The Scream by Edvard Munch

The Scream by Edvard Munch. A portrait of me on most days.

Every year for two decades, my husband and I have made the same goal: “No major life events.” We’ve even limited “major life event” to the Big Three: a new baby, a move, or a job change. Things that inevitably turn life upside down and shake it for a bit. The one year that we managed to avoid the Big Three, one of our sons spent the entire summer in Intensive Care while the other kids traveled from relative to relative. That counts.


This year is different though. This year, instead of hoping for stability that never comes – although we’ve always been better off for the changes – I’m embracing the upheaval, and actively going after it.


This year, I’ll finally do something I’ve dreamed of since I was old enough to read chapter books: I’m going to write a novel (ok, two). I’ve written books before, but they were nonfiction. They didn’t terrify me the way this one does.


This is the year that I let my inner two year old have free reign. I’ll stomp my foot and throw insecurity across the room and watch it shatter when it hits the wall.

Screaming toddler

This is the year that I channel my inner teenager when Reason and Practicality wag their fingers at me and tell me to do the dishes, and sneer “You can’t make me. I’m writing.”


The novel isn’t the only thing on my list this year – and if we’re being brutally honest, some of them probably won’t get done. Life happens, and even my inner teenager can’t always do anything about it. But the fact that these goals exist, that I’ve had the sheer nerve to write them down, to put them on the calendar, to plan on them, is a giant leap into 2013.

For this week’s Pour Your Heart Out meme, I’m sharing them. Publicly. Because sharing brings accountability. Now you know the sheer level of my ambition and insanity. You expect it from me. You expect these stories. I can’t let you down!


This is what I’m planning on – not hoping for, or wishing for, but planning on – for 2013:


Write 1 standalone novel (currently in the outlining stage).
Write regular short stories for various on- and offline publications.


Role Playing Games:
Write 3 game modules (Module 1 is currently in edits).
Write 2 supplements.
Write 1 world novel.


Getting Out There:
Maintain and grow my fiction blog, including a weekly serial flash fiction piece.
Re-envision and grow my Disney blog to focus on storytelling and fairy tales.
Promote my work on Facebook, Google+, and via guest blog posts.


Everyone has their line. On one side, we’re polite, civilized people. We let it go, move on, and drink away the piled up stress. On the other side of that line . . . we become wonderfully horrible people. The rules are already broken, and we’re free to be completely, brutally honest. To own the insults. To say “Yeah, you’re right. I am a horrible human being. Deal with it.” On this side of the line, we’ve already snapped. We’ve stopped caring if your delicate sensibilities are offended. I drove right over that line the other night in the grocery store parking lot, and it seemed like the right story to tell for the first time I’m linking up to the Pour Your Heart Out meme.

But first, I have to give you a little background info: I was diagnosed with Celiac disease just before Halloween. I could go into all the clinical details, but the short version is that if I ignore it I’ll get progressively more miserable and will die young of complications – statistically, the likely winner here is cancer. The only known treatment is to eliminate every single molecule of gluten from my diet. And we’re not talking “skip the breadsticks and you’ll be fine.” We’re talking “Go replace every kitchen implement you’ve ever owned because they all harbor gluten molecules from your heady days of baking bread and cake from scratch.”

(Did I mention I’m an avid baker? I kinda geek out on food.)

So I’m learning how to bake all over again. It’s a little stressful. Sure, there are gluten-free flours, but they don’t behave the way good old all-purpose wheat flour does. It’s kind of like learning how to walk again when you really need chocolate.

The other night, I was trying. In sheer desperation for something like normal – because the last couple of months have been anything but normal – I pulled out one of my brand-new gluten free cookbooks and decided to bake a chocolate cake. Step one: mix up seventeen different flours. Step two: Run out to the grocery store at 9:30 pm to find gluten-free defatted soy flour.

Grocery store parking lot

This is where the horrible people are.

It took me almost an hour in the grocery store to find the stupid soy flour. By the time I got back to my car, I was successfully not crying. That was my big accomplishment for that moment. Buying soy flour and not crying. Started up the car, glanced in the rear view mirror, and pulled out of the parking space. And the next thing I know, I’m being tailgated by an older woman in a Buick. In the parking lot. Glaring, gesturing, the whole bit. It’s probably for the best that I can’t read lips, because whatever she was saying wasn’t flattering.

And there it was. The line. On that side, I was three seconds from dissolving into a puddle of stress tears. On this side . . .I’ve already snapped, honey. Bring it. You’re right, I am self-centered for being wrapped up in my own world for just a moment, instead of putting my own concerns on the back burner to make sure you were comfortable first. Because it must be rough to have some big, scary minivan bearing down on you from three parking spots away as you drive down the lane. I am a horrible person. You might want to get used to it. The world is full of horrible people, and if you start following all of us around parking lots screaming obscenities, someday one of us is really going to snap, and both you and the innocent kids in the backseat of that minivan are going to get a vocabulary lesson.

Vocabulary lessons weren’t fun in elementary school. They don’t get better with age. Back off.

For the record, I did not stop the car and give Old Woman in a Buick an earful. But boy did I fantasize about it on the drive home! It’s one of the perks of being a writer – I may not be able to come up with the perfect retort on the spot, but catch my attention and someday you’re going to end up in a story (even if it is only in a blog post) and I’m going to have my say. What about you? What have you said or done (or wished you had) the last time you crossed the line?