There is no such thing as Writer’s Block (Take 2)

Alrighty, now that I got all of THAT out of my system (I think), let’s try this again, shall we?

“I don’t believe in Writer’s Block…Writer’s Block is something that people tell themselves; it’s not something that really exists…if you give them a writing prompt and tell them to write as many words as they can in five minutes, they will all write words. One sentence breeds another sentence.”
~ Grant Faulkner, Executive Director, NaNoWriMo

I know that I have said “damn Writer’s Block!” before. In fact, just yesterday I stared at a computer screen on and off for probably two hours just trying to figure out what word to write next.

I know what it is, firsthand, to feel the creeping anxiety that you will never be able to come up with another cohesive sentence again. To feel like every idea that you have ever had is used up. That every phrase you turn has been turned so many times before that you are one cliche away from being a fabricated pop song. I know what all that feels like.

So it is probably fortunate that Grant’s little declaration that Writer’s Block isn’t merely a myth, but a situation of our own creation, therefore controllable and not really a thing occurred deep in a conversation that had already cemented my opinion of him as someone to listen to. Otherwise, I am certain I would have dismissed the notion straight away.

As it is, I considered it. And considered it again.

This will shock you…but I have been known to be wrong. I know. Even more unbelievable is that I am pretty okay with admitting it. In fact, I will over analyze some situations just to ensure I haven’t overlooked the way in which I am wrong even after I have determined that I am, in fact, right. That’s the tactic I employed today. Convinced as I was that I myself could vouch for the validity of Writer’s Block, I needed to give the contrary its due.

“I feel like I have experienced Writer’s Block.” – True
“Writer’s Block is a subjective concept” – True
“I can 100% say that my feelings are always objectively correct.” – False

A subjective label determined by subjective methods cannot be objectively verified; I had to consider the possibility that what I had experienced was not Writer’s Block.

What would be characteristics of true writer’s block? The inability to put words on a paper. If someone offered me a huge sum of money or threatened some terrible consequence, could I, even at the height of the perceived block, put words together on paper? Yes.

Shit. He’s right. What I experience is not Writer’s Block…it’s Writer Refusal.

There are times I just refuse to write. Ranging from mismanagement of time to fear of rejection or consequence, I was immediately able to identify a myriad of reasons why I couldn’t get words on the paper. Not a damn one of them had anything to do with being unable and everything to do with being unwilling.

There’s a huge difference between unable and unwilling. Frankly, I can see why my soft self prefers the former. That one can’t be my fault. That one can’t be chalked up to my failure or my accountability. It just is and I’m off the hook. That’s a much cozier feeling that the latter – the choice, the willful neglect, the culpability.

So I find myself here, and it’s a pretty serious gut check. I have quit my job. I have declared myself a full time writer. I have insisted that there is a better than average possibility that this will not only make me happy, but can parlay into a dream career. The obstacle that stands in front of me is not one, despite previous declarations to the contrary, that I can shovel into the “oh well that just happens sometimes and I’ll just have to play Candy Crush until it passes” pile.

The obstacle is created by my own doing and it will only be moved the same way. There is not Writer’s Block. There are only Writer Choices. As I have declared myself the writer, it’s time to start declaring, and owing, my choices.

Thanks Grant.

*Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

There is no such thing as “Writer’s Block” (FanGirl edition)

“I don’t believe in Writer’s Block…Writer’s Block is something that people tell themselves; it’s not something that really exists…if you give them a writing prompt and tell them to write as many words as they can in five minutes, they will all write words. One sentence breeds another sentence.”
~ Grant Faulkner, Executive Director, NaNoWriMo

Before I get into the barrage of thoughts that this excerpt created in my brain, let me first tell you where it came from. Actually, in true “one sentence breeds another fashion,” the telling nearly spurred me into probably twelve different next sentences. Let’s see if I can keep this stream of consciousnesses thinking out of the ditch.

