Posts Tagged ‘Dad’
TOUCHING THE SURFACE is out in paperback TODAY!!!!!
Where you can find it:
*Barnes & Noble
Can you believe it’s been almost a year since I became an author? And even longer since I sold my first book and got an agent. Here’s a little walk down memory lane. Humor me–I’m nostalgic today. So in no particular order because that would add a layer of organization I’m not capable of, here’s just a few of my most fabulous moments between finding my agent and birthing a paperback…
Standing outside the Simon & Schuster offices.
Apocalypsies at the LA SCBWI Conference!!!
Meeting my agent (Michelle Wolfson) and editor (Anica Rissi) for the first time. <3
The Class of 2k12!!!!!
Came home from a run to find my ARC’s had finally arrived!!! Such a squee moment!!!
Authors, Simon & Pulse friends and Writer Buds at the NY SCBWI Conference. <3
Bookmarks!!! Thanks Jeff Fielder.
Bringing my book to the Golf Bag Holder (Eastern PA Poconos Mountain Retreat with Jodi Moore.)
First book I ever signed went to Laurie Halse Anderson. Love her.
This made it feel so real.
Loved participating in the YAmazing Race with my Apocalypsies!!!
First author event, even before my book was out. LOL! With my buds from the Class of 2k12. <3
Making friends at BEA!!! Lisa and Kim.
First BEA was even sweeter because I got to spend time with my fabulous agent. <3
Blogger love <3 Finally got to meet Erica!!!!
Joining YA Outside the Lines.
It was a BEA Apocalypsie event of awesome.
Ummmm I got to hear JOHN GREEN!!!!!!!!!!!
Made amazing new blogger friends. Kim and Grace. <3
Hanging with Jay Asher at LA SCBWI–Dude, it was awesome.
Joining the Bookanistas!
Kimmiepoppins met Mary Poppins!!!! I met Julie Andrews!!!!
Signing my contract!!!!!! I AM GOING TO BE AN AUTHOR!!!
My book was at Bologna. Takes my breath away.
My Yanni dance girls wearing TOUCHING THE SURFACE T-shirts. <3
Signing books at my book launch.
Good friends drove in from far away despite all the trouble with Hurricane Sandy.
Just an amazing experience.
Unable to thank my friends and family enough for their love and support on that special day.
More book launch at Oblong Books. I LOVE that bookstore and everyone in it. <3
Dad–there–even when he couldn’t be. The dedication.
On bookshelves in bookstores.
Kimmiepoppins finally gets a book launch in NYC after Hurricane Sandy delayed it. Mean Hurricane–awesome party.
Woo hoo!!! I got to speak at the NY Public Library.
I’m a fangirl–it’s A.S. King people!!!!!
I’m a fangirl–it’s Sharon Creech people!!!!
My first SCBWI faculty gig at the Eastern NY SCBWI Conference–where I got paid to talk with my hands about things I love.
Connecting with teen readers and making hedgehogs. *grin*
Loving on my writer mama, K.L. Going. <3 Wouldn’t be here without her.
And because you made it to the end of my reminiscing…you shall be rewarded with a chance to win a signed copy of the brand spanking new TOUCHING THE SURFACE paperback!!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I try very hard to stay attentive to the “coincidences” in my life. I’ve come to believe that the people and things that cross my path on a regular basis are there for a reason. And my life has changed for the better since I’ve started to accept that there is a bigger purpose for all things–even the little ones.
I can’t remember what blog or conversation sent me to purchase a copy of FAILING FORWARD: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success by John C. Maxwell but it ended up on my Kindle. I also don’t know why I had the sudden urge to pull it out the other night and begin reading it, but WOW! It was exactly what I needed. A reminder that success is not a product of avoiding mistakes, it’s the ability to pick yourself up and use the experience to move forward.
