Tag Archives: challenge

What I learned from being a quitter…

“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.” — Orebela Gbenga

I told this story in front of fifty-five women the other day and they seemed to think it was pretty funny so…

This is what happens when a survivalist and a minimalist decide to climb a mountain together:

There will be many “discussions” about why one needs so many items for a DAY HIKE.

Eventually, the minimalist relents because she understands: You can be happy OR you can be right. 

Only, what she should have understood is that if the level of difficulty for a climb is listed as very strenuous, it actually means VERY STRENUOUS. Because if she had, she would’ve certainly fought a little harder about the BS that was being loaded onto her back.

At any rate, eighty-five percent of the trek to the summit turns out mostly uneventful. Except for the fact that the survivalist half of the party likes to annoy the other half by teetering on the edge of a mountain with fifty pounds of unnecessary camping gear strapped to his back. And let’s face it: pretty much no one is going to believe he “just fell.”

They make it to the point where there’s about two hundred feet left to go to summit. This is how the rest of the climb is described:

Follow the trail to the right and back down a few hundred feet before ascending a steep, slippery slope (which can be covered with snow) to a signed viewpoint.

Get ready for some more serious climbing and scrambling through the boulders that make up the summit.  The trail gets faint further up. When in doubt, keep going up. Some rocks will move under foot so be sure to use your hands for balance.  You’ll notice a couple plaques, memorials, and flags once you reach the top.

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This is where she decides to quit. For one, she’s carrying too much crap to make it fun. Two, she decides their children need at least one surviving parent.

She tells him to go on and to leave his pack. And for God’s sake to stop teetering on the edge. Or he is going to die. One way or another. He agrees. This is all his fault. But she doesn’t say so. Or maybe she did. She probably did.

She perches herself in a spot that unbeknownst to her seems to be designated for all the other quitters. She meets three people from her hometown and one from the Dallas area. They get to know each other. Turns, out they can’t breathe at 12,000 feet either. This quitting thing is amazing! I mean what are the odds?!?

Two men on their way down access her situation and ask who left her with two packs. You see! Sympathy. This quitting thing isn’t so bad after all! 

Plus, she’s always saying she needs to be more gentle with herself. This was her chance!

She sits there. And weighs her options. She watches him climb. She considers whether or not she’s really done. She thinks she is.

Until two people stop not far from her. She listens as a man consoles his partner. “It’s ok,” he says. “No one will know you didn’t make it to the top. Just say you did.” She watches as the woman nods and appears relieved.

And that’s when it hits her: She’ll know.

Quitting is a bad idea. She might get sympathy. She might even  meet people (nice people!) to hang out with along the way. People who will console her with camaraderie.

But, in the end, she’ll know. 

So she gets up, dusts herself off, leaves those packs where they are, and climbs to the top.

“Where are the packs?” He asks when she reaches summit.

“Down there,” she points.

“You just left them?”

She gives him the look. “I don’t even want to carry those fuckers down. Do you really think anyone else does?”

He smiles.

Because he knows… she’s right.

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It’s more fun that way…

“Jack learned that summer – when dealing with women, it’s best not to say everything that’s on your mind. The less you say, the better it is for you. He learned that women do not think like men. End of story.” – Britney King, Somewhere With You

“I know I don’t always like your idea’s upfront,” my husband tells me. “But afterward I’m always glad I went along with them.”

“Not always,” I remind him— as minimally as possible

“No, not always,” he agrees.

“But usually,” I smile. And leave it at that. Of course, I file his sentiment away for a later date, when I will no doubt need it.

That day came sooner rather than later— as they often do.

“Hey,” I say and he looks up.

“I have an idea,” I tell him.

He stares at me. Half scared. Half intrigued, I think.

“I’ve decided on my next project. And I need to do some research.”

“Ok?”

“I think we should take a road trip,” I say and I describe the idea very loosely. Mostly, because the idea is just that. I list off the places I’d like to visit and explain the only prerequisite be that neither of us have visited any of the places before. Our children will be visiting their grandparents. He asks if I’m sure I don’t want to bring them along. I assure him that I do not. Not this time.

“Ok,” He says.

“Um… I’m talking about driving four-thousand miles…”

“Sounds good,” He replies and goes back to what he was doing.

