Monday, July 19, 2010

If only...

On Saturday, Pythagoras competed in his first Olympic-distance triathlon with surprisingly little drama.

There were no Swedish supermodels throwing confetti and bikini tops as he crossed the finish line, but there was also no need for him to crawl weakly to the end while peeing down his leg and insisting his name is Rebecca.

He finished fifth in his age group, which qualifies him for Nationals should we wish to journey to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in September.

But despite his solid finish, Pythagoras was trotting down the if only path mere seconds after he’d crossed the finish line.

If only he hadn’t been sick all week…
If only he’d slept better the previous night…
If only he’d eaten a different breakfast…

I finally had to demand he stop lest he reach the conclusion that he would have won the whole race if only his pre-competition ritual had included a hand job from Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Annoying though his if only game may be, I’ve gotta admit I’ve been doing it too – particularly with this book.

If only I’d started writing in mid-March…
If only I hadn’t given myself so many days off…
If only I’d gotten up earlier this morning…

And I have to stop myself and say then what, idiot?

Sure, I’d be done by now. Usually I take about three months to finish a book, and this one will come in a little over three-and-a-half by the time I type “the end” in the next few days.

Is that really the end of the world?

Probably not. This is the third book in my contract and it isn’t even due on my editor’s desk until February. February, but I’m beating myself up now for dawdling.

In truth, the biggest reason for the delay is that I’ve had the chance to spend some extra quality time with Pythagoras these last six weeks. Unsurprisingly, I’ve grabbed that chance like I'd grab a firm butt cheek.

Do you play the if only game? Do you have an effective way of stopping yourself that doesn’t involve medieval torture devices? Please share, I could use better strategies.

I would like to sneak in just one more if only, if I may.

If only that beyotch beside me hadn’t stuck her hand out, I’d have a lovely photo of Pythagoras crossing the finish line in Saturday’s race.


Linda G. said...

You and Pythagoras need to stand face-to-face, slap each other's cheek (face or butt--your choice), and say, "Get over it! You're doing GREAT!"

Because you are. Both of you. :)

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Photo shop that hand out of there!

If only I'd seen the signs and realized my marriage was in danger. If only I hadn't been lied to repeatedly. If only we hadn't given up on our music...

We all have a cacophony of "if only's" and "what if's?" The only way to stop the "if-only-speak" is to recognize it and tell yourself to cut it the heck out. Awareness is key, along with being grateful for who you are, what you've accomplished, and the possibilities your life holds. Embrace "what is" not "what should or could have been."

Steph Schmidt said...

Am I a bad person for my first thought on seeing the picture, it would have been epic if only the offending hand had been pointing next to Pythagoras?

Elizabeth Ryann said...

If only that person hadn't stuck out their hand, we wouldn't have been able to see that picture at all. And it's like a bouncy castle finish of fun.

Also, that is a seriously veiny hand/arm. That person must lift lots of heavy things.

Anonymous said...

Hope this doesn't go through twice, had an error the first time.

I think everyone goes through the "if only" phase. I do, but in the end I just figure this is how I got here and that'll have to be it and hope I do better next time. It's all learning and stuff (technical term).

And it isn't due until February? You know what slackers like me call people like you? OVERACHIEVERS. Yes! I had a friend like that in college...turned a 2 page essay into a 10 page report complete with PIE CHARTS! Seriously! Oh sure, sure, I wrote my paper...the day it was due, but it didn't have any flippin' pie charts because that's just over the top! (and a lot of work)

Candyland said...

Sadly, I often live by "if only." It's a sucky way to feel, but I can't help it either. There's always that wonder...if I did things differently.

Kristie Cook said...

Congrats to Pythagoras!! As soon as I saw that picture, I knew you had something to say about it. LOL

Whenever I'd say, "If only...," my aunt would say, "If only I had a penis, I'd be your uncle." I never really got what she meant when I was younger. But I think her point (hehe) is that it's useless to say "if only." There's nothing to be gained from wishing you could change things that can't be changed. But it doesn't hurt to learn a few things and then move on.

I still play the stupid game though. If only I didn't read so many blogs, I might get something done today...

Anonymous said...

Oh you have got to be kidding me. That hand in the way is just such good timing.

Funny you should mention this blog post. I was just thinking IF ONLY I hadn't started re-writing my novel the second, third now fourth time in a row. At this rate I'll never be happy with the ending and it will never get bloody finished.

Liz Czukas said...

If only I could figure out how to stop saying if only...

You're so right. I'm much better at calling out my husband on this than I am at calling out myself.

If only I had someone who would call me out...

By the way, you're doing phenomenal!! 7 months early?! Girl, most writers would be lucky to have STARTED by that point. You rock.

And that picture is priceless.

- Liz

Penelope said...

You are HILARIOUS and I love this blog post!!

I must agree--you're ahead of the game and awesome. Though I admit I'm typically not drawn to the genre in which you write, I will definitely make an exception for you :)

Shain Brown said...

I'm starting to have Tool Time flashbacks, and each snapshot includes the almost portrait of the over intelligent neighbor.

Terry Stonecrop said...

If only I could write anywhere near as fast as you...

Get over it! :)

Anonymous said...



Jennifer Love Hewitt.


I LOLed. I admit.

Also, I like Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Claire Dawn said...

Lol! Congrats Pythagaras! :)

My life IS a game of the if onlies.

If only I'd opened my MS first thing when I got to work this morning.

If only I hadn't loitered away the whole morning doing nothing online.

If only I wrote every day.



Linda G, we try to slap each other at least a couple times a day, so thanks for the extra excuse!

Debra, love this: "Embrace 'what is' not 'what should or could have been.'"

SM Schmidt, the annoying part about that pic is that I spent several minutes getting it all framed up with the mountains in the background and the flags fluttering in the breeze. I could have strangled that woman!

Elizabeth, no joke, I just stood there at the finish thinking "bouncy castle! bouncy castle!"

Danica, it's not so much an over-achiever thing. It's more that I want to get this one done so I can start another one right away and have something lined up in case the others start to do really well. Positive thinking, yanno?

Candyland, so how do YOU pull yourself out of the "if only" spiral? C'mon, help a sistah out!

Kristie, LOL on your aunt's expression. Love it! Pythagoras' family has an expression that goes, "if we had candy & nuts for all our ifs & buts..." Not sure if there's more to it than that, but sort of along the same lines.

Suz, I was annoyed at first about the photo, but's one of those things I can laugh about right away. It's certainly a memorable image, isn't it?

Liz, I've gotta give credit to my wonderful agent for nudging me to get started right away instead of twiddling my thumbs. She's totally right (as always) that it feels a whole lot better to be ahead of the game than scrambling at deadline time. I'll have plenty of other things to do come February!

Penelope, that's become my new favorite compliment -- the people who say "I don't normally read romance, but I want to read you." Thanks!

Shain, wait, so am I supposed to be Wilson here? :)

Terry, I know, I know...I'm lucky to be a pretty speedy writer, but that also means I'm extra hard on myself (snicker!) when I miss the mark by a few weeks. I could have worse problems for sure, but it still makes me feel bad not to meet my own goals.

Simon, yeah...Pythag doesn't have a very good memory for celebrities, so Jennifer Love Hewitt is the only one who consistently makes his "list." I'm sure it's just that he likes her smile :)

Claire Dawn, OK, so help me out here. Should we come up with a special affirmation where we praise ourselves for the things we do right? What's the solution here?!

Thanks for reading, guys!

Jennifer X said...

There was a phrase my Dad was told once ending in "'ve been SHOULD on enough." No use is worrying about the shoulda/coulda/woulda past. My problem is with the WHAT IF questions.

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