This got me thinking about a poem that I had hanging in my locker all throughout high school. I even used part of it as my senior quote…
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned
too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
You might be wondering why the universe is sending me these messages, but I’m not. (I told you–I pay a lot more attention than I used to LOL!) It’s because I’m finishing a revision, working on a draft and playing with a secret little writing project in the middle of a lot of other big changes in my life. And this translates into…I’M SCARED. Unknowns are kinda frightening. At least they scare the heck out of me. I have big dreams and what if I can’t reach them? I want to be amaze-balls. Yup, I said it. I’ve never wanted to be ordinary. I’ve wanted to be extraordinary. I’ve always wanted to change the world. And the reason I haven’t really done it up until now is not because of the million and one excuses I can drum up at the tip of my tongue. (I’ve used them often.) It’s because I haven’t always been listening to the universal memo…
EVERYONE FAILS. THERE IS NOTHING SPECIAL ABOUT IT.
EXTRAORDINARY IS WHAT HAPPENS AFTER FAILURE.
Why have I fought this concept so hard for so long? Why do I forget it sometimes, even when I know it? I have no freaking idea. My guess is that being scared is a pretty big, life defining thing. But I’m seeing steady growth and change in myself. I find the beauty of failure quicker and hold it longer than I ever have. And I’m appreciative of all the little reminders that cross my path and help me to keep failing with style. And because I like to share, it would make me feel good to be your push in the right direction today…
Don’t forget how far you’ve come by picking yourself up and dusting yourself off. Think about your most epic failure that turned into something amazing. Define your biggest loss that turned out to be your silver lining. You all know mine–when I lost my dad I woke up and decided to stop failing myself. The most beautiful, bittersweet, epic moment ever.
Success ahead…if you want it.
And it’s never to late to turn it inside out.
It’s been eight years.
Sometimes it’s still hard to believe you’re gone.
Some days it seems like it’s been forever.
I know you’re still with me
Today I just miss being in the same place that you are.
A hug would be nice right now.
Ummmm because I don’t have enough to do with back-to-school, soccer, construction, revisions and that little thing called a book launch. I’ve slowly started converting my mom’s slides to digital.
A very early picture of me. But I’m not important in this pic…check out what the two biggest influences in my life were wearing ROTFL! Who allowed this? And how did this effect my social and emotional growth?
Daddy and his baby *heart squish*
Home…there is no place like it.
I imagine he would have been looking at me a lot like this on October 30th. Notice the makeshift mobile with clothes pins and toys…my parents rock!
And this is why the book is dedicated to him…he always gave me a safe place to lay my head. I miss him.
Obviously my parents sense of style rubbed off on me but I think I pulled it off. LOL!
More pictures and interesting clothing choices to come. What’s the most interesting thing your parents dressed you in?
I thought that I’d do a funny post highlighting some of my greatest birthday presents of all time. I mean–heck I’m 42 this year–I’ve gotten some great stuff. But my mind kind of went here first and wouldn’t go anywhere else…
If my dad was still alive–today would have been the day he shaved his winter beard. He did it every year for my birthday. He knew how much I “hated” his scruffy kisses when he rough-housed with my brother and I. He used those scratchy whiskers as a weapon in the tickle wars while putting us to bed. It was the perfect torture. Ironically, after all of the initial complaining I did–begging him to shave it off–every year I got used to it. And every spring, when March 19th rolled around, I’d be sitting at the kitchen table, eating breakfast and trying to figure out why he looked so funny that particular morning. I think the trickster in him loved that, as much as he liked to get me with his scruff. I wish he was still here to give me that present–it was one of my favorites.
What’s you’re favorite birthday present?
Filed under: Uncategorized
As of 2am New Year’s Day it’s been seven years since I lost my dad and I found myself. This ones for you Daddy…
There’s a light at each end of this tunnel, you shout
But you’re just as far in as you’ll ever be out
These mistakes you’ve made, you’ll just make them again
If you only try turning around.
2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, its no longer
inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to
And i feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to
Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable,
And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button now
Sing it if you understand.
and breathe, just breathe
woah breathe, just breathe,
oh breathe, just breathe.
Love and miss you…always and forever.
If you haven’t heard me screaming and jumping up and down with joy–you may be suffering from undiagnosed hearing loss. Why all that hooting and hollering you wonder? It’s because my most amazing agent, Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency sold my Young Adult novel TOUCHING THE SURFACE to the incredible Anica Rissi at Simon Pulse. *jumping, shouting, jumping, shouting*
I wish I had some crazy story to reel you in with, but the truth is…
GET YOURSELF A FANTASTIC AGENT WHO KNOWS EXACTLY WHO WOULD BE THE PERFECT EDITOR FOR YOU.