Was he even listening? I check the time. And then I wait…

Fourteen minutes later…

“Where are we going to stay?” He finally asks. “Have you even thought this through?”

Not really. But I improvise. “We’re going to camp.”

He deadpans. “You!? Want to camp for that many days?”

I shrug. “Why not? It’ll be fun. We’ll just pitch a tent… wherever we wind up.”

He sighs. “Do you even know how to ‘pitch a tent’?”

“It’s figure-out-able.”

“What you really mean is that you’ll watch me do it…”

Pretty much. That is exactly what I mean. “No, what I mean is that it’s teachable.” 

“Ok,” he says. “But we’ll compromise on the camping. By at least half.”

“We’ll see,” I reply. Even though I know he’s right. And I quote, “I don’t know why you’re pretending not to like my idea’s when in the past you’ve told me you’ve always been glad that you’ve gone along with them.”

He smiles. I think he’s on to me. “It’s more fun that way…” he says.

I answer with silence.

Because I know… and because he knows…

Now, we’re getting somewhere. ;)

——————————————-

That story told, I can’t think of a better time to announce my next book… and show you guys the cover.

Readers asked. I listened…

I’m working on the follow up to Somewhere With You.

The sequel, Anywhere With You is set to release in the fall.

First though, a bit of research. :)

If you’re interested in real-time data… you can follow me on Instagram @msbritneyking

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Adobe Photoshop PDF

P.S. Many thanks to Lisa Jay for her work on the cover design. I sent her a mock up of what I wanted and less than 48 hours later we had a cover. Not only is she great— but she fit me into her very busy schedule and I appreciate both. She has worked on all six of my covers.

You Take The Bad With The Good…

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” ― Aristotle

 

Once upon a time, I wrote that I’d discuss criticism. How I handle it is probably one of the questions I’m asked most frequently when asked about the writing process.

And likely the best answer is, I try not to. ;)

But it wasn’t always this way…

That said, I do read all of my reviews, both the bad, and the good. As for why I pay attention to the negative… I look to see if there is anything that I can take from them that will improve my work. Sometimes, there is.

Besides, I’m my own worst critic anyway and I will probably always look at my work with an eye for what could have been done better—versus what was done right. I’d like to change this… but that’s me. Oh and for what it’s worth, negative reviews do actually sell books. Just ask E.L. James and a few others…

Speaking of negative reviews, it helps to keep in mind that there are many films, books, and people who I don’t particularly care for— and I say to each their own.

Mostly though, I’m just really grateful that anyone took the time to read and review my work. I figure receiving a negative review is better than none at all— as at least someone is paying attention. :)

Also, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was, “At least twenty percent of people aren’t going to like you right off the bat. Focus on the other eighty percent. Don’t waste your time trying to convert.”

So, that’s the goal with writing as well. My target audience is not the folks who sit behind the comfort of their computer screen and trash others and their work. As for this type of critic (they’re a special breed), I’ve found that if you ignore them, they tend to go away. Trying to convert that segment of the population (or make them happy) is a losing game. And ain’t nobody got time for that. :)

Lastly, since I have a book coming out next week and I’m shameless about self-promotion allow me to share a few of my most recent favorite reviews, both the good, and the “bad.”

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As for the best “negative” review EVER: 

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A Brief Portrait of Summer.

“Raising kids is part joy and part guerilla warfare.”— Ed Asner


Day One:

5:00 AM Even though there is no where to be and zero reason at all… I am up. Because old habits die hard. 

10:32 AM We take a trip to Home Depot. 1/4th of my waking hours seem to be spent here lately. This is not ok.

11:48 AM We are in the checkout line. Finally. Of course, there are two open for every one hundredth customer. I’m pretty sure I have aged twenty years in an hour and six minutes. I ponder how one store can house so many things. There are gadgets for gadgets. This place is like Toys R Us for grown men. They are in heaven.  It’s astonishing.

11:49 AM An older gentleman taps my husband on the shoulder. He tells him he has made a wrong turn somewhere. When my husband looks confused he points to me and says that I look like I belong in a department store— not this place. He asks how he got me in here. My husband smiles and tells the gentleman he is lucky.

11:50 AM I have made a new friend. His wife died recently. He wants to know what we are working on, I tell him. He says to enjoy it because life is short. It goes by fast. I tell him I know. The last hour and six minutes have practically been an eternity.

