Letting Go—To My Fellow Kindergarten Parents

This week I have a kindergartner. After three years of pre-school, I’m excited. It’s been a long summer, so perhaps I join the other realms of cheering parents as their kids head back to school. I’ve had the experience of letting go. He’s ready. I’m ready.

I think this is one perk of a working parent: we’re used to letting go. We’ve had to hand over our 10-12 week old child to someone else. Not an easy task but at least it comes with easy bathroom breaks and the ability to stop at the store for a five minute trip. I was fortunate to leave my son with my mother. Still hard, but I could call her anytime I wanted and I knew he was in the best hands.

When he was two I sent him off to daycare. The first place my husband and I looked was the right place. We felt comfortable with our daycare provider, even when our son was out of our sight. More importantly, he was happy to play there. He went there for three years and I have never once regretted our decision.

I may not be teary eyed at the thought of kindergarten, but I am crying at the end of his daycare experience. It’s bittersweet to see your child grow up and move on, and all the changes in support that go along with it.

I know there will be other kindergarten parents who are letting go of their child for the first time. It’s hard. At school you hand your child over to a stranger. You can’t stay and watch, you don’t get phone call updated at any time. The only way to find out what happened is to get your child to share, or perhaps a brief interchange with the teacher.

The first time I dropped him off at preschool, he had just turned three. I had met the teacher once before, but I hadn’t had the same experience as with daycare. My mom came with me and we dropped him off together. And for the first time my kid was separated from me when I wasn’t at work or on a planned date night.

It was emotional. But it got easier. By the third year I was pushing him off to his new teacher, watching other parents struggling to let go. Both reactions are okay. Each family has a different path, a different story. The only thing that remains universal: at some point we have to let go.

It comes in stages, fortunately. From a few hours at preschool to dropping them off at a college dorm. As parents we are given this gift of a beautiful baby, completely dependent on us for everything. And each stage of their lives they are breaking away, becoming independent, supporting themselves. This also varies from child to child, but almost all find their own way in their own time.

To my fellow kindergarten parents: have that cry, have that cheer. Enjoy the quiet house, or turn on some music to make is more tolerable. Our children are growing up. But their school years are just beginning. They have friends to make, subjects to learn. Older, more independent, still our little children.

Pantster for Life!

I’m a pantster. This means I don’t plot out my novel before writing. I get an idea and then dive right in. I learn my characters and figure out plot as I go.

I’ve envied plotters. They establish their plot first and are able to work in different aspects of where the story is heading right from the get go. They have a better handle on their characters when they begin. They can weave the plot twists in from the first page, because they already know what those twists are.

A few months back I plotted my first story. A loose plot, but I had a beginning, middle, and end. I set up chapters, I knew where the story was going.

I stopped writing halfway. Complete hit the wall, done. I tried to keep going and wondered if the fact that I already knew the outcome killed the plot. I’m still not sure. I do know I’ve read what I managed to write and something is off with my characters’ chemistry. I hope to one day go back and fix it up, but until I can gather up a spark for the story, it’ll have to stay in waiting.

Meanwhile I’m in a position where it’s time to start a new project or edit an existing one. It has been a while since I wrote a first draft. I always love the process—previous plotting failure aside.

When I get an idea I often times write a page or two, then put it aside until it’s time to work on the story. One such page began speaking to me. There’s no plot, no end goal. Just a beginning concept thrown on a page. I’ll find the plot by writing it.

So far so good. My natural form of plotting involves thinking about the story when I’m not writing, allowing parts of the plot to take shape. Instead of a full out plot I decided to write my query letter, to see if my current concepts might be enough to sustain the story.

All signs point to yes. I’m a little worried the love will die down, or my characters’ chemistry will fizzle. That will show itself in time. Meanwhile I’m enjoying having a new story speak to me. Characters to learn and explore, a plot to think of while in the shower or driving. It’s the discovery phase of a novel. While I always want to know the ending, I do enjoy working with the unknown. My characters have been known to surprise me and at 7,000 words this newbie has already proven worthy.

One day, maybe, I’ll attempt plotting again. Or think differently once I finish my half-finished novel. Until then? I’m a pantster. It seems to work for me and be part of my process. I’ll forever be jealous of the plotters. That’s their process, not mine. Pantster for life!

Why Writers Need Contests

One of the things I absolutely love about the writing community are all the contests. In general, a contest presents an opportunity for a writer to connect with an agent/editor/publisher. The real reward of such an experience is much, much deeper.

I wrote in my own isolated bubble for years. I first stepped out of the bubble to participate in Amazon’s Breakthrough contest (sadly this contest didn’t run this year). More important than throwing my writing out into the world: I joined the forums. I made friends. I LEARNED.

