When my fourth grade class found out I was moving to Texas, they were all excited.
Dallas was our main Friday night entertainment, so everyone thought I’d have a horse, live on a ranch, and be connected to the oil industry somehow.
I didn’t know about any of that because Dallas meant one thing to me: Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, which is weird considering I couldn’t even do a cartwheel.
At nine that didn’t matter. I dreamed of two things: being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader or Miss America. Back then your only chance of being Miss America was to be Miss Texas, Miss Oklahoma or Miss Arkansas.
Miss Minnesota NEVER won. I was moving to Texas and my chances were increasing astronomically.
At nine I believed I could do anything.
The move to Texas was a bit of a shock. No ranch, no horse, and while there were oil wells down the street (and around the corner and across the fields…), those wells had nothing to do with my Air Force family.
That fact didn’t stop me from pretending or dreaming.
I remember in kindergarten my teacher crumpled up my paper and threw it away because I colored my people purple. But that didn’t break my dreams. Not even when she told me there was no such thing as a purple people eater. She was wrong. The end. It didn’t bother me that she didn’t realize it. I believed I could be and do anything.
In fourth grade I was mortified when my teacher crumpled up my paper for writing in the margins. (I thought margins meant the area with the holes! Not the area with the lines on both sides.) I believed I be and do anything.
In sixth grade I was mortified that I couldn’t do a cartwheel in PE when everyone else was doing that and more! But my coach didn’t ridicule me, she just had me do somersaults. I believed I could be and do anything.
In eighth grade I was mortified when my math teacher told me girls couldn’t do Algebra and then made me stand at the board in front of the class until I could figure out the right answer. My friends were trying to signal the answer, but I couldn’t see because I had a cold. I sneezed and the teacher wouldn’t even let me go wash my hands. I believed I could be and do anything EXCEPT Algebra! And maybe Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, since by this time I could STILL not do a cartwheel.
I don’t know when the absolute belief in my abilities to be and do anything changed to a quiet acceptance that dreams were just that: figments of an overactive (ridiculously overactive!) imagination.
Some people call this growing up. I mean, come on, Miss America!?! Really? Part of me gets that. But part of me misses that kid with the imagination, that kid with the ability to do and be anything.
Honor and Lies deals with failure and dreams and daring to live beyond expectations. I wrote it 12 years ago, and I still love the characters. Honor and Lies coupon: 50% off for one month: coupon code is LH94Z. Find the book here.
Posted in books, education, writing
Tagged Air Force, Algebra, belief, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Dreams, Honor and Lies, Miss America, moving, school, teaching, writing
A child of the 80s, my dyslexic husband didn’t have that great of a time in school. Teachers spent his elementary years telling his mother how smart but lazy he was. She insisted he couldn’t read. They said of course he could. Finally after fourth grade she took him to Dallas for tests. Within minutes everyone knew. He couldn’t read, and it wasn’t his fault. At that time dyslexia was something new and unknown. He stayed in Dallas for school, learned to read and repeated fourth grade.
Problem solved. Or so you’d have thought.
In high school, he loved business classes, but his counselors told him he needed to focus on a trade. College wasn’t a valid option for a kid with dyslexia.
One teacher, Mrs. Reser, told him he could do whatever he wanted, but at that time in his life, he listened to the counselors and became an auto mechanic. He didn’t really like it, though. And in the back of his mind he remembered that teacher. Mrs. Reser. Telling him he could do anything he wanted.
Within a few years he was in college. In four years he finished his degree in marketing. The dyslexia was still there, but he dealt with it using the skills he’d learned so long ago at the school in Dallas.
In fifth grade my daughter’s reading teacher asked me if I’d considered modifications for her. Seemed she just wasn’t performing up to the level expected. The teacher felt modifications were in order.
I was stunned and outraged.
