I’m learning that the best way to make sure I get my 15 minutes is to do it immediately upon setting Baby down for a nap. I have to apply my butt to the chair even while I can still hear her crying. If I wait and say, toss in a load of laundry, then I see the litter boxes and decide they need to be cleaned, then as I’m walking upstairs with the litter I realize the pantry needs to be swept out. After I sweep it, I see all the expired dry goods and decide to try to figure out a way to make a meal with beans, couscous, Weight Watchers muffin mix and raisins. Honestly, KraftFoods.com is good but this was the only idea I got: Spiced Butternut Squash Couscous. I guess I could use the muffins for dessert, but it also means I’d have to go out and buy a squash and if I’m going to get that, I might as well make up a list…hey, look, Baby is awake.
So no laundry before writing. I like that rule. I might apply it to everything. We create a copious amount of laundry for a family of 5. Seriously, it just never ends.
Anywhoo…down to business.
God coincidence 2–I may have written about it before, but my memory sucks and if I stop to check my previous blog entries I’ll be looking up KraftFood.com recipes in about two seconds. I’m like that. I have an attention span of a cocker spaniel. Oh, look, a kitty.
I started writing around 1974, ’75. I remember because we live in what I thought was a HUGE house in Ohio. Looking back now, it was likely just an ordinary 4-bedroom house in the ‘burbs. But I was only 7 or 8, so it seemed big to me. I remember my room had old fashioned airplane wallpaper–red baron stuff–because a boy had once had my room. I always wanted my mom to redo it–she redid my sister’s room in a pretty pink floral, but never got around to my room and it has bothered me for forever.See mom, if you are reading this, it’s all your fault. Okay, not really, but the red baron airplanes were really gross.
So I remember my sister, three years younger than me, coming into my room one morning and I told her a story that I’d made up. She liked it and I wrote it down. I still have it somewhere in this house. It was terrible–I was only 7ish, cut me a break–but it was an original Rebecca story. After that, I kept writing stories and poems and little essays. In high school, I won a poetry contest–1 of 12 winners in the entire state of Tennessee.
I went on to write in college–essays for the college newspaper, and entries for the campus literary magazine. Even after I graduated, I still wrote a little. Then I had to get a job. Guess what–there aren’t a lot of jobs for writers. At least jobs that pay. So I went into retail. Isn’t it sad that an assistant manager of a retail store can make more than a writer. And I stopped writing. That was back in 1989–twenty years ago.
Then, a few years ago, after a VERY obvious God moment, I took a job with a small company in the area. That God moment wasn’t any sort of quiet, subtle coincidence–it was a hit you over the head so you cannot breath moment. Again, another story for another 15 minutes.
So I got this job at this company and I LOVED it! It was FABULOUS! I could have stayed there for FOREVER. Remember, I don’t have a good track record with employment, but this place was the BEST! I loved my coworkers, I loved the work, I loved the clients, I loved my bosses. Just love, love, love all the way around. I was so comfortable there I could have stayed for life.
And I knew God didn’t want that for me. I knew in the back of my mind that this was a little gift that I was getting and that it wouldn’t last forever. So while I was at this place, I friended a coworker, MaryEllen who told me about NANOWRIMO…National Novel Writing Month. She said she wrote for it every year and that I should try it. Now she said this BEFORE she knew I had been a writer. I joined the company in September of 2005 and didn’t find out about NANOWRIMO until it was over that year, but I decided I would definitely try it the following year. Fast forward one year later to November 2006 and I sign up for NANOWRIMO. I’m doing great. I’m keeping up with my 1666 words, I’m writing for the first time in almost 20 years! I’m writing a novel for the first time in more than 20 years! I cannot believe it. It’s just before Thanksgiving and I’m almost finished the novel–the kids have late arrival for school and I’m sitting on the sofa with them. They are watching a show and I am checking my email.
A wonderful email arrives from my project manager, complimenting me and the team on a great job that we had done on a project. The client loved it and all was right with the world. I quickly–and there is that terrible adjective–quickly–dashed off a reply to the team also offering my thanks and appreciation. I also made a tiny comment about how nice it is that THIS client appreciates our work when we have other clients who don’t appreciate our work. And I might, just might (okay, I did) have named the obnoxious client who didn’t appreciate our work.
