Do you know what I did last night? I read until two in the morning. This is not unusual for me, there’s nothing I love more than getting caught up in the pages of a good book and being unable to put it down. However last night was different. While the reading was compelling; I laughed, I cried, I cringed and I patted my heart in sympathy, it was not because I was reading fiction woven by a talented storyteller. I was reading my old journals. So, when I say I cringed, you have to understand I really cringed. I’m still cringing.
Of course, the nature of my journal writing was such that I only seemed to chronicle those events that left some kind of emotional scar, which apparently was pretty much the entire decade of my twenties, as the stack of journals I have from that time period will attest. As I read through these heartfelt laments of a twenty-something in search of herself, what I found most interesting was that I had almost no recollection of much of it. How could that be? I’d poured my heart and soul onto page after page and I’d obviously been wounded, yet those events barely rang a bell. What does that mean? Early onset dementia? Possibly. I’m sure my family would go along with that theory. But more likely, those seemingly life-altering tragedies have been supplanted by others. By the joy and sorrow of twenty more years of life experience.
However, I am so very thankful for these journals and for the heartache recorded inside. As a writer—in particular, a romance writer—these journals are gold. All I have to do is open any journal to pretty much any random page and I’m transported through time to that stage in my life where the thrill and angst, obstacles and conflict involved in new relationships is poignantly revealed. Here is an example (names removed to protect the ‘not so innocent’).
So, this is what happened yesterday, if you can believe it…I walked into the apartment unannounced, and overheard him talking on the phone to her. Yep, the very person I’d accused him of cheating with. From the conversation it was obvious that I hadn’t been ‘imagining things’ or been ‘overly sensitive’. I had known the truth all along and now my suspicions were confirmed.
Ooo I was sooo mad. I threw my purse at the wall but it was too small and didn’t give me any sort of satisfaction. I was swearing and stomping and backing away from him making some sort of injured animal noise, like a growly cry, before finally storming out. I knew I had to get out of there before I did something I’d regret. Once outside, I kicked the garbage can, swore and then ran as hard as I could, gasping for breath because my chest was so tight I couldn’t breathe. I ran for the church that sits on the top of the hill because I thought I could go sit there and maybe find some peace.
Suddenly I heard sirens, lots of them, and I was drawn to the walk along the top of the escarpment that overlooks downtown. Below me, flames licked the night sky from a fire engulfing an entire apartment building. More sirens joined the fray, fourteen fire engines in all I heard on the news today. From where I was standing, I could feel the heat from the blaze while debris and sparks were thrown up into the air. I don’t know how long I stood there, tears streaming down my face, watching the horror below and feeling like it mirrored what I was feeling inside…
When I wrote Mustang Sassy, I totally drew on this journal entry to help me. In the opening scene, Sass Hogan catches her boyfriend on the dance floor of the local saloon making out with another woman. Fueled by the same sort of hurt and rage that made me throw my purse against the wall, Sass goes one step further and actually does the something I’d regret. She takes a tire iron to her boyfriend’s ’67 Mustang Fastback—Carrie Underwood-style—smashing the lights, the windshield, the doors and even doing a little flamenco dance on the hood. Did it feel good in the moment? You bet. Did Sass regret it soon afterwards? Hell, yes! Particularly because she ends up smashing the wrong car and must make it up to the owner, the sinfully handsome Jordan Michaels. After that start, Sass and Jordan head off on one spectacular disaster after another but they eventually find their way, together. To find out how they manage it, you’ll have to pick up the book!
Like Sass Hogan in Mustang Sassy, the twenty-something-me also found her way…eventually, though my heart still breaks for the girl who wrote those journal entries. When I think of her, I wish I could go back in time and tell her a couple things. First, I’d tell her that everything she’s going through right now is important in order for her to find happiness later in life. The second thing I’d say to her would be thank-you. Thank you for recording all the heartbreaks and catastrophes in journal after journal because all that stuff has been invaluable to me as a writer.
With a degree in archaeology, Daire St. Denis was sure she was destined to be the next female Indiana Jones.That didn’t quite pan out but she still managed her fair share of exotic adventures. Some of her most daring escapades include, skydiving in Canada, being trapped in the Great Pyramid of Giza, searching for tigers in the foothills of the Himalayas, touring Germany by motorbike, scuba diving off the coast of the Philippines, meeting Medusa in the bowels of Istanbul and climbing her way to the top of a number of mountains and crags in Canada and the US.
Daire loves to pen erotic tales full of passion and unexpected adventure and her colorful past has provided ample inspiration for her muse. She now lives in the wilds of Canada with her two poorly trained dogs, two insufferable cats, two spirited children and one extremely patient husband.
Find out more about Daire at www.dairestdenis.com
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