My daughter was hyper-active, but she’d scored in the 99th percentile on every reading test since she’d started testing in second grade. She’d certainly pulled the wool over her teacher’s eyes, but the teacher should’ve done a little research. Needless to say modifications weren’t discussed again. And amazingly, when the teacher’s expectations changed, my daughter’s grades did too.
I see this same thing play out so many times in schools and often the kids have no advocate, no one to stand up and say you can do it! I like being that teacher, but sometimes it’s hard. A few years ago I had a student in my introductory journalism class. She drove me crazy. She insisted she wanted to be a journalist, but she could barely write a coherent sentence. She’d been tested for special ed, but her scores were too bad to make it in the program.
Every day the girl came into my room, prepared to write. And every day she’d stay after. And every day I’d groan to myself at the wasted time I was spending on this girl who certainly had the desire but was never going to make it.
One of the best moments in my teaching career was the day she turned in a perfect lead. 5Ws, 1H. One sentence. 30 words.
We both jumped up and down. It might’ve taken two six weeks, but she’d done it.
By the end of the semester, she was turning in perfect summary news stories in inverted pyramid format. The simplicity of the form had freed her from her problems with grammar. The stories took lots of revision, but they were done and they were decent.
The girl transferred out of my school the next semester. I don’t know where she is today.
But she taught me an incredible lesson.
Want to,desire, perseverance…they’re every bit as important as ability and intelligence, probably even more so.
Last summer I read Redeeming Love and I knew what was missing from a lot of the inspirational novels I read. THen this winter I read Yada Yada Prayer Group andI was so touched, so moved, so blessed. For months I’ve thought about inspirational. But I read the ought nots on the H/S boards about what’s allowed in inspirational and what’s not and I just didn’t feel like I could do it. Not and write a believable novel. Not and touch people. Share God’s love.
So I kept working on my other stuff, totally ignoring the idea that I could ever write a book like that.
And every week in my devotions or in church, I kept hearing God speak to me. And I kept ignoring Him. I’ve been doing that for years, so it wasn’t all that hard. Only this time it was. He just kept on.
And then yesterday I sat down and wrote a synopsis in less that an hour. A good synopsis. And the book is real. And the people are real. And there’s not only one romance, there are two, but they aren’t the total focus of the book. Instead, the lessons the women learn are. And above all I think it does show God’s love.
And now I’ve hit the scary part.
In theory, this is an awesome book. In theory it does what I believe it should do. But in practice, Oh MAN!!! Can I do it? I mean, can I make a difference in someone’s life the way Francine Rivers made a difference in mine last year? Or better, can God make a difference in someone’s life by using my book? And am I pondering this because it’s better than sitting down and writing something I’m so afraid of?
I guess I’m as guilty as Peter of not believing. This Sunday at church, that’s what we talked about. How Peter walked on water until he looked down and then he started sinking and Jesus asked why he didn’t believe and how that wasn’t about believing in God at all but about believing in yourself and how God’s dreams for us are bigger than any dreams we could ever have for ourselves. How we limit Him.
I’d never really thought about that story in those terms. And once I did, I realized I’m good at limiting God and myself. It’s definitely something I need to work on and pray about.
In the mean time, I’ve got a book to write. Yikes!
Yet again I’ve proven my theory that the way to break through a block is to write.
Okay, so it’s not all that originbal, but man, it feels good to know it’s the truth.
I’ve written a ton the last couple days. Will I keep it all? Probably not. But I will keep the scenes and the secrets and the emotional outline. I really like my plot. I think it’s fun and unique. I really like my characters. They’re so real.
I’d forgotten that because I wasn’t writing enough.
It’s easy to let that happen when there’s no contract to keep you going. But I’m going to take Suzanne McMinn’s advice and write this baby as if there were a contract. Because, let me just say, there’s no reason for this book not to sell. It’s GREAT! And when it’s done, I’m going to send it out there. And someone’s going to pick it up. And if I don’t believe that I have no business sitting here at 11:30 at night writing. I could be sleeping!
