In the twelve years since Jim and I married, Jim has patiently watched me reinvent myself on a semi-regular basis.
I was a product designer.
When I gave that up, I opened an Etsy shop. Beatrice Bee Vintage. Etsy turned me into a hunter/gatherer of all sorts of random junk. Any day could find me at Goodwill, garage sales, estate sales, Salvation Army or on eBay. I bought a jewelers loop, studied the markings on jewelry, silverware, pottery. I once found an Acme brand enamel dog pin at Goodwill for 99 cents. Sold it for over $100. I probably didn’t ask enough. If you have time on your hands check out Acme enamel jewelry on eBay.
But Etsy changed. Things slowed down. It stopped being fun. I dumped my “inventory” (odds and ends, mostly rubbish) and moved on to doing textured paintings just for the fun of it. I’d started down that path while living in Barrington when a terrific client commissioned me to do a large triptych.
I painted my son Matt a textured triptych of the Maroon Bells in Colorado.
Then I did a bunch more textural non-representational paintings. People ask, “Why not sell them at art fairs?”
1. The set-ups needed to display your work are big and expensive.
2. There are no guarantees of sales. During the many years I did murals it was commission work. Making money was for sure.
3. Truthfully, my skin isn’t thick enough. Jim and I frequently attend local art festivals. I see the shoppers wandering along, and I hear them critiquing the artwork. They are often nasty in their assessments. My hearing is pretty much shot so I might not be aware of all the sniping statements, but still.
I got tired of having canvases piling up in my workspace. So I moved to crafting art dolls. Fabric babies with hair made out of yarn or alpaca. I purchased forceps for stuffing the fiberfill and turning their fingers, and long needles used to stitch on arms and legs. I scoured Amazon and ordered piles of “how-to” books. I’ve got enough mohair and alpaca to make wigs for a hundred dolls. Plus I needed pens with disappearing ink and others with very fine nibs to draw facial features.
I’ve made several dolls. Most have deformities of one variety or another. My sewing skills are lacking. So I write little back stories explaining the frog feet and other congenital disabilities. I pass them along to friends who likely think, “WTF do I want with this weird thing?” One doll takes days to create. Ultimately I got burned out as a doll maker.
If you’ve been following my little blog, you know I’m reinventing myself yet again. Writer! Eventually, with any luck and the creek don’t rise, published author.
My latest learning-how-to-write book is Writing Fiction for Dummies.
“Dummies” suggests I choose a genre in which I want to work based on what I like to read.
Here are what I like: Memoirs, well written and researched historical fiction, breathtaking novels like A Thousand Splendid Suns, Cutting for Stone, All the Light we Cannot See and much more.
Here’s what I know: At age sixty-five I will never develop a skill set excellent enough to get published in those genres.
While plowing through “Dummies,” I discovered 40% of all books purchased are romance novels. I never read romance novels. Well, sure, Pride and Prejudice was a romance novel, but not the sort referred to by “Dummies.”
And supposedly publishing houses are always hoping for new romance novelists. Furthermore, some, like one imprint of Harlequin, will accept submissions from unpublished, un-agented authors.
I decided I needed to learn more about the genre. Perhaps my odds of publication would improve.
So yesterday my patient husband and I went to the library. He read his latest Clancy novel while I scoured the racks for romance, trying to choose recently published books. Older publications have different sorts of heroes and heroines than more contemporary offerings. Apparently in the 70’s heroes frequently raped the nubile virgin heroines, tearing their clothes in the act–hence the moniker “bodice rippers” was born.
Here is a list of titles now sitting on my desk.
Back in the Game.
The Last Debutante
Christmas in Mustang Creek
Speak to me of Love
The Sound of Sleigh Bells
One Texas Cowboy too Many
Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches Guide to Romance Novels
My well read friend Judy called this morning. She was rolling with laughter when I told her what’s on my reading list. She got even more hysterical when I shared that certain imprints are extremely eager for erotica! No, I doubt I’ll go there. In the unlikely event, I do no one will ever know. I’ll assure anonymity with a nom de plume.
(Although it would be kind of hilarious to be a kinky-smut-writing little old Granny!)
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