12:07 PM We are in the car. My husband tells me he liked the man. He thinks he would make a decent stand in grandfather for our kids. I agree. He says he thought of asking him if he’d like to see “this pretty lady” more often. I explain that sounds like a proposition. An indecent one. And that any illusions I’ve held of an indecent proposal do not occur in Home Depot…

The remainder of the day is so amazing I can’t even remember the rest of it. :)

Day Two:

Today we are lazy. We read. They draw. There’s a fair amount of chess playing. Bickering is minimal.

Is this how summer is going to go?

Surely, this can’t be how summer is going to go.

I should probably plan something for tomorrow…

Day Three:

8:31 AM Phone call number one: What are you doing?

Me: Working.

I thought you were taking time off…

Me: Oh, I am. I’m not working that much…just a bit here and there.

8:34 AM Text number one: What are you doing?

Me: Working.

I thought you were taking time off.

Me. I am.

Do you want to get together?

Me: Yes. In a little bit. I just have to finish this one thing. 

1:52 PM Five hours, twelve texts, and three phone calls later I realize that maybe my definition of taking time off differs from everyone else’s. Whoops.

8:15 PM We take in a film san kids. Which turns out to be terrible. My husband tells me it’s ok that I picked something so bad. He says he was just glad to be with me. I think the two Reposado milkshakes he consumed probably helped. But I don’t say this. We get home after midnight. On a Monday. This is a life I could live.

Day Four:

5:14 AM Pray my children sleep in. Obviously, I am not. 

8:01 AM Notice prayers work. Determine that I’m going to have to wake them. Force myself to do it. It is hard. Very.

10:00 AM Decide I can’t do the whole nothing thing again. Take the kids swimming. It takes 27 minutes to load everyone into the car and drive two minutes to the pool. Come to the conclusion that this time must be beat by at least 22 minutes—otherwise I may not make it through the remainder of summer.

10:35 AM Arrive at the pool, get settled, to discover that only 2 out of 3 kids have functional goggles. You do the math. The world as we know it appears to be ending…

10:36 AM Threaten to pack up and leave. Look around. Similar conversations are abound. Because solidarity.

10:38 AM Threats appear to have worked. After thirty-eight minutes we are finally in the pool and everyone is happy. This had better last. 

10:45 I snap this photo and post it to Facebook to show how amazing it all is. Look! It says, I have it all under control. :) Because that’s just what you do, no? ;) 

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The rest of the day is mostly uneventful. Until…

7:15 PM Something happens and suddenly everyone is pissed off. Someone said something to someone and whatever that something was— it was the wrong something, to the wrong someone. Everything has all gone to shit and the worst part is… I can’t even be sure what the catalyst was.

7:18 PM The kids have been “quarantined” upstairs. Meanwhile, I hide in the pantry with homemade peach cobbler and ice-cream. Just in case.

7:19 PM I text a friend. Wait a minute…I have to do this all over again tomorrow? 

7:20 PM I am assured that I probably do.

7:21 PM It’s not too late for summer camp, I reply.

7:22 PM But then they would all be right, I am warned.

7:23 PM Realize that THIS CANNOT HAPPEN. I will do better… tomorrow.

7:24 PM Panic.

7:28 PM Decide to implement a camp of my own. I shall call it: Project Bootcamp. Stay tuned…

To Capture A Mockingbird…

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” ― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

 

I’m not sure how it works with other writers but I want to preface the story I’m about to tell by letting you know upfront that when I’m writing a character (or characters) I tend to take on a part of that persons persona for a bit. Take it with a grain of salt.

These days I happen to be writing a character who is completely and utterly NUTS. And it’s funny how my mind sometimes confuses my thoughts with the ways the various characters in the story think and that  can feel rather shocking when it catches me off guard and/or comes out of the blue.

Which is exactly what happened this morning on my run as I was running down the list of all the things I have to do today…

One of those things being helping my six-year-old print out pictures of Mockingbirds for her Texas project that is due at school tomorrow.

And then it happens…I actually see one. I know it’s a Mockingbird because now that I’ve assisted with the plethora of research a six-year-old must to do in order to give a five-minute presentation on said research, I’m well versed in Mockingbirds as of late. 

