What If You Had More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows
Guest Post by Mitzi Mensch, Honolulu based writer who writes of her journey to stop seeking the unattainable. I thought you might be as intrigued as I was when I read this excerpt. I did not pay for this guest post.
What if you take a situation to the next level and write about it. That is what I do, what I did in the case of RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED. This book was actually written in 1998 and recently resurrected. In real life I walked out of a dermatologist’s office where I had been seen for what we know here in Hawai`i as haole rot, and I asked myself that question – what if? I drove back to my office and thought about it all afternoon. What if my sun exposure hadn’t just led to unsightly red spots on my skin? What if the cream the young, beautiful, white-skinned Asian woman doctor had prescribed didn’t clear up the discolorations? What if her admonitions about the harmful effects of the sun’s rays had led to more than blotches and scales and her warnings about melanoma were more than warnings?
These thoughts didn’t leave my mind, and although I did other things, had tons of other things to do, in fact, in my account management job, the thoughts were always there as I did those other things, always building and growing until my head was filled to bursting with words and sentences and paragraphs that begged to come out. When I was finally able to make it to my home computer on a weekend morning, the words simply flowed onto the screen, taking over my fingers, an instrument of my brain, an extension of my thoughts, causing the story of Madeline to be told. The energy was incredible.
I hadn’t written in ages. It was something I had done in years gone by, but I hadn’t had time in the recent past with other responsibilities and obligations seeming to take priority. So, to further answer the question of why I wrote this book, it is important to know how. With that first weekend I had, I wrote all weekend long, not caring about anything else. I went to bed early so I could have a good night’s sleep, could have mental energy when I awoke. And then the second I did wake up my eyes popped open, and I leaped out of bed no later than four or five a.m. and lunged for the computer, my head exploding with what had to be said. I barely brushed my teeth before I began my task, I did not shower; I wore the same T-shirt and panties I had worn to bed. The energy was incredible. I was euphoric as words gushed out and filled the whiteness of the screen. I was on a writer’s high; I didn’t know what a writer’s high was, but I was on one and it propelled me to keep going. I was flying. I was in a different zone, in a different world. The physical world around me ceased to exist. The different place I was in was all that mattered. I didn’t answer the phone. I didn’t step outside.
Finally, by mid-afternoon I grew tired; not physically tired, physically I could have gone forever, but I knew the creativeness was coming to an end. I knew if I continued, even as I wanted to, that the output wouldn’t be as good as what had come before. I knew I had to stop, to rest, to renew; so even as I hated to, I put aside my work, I ate, not caring what I ate really, just doing it because it was necessary. I showered, ablutions a habit. I went out for a walk, down to the beach; because exercise was part of my routine, the ocean my constant companion, providing solace, giving clarity to my thoughts. I stopped writing only so I could once again refresh myself, so I could go at it once again the next day. And then the weekend would end and I had to go back to work, to my ‘professional’ life of high heels and profit-oriented results, but even as I did what I must the words filled my head, the story grew; it consumed me. I could hardly wait for the next week to end so I could let the words come out.
It took four months to write RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED in this manner. There were early bedtimes on Friday nights with Saturdays and Sundays devoted to getting the story done. Once during that time I was invited to a co-worker’s Saturday morning wedding, and as I was there I was wishing I was at home, at my computer, doing what was the most important activity in the world to me then, writing.
The wedding was an intrusion. And then there was that doctor I was dating at the time. Saturday nights were reserved for dinner and a movie with him. On our first date I told him about the book I was writing, about the premise. My telling of it must have had great impact on him, how could it not with all the energy I was putting into it, because, when I was finally done talking, he said, “Oh, I would hold you while you die.” I replied with, “That’s the nicest thing anybody’s ever said to me.”
We had twelve dates. The first six were just the dinner and movie routine. The next six included a little nite-nite once we returned to my house. This man was right; there was nothing wrong with him. There were no flaws I could find to make him inappropriate, to give me cause to reject him. But he was there, too late, when I should have been sleeping, and he looked too comfortable in my bed, took ownership of the territory, gave all indications he seemed to think he should stay the night. He would have been there in the morning had I let him. I would have made us coffee. We could have read the Sunday paper together. We could have gone out to brunch. We could have gone on, established ourselves, become a couple. But then the book wouldn’t have been written. It wouldn’t have been finished. It wouldn’t exist. He knew, he told it to me, he could tell that I wanted him gone once the nite-nite was over. And he was right. I did. I wanted to write.
Amazon describes Return Receipt Requested like this:
“Diagnosed with malignant melanoma after years of being a sun bunny in Hawai`i, Madeline accepts that this is the time for dying. Her only regret is that she has missed out on lasting love, and she is determined to be held in the embrace of a man’s arms as she draws her final breath. The problem, as usual, is she can’t figure out which man.”
And so I say, how can you NOT want to read this? This is my first recommendation for Summer Reading List 2016.
You might however want to consider writing your own memoir.