Category Writing Tidbits

Beating the Odds

The odds of winning the last mega-millions big lottery that was all over the news were something like 1 in 176 million chances of winning. That’s pretty long odds, right there. Yet, ever hopeful, people buy tickets to the lottery every day. Why? Because human beings seem to like playing the odds. One of the reasons hang-gliding and mountain climbing and even something as simple as roller coasters are so adrenaline pumping and exciting to people is because there is a risk of death (or at least serious injury), however small, that comes with the rush. If there were nothing to fear, there would be nothing exciting about it. You get excited because you faced risk and death, and you win… you survive. You beat the odds while staring them in the face.

We play the odds all the time: every time we get behind the wheel of the car (sober or not, driving or not), we risk death. Every time we take a new medication from a doctor that we’ve never taken before, we risk death. Every time we walk out our door, we risk death, and just staying in and doing nothing risks death in a different way. After all, did you know that more people die from accidents and injuries or illnesses that happened in their home than all other crimes and causes of death combined? Most of us, if we die, are going to start that process in the relative safety of our own homes.

The point is, we are constantly at risk of death, every one of us, and yet somehow we function every day in spite of it. We are gamblers, human beings are… yes, we are. We play the odds. We hope for the best, even though we know the odds are stacked in favor of the house, because we know, deep down, that someone is going to beat the odds. We believe, with prayer and fantasy, that we will be that someone.

And sometimes… we are. Or as my uncle said to my mom once–and you’ve probably very likely said it before yourself: Someone has to win the lottery. Might as well be me.

And yet, in the end, we all die. Every last one of us is going to die. We can’t escape that eventuality. But some of us die sooner than others. There are reasons for that. We don’t all get to live a good, long life and slip into the next plane of existence quietly in our sleep. Blessed are those who do.

BEATING MY OWN ODDS

I’ve been doing a lot of reading ...

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What If?

Since becoming a writer, many have asked me the source of my inspiration, what it is that compels me to write. The answer is always different, depending on my mood, what’s foremost in my mind that day, or what is currently inspiring me. Though the answers are almost always different, they are all true. If I had to pin point the reason I write to just one thing, just one impetus that moves my fingers, I’d have to say it’s the ‘what ifs’.

When I was a child, what ifs got me into trouble with daddy. He would tell me to do something a certain way, and I’d asked, “What if I did it this way instead?”

I mean, I didn’t think it; I would actually ask...

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Downward Slide, Hopping on One Foot

The rays of the sun reflected off the lake surface, in shimmering, brilliant strands. The group of girls stood near the pond, changing into swim clothing after the long hike and horse ride down the path through the woods.

The lake was not swimmable, for the water was too murky, too dirty. Not from pollution though, just a natural murky, mud filled lake-hole. While the sun shone brightly on it, and the reflection of the surrounding trees was gorgeous, the water itself stank of fish and dirt and sludge.

However, just a few feet from the lake was a gorgeous natural hot-water spring. The girls from the scout troop were preparing to soak their tired, wearied bodies in the hot springs.

Each girl slipped in, one by one, to the warmth of the crystal clear water...

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I Shaved My Legs

A few years ago (like, oh, I dunno, fifteen years ago or something, but when you start getting old, that’s a ‘few’, really, it is) I worked as a crisis hotline volunteer for the Odessa Rape Crisis Center. In order to do that volunteer job, I had to go through a 6-week training class they offered, with a big notebook full of information and such. During that training, we were taught how to answer the phones, how to talk to rape victims and what to do in emergency situations. We had notebooks and classes and we did scenarios and pretended to be callers and phone operators and all that stuff.

I don’t honestly remember much about the entire training, but there was one part that really stuck with me. They had a girl who was working as a rape crisis advocate at the time come in and talk to us. She stood at the front of the room and told us that she was a rape survivor. She talked about how she had felt, how depressed she got, and how in the middle of the night one night she called the rape crisis center and how helpful they were to her. When she finally was able to move past her trauma, she decided to volunteer too, because she wanted to give back to someone else what the center had given to her.

What she said to us was that she knew she was going to be okay when she went to her counselor and said, “Guess what, Nancy? I shaved my legs today!”

It’s not uncommon for rape victims ...

