge is a perfectly acceptable choice. As for your story, talk about a gut-based decision. It says a lot about Mo that she has such strong instincts, and about your partnership that you’d be willing to listen.

      @Anna, I’ll simply say I agree. :)
      Jan O’Hara´s last blog post ..Two Tiny Triumphs and a Writer Unboxed Redirect

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  8. says

    I’m glad to hear the accident wasn’t worse than it could have been. I’ve been in a couple of difficult road accidents, in one two people died; so I have a sense of what you must have gone through at the time of yours.

    Here is what resonated for me in your post:

    “We have access to the most basic of joys – the ones that pushed us to craft stories in the first place. Let yourself revel in a goofy pun, the scratch of pen on paper, the shape of a lyrical sentence.”

    Over the summer I was quite ill and didn’t have the energy to read much or to write at all. I spent what little energy I had on watching clips of J.K. Rowling and learned two very important things from her. As a result, I stopped looking outside myself for how to write and began to look inward. I allowed myself to be the character writer that I naturally am; instead of trying to squeeze my thought process into other people’s ideas of how to construct a story; i.e., through the characters rather than arbitrary plot points. When asked why children are so drawn to her books, J.K. Rowling said she wrote for herself–what she would love to read now and what she would have loved to read when she was eleven.

    Sorry, I don’t like fudge (but I’m not American, so perhaps that’s the reason).
    Shelley Souza´s last blog post ..How one thing leads to another

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  9. says

    Wow, Jan, I can’t even imagine how frightening that experience was for everyone involved! I shudder just thinking about it.

    I am a huge believer in going with the gut. I’ve had to listen to it continually while writing my WIP. I’ve even learned that what I’m “stuck” there’s usually a reason for it. In the past such pauses led to big discoveries, such as finding a stack of correspondence in the archives of the Smithsonian. I’ve also learned to go with the images that flash in my head, no matter how inconvenient. If I don’t, I’ll only end up rewriting later!

    My take on fudge? I’m okay with peppermint flavoring so long as it is always chocolate. No nuts, though. Never! There’s something terribly wrong with having that crunch in fudge (or cookies or ice cream).

    Oh, and thank you for starting my day out right with that fantastic photo of Paul Gross. I both gazed and grinned! (I have the entire series of Due South on DVD.)
    Kim Bullock´s last blog post ..Our Best Reads of 2011

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  10. Zeny@LogoWorks says

    I love the natural, unscathed beauty that makes up this world we live in.
    I would rather avoid asphalt and buildings altogether, and just see the wilderness!
    Zeny@LogoWorks´s last blog post ..Good Business Logo

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    • says

      @Shelley Souza, there’s a book you might enjoy called “Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path.” It has parallels to the stages of grief, in that most writers are observed to cycle through stages of certainty. I’m sorry you were will, but sounds like that time was well spent in reconnecting with your goals.

      @Kim Bullock! I goofed and called it “Due North.” Between you and another woman, I was able to edit. Thank you. Some people are excellent at listening to their gut and they seem to be the most fluid, productive and adaptable. I will try not to envy you *too* much. ;)

      @Zeny, you’re definitely farther along the wilderness-civilization paradigm than me, but I appreciate the sentiment and was raised with a parent who might be your BFF.
      Jan O’Hara´s last blog post ..Two Tiny Triumphs and a Writer Unboxed Redirect

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  11. says

    I’ve been spared anything as eye-opening-life-threatening as your experience. For me, it’s a challenge just to say, “I’m a writer” when I know the first response from anyone will be “Have I heard of you?” But I continue to write, and have taken the plunge of getting my back list titles up as e-books, and continuing to move forward with writing. It’s part of me.

    Love fudge — have a great 5 minute microwave recipe. And in my kitchen, I have a cross stitch that says, “Life is Uncertain. Eat Dessert First.”