I know it sounds easier than it is. I’ve been there. It’s worth it. I know that you can do it, so don’t give up. (((hugs)))
Well, that covers the first half of my title, but I know you’re wondering about the second half. It’s simple…I write about my Dad a lot. If you know me or my blog, you know how much he means to me and you’re aware of how much I miss him. But I have a great Mom and she’s been equally as instrumental in helping me to be who I am today. The thing is-it’s easier to write about dead people-they don’t argue with you, get disappointed or make you feel shy about expressing your mushy side. Dead people are extremely accommodating. They handle your neurosis with kid gloves. But sometimes, even if you’re not sure if you’ve used the right words, you have to take a risk and talk to the living people too.
My mom has been lifting me up for as long as I can remember…
She used to write little quotes and notes and tack them to the mirror in my room or put them in my lunch box. I grew up with one on my mirror that started like this…
"Being beautiful isn’t a talent…"
I looked at that every day and always knew two very important things about myself–my mom thought I was beautiful and she also thought that I was more than that beauty.
Back when I was growing up, a full Angelina Jolie mouth wasn’t popular or pretty. I can remember standing in front of that mirror and practicing how to hold my mouth so that no one would tease me. I did it so I wouldn’t hear someone say that my lips were so big that if I licked them, they could stick me to a wall. The mouth exercises never worked, but the quote was a good anchor to hang onto. Intellectually I knew how insignificant little comments like that should be-but it doesn’t work that way. We all know that.
My mother taught me that words have power and that I should use them both carefully and with abandon.
When my Dad passed away, my Mom asked my brother and I if it would be okay if she put our names on their stone. She wanted to write that Richard and Jean were the parents of Kimberly and Terry. She wanted everyone to know that raising us was the greatest accomplishment of their lives. Oh, the power of words…
As you continue to write and search and reach for publication, remember that you write for you and you alone and you do not have to be published to be the greatest accomplishment of someone else’s life. You write to fill your own soul and you love in order to fill the rest of them.
February 11, 2011
Congratulations!! Grandma always said you were a dreamer. Lots of people just dream and never do anything about it. Not you. When the time was right you took a huge leap, sprouted wings and landed safely in your dreams. You were blessed with such a wonderful talent and I am so proud of you. I’m sure Daddy is busting his buttons telling everyone how proud he is of his "beautiful baby"!
You are always in my heart.
The power of words…
I didn’t mean to wait so long to write the final installment of my quest to get an agent. (Sorry about that.) The good news is that I’m revising my tactics and actively pursuing ways to become a new and improved, more competent blogger. More to come on that later, but for now it’s back to the world of agenting. If you’re coming late to the party, grab a snack and catch up…
*The Truth About Getting an Agent – Part 1
*The Truth About Getting an Agent – Part 2
*The Truth About Getting an Agent – Part 3
It’s time to enter the Land of Revision BWWWAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!
Revision is an epic journey, especially the very first time you tackle something that is novel length. I’ve broken my journey down into four steps. I hope it helps you walk that lonely road. The first step is…
SIMPLE: You can start your giggling now…I thought REVISION was going to be simple. The first reason I believed that was–well– because I wanted to. I’d just completed the unthinkable–I’d written a novel from first page to last. I wanted to celebrate. I knew it wasn’t "done"–but I wanted it to be. I’d expended every ounce of my brain power to get that far on my journey and I didn’t really have a next level to take it to.
This is that perfect time to put your work in the drawer and start something new, feed the muse, read some books or do that mountain of laundry. I sort of did that, but I did it with training wheels and a pull-up on. I hired the lovely and talented K.L. Going to critique my manuscript. She was amazing, the experience was fantastic. I had everything I needed to move forward but…
STUPID: I was stupid. I received a wonderful, multipage critique letter from Kelly and I had no earthly idea what to do with it. I was not "developmentally ready" to revise. I hadn’t learned enough. Now that bit of information should not mislead you into thinking that I didn’t try. I really did. But the truth was–I didn’t know I was stupid at the time. *grin* So I made some surface changes and fixes, called it a day and started to send it out to agents.