You may have heard that I recently turned loose my pretty amazing corporate job to be a full time writer. There may or may not be correlation between the timing of that and NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is this crazy little idea that suggests if you start on November 1st and write roughly 1,500 – 1,700 words a day, you’ll end up with a 50,000 word novel at the end of the month. Crazy? Maybe. But have you ever heard of the Robert Pattinson / Reese Witherspoon movie Water for Elephants? Well, it was originally a book…a NaNoWriMo book. So, there’s that. And there’s more.

I decided to do what I always do when I am trying to get my bearings straight – I google related podcasts. I happened upon these three guys over at the Self Publishing Podcast. The content itself is great. But the delivery is where it’s at. I could go on, instead just hop over there and check it out and I am going to try really hard to stay on topic.

As luck would have it, Johnny, Sean, and Dave had Grant on this week’s show. It’s one of the few podcasts I’ve ever listened to twice.

Ok, nevermind. I have some things I really want to work out about this writer’s block business and it just isn’t going to work right this second. So I have added “FanGirl” to the post title (which also happens to be a NaNoWriMo work) and I will continue with my love of what happened during this podcast.

Grant Faulkner and I are facebook friends now. Yeah, no big deal… (!!!!)

So the podcast first. I haven’t been listening long obviously, but the thing that keeps me coming back to it is the lack of pretense (and Dave). Because I have never had the opportunity to belong to or immerse myself in a writing community, listening to these guys discuss their craft, work around topics, move through the weeds, has been invaluable. These guys just write. As a great side benefit, it makes me wanna just write.

If you are not a writer, “just write” is not easiest thing on the planet. Probably because when you say it, what I actually hear is “just write really great, earth shattering shit all the time and be consistent and wonderful and productive and published and income producing…” Yeah, it’s a thing.

Except for when these guys say it, it really sounds more like “just write.” Period.

Now to Grant’s episode. There was so much real stuff in there. Mostly, Grant just sounded like a really good dude. If I wasn’t excited about NaNoWriMo before, I am now. Reminds me of the time I saw Andy Grammar in concert. I walked in sorta liking his music. I walked out a fan. When today’s podcast was over, I am a Grant fan and a NaNoWriMo advocate.

He called the process “improv writing.” He discussed the “yes, and” when moving through a story. They also talked about the “time hunt” – that process of finding the time (because it is there) to cater to that creative side and just write. There were talks about community, support, accomplishment, goals, expectations, and just being a writer.

Did you know Toni Morrison wrote her first novel in the small time she had among all the other things she had to do in the day? Me either. Grant breaks down the math … roughly 300/day … 10,000/mth … 120,000/year … boom!

I was in for November before the podcast…I am all in now. Thanks guys.

*Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Start Reading Fairy Tales Again

Some day you will be old enough
to start reading fairy tales again.

~C. S. Lewis, 1898 – 1963

If it feels like change is occurring at a pace faster than before, you would probably have most folks agree with you. The development of technology, change in the social landscape, and general sense of “when I was growing up” is happening so quickly and often that many of us are looking around trying to maintain some concept of balance.

Of course there are a few folks that will say the idea of accelerated change isn’t a thing. If you take certain statistics from certain benchmarks, turn them a certain way, and look at them in just the right angle, there is a case to be made that things are evolving at the rate they always have. It is just you.

There has always been lots of opinions on things like change, seizing the day, living life to the fullest, bravery for the unknown, and acting your age. These discussions are all too often coated in fear and judgment. From the very earliest fairy tales we read as children, there is an adventure to be had, change to be made, naysayers and villains attempting to thwart the path. We read these as children and knew the adventure was good and worthy, the path worth walking. We knew the hero would be better for the journey.

Today I want to encourage you to recall the courage you had when you read those fanciful stories.  Maybe, if you are feeling particularly defiant, pick one up and read it. Cheer for the underdog. Embrace the silly and be uplifted by the sheer joy we often allow only in children.  Let yourself get to the place where you knew slaying the dragon was not only possible, but a foregone conclusion.

