What’s Hate Got to Do With It?

“I hate my life,” is a common sentiment when we’re having a bad day. On Thursdays, I’m likely to be heard saying, “I hate going to court.” When I’m swamped with book deadlines, “I hate revisions.”

boohooFor the most part, I do not hate my life, going to court, or revisions. These sentiments are lamentations, along the lines of “this is hard for me,” stated far more dramatically and less accurately. A lot less accurately.

A recent Goodreads poll identified poor pacing as the primary reason people put down a book they’ve spent honest coin to read. I suspect part of what’s amiss in those books is that the author (or a main character) is to some extent wandering through the pages muttering the equivalent of “I hate werewolves,” or “I hate the duke; he doesn’t deserve to inherit everything.”

For the characters, as for us, more action and energy would result from trying to state the problem in its most accurate form, rather than making a generally unhappy noise.

Behind “I hate my life,” is often, “I can’t ever seem to feel rested, on top of things, or relaxed,” (which was certainly the case when I had a minor child underfoot!)

Well, all right. Now I can look at concrete steps to manage sleep and the to-do list, to reduce anxiety, and find ways to relax. I can hire a cleaning service, make a budget, schedule mini-vacations, meditate, burn relaxing incense, exercise, vent to a friend, and on and on. Until I’m specific about the problem, it’s nearly impossible to come up with an Georgian high heelsoptimal solution.

Similarly, I’m going to have a much more interesting book if “I hate the duke,” is a shorthand for, “I hate not having the options he has socially and financially, because I’m a Regency female, and my ability to develop options on my own is next to none. I feel responsible for my sisters and can’t look after them. I’m a foot shorter than the duke and not taken seriously as a result. Worst of all, he had a chance to help me once when I was eleven years old and stuck in a tree, and he ordered his footman to help me instead.”

The specifics admit of actions the characters might take—sabotaging the duke’s marital prospects, cutting down his favorite tree, impersonating a man to amass a fortune gambling, wearing high heels at all times around the duke—that can propel a book forward.

Beloved Offspring on Beloved Andy

Beloved Offspring on Beloved Andy

Getting specific about a real problem can propel a life forward to a better place, too.What’s one problem you’re getting clarity about, and one step you’ve taken toward solving it? To one commenter, I’ll send an audio version of “The Bridegroom Wore Plaid.”

 I’ll go first: The writing was beginning to feel more like an obligation than a wish come true, so I bought a horse to get me off my backside and around my riding buddies.

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18 comments on “What’s Hate Got to Do With It?

  1. One of mine was feeling that my identity as an individual was diminished or practically gone. I love my boys dearly but it seemed “mom of those boys” was my only identity. So I started to pull out from under that by doing things just for me. One of those included reading more books. I went years reading only a handful of books each year when I used to read at least a book or two a week. I even expanded my reading outside the inspirational fiction market and discovered your books in the process. I also was able to get away from my all my boys, including the husband, for a few days by going to RT and stepping out of my comfort zone. I hadn’t been away from them in almost 3 years. The next step is going back to my old dream of writing. I would love to actually finish writing a story just to have completed it and not necessarily to publish it.

    • The gravitational pull of family identities is supposed to be strong, but not supposed to be overwhelming–good for you, Sarah. We’re better at parenting and spousing when we take some time for ourselves.

  2. I am hating diets, which I have been on all my life. None of them work for long and even exercise has laid me up.. (arm surgery from doing zumba an hr a day for a year at age 64!!).

    Today, I am determined to fight that Giant again, but not just to lose weight and feel successful. Instead I would like to get into better shape so that my daughters and I can go shopping without collapsing after!

    I get all your books on audio and so love to listen to them.

    Linda Wellivere

    • Linda, I’ve been told that excessive cardio simply will not work, unless coupled with a VERY low carb diet. I’m not sure I could handle either the exercise OR the very low carb–fortunately, I don’t like to shop.

  3. I can agree with Sarah R. I also lost a bit (almost all)of my identity when I became a mother. Especially when my son started having problems. I completely lost myself in getting him taken care of. I think we, as mothers, can’t help that. During those years, I turned to food as comfort. I’m with Linda W in the Giant Diet Monster battle.

    My current living arrangements are not ideal. I have been praying for a solution. Two weeks ago I received a call from the college where I went to culinary school about a job for a culinary instructor. I had done student teaching for them while I was in school, and they remembered me. I have not been out of school long enough to qualify for the position, but I went to the interview. I got the job! Excellent benefits, and, Thank you Jesus, more money. There are some big-ticket items I need to buy. While not required, they will make my job easier. I will not be able to re-arrange my living situation immediatly, but as you say, it’s a step! And a joyful one!

  4. I realized I was very unhappy with my weight and level of fitness, and since there are many opportunities at work to lose weight and exercise I decided to avail myself of them. Everything was going well until I began to feel pain in my leg and couldn’t do my favorite exercise (which was climbing stairs). I’m pretty stubborn and because I didn’t want to stop doing what I was doing, I think I made my leg worse. Then I began to panic thinking I’d be out of shape before I got my leg straightened out. I decided to explore other options and I’m now taking a yoga class twice a week, and using a stationary bike in our gym at work. After quite a few trips to the doctor, and several tests, my leg mysteriously stopped hurting, and I’m trying to ease back into using the stairs as an exercise tool again, but taking it slowly. At least I know that I have different options and it’s probably better to have variety in the exercise anyway.

