Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Trouble With Being an Optimist by Patricia Forsythe


You are probably acquainted with an optimist or two – you know, the kind of person who not only sees the glass as half-full, but brimming over at the top.  It’s true that optimists are usually fun to be around, but sometimes they’re so relentlessly cheerful you want them to just go away and give you a break from all that happiness.  As a fairly optimistic person, I get that.

I’m here to tell you that the real trouble with being an optimist is that we always think we have skills we don’t actually possess.  We are convinced that if we try something, it’ll all work out.  This can be dangerous.  A couple of years ago, one of the turbines on top of my house was knocked askew in a windstorm.  Instead of calling the guy who does handyman work for me, I decided to climb a ladder and see if I could fix it – in spite of the fact that I don’t like heights, I don’t like climbing ladders, I have occasional bouts of vertigo, and no one else was home.  No worries, it would be a breeze.  

After placing the ladder against the side of the house, I went up to have a look.  At the top of the ladder, I stepped onto the roof and walked over to the turbine, which I tried, and failed to set straight.  I decided I’d better do what I should have done in the first place, which was to call my handyman.  Still, feeling quite smug that I’d come that far with no problems and at least tried to correct the leaning turbine, I returned to the ladder – and made the mistake of looking down.  It was a long way to the ground.  In fact, the ground looked as if it had receded from the spot where it had been when I climbed up.  It appeared to be in full retreat.

My usual optimism deserted me.   I sat down on the roof, looked around my neighborhood, waved to the dog next door, and procrastinated about making my descent.  After twenty minutes of imagining the injuries I could inflict on myself, followed by twenty minutes of self-administered pep talks and making a vow to not look down, and to never climb on the roof again, I made my way down to the nice, firm ground.

Now that was a dumb thing to do and if I wrote about a character doing such a thing, the reader would roll their eyes and say, “This girl is too stupid to live.”  This is where the divide between fact and fiction comes into being.  In real life, an author can do dumb things, but her characters had better not.

Patricia Forsythe is the author of many romances, both traditionally and electronically published.  Her next book will be Her Lone Cowboy, a Harlequin Heartwarming novel available in June 2015.  Visit her at patriciaforsythebooks.com.

21 comments:

  1. Oh, Patricia! What an ordeal, and I empathize! I got stuck on a ladder once, trying to get inside after locking myself out of the house. Halfway in, halfway out, the ladder tried to fall. Tried real hard. But I held tight, using my feet as hooks; if I straightened either foot, it would fall...on top of my car. So there I hung until my hubby came home. First words out of his mouth? "What were you thinking?" LOL And you're so right! If one of my characters did that, readers would wonder how the gal survived long enough to climb ladders in the first place! :-) Have a lovely Tuesday, m'dear!

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    1. Loree! Are there pictures of you with your feet hooked over the ladder? Wonderful image!

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    2. Oh, that's too funny. Makes a great mental picture.

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  2. I think that would be a really good scene! I don't think believing--a little optimistically --in our own abilities qualifies on the too stupid to live scale. Great post!

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  3. I'm trying not to snicker at my desk, but it is kind of funny. I think I am more of an optimist than a pessimist, but I am also a realist, which maybe counteracts any thoughts of doing things I'm not going to be able to handle. I do prefer having a positive outlook on things. Most things work out the way they are supposed to in the end and I would rather count my blessings than mourn my losses. Next time something on the roof needs to be done, think positively about what a great job your handy man will do up there. Handy men saving the day definitely can make it into a book!!

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    1. Having a positive outlook sure makes life easier. I used to work with a woman who was so negative that everyone would duck into hallways or restrooms whenever we saw her coming.

      Definitely going to get my handyman to do any further roof work.

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  4. As a fellow optimist, I can relate. However, If I had climbed that roof, the police would be taking me off with a helicopter. So glad you worked up enough nerve to get down.

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    1. It was a silly situation to get myself into, but I'll probably do something similar again because I always think it's going to turn out great.

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  5. Patti, Spat my diet coke all over the keyboard picturing you sitting for half an hour on your roof communicating with the dog next door. I really think that might work in a book, because it's the kind of thing independent women do. As someone who dislikes heights the roof is definitely off limits for me.

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    1. Maybe I'll use it someday in a book if I can make it seem like a reasonable thing to do.

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  6. Patricia! Oh, I so relate. I am the eternal optimist also. When I want to do something, I sincerely believe I can. Sometimes my confidence is well placed, other times I should be committed. I don't think your behavior would make a character look stupid at all. Especially if the single guy across the street is heading out to his car and sees her perched there. Great potential! Keep being crazy - and put those things in your books!

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  7. Being an optimist and having married a pessimist, I enjoyed the post immensely!

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    1. Thanks, Melinda. The difference between optimists and pessimists is that one group thinks everything will go right and the other thinks everything will go wrong. Actually, neither is completely right.

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  8. I think we've just about written this scene and some of the book! What if the heroine was climbing that ladder because a little kitten had gotten up there (motivation), probably jumping from the big tree next to the roof? And that guy across the street came to their rescue? You were very brave, Patricia. I climbed on a small stepladder in my closet, tried to reach for something--and, experiencing a sudden bout of vertigo, catapulted myself off the darn thing and down into a foot stool across the room. I haven't forgotten those bruised ribs. No ladders for me.

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    1. Brainstorming! Thanks for the idea. I'm sorry about those bruised ribs. Definitely need to stay off ladders.

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  9. I wondered why I always think I can do something that I can't. Now I have a name for it lol. Great post, and I would have climbed up there with you if I'd been there.

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  10. Oh, Patricia! What a dilemma you found yourself in! I can just picture you perched on the roof waving to the dog next door. I think it would make a great scene!

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  11. The optimist in me is glad it wasn't raining! But I appreciate your courage, I won't go all the way up any ladder against our house!

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  12. You're more brave than me! I'm not one for heights, sad to say.

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