It's been a very long time, almost a year and a half since my last post. Wow. Every time I think 'this time' I am going to write and stick with it, I have shown that...I do not. At least not where anyone else would see it. Not anything that is sharable anyway.
The world has turned on its side. We are in a pandemic. The girls were both terribly ill in the beginning of this year: lots of diagnoses; lots of absences from school; lots of time sitting on a couch not feeling well. They didn't qualify at the time for a test (testing was limited and we had not traveled outside the country nor been around anyone who had tested positive), but they seemed to have the checklist of symptoms, as we have come to see them since then. Things in the world ramped up with the Covid 19 virus, school went to remote learning and many cities, states, countries (not the US) enacted national responses to educating and constructing guidelines to keep people safe from the virus. I have often been a critic of our governor but his response to this pandemic has been guided by science and by data, often information that was not freely given to folks from the CDC, who initially downplayed it, which caused massive distrust of major departments. Our political situation has fractioned and divided citizens and families of this country even further in how people are handling mask wearing, social distancing, and even washing hands.
In our family, Kath's struggle to get her seizure medicine, though much easier than many others I read, was fraught with fearful moments and struggles in all facets of her life, since she was diagnosed. Staying home and learning remote, even this fall, has enabled her brain some time to catch up, and even explore her writing. She is resilient and she keeps stepping up her game. Alex is doing amazing, and after being so ill this year we have kept her remote this fall too, and she seems to be healthier than ever. She is old-soul mature and focused, as well as determined. Nick has been hit by this pandemic by being out of work. That has been a struggle for him mentally and financially. We help out where we can. Chris and Kristen were married last October, have gone through a pandemic pregnancy, and delivered a beautiful son. I haven't been able to go and visit or hold my new grandbaby because of our fear of passing along this deadly virus. Roger has been teaching remotely this school year: his school went virtual due to budget cuts, but he had requested a medical situation prior, so he would have been teaching virtually anyway. As for me, I began this school year in the school building, teaching to hybrid students and remote students, until we had a break out of cases and our school, then our entire district, went virtual. I had taped sections on my classroom floor to mark off my desk as a bubble, and to provide students with their own bubbles.
This is the month of National Writing Month. Sadly, I am not quite sure how students are doing with this because classes are shorter, I haven't quite learned my pacing yet, and teaching virtually is a different kind of teaching ("Can everyone put your cameras on?" "Does anyone see so-and-so?" "Thumbs up if you can hear me.") But we are trucking along and we all keep trying, doing the best we can with what we have to deal with. :) I am very behind in my word count this month, but falling in love with my story all over again as it morphs and grows in ways I didn't quite plan for. It seems to have a mind of their own.
So that catches you up on those parts of life.
Now to rewind so I can share some wonderful news. Wonderful for me as a writer. Last year I was asked to join a group of parents of children with a variety of diagnoses and write a chapter for a book: What I wish I knew then, what would I tell parents of newly diagnosed children to help them through the initial beginning of time. I jumped at the chance and then per my usual (see previous posts) I stalled and lost confidence. What on earth could *I* tell anyone about how to survive this and succeed when I felt like I was still limping along?
The deadline for my chapter creeped up and I was paralyzed with my lack of confidence and the swirling issues around me. I remember sitting at my desk, it was dark outside, and I felt so lost wondering if writing was just one of things I *wanted* to do but never actually would be able to do. The printed off contract I signed to write the chapter was hanging above my desk mocking me. I had been so optimistic and hopeful when I signed that paper and sent it off. Now, my head was so distracted with worry: worrying about finances that knotted around us, worry about everyone's health, worry about education, worry about what was being done to our country and the fiber of who we are as a people, worry about friends and friends' children who were struggling with their health.
I wrote a draft. I put it aside and worried some more. I edited. I worried some more. More edits. More edits. I asked a select couple of people to edit, fearing their critiques, but needing them. I edited some more and then I pushed 'send.' Yesterday copies of the book arrived on my door step. I came home from an eye appointment for Alex and saw a box, almost placed like in a movie centered on the front steps, and I thought, "Huh, I wonder what that could be? I haven't ordered anything." And then the realization that it was the book. Copies of the book. The book my chapter was in.
Nauseousness was my initial response. Maybe because what I wrote is so very personal and now all that would be 'out there' more than my blog, more than my social media. Ah. I couldn't just hit delete. The girls were beyond delighted, they keep just spontaneously hugging me. Kath happened to also receive a gift from author James Preller for her birthday and so she kept walking around, telling us how excited she was that she got a gift from a real author. Besides me. :)
I sat down and reread my chapter and my stomach clenched more. Ah. I would write it differently if I wrote it today, why didn't I spend more time editing? Why did I think anyone would read what I had to say?
This morning my stomach is still clenched. It will remain so until ... I don't know...maybe when others read it and tell me what they think. Maybe when I really get my self together and write my own book in entirety, with improved writing skills. Maybe never.
But, it's here. My first chapter in a book. Thank you to those of you have helped me to pull my seams together over the years. Those who never made me feel like it was an annoyance to help me make sense of what we were going through, those who helped with childcare, those who just listened, those who stayed in my orbit when I felt like I was drowning. Thank you to my online writing group, who I never spend enough time with, but who always welcome me back. This chapter may not be the best representation of my story, Kath's story, my writing, or what I have learned, but it was the best that person I was back then could do and I am proud that she didn't just step back into her darkness and allow herself to stop writing, I'm glad she pushed 'send.'
Here is a copy to the book in Amazon: For the Love of Our Children
Pictures will be uploaded soon.