Thanks for the coffee,

~A

Platitudes and Wherewithal

There are all of these platitudes that people use
when trying to convince us that we’re better than ourselves.
The truth is, unless you have the
wherewithal to get off your ass and do it,
you’re not going to.

~Thom Williamson, Navy Buddy, 2004 – forever

I have been getting all my past writings together in one place in an attempt to become more organized and better service folks who ask, “what have you written.” I discovered two things I found interesting.

First, I have no idea how many Turn Around Tuesdays I’ve done. However, the first TAT was published over a decade ago on April 3, 2007. Ten years, depending on how you account for time off, I have been sharing a quote, turning it around, and having coffee with you. That’s a really long time.

Second, I still have no idea how many TATs I have done. I didn’t know when I had written the first one. I am embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to find it. Unbeknownst to me, I was dangerously close to losing the entirety of the first seven years. I missed its 10th birthday. Realizing how flippant I have been about the whole thing is curious.

I have had a lot of support through the years. I was a better steward of some it than others. But my path always turned into a jungley mess of convoluted. There are a bunch of influences there – some ridiculous, other therapy worthy – but all topics for another day. Regardless of the ancillary, the end result has been the same; I have been blessed with a lot of convincing platitudes and still couldn’t get off my ass and do it. As usual, I am betting I am not alone.

Today I want to encourage you to consider your influences. Thought I was gonna say get off your ass? I was. In fact, I did and deleted it. In the typing, it occurred to me that’s the very thing we just discussed wasn’t enough – someone telling another what to do. The thing that moves those unfinished things we have created in or around ourselves is not platitudes, it is wherewithal. I am going to tell you that you have it, but you already know that. No amount of me telling is going to push past the absolute siphoning effect negativity or doubt has on the energy required to step into our best selves. But, when we find the thing that’s holding us down on the couch, we can start getting some work done.

Thanks for the coffee,

~A

Turn Around Tuesday Tailgate Party (aka Help!)

Nope, it ain’t Tuesday yet.
But I have some housecleaning
and decorating to do
and I need your help.
~April

I have transitioned to a full time Writer, StoryTeller, Content Creator, Consummator of Nouns and Verbs. It’s amazing and scary and wonderful and wild. Having the love and support available for this to even be an option for me is mind blowing.

I have been here before – writing for others. But it was always as a side hustle. As much as I enjoyed it, it had significant disadvantages – stress, missed deadlines, loss of focus, inability to produce quality work.

There is no more side hustle. There is only this. And I could really use your support.

1 – Let’s reconnect if we haven’t in a while. I know my life has changed a lot since the last run of TATs. I am sure yours has too.

2 – Share my stuff. The newsletters, the Facebook posts, the links. Check out other places here at See the Butterfly. You’ll see familiar stuff there as this is both a consolidation and the place for new stuff. If you enjoy it, share it. If there’s something you’d like to see there, suggest it. Subscribe to it.

3 – Recommend me. Been on LinkedIn lately? Check it out. Leave a review, click an endorsement. Met somebody who is looking for a story to be told, content to be created, copy to be produced? Let them know. Let me know.

4 – Keep me posted on how I can support you. I believe a rising tide lifts all ships.

Thanks for the coffee, the support, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

~A

Power Struggle

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

~ Alice Walker

You would think that after taking such an extended break from Turn Around Tuesday, I would be bursting at the seams with topics and ideas. You would think…

The truth is I am not. My break wasn’t intentional. The return isn’t really either. Both, when I attempt to come back to this familiar place, seem to be the exact same thing – a power struggle.

That’s never going to work. TAT has always been a place of community, support, and encouragement. While I am sure there are appropriate places for power struggles, this ain’t it. For this to work, I am going to have to keep walking through the changes that have led me from there to over there, back around there, to here. Those changes are about reclaiming my voice, in my way.