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I’d Rather Be Writing

I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do illegal drugs. I don’t party. I don’t sleep around. I’m faithful and true to those I love. I don’t tell lies unless the truth would needlessly hurt someone, and ‘needlessly’ is the operative word there.

A few years ago, my little brother–who isn’t really my little brother, but that’s a story for another post–he told me that I should get out of the house more often. He said, “Normal people go out and do things.”

I said, “I”d rather be writing.”

There is no truer statement for me than that: I’d rather be writing.

He said, “But that’s not normal.”

I replied, “I never claimed to be normal.”

I went on to tell him, “If I’m happy, love what I do, and am making a living doing it, and being ‘normal’ means giving all that up… I’d rather ...

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Meet ‘Me’

(Excerpted from The Path, by Michelle Devon, Copyright 2006)

While at the grocery store, in line in front of me was a very attractive woman, who looked as though she had been crying, and on the conveyor belt in front of her was a 1/2 gallon of ice cream, Soap Opera Digest and TV Guide. She reached over and picked up a pack of gum as an afterthought and that’s when I could see how very sad she appeared. I overhead her talking on her cell phone to a friend about how she and her boyfriend had just broken up.

I have a friend who cannot find anything in her life to bring her pleasure unless she has a love interest in her life, but then none of them ever seem to work out quite the way she wants. She gets very down on herself when each new relationship fails.

In fact, most of my single friends se...

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Instant Batification

(Just a little something I wrote a while back for a quick impromptu contest that I did not win. It was written to a theme… just thought I’d share it here, for no reason whatsoever.)

“Mandy, put your bag there on the couch,” Sheila said. “Let’s get the stuff ready while we wait for Leeza. This is going to be so cool!”

The girls giggled and walked to the kitchen. Just when they made it to the table, the doorbell rang. “That’s Leeza,” Sheila squealed. “You get the stuff, and I’ll go let her in.”

After their greetings, Mandy said to Leeza, “So… did you bring the book?”

Leeza giggled and patted her backpack. “Right here.”

“Dig it out!” Sheila exclaimed.

From her backpack, Leeza retrieved a well-worn, large, obviously old leather-bound book...

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Sunrise / Sunset

(Excerpted from The Path, by Michelle Devon, Copyright 2006)

Isn’t it strange how some things that are complete opposites can often be so similar that, to the casual observer, they appear to be the same? For example, can you truly tell the difference between a sunset and a sunrise? Except for the time of day and the direction the sun is facing, there really is no distinct difference in the appearance of sunrise versus a sunset if, for example, a photograph is taken with no indication of the outside factors. Both are just as beautiful, yet, they truly are near opposites in meaning.

The sappy butterfly feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you are ridiculously in love is not any different in physical sensation to the queasy butterfly feeling you get when you look at a serious wound...

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My Choice – I Wasn’t Ready

I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

There was so much more I wanted to do, to share with you. Remember that restaurant in the shopping center where we used to always shop? I never took you to that restaurant, and I always meant to. Or that pond where the flags are placed every year? I wanted to walk hand in hand with you and watch those flags fly. There was just so much left I wanted to do with you. No, I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

There was so much more I wanted to tell you, to share with you, to show you. You left me alone when I was just getting to know you. If I’d known we would never share like this again, I’d tell you everything about me that I kept to myself, share every feeling and emotion...

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The Semantics of I Love You

(Excerpted from The Path, by Michelle Devon, Copyright 2006)

What did you think I meant when I told you I loved you? Did you think I was asking a question that needed a reply? Did you think that I was making a promise to you?

Why does saying “I love you” have to mean anything more than an expression of a feeling deep inside?

If I say I love you, I do not expect this means you will love me back. If I say I love you, I am not promising you that I will never fail you. I am not telling you that I want anything in return. I am not even asking for your acceptance of that love.

Love comes in so many forms. A parent loves a child and a child loves a parent—this is a feeling of unconditional acceptance—a ‘required’ love, but it is often stronger than any other love one can ever witness.

  • Love can be an emotion.
  • Love can be an act.

One can be in love, feel love, show love, make love. But in the end, it’s just a word—a word that holds little meaning when said too often or too little. A word and nothing more, because it’s the actions that make the emotion real, and the emotion that you feel—not the words that are spoken.

So when I tell you that I love you...

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