Saturday, August 3, 2013

On Being, and Growing...

"I'm Hans Christian Andersen
My pen's like a babbling brook
Permit me to show you, dear sir
My very latest book
Now here's a tale of a simple fool
Just glance at a page or two
You'll laugh ha, ha but you'll blush a bit
For you realize as you're reading it
That it's also reading you
I'm Hans Christian Andersen, Andersen, that's who!" 

 The above verse is from the Danny Kaye Hans Christian Andersen Musical. Not many people have heard of it, fewer have actually watched it.

It is spectacular.

If you will look here and here, you will see that over the last few years, the question of "what I am going to be when I grow up" has been plaguing me. I have known for some time, that once my kids were otherwise occupied (school) I would not be willing to stay at home, twiddling my thumbs... (or even worse, doing housework!) just waiting for them to be finished every day. I do not, at the moment, feel called to homeschool my children. They love the school they attend and so do I...so what would I do? I have looked into finishing college, and to be sure that is still an option. But I have often felt there was more.

About a year ago I started jotting down some story ideas that have been tumbling about in my mind. I have, currently, 4 children's book ideas started. I have gotten excellent feedback from the few people I have read the ideas to - of course I am also well aware that these people are biased and not at all experts in this field - but they have been encouraging all the same.

This has certainly been a year of change for our family. Kids are older, I no longer have a baby in the house and most nights I can boast a full 7-8 hours of sleep. My wonderful husband got a new job last April and now has the freedom of working from home. I have battled some health challenges and got a test result just today that was very good, I am within the realm of "normal" now as far as thyroid levels are concerned. So wonderful to see! I have also learned now to cope better, just on my own from day to day. Though it very often still is a day to day process.
 
 A month or so ago, we were blessed with my husband getting an unexpected raise at work. As we were getting ready for bed that night, he shocked me with his idea of what he wanted us to do with the extra money.

A little back story:  I had put Kaylee's name on the waiting list for the best preschool in town (both my older girls attended there) right after she was born to insure her enrollment. I was, however, sad to discover they no longer accepted kids for only one morning a week (all I was planning on doing since she is just barely 2). Instead, they required 2, 3 or 5 mornings. Sadly, we simply couldn't afford 2 mornings per week, and so I had made up my mind to call and take her off the list - I just hadn't gotten around to it yet.

So as we were brushing our teeth that night, my wonderful husband surprised me by saying: "I want you to go ahead and put Kaylee in school the 2 mornings a week, with one condition. You have to use that free time every week, to write." It took me a second to answer, my mind started swimming. "I can do that." Was about as intelligent a response as I could muster. Of course, he also added that as soon as my books had sold and were making as much as Harry Potter books, then he could retire and I would support him.

No pressure...

But all that to say, I honestly feel - for the very first time in my life, that I know what I want to be when I grow up.

I want to be a writer.

You see, I have to write. I must, if I don't, something in me begins to die and I become a shell of who I should be. It has been a process learning this. I would get more and more sour in life, grumpy and argumentative and not really understand why. My husband has now learned that when that happens, the best course of action is to hand me a cup of tea and banish me into my room all alone (or as he did today, send me off to a coffee shop, laptop in hand and tell me to stay out as long as I needed). There I can sit and become myself again, by pouring all the words out of my head and onto a page. There I can look them square in the face, then I can breath. But I cannot simply write, someone must read what I write. I need to know that someone, somewhere is reading my work. That is what gives my words life. Without you, my dear, beloved reader, these are but letters on a page. With an audience, they become real, they become alive. And I can be freed to become myself again.

I will start with the 4 children's books I have started. I plan on going through a publishing company right now, I want to be taken seriously - but I will also be researching the self publishing route to see what holds the best opportunities. 

As Mr. Carpenter told the young and reckless Emily of New Moon: "Ten good lines out of four hundred, Emily—comparatively good, that is—and all the rest balderdash—balderdash, Emily.... If at thirteen you can write ten good lines, at twenty you'll write ten times ten—if the gods are kind. Stop messing over months, though—and don't imagine you're a genius, either, if you have written ten decent lines. I think there's something trying to speak through you—but you'll have to make yourself a fit instrument for it. You've got to work hard and sacrifice—by gad, girl, you've chosen a jealous goddess. And she never lets her votaries go—not even when she shuts her ears forever to their plea.”

A jealous goddess to be sure. I know I have mountains of work, blood, sweat and tears ahead of me. But I feel up to the challenge. 

I thank all of you for encouraging me to start this process, Especially my truly remarkable and always 100% supportive husband. Without his encouragement, I may never have thought this as any more than a hobby and a passing fancy. I will not pretend that I am not scared - I know there will be many hurdles along the way.  But I am also very excited - the idea of people from all over getting to read what I write is positively thrilling.

This is where I ask for help from you, my dear readers. I will need a team of sorts - editors to be sure! For we all know that while I may be able to write something interesting to read...there is a very good chance no one will be able to read it due to it being riddled with spelling and grammar errors. I need resources, words of experience from those that have started (and especially finished) this road themselves. I am merely starting out, I know I have lots and lots of growing to do, hours of research in front of me and many dead end roads, scraps, bumps and bruises ahead. But perhaps most of all, I need a group of people willing to read and give honest opinions - be fair warned, I will likely require signed documents/non-dis-closer agreements of sorts. I will be going about this is officially/legally as I can. Advice on that front is appreciated as well!  But I will need feedback as I work - or I will get burned out. And my wonderful husband, amazing as he is, is not a reader. I need feedback - good and bad, from those that love to read. Please send me a private message on Facebook if you are interested in being a part of my team.  I will likely set up an email account specifically for my book related ventures - but have not gotten that far as of yet. It is all just starting after all.

And so the adventure begins! I am truly excited. I think I need to read the Emily books again, for it is she I feel a true kinship with lately. Perhaps because I feel like a child, just starting out on this life adventure. I leave you with her thoughts:

 “Tell me this--if you knew you would be poor as a church mouse all your life--if you knew you'd never have a line published--would you still go on writing--would you?'
'Of course I would,' said Emily disdainfully. 'Why, I have to write--I can't help it at times--I've just got to.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon



3 comments:

  1. I'm excited for your journey Sarah! I know you can do it.

    BTW, I could totally see the exchange with you and Ryan in my head, especially the Harry Potter part.

    If you'd like anyone to read your work, I'd be happy to do so :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sarah, I recently answered the question: "Why do you write?" and I answered, "so I can breathe." You can imagine then, my reaction to your description above about being able to breathe. The exciting news for me is that I have decided, at my age, to go back to school and get my degree in creative writing. I have 2 children's books in my head, among others.

    I can offer you edits concerning grammar, etc. Since I will be busy with my own writing assignments, I imagine time will be tight so I don't know how much else I could offer you during this time. However, I would love to share with you what I am learning in school and what I think would be relevant to your endeavor.

    I can't even express to you how excited I am for you. A kindred spirit, to be sure. I will be checking in to see where you are in this journey. You are truly blessed with that husband of yours. He knows who you are, and I think that is the greatest gift he can give you.

    I love you and somehow feel deeply satisfied that you are doing this. The world needs to see inside your head.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Without you, my dear, beloved reader, these are but letters on a page. With an audience, they become real, they become alive. And I can be freed to become myself again." LOVE this, so much. And so excited for you!

    ReplyDelete