The good news is that stupid doesn’t have to last forever. Somehow, while submitting to agents and beginning work on book two, I made the decision to always be reading at least one book on the craft of writing. It was a darn good thing I did, because it was the best thing I could’ve done. I took the time to learn what I did not know.
Here are some books that you might find helpful in the daily fight against stupid…
*THE FIRST FIVE PAGES: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile-Noah Lukeman
-I also recommend his other books…(I’ve currently read two more)
*THE PLOT THICKENS: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life
*A DASH OF STYLE: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation
*HOOKED: Writing Fiction that Grabs Readers at Page One an Never Lets Them Go-Les Edgerton
-Just finished this last night, the quest to avoid stupid never stops.
*WRITING GREAT BOOKS FOR YOUNG ADULTS: Everything You Need to Know, From Crafting the Idea to Landing a Publishing Deal-Regina Brooks
*WRITING & SELLING THE YA NOVEL-K.L. Going
*NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS: Uncommon Ways to Revise-Darcy Pattison
*THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING CHILDREN’S BOOKS-Harold D. Underdown
*WRITING IT RIGHT! How Successful Children’s Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories-Sandy Asher
-This book includes advice on PB to YA.
*SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS: How to Edit Yourself Into Print-Renni Browne & Dave King
*78 REASONS WHY YOUR BOOK MAY NEVER BE PUBLISHED AND 14 REASONS WHY IT JUST MIGHT-Pat Walsh
*THE FOREST FOR THE TREES: An Editor’s Advice to Writers-Betsy Lerner
*ON WRITING: A Memoir of the Craft-Stephen King
*THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and Exercises-James Scott Bell
*BIRD BY BIRD: Some Instructions on Writing and Life-Anne Lamott
I learned valuable things and found inspiration in every one of these books. I urge you read and re-read these and other books on the craft of writing.
So, now that I did some reading, I was no longer quite as stupid as a I was before, but now I was…
SCARED: I was really scared. Now I knew the truth–revision is a whole lot of work. At about this time I had submitted a query and/or sample chapters to 33 different agents. That number is a grand total, not a mass emailing. I sent a handful of well thought out submissions that were personalized. Sometimes I would get a request for a partial, other times I would get a rejection. Whenever I got a rejection, I would research another agent I thought would be a match. Sometimes there were agents where a lack of reply by a certain date was also considered a no.
I had two agent requests that seemed promising… In August 2009, Michelle Wolfson requested 50 pages. Of course I accidentally sent the document in the wrong format. *head thunk* She was really cool about it and from our brief emails and banter, I felt that this could be promising. The second agent, after reading a partial, requested a full in January 2010. I heard from this agent in March. She was terrific and gave me praise for what I’d done right with my manuscript and then proceeded to give me some advice on what would make it better. She offered to look at it again if I decided to make the changes. I was first and foremost appreciative that an agent had taken the time to point me in the right direction. I was also scared. I pulled out the critique notes that I’d been given by K. L. Going and almost had a panic attack–they were very, very similar. I hadn’t been able to fix it before, so what made me think I could do it now?
SKILL: I had acquired new skills. I’d been reading, writing and thinking like a writer. I’d been learning and growing and as I looked over all the notes and suggestions, something amazing happened–I knew what to do. It wasn’t going to be SIMPLE, but that’s okay, I wasn’t as STUPID as I used to be. I was still a little SCARED, but I think you should always have a little fear in your life to keep you on your toes. Besides I knew I had two things going for me, I had gained new SKILLS and I’d learned that there were always new skills to gain. I began to revise and a funny thing happened–I learned to LOVE the Land of Revision.
It took me about a week of mulling-it-over time, to figure out what I was going to do, then I began to write. About halfway through the revision I heard from Michelle Wolfson. It had been awhile and she apologized for the delay, but she was interested in seeing the full manuscript of TOUCHING THE SURFACE. I explained to her that I was in the middle of a revision and didn’t want to send it out until it was complete. She asked me to keep her in mind. I did. She was on my radar daily because she was on Twitter LOL! As I was writing, I was following and the more I saw of her, the more I liked her.
