Category Archives: Insights on Writing

Imitating Life

Sometimes, 3:00 a.m. is a great time to contemplate the deeper meaning of life.  

A few weeks ago, I was half-dreaming at that wee hour when I was stirred with one of those sleepy, out-of-left-field thoughts. I awakened to the nonsensical illusion of a makeshift banner hanging over my head. In my mind’s eye, I read the headline: Art Imitates Life. Before I could think straight enough to question the untimely irrelevancy, the writing faded, only to be replaced with a new phrase. 

This time, it said: Author Imitates Life.

Now, that was altogether different. It was no longer a common blurb applicable to all mankind. It hit home. I was stunned by the cryptic message. It begged examination–and a response. I pondered, How could my identity as an author be mirroring my real life? My eyes were still closed, but my heart was already galloping off to the races with adrenaline to spare.

In line with my usual analytical default, I internally scanned my current situation. For several months, I had been plagued by numerous roadblocks in both my professional and personal life. As I sized them up, I observed an odd parallel between them. I never would have thought of it in the light of day. Yet when it dawned on me, it was just that clear.

I’d been absent from my blog for a few months. Blatantly absent, since I’m the sole proprietor and nobody is around to run the shop while I’m away. After hanging out the shingle of my heart with loads of intention, I went AWOL after only two posts. I’ll admit, I chastised myself more than once for not doing my homework. But, in the end, I gave myself permission to do what I needed to do. There was a time, you know, when the internet did not rule the world.

When my traditional marriage collapsed after three long decades, I had to tackle a new learning curve and adjust to single life. But within a short time, everything seemed to be on an upswing. I found a stable administrative job and earned a steady income. I completed the first draft of Falling in October, which was accepted quickly by a publisher. And, I found happiness in my personal life.   

In 2011, my book was released with little fanfare, but gained gradual momentum. However, due to what I will gently explain as “a mutual difference of opinion”, my publishing contract was dissolved. Honestly, it was truly for the best and I was left no worse for the wear. It’s not like I lost any Facebook friends over it (heaven forbid), and my labor of love (my lifeblood, my book) was still clutched safely in my arms. I just needed to entrust it to like-minded hands. Some of my zany, indie comrades with “you can do it” attitudes encouraged me to self-publish my book. It made sense. I couldn’t imagine more like-minded hands than my own, so I purposed to release it myself.  

But, there were complications. Other facets of my life had also gone downhill–coincidentally, within the same time frame as my book’s demise from the hallowed halls of Amazon dot com. For one thing, I had left my wonderfully secure job to move to another state, only to struggle with finding permanent employment. Stuck with sporadic, temporary positions, suffice it to say that rent and dinner took emergency precedence over the financial investment and energy to relaunch my project. My book was tabled and my blog went silent. I maintained baseline social networking only so I wouldn’t be totally forgotten. Simultaneously, my personal life took a crash dive as well. Both the author and the woman herself were facing equal disappointments. Author Imitates Life? Absolutely. 

If Scarlett O’Hara could envision Tara rebuilt from the ashes, declaring, “I won’t let it go while there’s a breath left in my body,” I could do no less. There’s nothing especially heroic about it. The flames of passion and determination can’t be quenched when you really believe in something. I had confidence in my path. I never even regretted the very life decisions that directly lead to my misfortunes. For me, monetary sacrifice had always proved its eventual worth. As for my book, I wrote Falling in October because I believed the message was a key to my life. I still believed it, and do to this day. And, I salute my personal life experiences, whatever the outcome. I am a diehard romantic, and I don’t apologize for pursuing love at the risk of heartbreak. Most of all, I have faith that God is leading me through life with lessons, love, and purpose–even when I am derailed by others or make questionable choices that land me in a ditch. He can’t be deterred, and is perfectly capable of dusting me off and putting me back on holy asphalt. He is always welcomed to rouse me from sleep at 3:00 a.m so we can figure it out.

For those who haven’t read Falling in October, it was inspired by my reinvention after that midlife divorce. It’s like a journal, contrasting my past thoughts about love with my new dreams for finding love again. I wrote it to the man I was praying to meet, even before I actually considered publishing it. In finding love at this stage of life, I knew there would be some catching up to do. I wanted him to know how and why I became the woman I am. Whether the book itself brings this man to me or I give him this gift after I meet him, I have a personal stake in this. I believe it’s a hinge on the door to my future.

So, I had to ask, Why all the glitches that drove my book into obscurity, and why the delays in making it visible again? I had embarked on a journey, sincerely believing I was on the right road. True for the author who sought to be published, and true for the woman in her occupational life and her search for love. Everything was moving ahead nicely until I ran straight into a dead end. I couldn’t back up to get back on the road because I was helplessly stalled. The author wanted to republish her book, but the woman had to get a real job to make it happen. Then, there was the shut down in my personal life and the residual condition of my heart. Had I been preoccupied with Mr. Almost Wonderful, only to emotionally bar Mr. Really Wonderful from gloriously entering stage right?

By the time I considered it, the golden Arizona dawn had crept over the palm trees. I was wide awake, still making the connections. And writing them down, of course. Author Imitates Life. It was true. Gina Gates, the author, was reflecting back the images of my real life. It was all connected. I suspected that as the hindrances were peeled away from my breathing reality, my writer persona would find her way through the publishing jungle back to the Amazon (dot com). The divine comedy is that serendipitous destiny and perfect timing are the major themes of my book. Yes, God has a highly intelligent sense of humor.