I cannot stress this enough. I learned. I was very green in my writing at this point. Other writers took me under their wings. They shared information and resources. They gave me feedback. Without this contest, without those forums and writers, I would not be where I am today.

I then joined twitter and started participating in the contests there. I hung out on the hashtag feeds, soaking up all the tips and tricks tweeted during contests. I learned again.

Many unpublished writers will call themselves “aspiring writers.” Many others say to remove the aspiring once you’ve written and polished. These contests removed the “aspiring” for me. It gave me the tools to learn, to improve my craft, to become the writer I was destined to be.

This is not about entering a contest and gaining an agent/publisher. That is the goal, always the goal, with writing. If you enter a contest, participate. Open your eyes and heart. Learn. There is so much information, absorb it. Grow as a writer. I’ve participated in many and while some of the information becomes old hat, there’s always something new to learn and a new friend to make.

Contests are about learning and growing as a writer. Jump in with both feet, absorb all you can. And regardless of the outcome: you’ve won.

Pitch Wars Mentee Bio

Todays blog is a fun contribution to a contest I’m participating in, Pitch Wars. If you haven’t heard about this wonderful contest, run by the amazing Brenda Drake, click here and prepare to be blown away. Below is me talking a bit about myself, with gifs. It’s a Pitch Wars thing.

Hello potential mentors and fellow PitchWars peeps! This is my second year participating in this contest, and I absolutely love it. The best thing about contests: no matter what happens there is so much to learn, and so many friends to make.

A little about me: I live in Massachusetts with my husband and five year old son (Mommy brag: he’s reading! But not allowed near Mommy’s books). I have three cats and they all have a disability. My oldest—a black and white tiny gal—is deaf with no peripheral vision, my other two are littler mates with cerebellar hypoplasia (they have an underdeveloped cerebellum leading to poor coordination). I call them the twins, since they are nearly identical long-haired, gray, Maine Coon mixes who shed all over my house.

I’m a self-described extrovert trapped in an introverted body, which makes me right at home in social media, even if I lurk a great deal of the time. I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Deaf Studies which led to working in social work for ten years before burning out.

I now work in the family business selling custom window treatments. A huge change of pace but it calls to my more creative side.

I’m a big supporter of diverse books, especially in regards to disability. I wear two hearing aids, and have since I was five (that’s, umm, almost thirty a lot of years). There are plenty of hearing loss talk on my blog, so I’ll keep this brief. I will say I write characters with hearing loss. Sometimes it’s part of the plot, sometimes it’s just an is. My goal has always been to bring that part of my world into my novels.

Why do I want to do PitchWars? Besides the fact that it is THE contest? I have a novel I think is kickass and my CPs love. I want to rip it apart, fix it up, and make it shine. And I’m willing to do just that. I’m a hard worker, a bit obsessive.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading. Seriously. I always have my head in a book and I love my romances. I love the steam, I love the heart, and I love to swoon over the main characters. My two all-time favorite authors are Jennifer Crusie and Jill Shalvis. And if I start reading anything by Colleen Hoover, I end up in a binge reading session until finished.

Want to see some other bios? Click here!


Where My Imperfect Ears Have Taken Me

I have a disability. I don’t consider myself disabled. To me, my disability is my identity, a positive part of who I am. This is a very foreign concept to most people. You couldn’t pay me to change my ears, to become hearing.

To many I’m pitied. How can I be happy to have a hearing loss? I stumble over how to explain this, how to show this. Really, how does one show they are comfortable in their own skin? Just by being themselves.

How about a listing of positive parts of my life that came to be because of my ears:

  • My acceptance to college: I went to a college for younger scholars. Halfway through my interview I mentioned my hearing loss. My interviewer was impressed, having had no clue I struggled to hear. This is how I went from my sophomore year of high school directly to my freshman year of college.
  • My journey into Social Work: I graduated with a degree in Deaf Studies and began searching for a job with individuals with a hearing loss. I stumbled across social work and my next two jobs were based, in part, on my own ears.
  • My bridal party: Out of the two ladies who stood with me when I got married, I could hear the most. Some of my best friends have hearing loss, people I wouldn’t have met with “normal” ears.
  • My writing: I made a promise to myself years ago that all my novels would have at least one character with a hearing loss, and I’ve held up my end of that promise so far, with no desire to go against the grain. This lends a unique attribute to my writing and has become my niche.

Have my ears made my life more difficult? Definitely. Am I stronger because of those struggles? Hell yes. Would I change my ears if I had the power to do so? No. I’m perfect with my imperfection.