In October 2010 I finished my revision and sent it out to both agents. A month later Michelle Wolfson loved the story and wanted to have a phone conversation. I honestly didn’t have any idea what to expect. All I knew for sure was that I was so darn excited I could barely sleep. I finally had to do the Jedi mind trick on myself. I convinced myself that she wasn’t really interested and then took it down a notch and waited for the day of the call. We had a fantastic phone conversation. I was nervous, but it went well and she *drum roll* gave me revision suggestions. The recommendations were framed in a very positive way, stressing that she was still very interested and I only felt the tiniest bit of disappointment that she hadn’t made an offer.
In retrospect, I will always be grateful that she never made the offer that day. I know it sounds strange, but sometimes life is like pot roast–if you cook it too fast–you may not enjoy it as much as if you’re patient. I think if she had signed me, and then asked for the revisions, I might have ended up with a stomach ulcer LOL! The people-pleasing component of my personality would have kicked into high-gear and likely undermined the success of the revision. Instead, I mulled-it-over and did what I’ve learned to do–my best–for me. A beautiful thing happened–I knew what to write and just how to do it. I quickly made the improvements and then sent it back to Michelle. She was leaving on vacation and was taking it with her, but she wasn’t sure if she would get to it over the holidays. That left me only one thing to do…stalk her on Twitter.
In the meantime the other agent contacted me and said she still had me on her radar and would be reading after the holidays. I sent her the updated manuscript and then settled into wait.
I learned a lot from my time on Twitter. In light of all the debate about the importance of cyber interactions, I recommend you join the conversation. Not only did I discover a million things about Michelle on twitter, (she has young kids like me and adores Pop-tarts) I also saw first hand, the type of relationships she has with her authors (AWESOME! Kiersten White, Tawna Fenske and Linda Grimes to name a few) It was also evident that she has amazing connections with her followers: other agents, editors, writers, readers and book lovers for starters. As time went on and we bantered back and forth, I came to realize that she was the agent that I wanted. The other agent was wonderful, but I had a relationship with this one. It was so hard to wait for her to read the revisions, but I knew that if this did work out, I was going to be right where I belonged.
Then this happened…she signed another YA client. *head thunk*
I heard the news directly from Michelle and she assured me she was reading and loving SURFACE. She wanted me to know that this had no impact on her interest. Oh, the stress…LOL! I did the only thing I could do…I cyber stalked the new girl! I was fully prepared to dislike Monica Bustamante Wagner, but you can’t. She seemed sweet, her story ideas sounded amazing, she’s the mom of three boys too. To top it all off, she lives in Chile and english is her second language. I started "writer crushing" on her immediately and twittered over to her page and wished her luck with her awesome new agent. Of course, she WAS sweet and she thanked me for the good wishes and we struck up a friendship on the spot. (You may want to read her saga of signing with Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary–it’s on her blog and involves a trampoline!)
On January 6th, I…ME…THE GIRL WHO IS WRITING THIS…signed with Michelle Wolfson!!!!!!! (The excessive punctuation is deliberate!!!!!!!) I did a lot of jumping that day and there wasn’t even a trampoline in sight LOL!
When I stopped jumping I realized, six years had passed since I’d lost my dad. His death at 57 was unexpected and I’d never imagined, at that point in my life, needing to rethink what I thought was written in the stars.
We can’t always win, sometimes we lose–everyone does. But we need to keep in mind, that if we’re lucky, we learn that we write our own story and if it isn’t going as planned–then we revise.
I’m back and gratefully a little smarter than I was in Part 1 and 2 of this adventure. When I left off, I’d just joined SCBWI and even more shocking–I’d signed up for the SCBWI 2007 Eastern NY Conference. I’m not sure what possessed me, I’m not super spontaneous on a normal day, but to make it even more of a head scratcher–the conference was on my 2-year-old’s birthday. OK-maybe a little break, even from this cutie, wasn’t a bad thing for a mom of three boys under the age of six. It felt important–I was compelled to go. Of course, my super, fabulous husband has supported me from the beginning and so the term "Daddy Party Weekend" was born. LOL!
Of course the birthday was fully celebrated later and on multiple other occasions, but I still wonder how I ended up at that conference… All I can say was something was pushing me. Was it my Dad? I’d like to think he was giving me a nudge in the right direction.
