No one offers a course in the really important life lessons.
They’ll remind you about rules from kindergarten. How important it is to play nice with others or not run with scissors. They’ll teach you how to meditate to reduce stress, which you’ll need from the burden of always playing nice with others.
But once the sh*t hits the proverbial fan, you’re on your own.
While you may think a romance writer lives a life of perpetual joy, we do occasionally have moments that aren’t bliss-filled.
Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned:
Life Lesson One: When to Lie
If a man in a dark suit comes to your office and says: “Are you (fill in your name)?
Your response should be, “Absolutely not. I’m here to meet with her for an appointment but she’s stood me up. Good luck waiting for her.” And then leave as quickly as possible.
Because telling the truth will inevitably get you another sentence you will hate.
“I’m from the IRS.” Or “You’ve been served.”
Life Lesson Two: When to Dial 9-1-1
- If you arrive home to find your house filled with dark smoke, do not stop. Drive to Starbucks and drink a venti cup of coffee or get a pedicure. Any time-killer you can devise, because a smoke-damage fire is worse than losing everything. (Trust me.)
- Kids will be kids. But when a river of blood gathers at your feet. It doesn’t matter that they been told you’re not to be interrupted. It’s probably time to investigate.
- If firetrucks show up and you’re still holding the matches, instead of 911, call a good friend with bail money and hunt down that lawyer you refused to marry.
Life Lesson Three: Work is Work
Do not drink with your fellow co-workers. Do not use the Christmas party as a time to unwind. Do not assume because you hate your boss, that everyone else feels the same way. And I shouldn’t even have to say this one, but if you are out on the town with co-workers, do not use this opportunity to score with a hooker or make a drug connection. Believe it or not, I have seen people fired for all of the above.
And if you do any of the above and get away with it, do not post it on your Facebook page. See Lesson Four.
Life Lesson Four: Living Large on Social Network
My mother used to say, “Never put anything in writing you will have to defend in court.” This is a rule society has gotten away from and it needs to be brought back home. I am shocked at what people put in writing. Not just on YouTube or Facebook, but in emails. Once that missive has left your computer, the world will have the opportunity to read it. Consider your thoughts carefully.
And your emotions.
Ask any writer, emotions are hard to convey. Your funny comment comes across as snarky. Adding an emoji can be more confusing than helpful. What exactly does the poop emoji convey? Or a chicken drumstick?
Life Lesson Five: When to Cry
All of us have had horrible things happen in our lives. We cry. We cry. And then we cry some more. Sometimes we are so swept away by grief that controlling our public face is difficult. When tears well in your eyes at the wrong moment, try counting backwards from 100 by 13.
87, 74, 61 etc.
Believe it or not, this works.
Life Lesson Six: Talking Things Out
I am a writer, because I believe in telling one’s story – particularly the painful parts. We’ve learned to hide behind our masks so effectively that many times, women will tell a tragic tale about losing a child, a parent, or a spouse and smile. Not a happy grin, but the clichéd one we all write in every romance novel.
Her lips curled, but the smile didn’t reach her eyes.
We write it, because we know it. As does our reader. But even if we tell our tale a thousand times as long as we smile, we’re hiding behind our mask. Step out from behind the curtain. Learn to tell a tale of horror without smiling. Learn to write those things that tear you apart.
Life Lesson Seven: Humans Don’t Eat Their Young – no matter how tempting
You’re helping a child become a responsible adult while they are teaching you to value an institutionalized life-style.
For decades, teenage boys were threatened with Military school which could have explained a portion of anti-war protests. A judge can offer a juvenile in trouble the choice between the Army or jail. Despite a few bumps in the road, kids grow up, get jobs and have offspring. Your oft repeated curse that you hope their children will be just like them usually comes to bear fruit. You have finally had the last laugh.
Except.. Wait. The situation has reversed. Now those same amusing little tykes are the one searching for your nursing home.
Remember this – Lake View Manor rarely has a lake. And if you have to ask why there are bars on the windows, your kids are getting their revenge.
Life Lesson Eight: Treasure the Real Things
It is easy in this day and age to put your marriage/family on a back-burner. Kids, work, dinner and house payments conspire to suck the life out of your day. You’re tired and cross. No, you don’t want sex. You don’t even want to cuddle. All you want is a few minutes alone. Is that too much to ask?
If you knew you would die in two days, what changes would you make? And isn’t that the true lesson a romance writer teaches us? Make time to tell your family how much they mean to you. Make time to find sweeter words and a kinder voice. Make time to learn how to play nice with others.
Nancy will be presenting Redeeming Your Antagonist at SavvyAuthors starting on August 7.
Nancy Brophy is a home-grown product of a crazy family. While her family denies it, she is the only sane one which is a horrible burden to carry through life. As the poster child for every positive accolade given to women, she knew she could be anything she wanted to be and have it all.
From a buffet of options, she chose to hide out and write novels, which much to everyone’s surprise, have won awards. True to her insane birthright, she hops genres, writes both fiction and non-fiction and despite success continues to do everything wrong.
Nancy lives in the beautiful, green, and very wet, Northwest, married to a Chef whose mantra is: life is a science project. As a result there are chickens and turkeys in her backyard, a fabulous vegetable garden which also grows tobacco for an insecticide and a hot meal on the table every night. For those of you who have longed for this, let her caution you. The old adage is true. Be careful what you wish for, when the gods are truly angry, they grant us our wishes. And the payment is always high, She fights an insidious ten pounds every year of her life.
Nancy wrote her entire life, but didn’t get serious about becoming a published author until she joined RWA. Even then she waivered, but through chapter meetings, classes and contests she learned how to structure a novel. In the Portland, Oregon chapter she has been Chapter President, VP – Programs and has coordinated the Rose City Romance Writers Luncheon for three years. As a hybrid award-winning author she is published both traditionally and indie, in both fiction and non-fiction with 6 published Romantic suspense novels, 1 non-fiction plotting book, 1 erotic short story and work featured in two anthologies.