"The Angst Behind Chapter 22"

As I fussed over this chapter, I realized that I was torn between what I'd planned and what I imagined readers would want. I kept thinking readers would want something else, maybe anything else, than what I'd planned, and I wanted so much not to disappoint the readers! Months went by. At last a friend helped me understand that I must pursue my vision for the story, even if it didn't mean that Jake and Bells would be a couple by now. And THAT is what I think the readers would like. You can imagine my worry.

What would I like? I'm trying to make it a story about Bella getting her shit together. I think she needs to do that before she can understand what love is and how to share it.

You know, I used to work at the Olive Garden. For those of you who are not familiar with the place, this is an American chain restaurant serving Italian-style food in obscene proportions at moderate prices. I'm sure an actual Italian chef would die of apoplexy were he to read the Olive Garden menu, but it's an all right place. When I worked there, I'd take orders from enormous families and bring them many enormous plates of food, weaving through the tables with a four-foot tray balanced on my shoulder. I could carry a folding stand in my other hand, snap it open table-side, and dole out steaming bowls of spaghetti with sloppy sauce, doughy raviolis, chicken marsala, baseball-sized meatballs in red sauce, salads, breadsticks, and cheesecakes. And I'd offer everyone some freshly grated parmesan cheese from a little wheeled tool I kept on my tray. Also, I could uncork wine bottles with the cheap, plastic, standard-issue corkscrew I kept in my belt, and I could pour it out for the host to sniff. So elegant. And so complicated.

I was a terrible waitress. Yes, I was. I got people's orders wrong and they frowned at me; then I had to go back to the kitchen and beg someone to correct my errors while the chefs frowned at me. I could never sell enough add-ons to please my manager. These were the items that aren't the main course: drinks, particularly the pricier alcoholic ones, desserts, and appetizers. I totally sucked at convincing people to buy add-ons. Like Jennifer Aniston, I didn't have enough flair.

One day, shortly before I lost this job, I spilled a hot caramel apple sundae down the back of a teenage boy. He was a rather large boy wearing his Sunday church clothes, and his large white shirt needed to be sent to the dry cleaners. My manager tried to smooth things over while I shamefacedly carried meatballs to the next room.

Writing Bella's Guitar is taking a fucking long time because I am trying to carry a lot of shit on my tray. Bella and Jake are the main course. But there's also Charlie and his job, Charlie and Joy, Charlie and Bella, Charlie and Billy. There's the mystery of the missing hiker and the pack's efforts to figure that out. There's Jake and Embry's relationship, and in the background, both of those boys have shit to sort out with their father. Quil is longing to be more than a side-kick. Leah wants to become more two-dimensional. Seth has a little problem with Justin Timberlake. Mike has issues with Jessica, and possibly with others, and Bella has a lot of issues with herself, such as self-esteem, her mother, the nature of love, and PTSD. Angela will not remain in the background much longer, and even Mr. Horowitz will have something important to say, eventually. Which reminds me that Vera's story still has to be told, here and there, in bits and pieces. Like freshly grated parmesan cheese.

It's quite possible that I will dump this hot mess down the back of some teenaged boy. But I'm trying my damnedest not to. It's definitely my fear that I'll lose some readers because Jake and Bella are not a couple yet. I'll be sad if you go away. But I'm just going to keep trying, weaving between the tables, because I think that one day, this meal will finally be served, and it will be pretty good. Like Jake, I have a plan.

I appreciate your humoring me, and supporting me, and cheering me on as I work and work and work on this. I'm so grateful that people are reading my stuff. It's never something I'll take for granted. I remain your faithful Author.