I went, but I almost didn’t make it through registration. I walked down the step into a room full of people who I didn’t know. I was sure they knew that I was a kid-lit impersonator. I came so close to leaving–then I saw one face that I knew…
Chris Shave and I taught together at a local Intermediate school and he was my life raft for the day. I had someone to hang out with and to sit with at the lunch table. Thank you, Chris. (((((hugs)))))
****I need to interrupt this blog for an important public service announcement…if you’re ever at a conference by yourself–with no one to hang out with. (Example: eating room service alone at your first NY SCBWI Conference) COME FIND ME!!!!! I know how bad that feels, so hang out with me instead. We will now return to our regular programming.****
Once I settled down and decided to stay, my life changed forever. I met the two most wonderful role models an aspiring children’s writer could ask for–Laurie Halse Anderson and K.L. Going.
I didn’t take pictures at that original conference, so I’ll borrow this one from Laurie’s book tour of Chains. If you’re interested, my very first blog post EVER was inspired by Laurie and written about her. (ORIGINAL BLOG POST) It took me two months of cyber stalking the Mad woman in the Forrest to get up enough courage to write that first post…but I did it.
Later, when I saw Laurie at the book signing in the picture above, I broke into tears as I proudly told her that I’d completed the first draft of my novel and it was because of her. I’ll never forget her sincere interest in me. It made me feel like a legitimate writer for the first time. I love this lady even more because she cried with me and told me more wonderful things that I’ll never forget…
She told me to remember that she once stood where I was standing and the reason she was here was because someone else had done for her, what she had done for me. She said that Children’s Writers are the finest people in the whole world and when I make it (and she knows I will) I will pay it forward and help other aspiring writers on their journey.
So in case you’re wondering–I’m planning on making it. I have something to pay forward and amazing people who believe in me.
I know–I could have died happy right after that experience, but by golly the writing gods have a purpose for me and they were hammering home their point that day. They say lightening can’t strike twice, but I also met K.L. Going and was equally as inspired by her. Then I discovered she was giving a very intimate local Writer’s Workshop in a couple of weeks and I could also get a 10 page one-on-one critique. I decided to go, but first I had to start writing my book…
I had an idea. It was a beginning. It’s morphed and changed and grown since the summer of 1997, but I had an idea and I wrote 27 pages down and I had my critique. It was perfect. Kelly gave me enough thumbs up to keep me going and lots of ideas on world building and a million other things I didn’t know. Then I began to work on it. Kelly has a motto and its by my desk where I can see it every day. Be yourself. Have an Opinion. Tell the World. My work was cut out for me.
The following year, with my first NY SCBWI conference (room service and all) under my belt, I returned to Kelly’s workshop again. It was one year later and I purchased a double critique and sent her my first 20 pages.
*K.L. Going’s Workshop
I was nervous. It had been a whole year and what if what I’d written stunk? I was feeling like this…
I could have flown to the moon and back when she commented about my persistence IN CLASS!!! She said that she’d seen a HUGE improvement in my writing since last year. Then we talked and once again she pushed me in the right direction and I learned another extremely important lesson–the whole story can be in your head–but no one can read it unless it is on the page. I needed to stop revising so much while writing my first draft. I gave myself permission to just write.
I also gave myself a couple goals. I’d just applied to the Rutgers On-on-One Conference in October. I didn’t know if I’d get in or not, but I was going to have a finished draft by the date of that conference. Then when I was done revising, I was going to hire Kelly to critique my full manuscript.
I finished the first draft AND got into Rutgers.
The day I put the last words on the paper–I laid my head down on my desk and bawled. I hadn’t known. It was shocking to figure out that I hadn’t been sure I could really do it–write a whole novel. I also realized that I had no idea how the story was going to end until I finished it. I finally understood that this story was my emotional journey, just as much as it was my characters, and no matter what happened to this book in the future–it existed. I existed. I now occupied the world in a brand new way. Everything was perfect–well until I had to learn all about that thing called revision. But for now, lets just enjoy this magic moment. Revision is a story for another day. But keep in mind, you don’t get an agent without being able to revise…stay tune and I can prove it to you. Of course I learned the hard way. *grin*
I can’t imagine you haven’t heard that I’ve signed with agent Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency. You had to have heard–I was yelling!!!! I need to write a post about the journey…its what I do. But if you don’t mind, give me just a little wiggle room because I’d like to do it my way…
As much as I ADORE all my writer friends, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say I’ve always coveted their good news just a tiny little bit. I mean, if I didn’t, that would make me like a droid or something and then I wouldn’t be cuddly and I might rust. So as a human, with human emotions, I’ll admit that I’ve always been 99.9% over the moon, excited for my writer peeps–with one exception. I’m possibly just a little more than .1% green with envy of Mike Jung. He’s Captain Stupendous and I’ve always wanted to be a superhero too.