    Terry
    Terry Odell´s last blog post ..Making the Formula Work

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  12. stephanie says

    oh, Jan, this just hurts to think about it. thankfully, i have no scary stories – real life or metaphorical – to share. as for fudge – it should be chocolate. it is allowed to have more chocolate in it in the way of chocolate chips or even chocolate covered peanut butter stuff or maybe nuts, but that’s it.

    in the coming year, my challenge is to put my writing back into my daily life. still.

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  13. says

    I really enjoyed your post as well as all the comments about listening to your gut. I’ve never thought about this and am going to try to use it more in my writing. Sometimes we can get swayed by not listening to our gut. Instead we read about all the “shoulds” in the writing classes and books we read, how we have to write this way or that, instead of writing what we ourselves would like to read. By writing what we enjoy reading, hopefully we’ll write better novels and others out there will like reading them just as much as we do.
    Patti

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    • says

      @Terry Odell, a five-minute microwave recipe? Do tell. As for validation, I think anyone with intrinsic drive to write has a real gift.

      @stephanie, want me to help crack the whip? I know where to find you. ;) I sincerely hope you make that time, chica. The world needs your stories.

      @Patti, while I’m a fan of learning, it’s all-too easy to get bogged down in craft books and stop producing. If that’s happening, I’ve found it’s time to reconnect with my gut. (Of course, you have to consider the source.)
      Jan O’Hara´s last blog post ..Two Tiny Triumphs and a Writer Unboxed Redirect

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      • says

        Five Minute Fudge
        Sift a 1-lb box of powdered sugar together with 1/2 cocoa powder into a micro-proof bowl. Slice in a stick of butter and add 1/4 cup milk (or evaporated milk or eggnog). Nuke for about 2 minutes until butter is mostly melted. Stir well. Add 1 t vanilla. Add 1 c chopped nuts if you want….or anything you want, really. Mini marshmallows are good, too. Pour into 8×8 pan, chill. Cut into squares before it sets, after about 20 minutes. Store in the fridge. It freezes well for making in advance.

        (I also share recipes every Wednesday on my blog.)
        Terry Odell´s last blog post ..Making the Formula Work

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  14. says

    Thank you for sharing your horrific story and the lessons you learned from it. I, thankfully, don’t have a similar one to tell– though I do have many lessons of my own from either following my intuition or ignoring it. I love how you found yourself savoring the simple things in life after the accident; it’s a habit I try to employ every day. And I have to say any kind of white chocolate fudge wins in my book, though occasionally I’ll crave a salty peanut butter flavor.
    Raquel Somatra´s last blog post ..Authenticity in Writing

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  15. says

    Thank you Jan. I needed this. As I sometimes do with your posts, I put a copy on my desktop to remind me – for that next time I am taking on something that is “theoretically smart.”
    And now I have a craving for dark chocolate cherry fudge . . .

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  16. says

    Jan,
    My goodness, I’m so glad I read this post. Other than appreciating that a) you survived to share your experience and b) how well you apply your life lessons to writing, I’d say that lesson no. 1 is exactly where I’m at these days.

    I applied for a writing opportunity that, as you say “in theory”, would have been good for my writing career. But, something in my gut kept telling me that it might be more than I could handle, if I wanted to pursue some other bigger projects. Lucky for me, the opportunity went to someone else. I could be disappointed, but I think, some days, the Universe takes care of us even when we aren’t paying attention.
    Christi Craig´s last blog post ..Recovering, Published, and a Flash Fiction Flashback

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    • says

      @Raquel Somatra, I’m glad you haven’t had anything similar! As for white-chocolate fudge, *knuckle-bump.* I, too, try to make a habit of gratitude.

      @Suzanne Stengl, oh, you gave me a warm fuzzy. Thank you.

      @Christi Craig, all the big decisions I’ve made that I’d categorize as “right” — not necessarily successful, you understand, but right — seemed to arrive with the universe’s tacit approval. How nice that you knew it wasn’t going to be the right fit before you got the news. There will be other opportunities for you. Of that I’m sure.