Anyway, so I see the Mockingbird and I think wait a minute… Hey! A) Who needs pictures when one could have the real thing? B) I pause and consider how crazy that sounds and C) I ponder just how much time and tears (hers, or mine I can’t be sure) it would save this evening.

And for a quick minute I stand there and seriously contemplate what it would take to capture the thing and haul it into their class all triumphant like … and all of a sudden there’s a movie running in my head (Christmas Story style) and I picture the kids faces, but mostly their teachers. ;)

I imagine myself looking at her, shaking my head, shrugging, and announcing, “This is what happens when you assign projects like these. It should be known that they induce unnecessary craziness upon parents forced to undergo the painstakingly slow torture of understanding how little the term research means to a six year old. I JUST WANTED TO MAKE IT FUN. SEE!”

But, no, I realize that sounds crazy and I snap out of it and consider that perhaps I’m standing in the street pondering what the best way to actually capture a bird would be because I’m writing a character who is crazy and tends to take things one step too far…and I think sure, that could be it…

OR it could be because I’ve considered all of the times in the future my daughter will try and one up me by telling me that so and so’s mom got them this and so and so’s mom got them that— and I know in that moment that so much of my work in the future could be satisfied now

For I would forever more be able to look her in the eye and say “Yeah, but did so and so’s mom ever get them a Mockingbird?!?”

And suddenly it doesn’t seem that crazy at all. ;)

After Winter, Spring.

“I want to do with you what spring does with cherry trees.” ― Pablo Neruda

 

I’m not going to say that a lot of the bad poetry I’ve been sharing here is going to end up in a certain book…

But I’m not going to say it isn’t either. ;)

Below, the latest…

 

After Winter, Spring. 

 

We’re opening the windows,

And the doors of our lives again.

Too long closed—

To keep out the cold.

We shake the dust off and out,

Erase what winter left behind.

Finally, the sun is shining.

And the birds sing once more.

A time for renewal—

I’m certain this is what happiness feels like.

How much better can it get? 

I don’t know…

But lest not forget—

Summer is headed our way, too.

Maybe, it is as they say…

The best is yet to come.

And I wonder…

How ever did we get so lucky?

Not just to have found each other—

But to have survived another winter,

together.

Nineteen. Ready or not.

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”  Debra Ginsberg

 

I know it isn’t “fashionable” to profess your love for your (now) adult children.

 

And if this is true, it’s probably definitely off limits to write about it publicly.

 

But, I also know that people we love die. They die at random ages like 29 and 82, before then, and after too. I know that there’s a finality in death— only truly understandable when it happens to someone you love.

 

Mostly, I know there will be a million things that you will have wish you’d had the time and the forethought to say. Words that could sustain a couple of lifetimes. And that sometimes these things haunt you more than you’d like.

 

Which is why I guess I gave up being fashionable a long time ago. :)

 

 

Nineteen. Ready or not.

 

I swear it was just last month that you were born and we were there in the hospital figuring each other out. Six weeks early— and a lifetime too soon.

 

You were teaching me how to be a mother…

 

At fourteen, a baby myself— I remember being equal parts proud and terrified.

 

Ready or not…

 

We were growing up together.

 

I’m almost certain it was just last week that I watched you take your first steps.

 

I was learning to let go, too

 

Ready or not. 

 

And wasn’t it just yesterday you started kindergarten and then moved on to first grade—where your teacher informed me it was time to let you walk into the school by yourself?

 

But it was so big and you seemed so small.

 

She said I needed to learn to let go.

 

You were ready. I was not. 

 

We were growing up together…

 

In reality, though, I know these things didn’t happen last month, last week—and they definitely weren’t yesterday, no matter how fast it all seems to have gone by.

 

That’s the funny thing about time. It’s difficult to measure against love.

 

Somehow, it was almost a year ago now that you walked the stage and straight into the life of an adult.

 

You were ready. I’m pretty sure I was not. 

 

As I watched you take those steps across that stage I realized I’d blinked —and in the meantime we’d both grown up.

 

Ready or not. 

 

Nineteen years…lots has changed—

 

But a few things remain the same…

 

I’m proud of us both.

 

We grew up together.

 

And, as you know, I’m still learning to let go.

 

Ready or not. 

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