I know that I’ve been MIA for quite some time now. As someone who is trying to pass herself off as a comedy writer, I debated sharing “non-comedic” information; but I hope to reach out to those of you who might need a bit of Christmas cheer in your stocking.
After a long battle, I lost my mom—my best friend—to cancer on March 25, 2011. The details aren’t important. What is important is how I got through it and how others who have written to me got through tough times as well.
We looked for reasons to laugh.
I published my first book in 1987, and since that time I have received hundreds of letters from readers who have suffered hardships—illness, death, divorce, unemployment—you name it, and they thanked me for making them laugh during those bleak periods.
When it was time for me to move on, I could not wrap my head around writing a 90K-100K word book. Fortunately, I was offered a position with a very nice agent; critiquing, line-editing, and mentoring new authors, which I did for a couple of years. I’m glad I had the opportunity because anyone who has ever tried to write a book knows how isolating the task. That was the last thing I needed. I found working with new authors very therapeutic, and I made a number of friends in the process.
Once I decided it was time to get back to the business of writing, I discovered the market had changed drastically and e-books were very popular. So I pulled out a couple of old romances and began the process of updating, revising, polishing, and more revising. At times it was tedious, but I realized something I had forgotten. I was pretty damn funny. As in laugh-out-loud, belly-busting, stitch-in-the-side funny. It sort of made up for all those blasted revisions. (Big eye-roll.)
It felt good to laugh. It felt wonderful! The dark clouds above me parted, and I was suddenly surrounded by pure sunshine. (Okay, I’m exaggerating. The only thing that reminds me of pure sunshine is laundry detergent with a bleach alternative, but this is my article, even if some of it is over-the-top.)
My romances will never earn a Pulitzer or hit the NY Times, but they weren’t meant to. They were written to entertain.
I was so thrilled to realize I had not forgotten to smile or laugh that I purchased a whole slew of old Archie and Jughead comic books! I put them in a basket beside my bed, and I actually read them. What a great idea! Instead of watching the eleven o’clock news and hearing all the awful stories—believe me, those stories will still be there in the morning—I had a blast reading about Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica.
Despite times of sorrow, we eventually have to get back to the task of living our lives. I don’t know about you, but I would rather do it with a smile on my face.