So for all of you out there, who’ve embraced me with all your love and support, (I’m only talking to that .1% part of you–deep down inside where your soft and squishy vulnerable stuff is) This is for you…to remind you that it wasn’t an easy journey, I didn’t do it alone and that it was so worth it–so please don’t give up.
This was how my journey as a writer started…
The date is June 18, 2004. Several months before this picture was taken, on this little guy’s 1st birthday, my Dad was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor on his optic nerve. Later, in September my Dad had his last birthday. My final gift to him was the knowledge that he was going to be a grandpa for the third time. Towards the end, he would lay in bed–he was blind, half paralyzed and extremely aware of being a burden on his family. (He never was.) He asked me one day if the baby was close to coming. (It was December and my youngest wasn’t due until June.) That’s when I realized he was waiting. He was waiting for me and he was waiting for my baby. Once again, I held him close and whispered that I did not want him to wait. I told him that I knew he would be with me always and that it was OK for him to go. He died on New Years Day 2005. I was sad, but I was mostly relieved that he was going to feel like this again…
After he was gone I missed him terribly, but like I’d predicted–he hadn’t left. He made is presence known and I started to write. This is what I wrote…
|When your father dies unexpectedly you have two choices; you can let a little piece of yourself die with him or you can let a little piece of him live with you…
You know my pick.
If I Was There to Tell You
I never knew myself to be deep as the ocean.
I skated across life as if it were a sheet of ice.
At certain times, in uncertain light
I thought I saw something deeper,
but I was never truly sure.
My beautiful baby, now grown and searching,
would grab my hand and try to make me fly.
I made no sense of this…
but she kept flying and returning for me.
Always coaxing me to soar,
never understanding my fear of falling to the ice.
As I lay dying, she held my hand.
As the dark shattered, I suddenly realized…
there is no ice when you know yourself to be the ocean.
Just like there is no ceiling when
you know yourself to be the sky.
Now I fly with her to the depths of me.
This was the first time in my life where I’d written something that came from some place bigger than myself. It was an experience of a lifetime and I was hooked. I wanted that feeling again and again but I was afraid. I didn’t have a lot of faith in what I could do as a writer, so I joined an online poetry site and I wrote more poems about everything I was feeling. I also cyber cruised the SCBWI website. I didn’t think I belonged there. I felt I wasn’t good enough to be a part of that, but it never stopped my from driving by.
About halfway through my pregnancy, it was my birthday, and I received a wonderful present. One I will never forget.
This is Heather. We’ve been friends since junior high school. We’re still friends and she is a link in the chain of reasons that I now have an agent. For my birthday that year, she bought a pregnant and grieving friend, a ticket to a local author’s luncheon. It was a pivotal moment for me. I heard the authors talking about their books and how they came to be standing there. I was in awe. Then we went home and sat in the driveway and talked for several hours. We shared the day and other good things and then for just a moment I felt brave and I shared something ugly. Something I was ashamed of and that is when it happened…Heather didn’t hate me, didn’t judge me. Instead, she felt relieved because she’d been carrying around the same ugly thing too. She thought she was alone. I thought I was alone. We weren’t–now we were together and the burden wasn’t so heavy to carry. I laid in bed that night and one of the biggest revelations of my life hit me.
I needed to be open and honest with people. I had done it for my father when he was dying and it was beautiful. But why should I wait until someone was dying to speak up?
I realized there will always be people who hate me and others who don’t understand me, but in the big scheme of things, they are few. Most people want to connect. They don’t want to be alone and my truth might be the connection that makes the difference. That night I decided two very important things…
The first–being open and vulnerable is worth the risk of having my heart rubbed against a cheese grater from time to time.
The second–I am going to be an author.
***to be continued***