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  17. says

    Thanks for this great post, Jan. And I’m really glad everyone made it out of that accident okay, that’s just terrifying and definitely opening your eyes. For me it actually was a somewhat related experience that opened my eyes to be able to enjoy the more basic joys of life more, when I lost my best childhood friend at 18 to a car accident. It’s been more or less exactly six years now, but to this day what happened reminds me of two things. One, that I want to live life to the fullest, but two, also that sometimes it’s important to slow down and enjoy the little things and great goals are all good and well, but you have to make sure you can actually get there.

    Anyway, thanks for this very insightful post and mmm fudge, I think I’d definitely go with the peppermint, too!
    Alex´s last blog post ..Monday Builds Up With Massages and Subtext

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  18. says

    Jan, I’m so glad you and yours were able to walk away from that accident. It must have been terrifying, not just that day but for a long time after.

    I’m working out my 2012 goals as we speak. And if it’s not chocolate with walnuts, it’s penuche fudge for me.

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  19. Nan Hanway says

    So happy that you were unharmed! A few years ago my son and I walked away from a horrible crash — a semi changed lanes right into us, pinning us against a median as we careened along at 65 mph, scraping concrete. Worst 30 seconds of my life. I remembered saying “We’re going to be all right, we’re going to be all right” to my son the whole time. But he told me later that I just screamed bloody murder.

    What scared me the most was that the state trooper kept telling me, “You have a guardian angel.” And another driver who stopped at the scene told me, over and over, “God has a plan for you.” My husband said that when he saw the car later at the junk yard, his knees buckled. For over a year, I kept finding broken windshield glass in odd places: at the bottom of my purse, my computer bag, even in the lining of the jacket I was wearing.

    I don’t believe in guardian angels, and plenty of good God-fearing people die in car wrecks. However, my husband’s reaction still brings tears to my eyes. And the accident made me focus more on him and my son, on people I love, and (like you, Jan) on those small moments of bliss that make life worth living.

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    • says

      @Alex, all death is hard, but to lose a friend at such a young age… Well, it couldn’t help but shape your perceptions. Anyway, I’m glad you’re making time to enjoy the present.

      @liz michalski, you’re a nut fan? I did not know that about you. Yes, you’re right about the lingering effects of that day. It took a month before I could drive without significant anxiety. But I think we’ve kept the good bits and left behind the bad. Molly was reading this post, for instance, and said, “Oh yeah. I remember that root beer.”

      @Nan Hanway, wow. You had more aftermath to cope with than I did. That sounds like a very close call.

      Is it bad I laughed at your non-existent dialogue? When we started our oscillating path into the ditch, I only had time to think, “Thank God we’re all seatbelted,” and, “If we’re going to die, don’t let it hurt.” So much for last-minute profundity, huh?
      Jan O’Hara´s last blog post ..Two Tiny Triumphs and a Writer Unboxed Redirect

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      • Nan Hanway says

        Jan — No, not bad at all that you laughed at my dialogue. I felt the same way you did – so much for my fantasies of a profound death. And really, I think that in itself taught me the most. I never realized this before now, but I think I took away a sense that we don’t get the long movie moment at death. It’s only what we create now. Anyway, thanks for this profound post!

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  20. says

    Excellent post, great advice, Jan.
    First off, if you haven’t seen Paul Gross in “Slings and Arrows,” a short but excellent TV series, I recommend it, having found it via Netflix.
    The kick in the pants? Well, I’ve put writing at the center of my life many times, and then had it slide out. It took a double kick to finally settle me in for good: while working on a bevy of other things, having put poetry and songwriting on hold and totally given up fiction, my muscles stopped working. I could barely walk or swallow, lift my arms, dress myself. It was scary and mystifying.
    Diagnosed @41 with a rare disease called Dermatomyositis, I spent a couple years gaining back my strength, only to have a total relapse immediately after moving across the country with intent to start a pastry cafe in my hometown.
    I didn’t know what to do with myself while beginning the long healing journey again– so I started writing, practicing at Helium.com, submitting poetry to small journals, finally jumping into NaNoWriMo 2008 and remembering my first love, fiction. I’ve been writing every kind of thing ever since.
    My goal for 2012? Edit that first, promising novel into a masterpiece or at the very least, a novel I’m proud to query to an agent.
    Lastly, I admit I’ve never liked fudge, period. Too sweet! I’m a tart-taste person– vinegar, lemon sours, cranberries, pomegranate. But I make a d-mn good truffle.
    Exploding Mary´s last blog post ..An Open Letter to People Bitching About Other People’s Groceries

