Friday Night Date Place – Blind Dates

Okay, I was trying to kill off this feature, but like the most tenacious of zombies, it keeps shambling on. This, however, is actually a guest blog by my assistant, Lauren David, one of the founding members of Team Broaddus. I’d like to officially welcome the traffic from the guys who regularly stalk her on her blog and Twitter (note that I’m not helping you out by linking to her Twitter – and as fair warning, she’s earned the right to be picky – although the quickest way to her heart is for you to buy my book).

You know, I get that people mean well. Many of my friends are (for the most part) happily married or dating and they want me to have that same….joy. They don’t want me to be alone. They don’t want me to be the crazy cat lady. They want don’t want my corpse to be rotting by the time someone finds me. I get it. However, I truly am happy being single. Are there moments where I do wish I had someone? Yes. The moments when I realize that I’m not Wonder Woman and that I can’t do everything by myself; when I sometimes wish I had someone to pick up the slack. Someone to share stuff with. But those moments do not match the moments that I am grateful for my independence and freedom.

So when a friend of mine wanted to set me up on a blind date, I *very* reluctantly agreed. (Truth be told, my main thought was “Well, at least I’ll have blog fodder.”)

She sent me a link and I checked him out as best I could online. (Hooray for Facebook: Stalking made easy.) Needless to say, I had more than a few reservations. But I knew I wouldn’t hear the end of it until I went out with him. So we set something up. But I kept my expectations extremely low. He didn’t seem too bad from online but I have heard horror stories about blind dates. Not to mention the interactions that I have had online that turn out much different in real life. But since he didn’t look like an ax murderer or like Boo Radley’s cousin, I said okay.

Men, here’s a little tip: If you are set up on a blind date with a woman, do not–I repeat, do NOT–go into her work before the date is to take place. Catching her off-guard may make you feel like you have the upper hand or whatever but it certainly is not going to win you any points. Girls like to have time to get ready and look nice before meeting someone, especially for a date. It’s not that we’re trying to be fake but catching us at work when we may have just done the bare minimum to get ready isn’t nice.

Blind dates are useful for at least one thing. It gives you an insight into how your friends/co-workers/family see you. Unfortunately, it can very quickly turn into the blind leading the blind. If they are matching you up with someone who they think is just perfect and your date is the complete opposite of what you’re looking for, maybe you need to have a chat with whomever set you up. In my case (and fortunately for the person who set us up), it wasn’t that the date went horribly wrong. Outside of catching me off-guard at work, my date was pleasant enough. However, come to find out later, my friend who set us up had only had minimum interactions with him in person. Most of it had been online and when she did finally hang out with him in person, she ended up apologizing to me for setting us up.

I think that sometimes people get so focused on getting single people “with someone” that they throw at them the first available person who isn’t insane or wanted in 3 states. I have said this before and I will continue to say it: it is okay to be single. It is not a sin. It is not a disease that needs to be cured. And even if it was a disease, I doubt that blind dates would be the cure. No one knows you better than you know yourself. You know what you want. You know what you’re looking for in a spouse. (Or, in my case, you know whether or not you’re looking for a spouse.) Yes, some blind dates turn out wonderfully. The ones that don’t usually make for great stories. (After you’re done living through them.) But as for me, getting to the morgue before I smell isn’t real high on my priority list. So unless I’m in need of a blog topic, I don’t think I’ll be attempting any more blind dates.

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Random Love Day – First Readers

Readers are what all writers want, but an invaluable asset to a writer is their first reader. My wife is not my first reader because she’s not much of a reader. I’m a member of a few writer’s groups and they are a mixed bag at best when it comes to critiques, though they usually come into the game late in the revision process. Which is why I’m thankful for my first readers.

I mostly depend on two: Lauren David and John C. Hay. Both are writers as well as voracious, two handy traits in your first readers. They each have different strengths or rather, I look to each of them for something different. Lauren isn’t a genre reader (or writer or fan). So she approaches the story with an unjaundiced eye, strictly about the story, the characters, the dialogue, internal consistencies, and how well the story works. John is my grammar Nazi and history nerd. If I get one more lecture from him about my overuse of gerunds …

Did I mention that everyone should have first readers like these?

John lives a few states away, however, I refer to John’s critiques (in love) as the “anal exam”. Oh yeah, he reaches up into my story and gives me … notes. Never have I hated a Microsoft word feature more than their notes. I was ecstatic when a story I sent him came back with only 17 notes (that story was immediately sent out). However, I’m never giving him a novella again: it came back with enough notes to be their own short story. So part of me lives in fear of the John crit, the other have gets anxious for them [thus he’ll get gmail chats (I don’t care that your message says *Busy*), emails, or a phone call]. Still, he’s spared Lauren’s reading experience.

I sit across from her, pretending to read something else. I check when she laughs (I keep a hash mark count of how many pages she’s turned), note when she grimaces and make sure that she’s doing each at the right places. I time how long she lingers on a page because it might be poorly written or the pace stalling her interest. And her every cough or shift is met with “is everything okay?”

I remember the days when I used to think that I crapped gold and anything I wrote was God’s gift to literature. Now, thankfully, things have gotten to the point where I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of my first readers. They are the first faces of my eventual audience and they will openly mock me if I don’t bring my best game. First readers, good first readers, are invaluable. When you find them, treasure them. (Back off! These two are mine!!!) And be sure to bribe them often.

I’m off on a Starbucks run for Lauren as soon as I post.

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