Monday, December 16, 2013

The Ending You Want

The school term has come an end, which means that I'll get some time off for Christmas. I'm going to visit my parents, who live in another state, for a few days. The rest of the time I'll be in Chicago. I'll be using my Christmas break mainly to work on my dissertation, clean out my apartment, and write fiction. Oh, and I'll probably "relax" at least 5% of the time and do something fun. (What? I'm a neurotic workaholic, not a laid-back slacker! And even when I "relax" and do something that isn't work, I'm still thinking about all the work that I have to do.)

Now that I have some free time, I've come back to my manuscripts, one of which includes a love triangle. I've come up with more than one ending for it. In one ending, the main character ends up with the "right" guy. But something about that ending feels wrong to me. I feel like it's the ending that I want, not the ending that the main character wants.

For me, my characters do become "real", in some sense. Not real in the sense that I ate breakfast with the main character and am going to go out later and give wedgies to annoying people with her best friend. But "real" in the sense that sometimes when I'm writing, the characters say or do something that surprise me, because I hadn't even been thinking about it before. That's why I'm not very good at plotting, because I don't always know what's going to happen ahead of time. And I think that's part of what makes writing fun. (Of course, if plotting works for you, keep doing it.)

At first, the main character resembled me in many respects, but as I kept writing, she started developing a personality of her own. (But she still possesses several of my traits, such as the fact that she yells at her neighbors to MOVE OUT when they have one of their "Let's party like we don't have neighbors" parties.) That's why when I tried to write this one ending for her, it felt like she kept shaking her head and saying, "NO! That's what you would do, not what I would do."

If I change the ending, it changes the entire tone of the story. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is hard for me to just let go and let the characters tell their story. In addition to being a neurotic workaholic, I'm also a control freak.

One reason I've been thinking about this a lot lately is that I didn't get the ending I wanted with my crush. No, I didn't ask him out, but he did snub me recently. I won't get into specifics on how he snubbed me, because I'm still nervous that he'll find this blog somehow (incidentally, outside of the blogosphere, most people don't know that I'm Neurotic Workaholic or even that I want to be a writer, because I keep my writing life a secret).

He didn't snub me in a cruel way, not in the way that would make Taylor Swift write an angry song about him. But it was more of a thoughtless snub, and it cut deep all the same. The ending I wanted was one where I could finally give up online dating FOREVER and be with a guy who I thought was worth the wait. But it just didn't turn out that way.

Don't worry. I'm okay, or at least I will be...eventually. I'm going to go listen to one of my Taylor Swift playlists on my iPod. Yes, I have more than one.

Does that ever happen to you? That is, do you find yourself struggling with the ending or other scenes, where you want your characters to act one way but they keep resisting and make the scenes fall flat or come up with their own scenes? How do you deal with it?

Monday, December 9, 2013

All I Want for Christmas

1. Is to be able to teach at a good school for as long as I can. Teaching is the one job that I've learned the most from, and I still feel happiest when I'm in a classroom, interacting with my students.

2. Is for all my students to throw their cell phones in the air and say, "Who needs texting, anyway?" (That will never happen, but a girl can dream.)

3. Is to continue to improve and strengthen my skills as a teacher. Even though I've grown a lot since I first stepped over to the other side of the desk, there is still a lot that I need to learn.

4. Is to travel more, starting with my trip to New York sometime in 2014. I've always wanted to go there, but I never did due to lack of time and money. But now I finally have money saved up, and I'm going to go and be like all those awe-struck tourists that both annoy and amuse me here in Chicago.

5. Is to make more time for writing, reading,  dance classes, and even socializing. And I want to make more time for other fun things in Chicago, like bike riding by the lake when it's warm out or getting cheap tickets to a really interesting play at one of the tiny theaters.

6. Is to have the strength to stand up to the people who make me feel bad about myself. I mentioned in my last post that it was difficult for me to even believe that my crush could ever like me. I focused so much on what certain people thought was wrong with me and didn't spend enough time thinking about the fact that there ARE good things about me, even if they can't see it.

7. Is to let myself feel something real for someone. For a long time I kept my heart closed off to everyone, because I was so afraid of being rejected and getting hurt. But it didn't really make me feel better. It just made me feel numb. I don't want to feel like that anymore. I still might get rejected, and I still might get hurt. But I don't want to keep myself closed off anymore.

I'd like to say that I've found the courage to ask out my crush on a date. I'd also like to say that I didn't eat Froot Loops for dinner because I accidentally set fire to the chicken I tried to make first. But then I'd just be lying.

What about you? What do you want for Christmas, or what kinds of changes do you want to make?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Unrequited Crushes

For the past few weeks, I've had an unrequited crush on someone. I don't want to give away too many revealing details about who he is, because then he might find my blog and recognize himself and OH DEAR GOD, THAT JUST CANNOT HAPPEN BECAUSE IF HE FINDS MY BLOG HE'LL THINK I'M EVEN WEIRDER THAN HE (AND EVERYONE ELSE) ALREADY DOES.

I will say that he's funny, smart, nice, cute, and easy to talk to. He's also only gotten on my nerves on three separate occasions, which is at least fifty-seven times less than the average person. He's someone I've known for a while. I never really thought about him like THAT before. But we were talking one day and for some reason I suddenly saw him in a new light, and I recognized all those good qualities that he had. I found myself thinking about him...a LOT, even more than I think about coffee, books, and the reasons why the average person bugs me. If that's not a crush, then what is?

He's the first person I've had a crush on in a long time. It's also the first time in years that I've had a crush on someone who I didn't meet on an online dating site first. The last time I had a crush on a guy that I didn't meet online was about five years ago, when I started socializing with other people my age at my church. We used to go out to dinner together, and there was a guy who was good-looking, friendly, and genuinely kind to everyone. AND he went to Mass every Sunday! What was not to like?

Unfortunately, that guy didn't like me back. He liked another girl who went out to dinner with us, someone who was at least fifteen pounds thinner than me and actually knew how to put on makeup and walk in heels without falling over. I never told him how I felt. I doubted that it would even matter to him.

I haven't told this new guy how I feel either because a) he's planning to move away soon; b) if he liked me, I think he probably would have asked me out by now, because he's not the shy type; c) based on certain things he's told me, there's someone else that he's thinking of right now. It feels like what happened with that other crush all over again.

At first I thought I only liked this new guy because of all the online dating profiles where guys specified that they were looking for women who "look like Natalie Portman, but I'll settle for someone who looks like Scarlett Johansson" and the guys who indicated that they didn't want to date women who weighed more than the guys' weight limit (I am not making this up). I thought I only liked him because of all the dates I'd gone on with the wrong guys. I thought maybe I liked him because I was lonely. But the more that I thought about him, the more I realized that I liked him because of HIM.

I'm embarrassed to admit that once I realized I had a crush on him, I immediately thought of all the reasons he would never like me. I'm not thin enough. I'm too neurotic, too much of a workaholic, and I want to start carrying around a whoopee cushion that I can use against people who bug me. One reason I view myself in this way is that when I was growing up, there were people who constantly made me feel like I wasn't good enough. There are still people who make me feel that, and sometimes it's hard not believe them. I know that they're wrong, but...

It's just a crush. It'll go away eventually. And maybe the next time I have a crush on someone, he'll actually like me back. And he'll NEVER make me feel like I'm not good enough. He'll also come with me to buy whoopee cushions.

What about you? Have you ever had an unrequited crush on anyone? How did you deal with it?

This video doesn't have anything to do with unrequited crushes, but it does make me feel better about not being in a relationship. It also makes me like Kerry Washington and Jay Pharoah even more.