Are You Kidding Me?!

Are You Kidding Me?!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School...Again

I feel like the summer was too short and the back-to-school craziness is here too soon. We didn't do anything major this summer (Disney, Europe...) but our days were filled with getting up, brushing teeth, eating, that kind of thing. We were buried in all the little things and now summer is over. I didn't really get to have a summer this year. Not really. Considering that, you'd think that I would have had time to get my children and myself prepared for this upcoming school year and, yet, here I am unprepared.

I wrote a back-to-school post last year that is, unfortunately, just as relevant this year. This makes me think the transition I dread is more about me than it is about my kids. And by "makes me think" I mean "gives me a reality slap".

 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Reading Book (s)?

When I was in school, we had required summer reading lists. Every year. With multiple books we were required to read. End-of-summer / back-to-school meant buying clothes, pencils, notebooks, and a backpack. It also meant preparing ourselves to prove we did our summer reading. In grade school, we had to write book reports. When we entered junior high, we were tested on the reading.  

Okay, I suppose I'm old(ish) but, wow, have things changed that much? Get this. My kids have to read a book over the summer. One. Book. AND they don't technically have to read it—this is a request not a requirement. Reading a book is "great!" and "encouraged!" but not "required". Consequently, my kids will not be tested on or even asked about the book(s) they read because they weren't expected to read any.

Also, there is a page trying to talk students (or parents?) into this one book by spouting "summer slide" statistics and research about expanded vocabulary and increased success in school.

There is a list of book suggestions, yes, but they are "popular books" including comic books and magazines. I'm not looking for a fight. My kids read both of the above and some of them are fantastic but I'm talking summer reading here. I don't understand how we went from a required list of specific books to a suggested list of popular books in one generation. What has happened?

Okay, it's been twenty thirty years since I was in grade school and things are bound to change a bit in that time but, honestly, taking away summer reading? It's still there, technically, but it's really not. Not with the mild, mousy voice of it-would-be-so-neat-if-you-could-maybe-possibly-read-one-book-or-something-with-words-on-it-this-summer.


Did you have summer reading when you were in school? Do your children? Did they read this summer? If so, was it for fun or because their school required it? 


Monday, August 11, 2014

Texting

I had something else planned for today but felt like sharing. Or, maybe, over-sharing. But who's judging?

This week on Twitter, for Friday Phrases, the prompt was "Submerged / Under the Sea". I wrote this:


The text had a location and six words 
that gave me the instant sensation I was submerged in icy water. 
"We just got in an accident."


This week, I wasn't telling a story in 140 characters or less. Well, I suppose, technically, I was but the story wasn't fiction. I received this text from my husband Thursday evening. The "we" in this text was my husband and my two children. I called him. He told me where they were and that he had to go because the ambulance was there. I had to drive. 15 minutes away. A quarter of an hour that, clichés be damned, felt like a lifetime. Shaking, scared out of my mind but paying close attention to the road (because the last thing we needed was another accident), I drove those fifteen minutes. Before I saw my children, I saw what was left of my husband’s car.

Then I saw them and ran. They were shaking, crying, burned, and bruised, but they were whole and alive and hugging me. 

It was a long night. Everyone was looked over in the ER as I hovered and fretted. It was crowded. The doctors and nurses kept us all together in one, little exam room. That simple act is something I am wildly grateful for. My husband’s burns were bandaged and all the x-rays were normal. No one was broken. Not physically. My 7-yr-old is still sleeping in our room. My 10-yr-old Aspie is working through this logically with what parts of the car were scattered on the road and what was and was not left in the car.

I could have lost my world, my entire world, a few days ago. I didn’t. I get that. But I could have. I have no words for the feeling I get when I think about it, which I’ve been trying like hell not to do.

So, although this was not my intent for today’s post, here it is. 

And here is this. The girl who almost killed my family ran a red light at full speed because she was looking at her cell phone—texting or playing a game or reading a map or I don’t give a damn. It’s simple. If you are looking at your phone, you are not looking at the road.



 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Networking: A Necessary Evil for Introverted Writers

I wrote a letter to my younger self as part of Carrie Butler and PK Hrezo's blogfest called
How I Found The Write Path
.


  This letter is supposed to come from writers who now know what they're doing. Hmm. Some of this is write on (har) and I actually do have some experience and decent advice to give. But I have a long way to go on my path. I'm headed to a writer's conference this week (the same one I talk about in the letter, actually) and I realize networking is something I continue to struggle with. Let's see how this week goes. Here's to me not crying. Cheers! 



Networking: A Necessary Evil for Introverted Writers


Dear writing-is-the-only-thing-I’ve-ever-wanted-to-do Sarah,

Yes, yes, you’ve been writing stories since you could hold a pencil. Some are still in your scrapbook. Whatever. You have a lot to learn, love. I’ll concede that you’re young and naïve but that’s all you’re getting from me. Except advice. Which is this: get off yer ass.
Your “if I write it, they will come” attitude is helping you go nowhere. Sort of quickly. But wait! There’s more! If you act now, you will be a published writer. You won’t be paid mass amounts of money, but your writing will be out there, in the world, being read, by real people. Cool, huh?
When you’re about to leave your precious thirties, the decade you love so much, you make a decision that will lead to much crying and stress. Do it anyway and thank me later. That decision is horrifying to you and requires that you put yourself out there. Yourself and your writing. Don’t whine at me that you’ve sent amazing stories out sporadically only to have them rejected. Twenty submissions? Wow. That’s a crapload. Over thirty years? Not so much. Don’t argue with me that you’re trying—you’re not.
Being a writer is not a romantic skip through the daisies in a flowing gauzy gown. It’s a nasty trudge through the mud in pajamas. Uphill. In the rain. With wolves chasing you.
Okay, sweets, here’s the deal. Writing is a business. You have to do ghastly things like meet with people, join social media, go to conferences, and talk to agents. I’m sorry, I really am, but you have to…network. Are you okay? I’ll give you a minute.
At your very first conference, you will cry. In front of people. It’s pretty funny. Now, I mean. It’s funny now. I’m laughing with you not at you? Oh, never mind. And when an editor does not ask “Are you on Twitter?” but “What’s your Twitter handle?” you will get a reality slap because you are not on Twitter. You will then join Twitter. And you will cry. But this time it’s at home so no one will see you. Hugs.
The writing life is not about hanging in your yoga pants typing at your laptop with a cuppa. It’s real, dirty work. But you love writing, you need it, and that will keep you going—submitting, networking, and promoting. Those aren’t easy tasks for an introvert like you, but you can do it.
You know how to write. You’ve been writing for many years. You taught writing for many years. Pick your confidence up out of the dirt, dust it off, and put it back where it belongs. Ignore negativity. Also, please continue to ignore the rules of grammar and “good writing”. Throwing those rules out the proverbial window is crucial to keeping your voice.
 So there it is, love. Be your own bad self. Own your shit. Don’t give up. Use your voice. Be authentic. And, for the love of toads and crickets, ditch the doubts!

Onward,
Older, wiser, not-growing-old-as-gracefully-as-you-said-you-would Sarah

P.S. Please do try to develop a touch of that thing called patience. Look it up. Your editors might not get back to you for weeks. Some litmags, newspapers, and print magazines will take months. Some won’t respond at all. It's frustrating. Feel free to punch a pillow and throw some swear words around. It's not a temper tantrum, it's "venting". Totally mature. Just don’t yank your hair out—you’re getting older and you need it. The grey ones are fine. Get those ones.