I am super writer, hear me roar.
It’s Monday, so I better update my weight loss journey. Down 1/2 pound. I thought it would be more. And if I hadn’t made the best manicotti in the world yesterday, it might have been. (Everyday Italian. YUM! It’s on the food tv website.)
But weight’s only one part of this journey. And diets aren’t allowed. So 1/2 pound is a good thing.
Okay. I admit it. I’m guilty. I haven’t been back since Monday. Why?
Neglect, pure and simple. And not just neglect of my journal. I’ve neglected my story-telling too. And my family. And my friends.
The only thing I haven’t neglected is my day job. Not exactly the way I try to keep my priorities.
I’ve learned a lot over the last eleven years teaching and eight years writing. The biggest thing I’ve learned (other than teenagers will be teenagers) is life works a lot better if I live my life God first, family second and my job third. God first: He’s in control if I want Him to be. Family second: Sure quality is better than quantity, but that doesn’t cut it if the qualtity is one hour and a quick kiss good morning and good night. Job third: Okay, that’s the hard part. My day job is awesome. It was my dream job and I had no idea how fulfilling it would be. I love it and I love my students. We’re on major deadlines right now, so I spend a lot of my life in the newsroom. And that’s a good thing because my kids understand their paper is the voice of their campus. They understand that they have a responsibility to their peers to show what’s going on around the campus. A couple of them are even working on a first amendment piece after a study showed 1/3 of high school students think the 1st amendment is dangerous. Both the reporters lean to the conservative side and both believe the first amendment is essential to democracy. I’ve definitely done my job! My yearbook kids understand the importance of documenting the year as they see it and talking to people other than their “friends” or the “popular” kids.
then there’s my other job. Right now that job is a dream. The closest it is to reality is the handful of contest finals I’ve collected to take off the sting of the file full of rejection. Unpublished, multi-rejected writer is DEFINITELY a job. It’s a hard job. It’s a heart-wrenching job. It’s a totally crazy job because it’s unexplainable to people who don’t write. My extended family sees me at family reunion and asks “So you get a book published yet?” and I just sigh and say, “Nope. But I’ve got something in New York right now.” Or like right now, I can say I’ve got two somethings up there right now. And that’s not even the job part of it. That’s just the sigh-inducing annoying part that keeps me going because the family means well, they just don’t understand.
The job part is making myself sit at the computer and let the story flow. Let it flow in spite of the nagging doubts of rejection. Let it flow in spite of the way the cat gets upset and flops across the laptop keys. Let it flow even when the work week’s long and crazy.
Because the only way I’m ever going to sell a book and then another and then another is to find a way to ignore nagging doubts and write the stories I love, even when rejections come along. Even when the day job is busy. Even when the cat, or dh or dd get upset because I haven’t given them enough of my time.
And that leads me right back to the beginning.
God first. Family second. Job third.
It almost sounds like I’m going to say I have to realize there’s just no way I can fit in the job of unpubbed multi-rejected author along with the rest of my life.
And you know what? Sometimes that thought’s almost tempting.
But it’s not right.
Because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there’s a reason these stories burn to be told by ME. God gave me my talent and He wants me to write stories that end in HEA, that provide a little fun for people in the midst of their busy lives possibly an escape from desperate times and emotional upheaval.
So getting back to the beginning instead leads to the only conclusion possible. getting my priorities back in order is the one way I can guarantee I’ll find a way to work it all in.
No more neglect. Not for God. Not for my family. Not for my job. And definitely not for my dream.
PS: H/S bought THREE new authors this week! If they can do it, so can I! Woo Hoo!
How can one piece of pizza and a salad turn into three pieces of pizza, a salad and a cupcake?
I don’t know. But in just a few minutes I discovered pizza has the power to motivate me. I ate it. I loved it. And then I went and worked my butt off at the Y.
