Go ahead and be amazed. This TV junkie has been television-free for sixteen, count ’em, sixteen wonderful weeks. Sure, I ached that I missed the end of season episode of “Major Crimes” and hubby caught me muttering and carrying the remote around the house during the season finale of “Castle,” but thankfully, life has intervened to pull me out of the house and away from temptation.
I’ve hiked in the Smokey Mountains, flown with hubby to lunch in Venice, Florida, spent a few weekends near Asheville, visited family in Las Vegas for a week, and learned how to load and fire various handguns.
My evenings, previously spent in inertia on the sofa–remote in one hand, popcorn in the other–are now filled with stories by Janet Evanovich, Kristan Higgins, John Foxjohn, Sue Monk Kidd, Ian McEwan, Diane Capri, Liane Moriarty, Joshua Graham, and Kristin Hannah. I’ve even discovered books by first-time authors: Deborah Wilding’s Then I Met You, Martha Sibley George’s Goodbye, Miss Emily, and a few others I’m judging for the international Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence contest. Recently enjoyed the second novel by Noelle August. The first book was Boomerang and the second is Rebound. Also read an exciting medical thriller written by a physician friend that should be coming out soon.
I was hired by a national aviation magazine to report on Sun ‘N Fun, the annual general aviation gathering founded by the Experimental Aircraft Association, better known as EAA. Sun ‘N Fun begins next week in Lakeland, Florida. The Brietling Jet Team will be performing airshows, and a few friends will be receiving the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award next week. The son of friends will also be in town after being certified or approved to land on carriers. Is this a great life or what? I get PAID to meet my aviation heroes and write about them.
So, overall I have not missed television. I’m out having fun in the real world and reading wonderful, hilarious, and exciting stories. Oh, and I’m writing a few of my own. One is a 90,000-word suspense story with elements of romance, and the other is an 85,000-word suspense story with elements of romance. My BETA readers and critique partners are chewing through them now. All prayers are appreciated.
After Morgan Bigley’s wife Emily dies leaving him with two daughters in the 1940s, the society ladies swoop in like vultures. This is the old South of traditions and manners, so Mr. Bigley brings a widow into the house to guide his daughters in matters of how to behave, but when the widow’s lessons include prejudices resistance ensues. Told with deep love and appreciation for Southern life, this story brings the grandeur and the divisions of the south to life through the eyes of Morgan Bigley and his youngest daughter Agnes. Just as the nation comes of age in the face of World War II prejudices and hatreds, so the family struggles to let go of wife and mother Emily to embrace their future and their maturing views on life and love. Change comes hard to the family. Agnes was my favorite character. She comes of age during this tragedy in her life. The sisterly squabbles between older sister Josy and Agnes rang true.
The narrative voice of the story rings of authenticity and grace through the deft prose of author Martha Sibley George. This story generated unanimous approval and good discussions in my book club!
Television has brought me to the moon with Neil Armstrong, to Hogwarts with Harry Potter, and to the battlefields to witness war from a safe distance. It delivers world news as well as game shows showing people eating cave spiders. The challenge to live without television for a year is about better use of time. Television watching for me has become a mindless habit and a time suck. Can I meet this challenge?
I haven’t counted how many hours a day or a week were spent gaping at the screen, but even if it was merely an hour a day—that’s seven hours a week! How many times have I asked for more time in the day? Kinda scary to call my own bluff….
Day 1 without television drove me to find things to do that I’ve been putting off, like sorting through a four-drawer shoulder-high filing cabinet for what to keep and what to jettison. We don’t need the warranty and maintenance records on the previous central air conditioner, or magazine and newspaper clippings from articles I’d published since college. Notes from a graduate class on Theatre Theory? Tossed. Lectures and syllabus from a writing course taught to middle-schoolers balled up and shot into the bin. Two points. Revisions of the police academy’s report writing classes I co-taught for three years with a detective and police lieutenant for the Polk Community College–gone. Fortunately the gents who man the recycling truck use a giant mechanical arm to lift the wheeled bins, or they’d be calling me unkind names.
Day 2, a Friday, and handsome invited me to the movie Unbroken. Some of you may say I lasted only one day, but this was a movie screen. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Day 3, after blowing dust off my iron, I ironed a few shirts to stay away from the tv. Later attended a Jewish wedding at a museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Walked around the marina near the museum and saw dolphins playing among the anchored sailboats. Soooo much more fun that slouching in the sofa with a bowl of popcorn in one hand and a remote in the other. Could that be a contributing factor in my holiday weight gain? Hmmm.
Day 4, Handsome invited me to fly with him to lunch in Venice, Florida. Winds a tad too gusty for me, so he did all the flying. I haven’t piloted a plane in months, partly because the plane was in the shop for repairs, but also because my editing business picked up dramatically this year. Ahhh, the smell of avgas. The sound of the 550 Lycoming engine. I’ve missed you, sweet Centurion, N761XD.
Day 5, keeping up with dishes and laundry. Even filled the Keurig twice. Walked nowhere for an hour on the elliptical machine and then did yoga for thirty minutes. Instead of having television on, tunes played from my cellphone. Didn’t realize how visually oriented my life had become until the blinking screen turned dark.
Day 6, picked up pal Marylou Hess and rode down to Sarasota with a box of books for our mutual friend Martha Sibley George to sign. Martha’s first book is a beautiful historical set in WWII era. Martha has longed to publish her own book since college. What a joy to read Goodbye, Miss Emilyat last.
Day 7. Finally have time to work on my own suspense trilogy. Round three of edits to streamline the structure and reduce the point of view characters from seven in early drafts to three. Thanks go out to critique partners: authors Melissa Hladik Meyer, KD Fleming, Carol J. Post, Jamie Beckett, John Foxjohn and the Lethal Ladies group. Your honesty and bluntness illuminate the flaws and guide the way to improving the stories.
Dear gentle reader, what would you do with an extra seven hours a week?