For a long time I felt that mission could only be accomplished by fighting hard and winning a battle, conquering the opposition and reclaiming the spoils that were rightfully mine. I was wrong. My voice, my power is mine. It always has been. Whether I have it or not is completely dependent on whether I have chosen to acknowledge it or forget that it is always there. And make no mistake, even on the days when it doesn’t feel like it, that is a choice.

It has occurred to me that most times when we are tired, frustrated, unsuccessful, or just feeling less than, it is because we have lost connection to our truth. We have forgotten that we have the ability in us to do what needs to be done at any given time. The waters get muddy when we have agreed to do those things which are not meant for us out of some false idea of responsibility or “ought” (but that loaded sentence is a topic for another day).

Today, I encourage you to remember your own power. It is not uncommon for the small things, the familiar things, to appear over whelming. It is also not uncommon for the big things to create moments of doubt, fear, and intimidation. There are most assuredly times when the effort required to simply put one foot in front of the other seems way harder than we have the mettle for. The strategies for moving through those times may vary. But the one constant advantage is knowing that the steam is yours – it wasn’t given to you and it can’t be taken away. Your power is your own. In that, there is no struggle.

Thanks for the coffee

Rocky, Smoltzie, the Universe – Oh My!

Because I haven’t thought this through all the way and I am currently operating on “holy shit, that’s kinda cool” right this second, I am just going start with a timeline of my morning and see where it goes.

0245 – My eyes popped open and I realize I am about three fucked up thoughts away from a full blown panic attack. I have done really well over the years managing them so I am pretty sure getting out of bed and starting my day is the best way to go. It’s early, but not so early.

0300 – Coffee is done and I start with some busy work to kinda feel myself out. If you have ever experienced some reluctant muscles, joints, or ligaments first thing in the morning, this is the mental version of those few stretches and steps when you get out of bed. Give the brain easy, but meaningful, tasks so that the more complicated thoughts, if there are any, can kind of flush themselves out.

0400 – I am two loads of laundry, a handful of emails, one sleepy child and one sleepy man put back to bed, dog poop cleaned up, and an organized computer desktop in. I know what’s bothering me and it is still nothing I want to address. It’s time to write and I know that will help. But I really don’t want to. I just can’t get there yet. So, more busy work.

0445 – I have organized four ongoing writing projects and I am feeling pretty good about getting to my own shit. I pull out my calendar and realize I have not looked at October birthdays at all. What a great procrastination task (judge, I don’t care. There’s some real transparency right there. I coulda lied). I log into Facebook and get immediately distracted by the “On this Day” link (it really is my favorite Facebook feature).

There are the normal whatevers. There also happens to be this quote by John Smoltz that I shared in 2013

In truth, my answer to all these questions is the same, and it’s far simpler than many believe: Why Not?

Why not do what you love for as long as you are physically able? Why not take risks, as long as they are calculated? Why not chase what some see as impossible? Why not believe in yourself? Why not dare to be great…even if it means being different?

Why not?

Then there was a link to this TAT I wrote in 2010 which started with a great truism by Rocky (there are many) and concluded with me saying

Today I encourage you to consider something you already know. Know what you are worth. Move forward and get what you are worth. If it were easy, everybody would do it. It’s not, but it is worth it, and moreover, it is possible. Life is. Challenges are. Struggles are. It cannot be overstated that it is what we do after that matters. There aren’t enough fingers to point, blame to place, or pity parties to have that will change the effectiveness of good, old fashioned, sleeve rolling. We can do this. I can do this. And oh the stories we will tell…

And then I had the “holy shit, isn’t that kinda cool” moment. Isn’t it kinda cool that on a morning when I am feeling a little scared because I am still not quite confident in, well, every-fucking-thing, that I shared a quote that has one of the best questions of all time, “why not?”