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  21. says

    Goals are hard…I resolve to finish my book(s), to spend more ‘creative’ days and to enjoy every opportunity I get to be with my growing kids (17 and 20).

    And not to let the weeds in the garden get the better of me this summer…

    On the fudge issue, I am a maple walnut fudge lover. When I can get it, I adore Scottish Tablet, a kind of vanilla fudge that is AMAZING!

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  22. says

    That sounds terrifying, and I can see where it would affect how and why you make decisions.

    For me, it wasn’t one major event, but at some point last year I just decided it was finally time to stand up for myself and I took some actions to follow through on that. The older I get, the more I realize I want to spend my time on things that I enjoy or find useful, not on what someone else tells me I should do.

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  23. says

    The accident sounds frightening. We had a broken suspension on a rutted dirt road three days ago and the lesson I drew from it was, Even robust writing projects can grind to a halt unexpectedly. When they do, make sure you have a backup project to keep you moving forward. Repairs can be slow during the holiday season so you don’t want to be stranded with nothing to do!
    Leanne Hunt´s last blog post ..Am I Being a Wimp when it Comes to Restaurant Noise?

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    • says

      @Exploding Mary, I have to tell you I chuckle each time I type your name. Vinegars? Ooh, I heart them, too.

      I’ve seen a few episodes of “Slings and Arrows.” Then they pulled a time switcheroo on me and I forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder. As for your goals, my wish for you is that your health becomes a non-issue and you kick 2012’s butt.

      @Lecia Cornwall, re the weeds: one criteria of goal-setting is that you pick achievable tasks. Are you sure you’re up to this one? ;) As for the others, with what I know of you, I’m sure they’re toast.

      @Dee Garretson, that sounds like a wonderfully assertive state of mind. Is it catching? ;)

      @Leanne Hunt, ooh, I love the metaphor, especially as I’m a person who often has to synthesize projects before I can proceed — hence the need for Works-in-Progress. It’s frustrating but necessary.
      Jan O’Hara´s last blog post ..Two Tiny Triumphs and a Writer Unboxed Redirect

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  24. says

    Oh my, Jan, how scary for you and your family. I’ve only been in a tiny accident where the car slid onto its side and that was bad enough. Your ordeal was truly frightening. :( I am so glad you all walked away in one piece.

    I’m a caramel girl, not a fudge girl (although I won’t turn any kind down unless it contains bananas). I’ve learned to listen to my gut when I’m writing and hopefully will on the business side, too. Because I’ve always made it a practice to go with my gut feelings, I usually do okay but every once in a while I get caught and then, I can always look back and say I should’ve listened to my gut.

    Thanks for the great post.
    Sheila Seabrook´s last blog post ..The Gift by C. J. Carmichael

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  25. says

    Ten years ago my late husband’s stroke changed everything. Those four years post stroke remind me about the need for balance. Life changed tremendously after his death. As far as writing, my ’09 NaNoWriMo catastrophe keeps me in check for challenges and goals. I’m writing down my list for 2012 this week.
    Stacy S. Jensen´s last blog post ..‘Twas the Flight Before Christmas

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    • says

      @Sheila Seabrook, you know, if you have a recipe for caramels, the ToolMaster would probably offer to commit bigamy if you’d pass it on. And sounds like you really trust your instincts. Wonderful!

