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Archive for October, 2011

Cinderolda Has Been Released on Amazon!!!!

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Print version coming soon!!!! Plus print version of Caught!!!! Whoo-hooo!!!!

The Picture on the Piano

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Recently, I realized that I am going to die. No, I didn’t contract a terminal illness; I finally got out of denial. Not only did my 52nd birthday alert me to the fact of my impending death, spending time in my parents’ retirement community drove the point home. I’ve watched as several of their neighbors have gone from sitting next to them in the dining room to having their pictures displayed on the piano in the lobby—which is how all the recently deceased are honored. Mom said, “What you don’t want is to walk by the piano and see your picture on it. Then you know you’re in trouble.” And I know someday her photo will be on that baby grand. Not far behind will be mine. Even with my preventive measures—working out and eating right, etc.—I, like all human beings, will go to that giant Disneyland in the sky. (You have your idea of Heaven, I have mine.)

This realization brought about a great disturbance in Janet’s Force. I finally realized I have very limited time left. That it was imperative to prioritize my choices so I could achieve the most important goals before my picture winds up on the piano.

Luckily, my greatest desire was super clear to me: writing the novels. My passion for the work is blinding and all-encompassing. I am obsessed with the stories in my head. My brain is like a cable TV system: tons of channels and all are full of programming. Writing them down is the feat. Even if I do nothing else—like eat or sleep or talk to people—I will not have enough time to write all the books in my head. Partly because there are so many stories, but mostly because it takes so freaking long to write a book.

Which brings me back to My Giant Realization. Not only did I come to the conclusion that I didn’t I have time to do everything on my plate, I didn’t have the time for many of the things I’d planned to do this lifetime. In fact, I had almost no time to do anything besides the books. I experienced a sort of death of dreams. I voiced all the things swirling around in the back of my mind that I thought I’d do, and one by one, gave them up. No time for learning the guitar and starting an all-girl punk band. No competitive racecar driving. No big cat rescue or zookeeper.

Actually, that was the easy part of my process. Since I hadn’t invested time in any of the activities, they weren’t very difficult to give up. The hard part was quitting current activities. Especially the Good Do-Bee volunteer work. Really pushed me up against the ideas society gave me regarding my self worth.

As a woman of a certain age (I bloody hated writing that sentence), I was not trained to care about myself. I was brainwashed into thinking that doing things for others was, in actuality, doing things for myself. I was trained to think that if I focused on my own needs, I was selfish and not a “good girl.” I was taught that good girls had no needs. Which is stupid and why many women my age are bat-crap crazy. Because our basic human right to live our own lives was taken from us.

While I still enjoy helping others and won’t give up all volunteering, I don’t want my obituary to read: “She was a self-sacrificing person who rarely did anything for herself.” I want the headline: “Famous Author Dies In Own Home After a Long and Fruitful Life.” I am the only one who can write my books. What if Jane Austen, Nora Roberts and J.K. Rowling had never written their books? No Mr. Darcy, Rourke and Eve, or Harry Potter. While I doubt my work will achieve that level of recognition, if I put all my energy into my career now, I’ll have a much better chance for success. When I was freaking out about the decision to self-publish, worried I might fail, a friend asked me, “Have you heard of Doris Masterson?” “No.” “Neither has anyone else because she never put her books on the market.” Probably because Doris was busy being a good girl.

After realizing the Good Girl Trap was part of my problem, I examined and judged each activity by asking myself two questions. Does this further my writing career and personal goals? Or am I doing this to be a good girl? Some activities, while on the outside appeared to be Good Girl motivated, actually turned out to be things I enjoyed. Like hosting the family Christmas party.

But other endeavors revealed themselves to be part of my old pattern. Like the MC gig at the Pescadero Arts and Fun Festival. When I started eighteen years ago, it really fed me. I loved being on stage and helping the kids of Pescadero. But it was a really exhausting job. People assumed I breezed up on stage, spouted a few jokes off the top of my head, and waltzed off to party. Not. Preparation and recovery took one to two weeks. In recent years, I performed because I was needed, not because I wanted to be there. So I quit. While the decision was no fun, I felt no regrets. I felt free.

After that, my decisions came easier. So far I’ve quit three major jobs—writing gigs and volunteer positions—and I’m still not done cleaning house.

I can’t tell you how happy these changes are making me. While I have no idea if I’ll reach all my career goals, there are two things of which I am certain. By the time my picture is on that piano, I’ll have many more books on the market. And more importantly, I will have lived the life I chose for myself, not the one that was chosen for me.

©2011, Janet Periat

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