School has begun…

SchoolbusWell, my oldest has started Kindergarten.  The days are starting to morph into a routine as we move toward chilly nights and crisp autumn mornings.  I was excited for her as she hopped on the bus toward independence and a future of unknowns.  I realized that I was excited for my own class schedule to begin.  Once again, I would be dedicating Thursday nights to my Write Loudly adult writing classes.  I was hoping to see old friends and connect with new authors who were willing to throw their hat in the ring and share their experiences.  My supportive husband puts on his best “Julie McCoy” and coordinates the evening’s festivities for our girls.  Dinners at McDonald’s or Friendly’s followed by runs to the park or an indoor playscape are usually followed by late night ice cream and pillow fights.  I think that he secretly looks forward to Thursday nights as much as I do.  The neurotic mom has left the house and he and his girls can run amok.  I truly appreciate having a creative night to myself once a week.  A night that inspires me to work harder at honing my craft, challenge what I think I know about writing and get some great stories out of my head and onto paper.  Not to mention the opportunity to hang out with friends afterward for a glass of wine.  🙂

This Thursday, I ran to the gym for a spinning class to clear my head after work.  I had just enough time to hit Taco Bell for a healthy taco and run to class at the local YMCA.  I was excited to see that we had a new member in our midst.  A seventy year old gentleman named Lester has signed up for class.  He is a retired history teacher from Westfield State College who likes to write skit comedy.  He is currently working on his memoir and wants to learn to write by utilizing his dialogue skills.  It was wonderful to hear his perspective on writing in general.  Our assignment for the evening was to begin crafting a short fiction story for a local competition.  Lester gave fantastic critiques on everyone’s pieces.  I’ve found that our class can be very social and comfortable.  Adding a new person into the mix makes us step up our game.

It is so interesting to see how my fellow students and I have grown over the last few months.  Four of us are writing for Examiner.com now, two of us are editing our drafts for a YA novel and a memoir, I’m querying an agent for my picture book and several of us have had stories and poetry published in Southwoods Journal.

Do I have a ton of irons in the fire?  Yup.  Time management has become my best friend.  I find drawn to the computer whenever I have spare time.  Between posting articles on Examiner.com, updating my social networking sites like Facebook, freaking out when I realized that I was being followed by Simon and Schuster on Twitter, updating my blog and starting all over again.

Someday, I want to look back at this time period and realize that it was really a beginning.  With the support of my friends and family, I can honestly consider myself a writer.  Who knows, maybe someday, I’ll have a string of published works under my belt and be able to call that my main career.  I am confidently heading towards my 40th year and realize that I’ve still got a lot to learn.  I don’t think that I’ve ever been this excited for school before.

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California Dreamin’

7 days, 6 nights, 8 tired feet, 1 photo session with fairies, 105 degree heat, 1 room, 1 smaller bathroom…

Remind me why we vacation far from home with our kids?  Strained necks and shoulders from jostling toddlers and bulging suitcases on and off shuttles, planes, tarmac stairways, rental cars and amusement rides…my husband and I looked at each other and had to laugh.

“We’ll remember this moment 20 years from now and laugh about it…or not.”  At the time, when you are in the heat of it, some moments are simply not funny.  Like when your husband inadvertantly gets booked in a different part of the plane for both legs of the outgoing flight from MA to CA…and can’t change it.  Like when you get stuck at the hotel with a 2 year old and a 5 year old for an entire day while same husband has to travel from Anaheim to Vegas for a 16 hour work day.  Like when your roller coaster enthusiast kid gets cold feet and bursts into tears getting on the Indiana Jones ride so that not only do you miss the experience as you’re trying to console her, but you lose your Bole sunglasses in the process.

Ahhh, the sound of dinner time at Disney.  The sun is setting; the eager crowds are shoving their way into place for the end of day parade; children have melted in the hundred degree heat into insufferable, whiny, hungry puddles of “whah!”  At least we weren’t alone. 