The phone rings. It’s MaryEllen.
“Hey, I got your email.”
“Yeah, isn’t it great the client loved our work.”
“You do realize the owner of our company was cc’d on the email don’t you?”
“Oh, no, I didn’t see that.”
“You know you said mean things about company X, don’t you?”
“Yeah, but our owner knows they are obnoxious.”
Silence. I’m starting to sweat.
“You do know that the CLIENT was cc’d on the email don’t you?”
No. No I did NOT realize the client had been cc’d. We get these internal emails ALL the time from the project managers. They are internal and are just written to the team. Nope, I NEVER even considered that THIS project manager would have cc’d the client on this email. I’d just trashed one client in front of another one.
Simultaneously, my living room got both bigger and smaller at the same time. I kept thinking that I wouldn’t have been so fast to send the email if I hadn’t been watching the kids. If only it hadn’t been early arrival. If only I hadn’t wanted to be second to thank everyone–I would have had time to see who was cc’d on the memo. If only.
I knew that this was the end of my job. I knew the owner of the company was going to fire me. I’d just gotten commended on a great job–it’d actually been the third commendation I’d received for a project. I’d just co-presented my work at a seminar in Disney on new training methods that I’d written. I’d just received my annual review and was told my work was fabulous. I was getting a freaking raise! And the email that I’d sent off quickly was going to end all of it. I remember thinking, “Shit, I knew this wasn’t going to last God, but I didn’t think it was going to end so soon.” I thought about 5,000 words left to go on the novel and I jokingly said to my friend, “well, at least I’ll be able to finish the novel now.” But I knew I wouldn’t. I knew I would lay around and cry about the job I knew I was about to lose.
I talked to the project manager. I apologized profusely. The client emailed me and told me it wasn’t a big deal and that she hoped I didn’t get in trouble. The next day, I met with my managers. I apologized profusely. I offered to call the owner of the company and apologize to him. I told them it wouldn’t ever happen again. We finished the meeting laughing. It was a scare–a close one–but my job appeared safe. I had learned from my mistakes.
A lovely Thanksgiving weekend comes and goes. I finished the novel and celebrated. I’d just written a novel. It’s not like everyone can say that.
Tuesday rolls around and I get ready to go in for our weekly status meeting. An email goes out that it’s being pushed to later in the day. Another email comes to me and asks me to come in an hour early.
I know I’m getting fired.
So where are the God coincidences in all of this? Well, hindsight is 20-20, but several things stand out for me at the time I was with this company. First, I knew from the very beginning that this job was a temporary gift from God. Second, I really connected with MaryEllen who told me about NANOWRIMO. Third, I finished my novel that month. If I’d been fired on the original day, there isn’t any way I would have been able to pick myself up, pull myself together and finish those last 5000 words. I would have been broken. And because I wouldn’t have finished it, I doubt I would have been able to continue writing. But for some reason, they didn’t fire me that day. They fired me the day after I’d finished my novel–and then I had all the time in the world to fall apart. I was in so many pieces I felt like Humpty Dumpty.
I’ve done NANOWRIMO two more times. Although I didn’t finish last year–hello, new baby and all–I certainly gave it a run for it’s money. And because I did NANOWRIMO, I realized I could write. I could write and not be famous (although it would be much nicer to write AND be famous, but that’s in God’s hands). I’ve written a lot since then. Two and a half novels, several essays and short stories. I’ve been published (on a now-defunct web site). I found a writers group that is amazingly helpful. I started (and restarted) this blog. I’ve even submitted somethings that didn’t get published. You know what they call a writer who keeps submitting his material? Published.
Now some of you might say, “If God had been watching out for you, he wouldn’t have let you send the email and you wouldn’t have gotten fired from your fabulous job.” But that isn’t the point. It wasn’t the job that I needed–okay, I did need the money–it was MaryEllen.
Since then, I don’t see MaryEllen very often. Mostly just on Facebook. But she has her life, her issues, her responsibilites and I have mine. I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. MaryEllen was my “reason” friend. If I ever do get a book published, it’s getting dedicated to her.
Now it’s time to do the laundry. And can couscous really expire?