    • I never understood what a repetitive stress injury was until I wrote 30 books. Um, no wonder authors have carpal tunnel and back problems… I’m eyeing up the treadmill desks, myself. I don’t think I can walk and write, but I can walk and play solitaire, for sure.
      Glad the leg is feeling better, now just don’t push it!

  5. I have recently had an epiphany regarding my family. Not my husband and 3 beautiful children. My “birth family?” My “original” family? I don’t even know what to call them these days, which is pretty decent evidence of a very deep-seated problem. The realization I’ve made is that Family is made up of those that love and invest time and energy in knowing you. Unfortunately (or not, I still haven’t made up my mind on this) for me, after 37 years I have realized that definition of Family doesn’t include people who share my DNA. Thankfully, the people who share my husband’s DNA and a few other select friends fill that role in my life. I’m learning to accept that and not judge myself as a failure for not fabricating something where it doesn’t naturally want to exist (after years of fighting against that conclusion).

    But really, I just wanted to remark on the gorgeous photo of your beloved Equestrienne and her valiant steed. Wow. My DNA-sharing-but-not-much-otherwise sister is a 3 day eventer and has been for years so I know beauty when I see it. Brava. Well done!

    • ARGH–eventing is not for the faint of heart, and not for me either.
      Yeah… this family of origin stuff. I figure we have to be born to somebody, but sometimes we succeed as much despite our family as we do because of them. At some points in my life, I’ve had to remind myself: I don’t have to choose between family of origin and family of the heart. I can have both, and to the extent it’s comfortable for me, they can both have me.

  6. Recently, I may have been heard shouting “I hate my job!” or “I hate talking to people!” even though it is not true. Well…not always. This is a sure sign that I am suffering from the affliction commonly known as burn-out. According to dictionary.com:

    burn·out [burn-out]
    2. Also, burn-out. fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity.

    Burn out is also a common ailment in the public safety sector, which I am sure you can relate to! This is readily displayed as a general grumpiness and apathy towards work, towards people and basically towards anything and anyone. I can tell I’ve been working up to this over the last several weeks. Luckily, burn-out has a simple cure.

    va·ca·tion [vey-key-shuhn, vuh-]
    1. a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel (dictionary.com)

    The key words being “rest” and “recreation”. Unfortunately I still have 7 weeks until my vacation comes around. So what’s a girl to do? Find a way to escape.

    This has manifested itself in a several ways. Firstly, by giving myself a “brain break” during the work day by reading outside in the sunshine for a while. No talking, no music, no listening to anything other than the birds singing. Nothing heals the soul better than a little Mother Nature and Regency England!

    And when sitting at a desk gets to be too much for my physique to handle? I hit the gym. This is a two-fold fix. Not only does it alleviate my frustration, but I get myself moving and in shape at the same time! Plus, I get to read some more while riding a stationary bike.

    It is the little breaks like this that hold me over until my next visit to the lake house. Six days of great weather, good friends and the peace and quiet that only a lake house can provide.

    • Thank heavens you built that vacation into your schedule! When I recently spent a week in Atlanta at a conference, I purposely stayed at another hotel, so I’d have to follow your prescription for a little fresh air and sunshine, a little unplugged time. It helped–not sure about hitting the gym though…

  7. A few years ago I found myself living my life in repeat. I would come home from working all day to cook dinner, wash a load of clothes, straighten up after dinner, and take of my newborn son on top of that. I was getting to the point that I felt like I had no time for me and that I was stressing myself out and had no outlet. I then picked up a book that I spotted in a store while I was looking for a magazine to read. I made time to start reading that book and I was hooked. from then on, I found reading to be my relief from stress at work and at home. I read all the time now and I am so glad that I did.

    • I ran into Loretta Chase at a conference. What came out of my mouth? “If it wasn’t for you and my other keeper authors, I might have hit my kid.” This is not an exaggeration. Particularly as a young mother, broke, exhausted, scared, and overwhelmed, the only place I found comfort and joy was between the pages of a good book. It got better, gradually, but the books have remained a comfort.

  8. The main problem I’m gaining clairty about is my health. Because I have two different types of arthritis I’m trying to take better care of myself so I don’t have so much trouble with it. I’ve gotten back on a regular schedule with my medications and am trying to eat better and get more sleep. I’m also watching my mental health as I know it can affect your physical well being and so far I’m doing fairly well. I’m also trying to get caught up with my housework, something I absolutely detest, so that eventually I may be able to have company over once in a while.

  9. I do not have yet read any of your books. I bought Dariou ebook because was recommended by Mary Balogh. I will send you a revie w.

    • Welcome, Judith! I’m in Mary’s debt yet again. I love her books, and appreciate any honest review. Glad you enjoyed Darius, because he was a somewhat different book for me.
      The rest of the Lonely Lords are all ebook priced at less than $5.00, so if you’re looking to pick up more of my books, they might be a place to start.