And when my brain answers the question with bullshit like

  • because I’m scared
  • I’m not good enough
  • I’ll be a disappointment
  • oh the judgement
  • when I fail
  • I lose the love of people around me

I am quickly reprimanded by my 34 year old self. Yes, I did have a brief moment of “what the hell does a 34 year old know” but that was just deflection. I know some pretty smart 30ish folks. And, if I do say so myself, I was pretty smart then too.

0526 – I am a pot of coffee down. I am still scared. I am still worried. I am still feeling less than confident about, well, still every-fucking-thing. But I am no longer knocking on the door of a panic attack. I know the people that love me. I am working on knowing my worth. I am encouraged again that writing is so good for the soul both in the now and in the future. I am reminded of the value of words, vulnerability, and their relation to each other. I am thankful for the loves in my life and have already made time for the nap I will need later.

0552 – I have proofread and double checked. I have found the TAT that later came out of the John Smoltz quote. I am about to hit publish. I realize I still have to process the thing that woke me up in the first place. I realize that’s vague, but whatever. I have realized that folks will criticize for being too open, folks will criticize for being too guarded, that those folks are often the same damn people. I also realize that I am getting off topic because I am looking for a bow. A bow, that we have already determined, I don’t always need.

#nobow

Disappointed Planner Dude

I have one of the neatest planners on the planet. Seriously, I really love the idea of it. When I bought it late last year, it was one of the things I was most excited about bringing into 2017. My bestie was getting one too. Could that be any more of a sign?

The planner has all of the cool things. And I don’t mean generally cool. I mean I specifically think they are cool and the ideas resonate with me. First, it is called “The Passion Planner.” Sexy, I know. It is designed around encouraging the user to define their passion and creating a life plan that fits. There is a focus on priority, reflections, and intention. There is even a blank space for every week called the “Space of Infinite Possibility.” Seriously. Cool right?

As we reach the end of September, I am going to go ahead and call it. I did not live up to this planner’s expectations. I am certain it feels neglected and wasted. This poor planner was probably hanging out with all of his planner buddy friends back on the assembly line totally stoked about the neat 2017 he was going to have partnering with an enlightened and driven individual facilitating passionate stuff. Instead, he got me. Bummer little planner dude and I am sorry.

But, I am determined to not make this poor little planners dreams suffer on the alter of despair without attempting to salvage his dignity. See, as cliche as it might sound, it really isn’t him – it’s me. This great little planner has fallen victim to what so many other qualified ideas have succumbed to in my brain…overwhelming oughts.

I am completely fucking overwhelmed with “oughts.” I am not even going to waste the word space to explain that. I ought to, but I am thinking you get the concept. This planner has been neglected enough and I am really going to attempt to keep the focus there.

This planner really never stood a chance. I expected it to be all the things I needed a planner to be for me all by its little self. My expectations were set so high and unrealistically that there was no possibility of success. But I ought to have been able to make it work. I ought to have been able to use it as prescribed. I mean, so much thought and effort went into its design, I ought to be able to passionately utilize this planner.

But I didn’t. I felt overwhelmed by the expectation of it all. The commitment to analyzing all of my perceived failures, my shortcomings, my not quiet good enoughs. The interesting things is however, that this cute little planner asks for none of those things. What I ought to do is ease the fuck up a little bit.

What I also ought to do is work within my truth. And the truth is I can do one thing right this minute. And, in the next minute, another thing, another thing the next. And that is. All. I. Can. Do. And…that is everything.

And the thing that I do in this second is my thing. I get it – this awesome little planner dude was created by some really great people with a really great idea. And, it is a really great idea for me. But simply because I need more, doesn’t make me less. I am not capable of functioning inside this beautifully mapped out system. That does not make me anything other than me. This fucking planner did not show up on my doorstep attempting to make me feel less than, incapable, too much, extra, petty, indulgent, under performing, lazy, overly ambitions, or like a fucking serial killer. It. Is. Just. A. Planner. A planner with higher aspirations, no doubt, but still just a planner. All of that nonsense that I felt – I did that. And it feels a little ridiculous if I am being honest.

