A Writer’s Dream

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. Maybe it started when I learned how to read, or before that, when I received my first journal at age five. It was a beautiful little red velvet book with the words, My Diary, spun in gold thread across the center.

With painstaking effort, I wrote one and two sentence entries, filling about half the book. Journaling would become a lifelong habit, but my deepest love was for fiction.

A small sampling of a vast journal collection.

A small sampling of a vast journal collection.

Books became my escape, my most loyal companion. I loved losing myself in someone else’s words, falling into another world. At mealtime, I almost always had a book poised in front of my face. Somehow my parents allowed this. Perhaps my devotion to reading amused them, but I know most of all it made them proud.

Me, age 4, getting a head start on my dream.

Me age 4, reading in bed, circa March 1979

Now here I am living the first part of my dream. I’m a writer. I write. Even during those hibernation years after having my first child, I wrote blog posts and kept journals. Writing is how I process life; writing is the mirror I use to see the world.

But there is another part of my dream. One that I’ve held onto since I was a young girl devouring Young Adult books in my room, collecting them on my shelves.

I want my book there, too.

When I was about ten years old, I knew this. On the inside of my dresser, which I had transformed into a bookcase, I wrote the following affirmation on an index card:

“I will publish a book by the time I am eleven years old.”

As you can imagine, this story did not end well. The next year I crossed out “eleven” and wrote twelve,” and so on, until I finally ripped the card off and threw it away.

Looking back, I feel such empathy for my younger self, so full of big dreams. Isn’t that one of the beautiful things about childhood? How we believe anything is possible?

My little reader and budding artist.

My girl, reader, dreamer, and artist.

After graduating from college as an English major, naturally, I applied for and was offered a job at the local Barnes & Noble. I loved this job, and it was with regret that I gave my notice several months later when I got a publishing job in New York City. But working there, surrounded by books, I superimposed my name on the spines I arranged. My index card dream was still alive.

Here I am, nearly two decades later, writing with more confidence and joy than ever. I’ve had stories published in journals, which is thrilling, but I haven’t made it inside a bookstore – yet. That dream remains to be seen.

The truth is I have little control over this part. It’s based on the whims of others, on the now shaky venue of traditional publishing.

It may not happen.

All I can do is reach for it with my words. All I can do is keep writing.

What are your dreams? If you’re a writer, is traditional publishing your goal, or is self-publishing a viable option?

 

the prompt

 

I’m sharing this post on Mum Turned Mom’s The Prompt, whose word this week is Dream. Click here to see what other writers have to say…

 

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Winter: A Love Story

A strange thing happened.

I realized, just recently, that I like winter.

I might even love it.

winter field

This is a crazy revelation for me because for most of my life I’ve been a staunch spring and summer supporter. I have a summer birthday and my daughter and husband have spring ones, and there is nothing I love more than seeing the first pink flowers bloom on bare winter trees.

I was so happy that my first child was due at the end of April. Spring felt like the perfect time to give birth. Just as everything was awakening and blooming, there was my baby, in my arms, her sweet bow lips as rosy as those blossoms.

By the time my second child was born in early November, I had come to appreciate fall, a season I had formerly dismissed as simply a precursor to winter. My mother had always loved autumn and as a child this baffled me. Perhaps it was because I associated fall with the start of school and the end of summer’s freedom. I only began to enjoy it when I became a mother myself.

Maybe my new appreciation for winter is a natural shift.

In my old mindset, winter was the death of everything beautiful. Trees were bare, plants looked skeletal, and the cold was unbearable. I still don’t like the cold. That fact will probably never change. But what I realize now is that you can still love the winter.

This first dawned on me a few months ago when I watched the first snowfall of the season. I sat in my office as the flakes fell thick and wet, quickly covering the grass and frosting the tree branches. My heart thawed as I witnessed this transformation.

There is something to be said about winter’s stark beauty.

Photo Credit: DIDS' via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: DIDS’ via Compfight cc

The blacks and whites of tree branches and snow, the crystalline sparkling of ice, the glistening of icicles. One evening my daughter called me over to look outside. I ran to the window. Every surface of the backyard was sparkling as though dusted with glitter.

Maybe it’s the recent move from city to country that has opened my eyes. It was hard to appreciate winter in Brooklyn. The beauty of snow is quickly diminished by snowplows, boot tracks, and well, dogs.

There’s also the whole stroller problem. Have you ever tried to push a stroller through thick slushy snow, or slick patches of ice? Not fun. At all. Winter with small children in a city can be isolating and lonesome. You spend many hours holed up in small living quarters, and when you do venture out, it can be treacherous. I shouldn’t complain so much, we had a car, and that helped quite a bit, but I still struggled to get through the winter months. I ached for spring, counting the days until the first flowers pushed through the cold ground.

But here, in the country, surrounded by farmland, the snow is a thing of beauty. I no longer have to push my child in a stroller while the cold wind bites into my face. I can drive. The other day when I drove home after dropping my children off at school, I was struck by the loveliness of sleet.

