Kind of an off-topic post, considering that all of my other ones thus far have been about my own writing journey, but I am nearly bursting at my marginally-stretched seams with pride right now. My little kindergartener just won first place in a Young Authors competition at his school yesterday. All of the students were required to write and illustrate their own stories for the contest. They were judged independently and my son took home the gold (cue the crazy, crying, wildly-cheering Mother dance)!
It was one of those rare moments you experience as a parent when you feel like the decisions you’ve made were the right ones. My husband and I do not have television in our home, and from the day my son was born I have been adamant that he not spend any time glaring slack-jawed and glossy-eyed at the tube for hours on end. For the first two years of his life, he never even saw so much as a movie. He does not play video games.
We were filling out a survey the other day as part of a mother-son project and one of the questions asked about giving up TV for the rest of your life. My son, 6, looked at me and asked “What’s TV?” and I felt really good about that. I’ve been blasted more times than I care to recall about my snobby views toward the glowing neon babysitter and have been lambasted for supposedly depriving my child of a fun or magical childhood. And to all of that I say this:
My son wrote his first book and illustrated it at the age of four. It was called “Poppy Poppy Popcorn Noodle,” about a character who travels to Australia. At the age of six, he is reading books like The Hatchet and Call of the Wild and he loves them! He can read music, is solving math problems at the third-grade level, cleans his own room and bathroom, builds ships out of Legos, believes his father is a hero and loves his mother dearly. Oh yeah – and he is winning young author contests. He is happy, healthy, imaginative, analytical, artistic, kind and sweet-hearted, and has not suffered one damn day of his life for missing out on Dora and Spongebob.
I’m almost afraid to say it out loud, but the first (and very rough) draft is done! It’s such a relief to have the idea down on paper finally, but the hardest part is yet to come. Edit, edit and edit! A college professor of mine once said that you should never be done editing your work, that you can always make it better. At the time, I was ticked off at her for not awarding what I thought was an earned-A, but as I’ve matured I realize how right she was, and I’m sure she has no idea what a beast she’s created in me as a result of that one statement.
I’m sure that at some point it is going to take someone else ripping the manuscript from my hands and calling it “done!” before I ever upload it into cyberspace.
These days I feel like a pinball in a machine. My mind is zinging around all of the things I have to do, all of the things I want to do, and all of the reasons why neither group is getting done. This makes for a very frustrated and self-deprecating woman, which is followed quickly by that scolding inner voice that chastises for wallowing in my own self-pity or inadequacies. Waaah! Ok – that’s done.
The other night, I was on a roll – a writing roll – dredging out the final climactic battle scenes and I just suddenly stopped. It wasn’t a wall or any kind of writer’s block experience. It was more a realization of the importance of these final pages and an overwhelming pressure to get it just right. For the previous 80,000+ words, it’s been a fun storytelling, sort-of streaming from my brain.
Somehow, in the middle of the endless key-tapping racket, I got insecure. Was I putting too much action and not enough progress? Was there enough emotion? Was I leaving out details that have been permanently stored in my brain since this process began? Was I sure about the direction I wanted to go? Most importantly, was the finale I designed worth the previous hundreds of pages of build up?
I haven’t picked up with the story since then. I have been trying to put myself there and allow the story to play out in my mind, listening to battle music from great soundtracks to kind of inspire me (lame).
The funny thing is that there are probably a total of nine people who will ever even read this story and likely even less who will read this blog at some point. So, the idea of suffering over such deails seems pretty laughable on the surface. I would, however, put it out there that I agonize just as much over important business letters I write, or emails I send, etc.
So, we’ll just say it is the German in me.