Here’s the truth about planning and scheduling and general life for me. I am easily overwhelmed. For a long time I thought that was a weakness on my part. An inability to handle all the big things of life. Proof that I would never really amount to a whole lot of anything. So why plan? There’s all these things I fill my day with that I really don’t like and there’s not a whole lot in there that I do, so why plan? Because I can’t stay focused, get sidetracked by anxiety, distracted by feel good time wasters, because I can’t responsibly put those kinds of things into my day, why attempt to schedule a day at all? If I am just going to fail to plan or fail to execute the plan, why write it down as a glaring reminder in black and white about my abject failure as a person?

Being easily overwhelmed is not a weakness. It is an indicator. (Side note | That is something I have been saying to myself concerning a multitude of things for quite a while. I need to address it more fully at a later time.) Being overwhelmed is an indicator, at least right this second, of asinine expectations. I expect myself to perform a certain way. While there is nothing wrong with having expectations of ones performance, inflicting unrealistic or unfulfilling expectations on oneself created from bullshit oughts is self abuse. I am not overwhelmed. I am put upon and disgusted. What’s worse, I’ve done it to myself.

So many apologies Disappointed Planner Dude. It took me a hella long time to figure out it was not you and it was not me – it was those fucking oughts, again. One day I am going to get smart enough to start looking at those first instead of taking the long way around to the same damn obvious answer. But today, I am going to start redeeming you and me. I am getting you a little bit of help. I am cutting me a little bit of slack. And I am making a plan 🙂

“Lilac Girls” ~ Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls ended up in my Audible playlist after a desperate plea went out to one of the online book groups I belong to. I, as usual, was having a particularly hard time choosing my next audiobook. I decided to put out the call and read the first suggestion that came in regardless of title.

I’m glad I stuck to my resolve because Lilac Girls would have been a work I may have passed over. While I enjoy works that delve into the relationship and perseverance of women, I have to feel pretty certain that it is going to be magnificent if I pick up one that couples that with a historical backdrop.

Lilac Girls uses the alternating voices of three women to tell a nearly true story of the very real Ravensbrück, the largest German Reich concentration camp exclusively for women. Caroline Ferriday, Broadway actress turned French consulate pro bono liaison, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager that doesn’t get to stay young long, and Herta Oberheuser, a German doctor who makes Annie Wilkes appear mildly sane.

I will share with you that, while I understood the historical places and events were real, I did not realize the story being told was also based mostly from actual lives. Since I was sold on the idea of reading whatever book was recommended, I didn’t look into the summary. The end of the novel contained an author’s note that explained the history behind the women, sources used, fictional liberties taken, etc. It occurred to me that the book may have read different had I known that going in. I decided the book may have read differently for a whole host of reasons – that one is neither special nor a spoiler, ergo, I will include it.

The plot moves quickly through travesties and graces that eventually allow the journeys of these three women to intersect. Quick stitched in are honest feeling accounts of ordinary women attempting extraordinary and unthinkable things. As a result, this is a satisfying story with slightly unsatisfying character development and detail.  However, I would not count this as author or story flaw. This undertaking was massive in scope and I can only imagine what it took to tell the story in 17.5 hours of audio (under 500 hardback pages). Kelly could have expanded the work, but to what end? It appears that at some point in the process Kelly realized she had a choice to make – tell the story in a way that kept the readership consistently engaged, or create a debut novel of epic proportions that, although complete, required a dedicated reader to commit to the task.

I think she choose well and the result is an enlightening piece of history, spirit, and illustration of just how good and bad we can be to each other.

 

Does it Ever End Different

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with a friend I had lost touch with. She knew nothing about my divorce or the reemergence of “Our Story 2.0.” Like most every person that hears the story, she was surprised, encouraging, and a little giddy of the beautiful romance of it all. Her husband walked in and she cliff noted the story.