As it turned out, during the past couple of months, I have secured and settled into a permanent job. I finally scraped together enough quarters for the small cost of republishing my book. Both the Kindle and print editions will be released this week.

The woman who is waiting for the love of her life continues her journey, and the author mirrors her steps. It’s yet another chapter in the continuing story. More than ever, I believe in storybook endings and happily ever after. Yet, Falling in October doesn’t end that way. In fact, it doesn’t have a conclusion at all. It ends with an ellipsis…a fade into the next scene.

That’s where you’ll find me, watching stage right. Closely.


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“I Wanna…”

Welcome and Hello! I’m here to share my life, faith, and quest for love in my autumn years. With the brand new release of my book, Falling in October: A Season of Hope, A Time For Love, I wanted to expound on my journey. I hope you will join me. For me, “Writing in October” is a feat and a pleasure all at once. As a woman with two seasons behind me, I have a backlog of experiences to fuel a blog. But I also want to walk in my highest purpose. So, know that every word I write here is coming from the uttermost depths of my heart. 

 

There’s a popular commercial that begins with depictions of various people from different walks of life engaged in tedious office duties, yard work, and household chores. Nothing to capture the viewer’s eye, except that these laborers are all wearing motorcycle gear and helmets as they perform these ordinary tasks. In each scene, a forlorn soul trapped in a droll existence begs to the camera like an abandoned puppy, “I wanna ride!” Then, cue the catchy, rockin’ jingle: “I wanna ride, I wanna ride, I wanna ride, I wanna ride!” Fast and furious freedom bursts onto the screen in pulsation to the beat. Board members and housewives hit the open road on their blazing motorcycles, rebelling against empty servitude and confinement.

I can relate.

When I was a preschool-aged child, I loved the sound of certain words. When I discovered one I liked, I’d repeat it over and over again, savoring the inflections and letting the sound run across my tongue like a connoisseur at a fine wine tasting. I couldn’t read yet, and I wrote my J’s backwards, but I was already fascinated with the palpable power of the English language.

Even when I did learn to write, I didn’t. I took piano lessons, rode my bike, and joined the Girl Scouts. I wrote when my teachers said I had to. I thought everybody could write just as easily as they could read. Never mind that my sixth grade teacher confiscated my creative writing assignments and informed my parents that she was keeping them for herself. Apparently, she saw something special in me, but she never told me. Nobody told me. I wish they would have.

As a teenager, besides accessing my writing skills at school, I occasionally wrote about my awakenings in love and spirituality. I didn’t think of myself as talented. I was just a girl who was willing to mull over the contents of her heart. Maybe that in itself was a gift, but I didn’t realize that either. Later, college didn’t even make me smart enough to connect with the waiting writer inside of me.

Because this is only a blog and not a book, suffice it to say that from there, my adult life did not revolve around prolific bouts of writing. I graduated from letters to e-mails along with the rest of the world’s populous. But, no, I did not write extensively or for an audience.

I fell backwards into publishing when I was asked to write a book review for a magazine. It paid only twenty-five dollars, which didn’t explain why it elated me in a way that writing a book review shouldn’t. It felt a little too good, so I pushed it aside. Real writing was for glamorous dreamers with feather boas and people who didn’t have a basketball team of kids to raise.

Eventually, editing opportunities trickled to me; then, some copywriting gigs. It was off and on. Finally, I wrote a book that achieved limited acclaim, but I considered it a one-time venture. My focus was still on family and spiritual pursuits. My writing continued to be a personal accessory, used only for festive necessities like Christmas cards.

When my life did a one-eighty that dropped me into the middle of the raging sea (read Falling in October for the story), my ofttimes buried love of writing floated to the surface and became my life raft. I rested my weary feelings on that safe pillow, clinging to it in the storm like a strong, old friend. That life raft took me to shore, where God used writing to give me the land legs to stand on my own two feet again. Who needs therapy when writing so perfectly displays both your prayers and the clarity of their answers on the same page?

They say there’s no such thing as an overnight success. A talented actor or rock star will seemingly materialize out of thin air; but the truth is, toil and trouble preceded that grand entrance. I’ve got that “toil and trouble” part down pretty well. So far, no red carpet has been unrolled in my direction, but notoriety is neither the point nor the goal. The point is that I’ve come by this slowly and honestly, starting when I pondered my first fifty-cent word at age three. The goal was never a goal at all, and still isn’t. It’s just the final acknowledgment of a meaningful gift. I’ve kept it on the shelf for the majority of my life, so maybe it’s time I relieved Mr. Shelf of that tiresome duty. I’d like to adorn him instead with a few treasure-filled volumes, written in collaboration with the talent he lovingly held in reserve for me. I bet he’d like that better than a bow tie.

For years, I didn’t dare step outside of reality to tap into my creative imagination–not the way I was meant to. Even more astounding is that I actually lived an eventful life that was anything but run-of-the-mill. Why didn’t I write about my significant experiences the way I could have? I don’t know. Was I just too busy to think about it? I just know I can’t say the dog ate my homework. But now, after monumental upheaval and reinvention, I can finally identify that perpetual, whimpering sound. It was that sensitive, abandoned, brown-eyed puppy in me…all along, begging, “I wanna write!

Here it is–the open road. Time to hit it with an exhilarating, fast and furious freedom. In pulsation to the beat, rebelling against empty servitude and confinement, I’ve embraced a grand purpose and my ultimate adventure. Cue the catchy, rockin’ jingle: “I wanna write, I wanna write, I wanna write, I wanna write!”

GG ♥


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