Now I need t figure out how I can use that same motivational technique in my writing.
It would have been easy to skip the Y tonight. It’s Friday. My friend wasn’t going. DD and DH were whining. But that pizza kept laughing at me and I knew it was go to the Y or let the pizza defeat me. So I laced up the tennis shoes and off I went.
It’s easy to skip writing too. It’s Friday. I’m tired. (hel-lo, I just cardiod 90 minutes!). DD and DH are whiny.
So I sit here writing my journal, knowing I have the very same decision to make. Only when it was the Y, it was about how my jeans fit, how my lungs feel so good when I hit that groove, how I want to lose more weight and look good in a bathing suit for the first time in my life. (Seriously! I’m even fat in my baby swim suit pictures!)
When it’s about writing, it’s about a lot more than how my clothes fit. It’s about how my soul fits.
I know. Weird.
But it’s true.
If I take tonight and write, it might not make a difference. I might write this entire book and it might go on to the next big rejection in the sky, under the bed, in the closet, wherever the heck it goes when an editor passes.
it might be THE ONE. The story that connects with an editor and has them calling me saying the magic words we want to buy YOUR BOOK!
I think that’s the key.
With the Y, I know that even if the scale doesn’t move, my jeans are going to fit better because I defeated the monster otherwise known as over-eating Chuck E. Cheese pizza.
But with my book, currently known as Identity Crisis, I can pour all my time in it, live with the whiny dh and dd, and still end up with a “no thanks, better luck elsewhere.”
That’s where “how my soul fits” comes in.
Writers understand this. I think actors probably do too. When we pour ourselves onto the page, when we send the manuscript off to New York or Canada or where ever, it’s not just a bunch of black blobs on paper otherwise known as letters put together to form sentence that form paragraphs that somehow tell a story. When we close that envelope and drop that package in the mail, a piece of our soul goes along with it.
And no matter how many times we hear “don’t take it personally” about rejection, that’s just not very realistic.
Just like Getting THE CALL and not taking it personally isn’t very realistic. 🙂
But then sitting down to write on a Friday night with dh calling my name every five seconds and allowing myself to think the story I’m pouring my soul into is quite possibly going to be rejected along with the others isn’t all that soul nurturing. It’s not all that smart either. I mean if that’s the case, why bother?
It’s Friday night. I have a decision to make.
I already defeated the pizza. I better go defeat the doubt monster too. And maybe dh will quit calling my name. He’s just watching South Park anyway!
I saw a quote the other day that made me stop and think. It said we have the same 24 hours as Helen Keller, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin and a number of other famous people.
For a few minutes I was blown away. WOW! These people, some with huge deficiencies, found a way to change the world! And here I am complaining about a tough year. Whoa.
Then I saw a response that made me laugh.
A woman wrote: Isn’t it interesting that NONE of the people on the list are mothers?!
Motherhood does add an interesting dynamic to the world of a will-be-published-one-day-but-currently- multi-rejected romance writer 🙂 My daughter’s practically grown up watching me write. She knows when the big floppy Tyvek envelopes come in from NYC that Mom might need a hug, some chocolate and a few minutes alone. A teenager, she still pats me on the back when the rejections come in and reminds me I have “that new story I’m working on.” She always talks about WHEN I get published. She’s even learned when she’s angry she can target my writing and get a rise out of me.
That quote was right. We do all have the same amount of time. And once it’s gone, it can’t come back. It’s something I need to think about on a regular basis.
Just like I think about a new study that showed 1 in 3 high school students think the First Amendment gives too many freedoms, YIKES! Zero tolerance has helped us raise a group of children who have no problem being dictated to. UGH!
It’s a good thing I’ve got twenty years left to teach kids how important those rights are.
Between that, motherhood, being a wife and writing, my life is pretty much full. I’m sure I’ll still wish for a 30-hour day every once in a while, but for now, I’ll have to make the most out of the 24 hours I’ve been given.