To tell a compelling story…

Screw the lemonade… I’ve got too many lemons!

Posted on: June 20, 2010

You’d better move away from me. A little farther… just a little farther. There’s been a black cloud over my head for the past month or so. I wouldn’t want you to get hit by the lightning bolt when it strikes.

I’m not sure what, exactly, it is, or what I did wrong. Bad luck? Karma? God’s out to get me? Bad stuff happens but why must it happen in a cluster? It’s like I’m in the ring with Tyson, and just as I get my breath back from one punch, he lands one below the belt.

Bad news comes in a barrage of punches, it seems… mesothelioma for one uncle, lung cancer for another. Left hook. Next, my mother-in-law’s breast cancer returned. (There’s the cross.) She just finished a second bout of radiation and that’s when my mother was diagnosed with a stage 4 spread of the cancer – also breast cancer – that she’d fought thirteen years earlier. (Whoa, there’s a combination.) I’m gasping for breath and then, my husband’s cousin in Atlanta phones. His wife died of liver failure. (Falling through the ropes now. I struggle back inside the ring and boom!) My son sliced his leg open – thirteen stitches. A query I’d submitted got a nibble – send a partial MS. Wow! Good news! I sent the first thirty pages, but the agent doesn’t love the story. Sob. So, I contact a friend to lean on, but we end up having a disagreement. The way things seem now, I’ve ruined our ten-year-old friendship.

Finally – finally! – it seems I can get my breath back. My son’s leg wound heals well, the stitches are removed. My uncle’s surgery went well, my mother’s treatment plan is decided. But no… this morning, I made a quick run out to buy some greeting cards and ran over a neighbor’s dog on my way home.

Okay. That’s it. No more! I’m down. I’m on the mat. I’ll go to confession, I’ll say the Rosary, I’ll even cry uncle if you want. Just make it stop, make my ears stop replaying that sharp doggie yelp over and over and over again. Miraculously, the dog seems fine but I may never be the same again. I’m sitting here, just waiting for the haymaker. (By the way, I’m not a boxing fan at all. The metaphor worked, so I decided to stick with it.)

What’s next? If I use the bathroom, will I slip in the tub? Cook dinner and set myself on fire? Strangle on a bra strap? What??? Scenes from My Name is Earl assault me. Is that what I need to do? Make a list, right a whole bunch of past wrongs?

I feel like I’ve stumbled into one of those Final Destination movies.

Okay. I came home, cried my eyes out until my son gave me chocolate (see previous blog entry. How well my boys know me, right?) I called the neighbor; the dog is fine. He no longer wishes to kill me. (Had he actually tried back in the heat of the moment, I might have let him.) I’m not on the edge at the moment, so thought to myself, “What could I do right now that won’t risk, oh, gee – nuclear war, a plague of locusts, perhaps a flood or two, and said, “Write.”

I’m back in my happy place. By that, I don’t mean in front of the computer. I mean the fictional world where my characters live. Paradoxically, that’s not a happy place for them. The things I’ve unleashed on Daniel and Julie make my cluster f**k look like a Lemony Snicket book and yet, I find their world infinitely preferable to mine.

Their world is fictional. In real life, I can’t control the things that happen to me, to my family, but in this fictional world I’ve created, I can control every damn thing there is, right down to what color briefs Dan puts on in the morning. Drama and conflict are great in fiction but in real life? Yeah. Not so much.

This makes me ask, just how much drama and conflict should I heap on these poor kids before readers want to take me outside and clobber me with my own keyboard? There must be a line at which too much drama and conflict twist the story into something ridiculous, where readers roll their eyes and say, “Enough! Make it stop! How much can one person take?”

Indeed. I’ll let you know how much when my ride ends. I am now off to cook dinner.

Me. A hot stove. Yes, this is sure to be fraught with peril.

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12 Responses to "Screw the lemonade… I’ve got too many lemons!"

Okay, I know that when bad things happen we look for the patterns. We are human and we want things to make sense. But when stuff starts to spiral out of control, and it really has hit all of us at one time or another, I like to remember that there isn’t anything that happens in this life that we can’t handle. (Cue the rainbow and bird song.)

I know. I know. I am Ms. Sunshine. It really bugs men too sometimes. But here’s the thing. Strength is a badge earned each and every time we face a new heartache. So here are my great words of wisdom…when you have that many lemons buy copious amounts of tequila.

Okay, that was a joke. A bad joke, but still a joke.

Just remember you can handle anything. And true friends stay true friends no matter what.

Tequila… great idea! (And funny.) Thanks for both.

*Hug* Listen to Kelly. She is wise. πŸ™‚

Also, try to remember that life tends toward balance. If you’ve been burdened with this much of the negative, surely there is some positive in your (hopefully near) future to help swing the scales back. πŸ™‚

Oh, from your lips to God’s ears! We really need some good news now.

Actually, I phoned the dog’s owner last night. He apologized for nearly attacking me and for the foul language he’d used. The dog is fine; not a scratch on him except for a tiny bald patch where my license plate shave him.

I bought a big box of Milk Bones that I plan to drop off for him later.

Patty I’m sorry you’ve been having such a rough time. I agree with Linda – there’s probably a lot of good headed your way!

As far as your friend goes, one argument shouldn’t ruin a 10-year friendship. Perhaps you both just needed some time to cool off.

Remember, if it gets too rough you can always start biting someone’s ear.

I sure hope so! Hm. Wonder whose ear I can bite?

Bless your heart. I’ll be praying for all your troubles. You are a strong woman. Take heart, dear friend.

Thanks, Harley! What I’m finding now is that I can no longer muster up the appropriate emotional response to anything.

Geez, Patty. I am so sorry.

Hey, Beth! Hope the life experiment is going well for you. Miss on twitter. And thanks for your kind words. Between then and now, there’s been another death in our family. My son graduates high school Saturday so we cannot go to Atlanta for the funeral, which is making me feel even more guilty.

Wow. Screw the lemonade indeed. I’ve heard that nothing bad ever happens to a writer because he or she can use it in a story. I believed that, but then I read this. Now I’m not so sure. Here’s hoping things settle down for you.

Thanks Billy! Appreciate your kind words. Things have indeed settled down; this weekend was awesome as my 18 YO graduated high school!

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I'm in the process of transferring To Tell a Compelling Story over to my new website: www.pattyblount.com
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Hi! Welcome to my blog. I’m Patty.

I'm a writer represented by Denise Little, The Ethan Ellenberg Agency. I love to tell stories, to boast about my sons, to indulge in a serious chocolate obsession. (I often combine these passions.)

During the day, I write software user guides, but at night, I let my hair down... and write whatever I want. (I know. You expected something else. Sorry.) I'm currently working on a YA story about sexting gone horribly bad called SEND. I use this blog to explore my passions.

Contact me at pattyblount3 at gmail dot com.

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