      @Bernadette Phipps Lincke, thank you. :)

      @Lisa Brackmann, hee. Sometimes I do things and I wonder if Therese and Kathleen are cringing or silently urging me on. But you’re welcome. Happy to oblige.

      @Stacy S. Jensen, my goodness. I had no idea you’d coped with that. My hat’s off to you! As for NaNo disasters, you’re in good company, methinks. May 2012 bring you good revision-mojo and a healthy family.
      Jan O’Hara´s last blog post ..Two Tiny Triumphs and a Writer Unboxed Redirect

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  26. says

    Thanks for writing about what sounds like a gut-wrenching traumatic event! Thanks also for tying it to writing. It’s exactly the kind of push I need today. Let go of the bad, breathe in the good!
    Johanna´s last blog post ..My Pretend Zen

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  27. says

    Thanks for the well learned lesson extrapolated to our writing lives. Glad you’re here to tell about it.

    As to fudge — yes — any and all varieties. Chocolate is my first major food group.
    Judith Robl´s last blog post ..Wheee!!!

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  28. says

    I had a wake up call many years ago and I learned my lesson: Life is short, savor it. I do nothing that doesn’t add to my life, although I have to admit others may not agree with my choices. It doesn’t matter – i’m doing what I want to do. As a result, life is always interesting, usually fun and totally worthwhile.

    thanks for bringing this to my writing life.

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  29. Michele says

    This saying has nothing to do with scenery it has to do with whether we are followers or make our own path. I prefer the road less traveled because I like to think I’m an innovative thinker and can create my own path in life. Being of a Bohemian nature I am eclectic and don’t tend to follow where others would lead. The beaten path is fraught with the dangers of falling into mediocrity.
    Michele´s last blog post ..Waterfall Photography: Tips to Make a Stunning Images

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  30. says

    That was quite the revelation! I for one prefer the less life threatening but equally profound. I think it’s fantastic that you’re able to transform this near death rollover into a metaphor for writing though. Definitely some sound advice especially as a reader who is taking my own steps forward into the world of getting published.

    I won’t go into the long details of my own wake-up moment, but the after affects are definitely as you described them. Reveling in the goofy puns is something I find myself doing all the time now, whether it be my writing life or my teaching life, where the goofy pun can cause a class to groan (which in my view is always a fantastic sound since it means they’re paying attention.)
    David´s last blog post ..Obsessions: What are they? Posted by David

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  31. says

    @Louise Behiel, having had the pleasure of meeting you, I can say you have the vibe of a woman on a mission — quite wonderful to witness.

    @Michele, I’m with you on the need to make our own way. Personally, though, I’ve found so much happiness in what might seem a perfectly ordinary, boring life that I won’t discard it because others are doing it, too. I think the trick is to make it a choice.

    @David, yes! Another pun-groan-inducer in the crowd. Methinks teachers are well-positioned to deal with rejection and heckling, especially if you’re dealing with the upper grades. May you find the querying/submission go-round fruitful, or at least less painful than most.
    Jan O’Hara´s last blog post ..Two Tiny Triumphs and a Writer Unboxed Redirect

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  32. says

    What a lovely post, Jan. I think at this time of year in particular it is easy to feel as if you are drowing in committments and forget to enjoy the little things. Thanks for the reminder that it’s okay to be selfish when it is in the best interest of your family, health or well-being.

    Best of luck in 2012. I look forward to many more WU posts!

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    • says

      @D.L. Snow, for personal reasons, I’m not fond of the word “selfish,” because it’s often used by others to derail our self-preserving and affirming behaviors, but I know exactly what you mean. I hope this helps in some way.

      And thank you, DL! That means a lot.
      Jan O’Hara´s last blog post ..Road-Worthy Fudge

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  33. says

    Jan, first, I echo everyone here in being so glad you and your family are okay — what a terrifying experience.
    I love your fifth point — reveling in the almost physical joys of writing. Whenever I get off-track (which is often), that is what draws me back to the center. And, as for fudge, any and all.
    Lisa Ahn´s last blog post ..A Wilderness of Childhood

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