Yes, sleet! It was not rain, not snow, but this strange amalgamation of the two. It looked like snow but melted the moment it hit the windshield. Another day I drove along the same road and watched snow blow in gusts across the street. It looked like sand or dust, flying over the fields. It was a little like magic.

In winter, things only appear dead. Beneath the snow packed ground there is life. There is energy in the branches of the apple tree, in the trunk, and in the roots. We just can’t see it. That energy, that life, is what will bear fruit in the spring. This season is about waiting. It’s about trusting. That can be hard to do.

As I look around the snowy landscapes on my many drives to and from school, to the museum, to play dates, to the café where I write some mornings, I realize that in some ways, this season represents my creative life after I had children. My writer self went into hibernation. But it was not dead, though I worried at times it might be.

I understand now that it was there all along, like the lifeblood of the trees in the orchard, waiting for the right moment to bloom again.

Photo Credit: roddh via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: roddh via Compfight cc

Now, finally, I can appreciate winter. The way it looks, the purpose of it. It makes so much sense for me, personally. I’m a homebody, a Cancer crab (in the astrological sense). I like hunkering down. I like warming up by the fire and drinking hot chocolate with my children, their red cheeks still cold from playing in the snow.

night snow

I like the forced solitude of the season, the inwardness of it.

I used to be the first to jump in with complaints about winter, and some days I still do, out of habit, but I understand now that while I may have claimed spring and summer as my own for most of my life, my personality has always leaned toward the other side.

What seasons do you feel most comfortable in, and why? Have your opinions of them changed over the course of your life?

I shared this post on Mum Turned Mom’s The Prompt, whose word this week is Winter. Click here to see what other writers have to say…

the prompt

Word Up 2015

I’ve never been much of a resolution person, if only because I’m cynical and already know if I make them, I’ll break them. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to the One Word concept. You choose a word that resonates and you try (key word, try!) to hang onto it throughout the year. Since there’s no specific declarations involved, no one (but you) knows if you slack off.

Well. I totally bombed last year’s, which is to say, I can’t remember what I chose. Terrible! I see now it was “open,” which in theory, is a great word, but I didn’t practice it much beyond this post. Oops.

This year I’ve been on the fence. Every time I’m this close to nixing the whole pick-a-word thing, some blogger I love writes a post and I’m overcome with word envy. Here a few I’ve considered stealing and/or am just enjoying vicariously…

Believe (Minuscule Moments)

Reach (Little Lodestar)

Practice, runner up Moose (Tamara Like Camera)

Rise (The Gift of Writing)

I was this close to stealing Kath’s “Believe” because I could really use a hefty dose of confidence and/or magical thinking about finishing my novel.

Naturally, this led me to consider “Finish,” which I almost chose but it seemed kind of resolution-y rather than word-y since what else do I need to finish besides my writing projects? The only thing that came to mind is the enormous laundry pile that I pretend not to see every time I pass it, but the crap thing about laundry is that even when you don’t ignore it you’re never finished. Ever. So forget that.

One morning, after a particularly cranky child-wrangling session, I briefly toyed with the word “Yes.” Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, if I stopped yelling “NO” at my kids (amongst other things)? But then I scrapped it after pick up. Because how silly.

Then, sometime very late past my bedtime the other night when my brain is supposed to be quieting down but doesn’t, so I do the exact opposite of what I’m supposed to do and reach for my phone and scroll through Twitter, and then become disgusted with myself and delete the app, and then I check my email, which is ridiculous because no one but spam sends me emails at midnight and not even spam because even they are sleeping, so I put my phone face down and start to panic like I did when I was a kid and knew the night was getting on without me, and just then, a word drops in my brain with a thump, like a leftover holiday package that had been temporarily lost in the post office or the back corner of a UPS truck.

???????????????????????????????????????

(Of course I picked my phone right back up and wrote the word down because that’s how addled my brain is and also how addicted I am to my phone.)

So, yes. Focus. I really need more of this in my life. Often, I feel so wild-brained and scattered. I try and fail to multitask. One example that springs to mind is when I’m supposed to be playing/listening/being with my kids but I’m really on my phone. Horrible! I hate this! Sometimes I rationalize, well, he’s perfectly fine playing trains next to me while I read and comment on this blog post… or I say to my daughter for the zillionth time, just let me finish this last thing… Not good.

This year, I’d like to focus on ONE THING AT A TIME.

My writing. My family. Myself.

I may have to tattoo it on my wrist, or maybe just write it on. I used to draw hearts on the top of my daughter’s wrist to remind her of my love when she was in preschool. It’s funny, because now I’m wearing a heart on my wrist, one that she bought me at the gift fair at school.

heart on my wrist

I’m hoping if I can focus more, I will be more present (another good word) and more productive.

I will focus on finishing my novel.

I will focus on my writing as a career, not just a dream.

I will focus on my marriage.

I will focus on laughing more and yelling less.

And finally, I will focus on my children, who are growing up so fast, too fast, rising like beautiful weeds up toward the sun and out of my reach.

I’m sharing this post on Mum Turned Mom’s The Prompt, whose word this week happens to be, focus. Click here to see what other writers have been focusing on…

the prompt