Aging Ambition

When I was young I was ambitious. I wanted to write books and modestly support myself with the success of those books. (No fame, please. I am/was incredibly shy.)

After I was married with children and only working part time, my ambition was to write books and have them published. Perhaps earn about what I made in my part-time job. As the years wore on, I decided that just finishing a book and self-publishing it would be enough.

Now that my children are grown and I’m nearing retirement, I’m rethinking even that modest ambition.

My mother was a writer. She wrote seven novels when I was growing up, though none of them got published. She and my sister published Finding the Way together when she was in her fifties, I think. When she retired, I talked to her about how lucky she was to have the time to work on her writing. And you know what? She no longer felt like writing. She did volunteer work. Took care of grandkids. And read more. No writing? I couldn’t understand.

Here I am, heading toward that same place in my life and feeling much the same way. I now understand. Writing is SO HARD with almost no value. Volunteering has great value. Spending time with friends and family has value. Reading more will be a constant goal in my life.

I have two half-finished novels, Outlandish and The Little MERmaid. The characters in these stories are so real to me. I hate the idea that their lives are paused…. I feel like their stories should be finished. But then I sit down to write and wonder why….

I have three revised and ready-to-publish novels that have never been picked up by an agent or publisher, though I tried for years to find one. I could self-publish them. It’s a lot of work. And what for? Money and fame were never my goals. It has become hard to remember why I wanted to be a writer. It now seems so self-indulgent.

What are your own ambitions and how have they changed over the years?

Dyeing hair the old-fashioned way

This afternoon my friend Sally came over and helped me dye my hair with henna. The henna smelled nice– like cooked spinach. It was the same green as cooked spinach as well:

I was happy with the natural scent, but a little alarmed at the strong green color.  On my head, the effect was even more alarming:

I put the plastic bag that came with the henna on my head and spent the next two hours grading homework, reading, and wondering if the green would wash out or if I would be teaching my classes with spinach-hair on Monday.

I then took a shower and washed the green muck down the drain (no picture available).  My hair is darker than normal but softer as well.




Now, if I need one of my nineteenth century characters to dye her hair, I know how to use henna.



Since writing this post in Feb 2011, I’ve learned a lot about dyeing with henna, so I encourage you to read my Dyeing with Henna Update post.


Over the past year, I’ve been visiting the blogs of writers and studying them and trying to figure out what makes a blog interesting. What makes a reader want to return again and again to a blog?

The answer is the human connection. Writing about writing is interesting, but what readers really want is to feel a personal connection to the writer celebrity. If you’ve been with me from the beginning, you’ll remember that in my first post I said I would not be handing out personal information on this blog.

Get ready for an about face!

While I still plan to retain a basic level of privacy, I’m now going to reach out to my readers in a personal way. I’m going to let you know more about me.

For example, did you know that I’ve been having a mid-life crisis through my hair?

For the past fifteen to twenty years, I’ve had the same short hairstyle:




About a year ago, I decided I wanted to grow out my hair. Now, I look like this:




I have a very slight colic and that hair that grows out of that spot is fully gray. I’ve been paying to color my hair with chemicals and as the gray starts to come in, I hide it. I love this hair band, but wearing it every day seems odd, and in the cold Wisconsin wind, I really need to wear a hat.




For the past five years, I’ve been getting my hair colored at a beauty salon. I like the results, but I’ve worried about putting such harsh chemicals on my head every six weeks for the rest of my life. Plus, it’s quite pricy.

So, I’ve decided to color my hair myself, with henna. It’s my project of today. Stay tuned for updates and photos.