“Can you believe it?” She said. “Isn’t that just the sweetest thing!”

He turned and looked at me with a sincere and honest face.

“You ever read the same book twice?”

This was nothing I had expected and I was momentarily confused. “Huh?”

He repeated the question. “I said, have you ever read the same book twice?”

I knew where this was going. “I have.”

“Have you ever known the ending of any of them to be different?”

Knew it. “No I haven’t. Let’s hope this one is.”

“Well,” he says without a hint of condescension, “if you’re happy, let’s hope so.”

And he meant it. And I appreciated it. There are quite a few people that have various opinions concerning the numerous changes I’ve made over the last year or so. Some of those opinions are ill formed, selfish, and soaked in dripping amounts of high and mighty. I have learned to ignore those.

But this one…this is a question I had never been asked. I had to admit it was a good one. And it was asked in, what I perceived to be, all sincerity.

It stuck with me long after I told them both goodbye and went on about my week.

I am going to try and answer it.

I have read J. D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” three times – in high school, during my brief tryst with college, and about 6 months ago. Not only did the words at the end not change, but neither did any other word in any other part of the book.

Except the story had changed because I had changed.

When I was in my teens, I loved this book. I was Holden Caufield – misunderstood, raging against the world’s ideas, alone, sad, looking for connection. I knew Stradlater, I wanted to be Jane. Salinger brought the teenage condition out of the shadows of my brain and showed me that I was not alone. Most teenagers, despite their belief to the contrary, have the same thoughts, fears, questions. I saw that there on the page. It was one of my first true experiences realizing that writing, telling the story, brings connection, validation, and understanding.

Later, in my 20’s, I picked up the book again. This time I was a young momma in the Navy. I had bills, responsibilities, taxes, and little Phoebes of my own. The book irritated me to no end. This little shit kid and his little shit attitude. I wish one of kids would act like that. Ungrateful and spoiled. Does he think the world revolves around him? Like the death of Allie hurt only for him? Like his folks hadn’t been through enough they have to deal with his entitled bullshit. I finished the book scolding myself for ever liking it at all. I scolded myself for ever reading a book twice. It would be a long time before I realized that reading a book again was not the problem – failing to realize perspective was.

A few months ago, I picked the book up again. I had since learned that great books should be read often. “A Catcher in the Rye” is a great book. Rarely have I enjoyed a piece of work more. Everything about the offering appealed to me. As a momma (of grown children this time), I ached for young Holden. This tortured teenager so much like my own and all other teenagers before him had to move through the process. There’s really little that can be done to ease this for him as his youth makes him unable to know all the things he doesn’t know. I hurt for the Caulfield family. That kind of loss, that kind of heartbreak, the aftermath of it all. How difficult it all must be. And as a writer – now there was the gift. To watch Salinger give voice in an authentic way so much so that you forget a gifted wordsmith has pen to paper. To be able to create pages that feel like a real teenage journal. To move a reader through this created persona in a way that forces one to engage at the character’s level. It was masterful and inspiring.

So no, the story didn’t “do” one thing different. When I turned the last page, Allie was still dead, Holden was still sad, the journey was still incomplete. But it was different because I was different. My world, my experiences, my choices were different.

And that is how I want to answer the brilliant and thoughtful question. Yes, in the ways that matter, the story did, in this instance, end differently. If it makes you feel better, I acknowledge the intent of your question and had given it careful consideration long before you asked it. I know better than anyone how the story ended 20 years ago. It is not lost on me that sometimes the end is just the end and it could very well be that way again. Before I walked too far down this road I conceded that this could be either the greatest love story of all time, or the most heinous train wreck ever witnessed. I decided then the book was worth picking back up. I decided the danger of losing all nostalgia and innocence was worth the possibility of gaining a treasure.