Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Answering Tough Questions

I may not have been actually blogging this week, but I was thinking about blogging frequently.

Yeah, I know. That's not an excuse.

How about this: I was editing the first 60K words of the new book and suffering alternating pangs of horror and panic, which had me yanking open random kitchen drawers in a futile hunt for plastic knives so I could mimic in real life the slow, painful, death-like experience of the revision process? Better, hmm?

Okay, then.

While taking a break yesterday from the life-affirming joy of revising, I came upon this Reader's Digest Magazine article by Jeanne Marie Laskas, answering 25 of Life's Toughest Questions. Since, "How do I edit my draft without reaching for dangerous plasticware?" was not, in fact, on their list of tough questions, I thought I'd share with you a few that were:

Can love really last a lifetime?
Absolutely -- but only if you chuck the fairy tale of living happily ever after. A team of scientists recently found that romantic love involves chemical changes in the brain that last 12 to 18 months. After that, you and your partner are on your own. Relationships require maintenance. Pay a visit to a nursing home if you want to see proof of lasting love. Recently I spoke to a man whose wife of 60 years was suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease. He came to sit with her every day and hold her hand. "She's been my best friend since high school," he told me. "We made a promise to stick together." Now, that's a love story.

Why do married folks begin to look like one another?
Watch any two people who like each other talking, and you'll see a lot of mirroring. One smiles, and so does the other. One nods or raises her eyebrows, and so does the other. Faces are like melodies with a natural urge to stay in sync. Multiply those movements by several decades of marriage, all those years of simultaneous sagging and drooping, and it's no wonder!

Can a marriage survive betrayal?
Yes. It takes time and work, but experts are pretty unanimous on this one. In her book The Monogamy Myth, Peggy Vaughan estimates that 60 percent of husbands and 40 percent of wives will have an affair at some point in their marriages. That's no advertisement for straying -- but the news is good for couples hoping to recover from devastating breaches of trust. The offended partner needs to make the choice to forgive -- and learn to live with a memory that can't simply be erased. Infidelity is never forgotten, but it can gradually fade into the murky background of a strong, mature marriage.

By what age should you know what you want to do with your life?
Any moment now. This used to be a question the young asked. Now it's a quandary for baby boomers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that younger boomers have abandoned the American ideal of picking a job and sticking with it. Between the ages of 18 and 36, these boomers held an average of 9.6 jobs. That's a lot of exploration. The wisdom of elders in all cultures seems to be this: There's nothing to do with a life but live it. As Gandhi pointed out, "Almost anything you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."

When is your future behind you?
When you stop chasing dreams. So don't stop!

Is money the root of all evil?
No. Greed is. Elvis nailed this one when he said, "Sharing money is what gives it its value."

Can a man and a woman ever just be friends?
For a short time perhaps. Making the friendship last requires that you find each other at least vaguely repulsive. Good luck!

How do you know when to end a friendship?
As soon as you get that sneaking suspicion that it never really began.

Why do we turn into our parents when we swore we wouldn't?
Because really, when all is said and done, we admire them.

Are any of the above ones you especially like? Any you completely disagree with? As always, I love reading your thoughts and opinions. (Plus, they're a very happy distraction, and I'd appreciate a little of that today. :)

*image from PetersonPC.com


Edie Ramer said...

I think love can change for the better after the first romantic love phase. I think for many of us, we fall in love with a fictionalized vision of what we think that person will be. But that person doesn't really fit that vision. It either firms up and becomes real and strong, or you divorce, or you tolerate each other. I like the "real" love best. :)

Very insightful post. Good luck with revisions!

Pamela Cayne said...

"There's nothing to do with a life but live it." Ah, yet another gem of wisdom that I'm going to have to make into a t-shirt or bumper sticker. (Or write on the mirror, so I see it EVERY DAY!)

And please remember, chocolate is much better than plastic knives. :)

Marilyn Brant said...

Edie~I love your comment about how many of us fall in love with a fictionalized version of a person... I think that's so true! I'd add that, early on, I also suspect we're attached to a fictionalized version of ourselves in the relationship, which we need to grow out of so we can see the relationship clearly. It's a lot easier to deal with our significant other's real self when we're honestly in touch with our own :).

Pamela~I liked that quote, too ;). As for chocolate vs. plasticware...yes, yes, I know! I *just* grabbed a little snack bar that has both chocolate and caramel, so I've almost worked up the courage to face that draft again--LOL.

My current tough question: Why, exactly, is EVERY stage of the writing process so hard?

Robin said...

Hi, Marilyn! Love these questions and answers. Thanks for sharing.

Best wishes with your revisions! I know you're going to nail it. I'm sending virtual chocolate - and coffee - to keep you motivated and smiling. :) ((hugs))

Nancy J. Parra said...

omg- Pamela, I copied that same bit- "There's nothing to do with a life but live it." great minds think alike. lol

Marilyn, I had revisions on my mind as well. But please put down the plastic knives. You really are a good writer-no matter what your internal editor says. You've just reached the make it or break it point in the marathon that is completing a book. You can do it! So, mix up some yummy Starbucks Via, eat some chocolate and know that we all believe in you and surround you with our hugs! Cheers~

Marilyn Brant said...

Robin~what a sweetie you are! Thanks so much for the virtual coffee, chocolate and hugs--I will gratefully take you up on all three!!

Nancy~{hug!} thank you... I think you described the stage I'm at very well. This IS that make-or-break point in the manuscript when I can feel it starting to come together, but I'm not yet at the point where I can anticipate the entire ending or tie up the threads. I'm still trapped in this murky middle, which is always scary to me. I'm sick of asking myself, "But what does it all MEAN?!" 4,000 times a day. (I don't know what made me think I could revise the first 60% before I wrote the rest of it anyway... Must go back to drafting ;-).

Maria Geraci said...

Love the q&a! Good luck with the revisions. I feel your pain ;)

Marilyn Brant said...

LOL! Thanks, Maria. It helps to not feel alone in this swamp ;)

Wishing you ALL a fantastic weekend and--if you're in the States--an especially long one, too!!

miriama said...

Why do we turn into our parents when we swore we wouldn't?
Because really, when all is said and done, we admire them.

NOPE. I do NOT admire my parents. I have a lot of issues with that one.

But the rest are interesting. Interesting post.

Marilyn Brant said...

Miriama~thanks so much for sharing your perspective! I know quite a few people who would agree with you on that quote, actually... Hope you're having a lovely weekend :).

Anonymous said...

Step away from the plastic fork. YOU are a finalist in the Bookseller's Best. I saw your name.


L.A. Mitchell said...

These are great, Marilyn. And we love you too much. Step away from the plastic utensil drawer. Hands where we can see them ;)

Marilyn Brant said...

Love you, Tina!!! Thanks so much ;).

LOL, L.A. Okay, okay...I'm putting them down, closing the drawer... Thank you, hon!