“We’re doing it for the kids.  It’ll be so much fun to see their faces.  We needed a vacation (working trip for the hubby).”  We echoed the sentiments back and forth convincing ourselves that we hadn’t voluntarily jumped down Alice’s rabbit hole of madness, never to return.

All in all, the kids were, well, kids.  They got tired and hungry at all the inopportune times  —  regardless of all the pre-planning and packing of snacks and drinks and scheduling.  We dragged ourselves from one end of the park and back again juggling “big kid” rides with toddler friendly ones.  Sending prayers of thanks to the inventor of the “Fast Pass”, we gratefully stood in the heat for 15 minutes instead of an hour and fifteen. 

The best part of all were the memories of my two year old’s face when she met Tinkerbell for the first time and started jumping for joy.  Her world had suddenly gotten a lot bigger — full of the magic and wonder of believing in make believe.  For that minute or two, I forgot my aching feet and my hunger headache.  I held my breath and watched my girls interact with this lovely pixie who took extra time tochat with them both and cuddle up for pictures that will last forever.  Maybe someday, my girls will tell their daughters what to expect when they meet the fairies of Pixie Hollow and pass the moment forward.

The folks that work at Disney make things easier too.  Always smiling.  Forever cheerful.  They assist and tolerate all sorts of people from all walks of life.  It takes the edge off when you’ve waited in line with a squirmy toddler that can’t decide if they want to be held or put down.  I guess if they can grin and bear it…so can I. 

Would I recommend cramming your family into a hotel for a week at Disney (or a few days in our case)?  Yes, yes yes.  My five year old (who never stops talking) was thrilled to tackle a bunch of new rides now that she was taller.  Considering Kindergarten begins in a few days, that boost of self-confidence is just what she needs right now.  My husband and I actually got to veg out here and there between juggling everything and reconnect.  My littlest one was easy to please.  She oohed and aahed over everything as she pointed her tiny finger to make sure that I was watching.  I made sure to slow down and do just that.

So now we’re home.  I had 400+ emails waiting for me from my week away.  At least we’ve got the weekend to recover and reacclimate ourselves to life without plush characters walking around the corner or the maid making the bed.

A beginning…

It was late December, the holidays were upon us and I was in a complete funk.  Stressed out and overwhelmed with planning and attending parties, shopping, wrapping, decorating…you get the drift.  I truly believe in fate and things happening for a reason.  My mother-in-law has a habit of cutting out articles from the newspaper in the event she finds something of interest for me or my husband.  (We do not purchase newspapers in our house — no time.)  I sat down to leaf through one of these stacks of papers and noticed that she had cut out an ad for an adult writing class at the YMCA.  It was a reasonably priced 8 week session with the added bonus of a night away from the kids.  Yipee!  Where do I sign up?

Ready to tackle my writing dreams, hone my craft and interact with fellow writers, I packed up my notebook, kissed the kids and hubby goodbye and set out for my first class.

I timidly walked into a room full of strangers and took my seat.  What the heck was I doing here?  These people look like professional writers.  I really haven’t written since college.  Our teacher, Sera, was young and enthusiastic.  She introduced herself to get the ball rolling.  Sera had always wanted to write.  In addition to teaching her writing classes, she had written a non-fiction book about her son’s learning disability and was working on her memoir.  I was impressed.

The people in class came from all walks of life: teacher, Ombudsman, yoga instructor, nurse, hairdresser, etc.  The one defining characteristic about everyone was the passion for storytelling.  Some people had been published in local journals or online.  A few had completed manuscripts and were getting ready for the editing process or securing agents.

I had written a children’s picture book in the Spring which was safely tucked away until I could build up the courage to market it to agents.  This was where I needed to be.  Leaning on the experience of the seasoned writers and feeding off of the energy of the newbies like me, I was prepared to brush the dust off my thesaurus and learn something new.

Little did I know how far I’d come.  33 weeks, two published short stories, accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Digg, LinkedIn, a writing position with Examiner.com and now a blog…I have to pinch myself.

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