Monday, June 13, 2011

What A Difference a Year Makes

Today my husband and I went to my son’s graduation. My son is 4, so we’re talking pre-school here. :)

His school throws the same ceremony at the end of each year, regardless of whether the child is actually graduating onto Kindergarten. And each year, the ceremony includes a “play.” I’m using this word loosely as it mainly involves kids looking shyly into the audience while picking their noses, and/or adjusting their underwear. But we parents like it, and the paparazzi competition is fierce.

Last year, The Boy had a song and dance number –The Macarena. Yes, I groaned too upon hearing that –though I have to admit, twenty three-year-olds doing the Macarena was hella cute. Being a bit shy, my poor son trudged onto the stage like a good solider, even though his lower lip was quivering and his knees were visibly shaking. The music starts, he sees me in the audience, and he begins to cry. Sob, actually. But does he stop? Oh no. He dances on, even though he clearly wants to be anywhere but there. My heart broke for him, yet I couldn’t have been prouder of his courage.

So naturally this year, my husband and I didn’t have high hopes for the poor little guy’s performance abilities. We figured he’d run to us and we’d hug him and tell him it was okay. Fools us. Little did we know that this year our boy had the lead role in the school play, Sherlock Peep, Chick Detective. There was our little Sherlock, hamming it up on stage, saying lines! Working the audience! For twenty minutes! Wha? Little man took his standing ovation –mostly by me- and I remembered an important lesson: a lot can happen in a year.

How does this relate to writing? I often say that writing is our mirror into how we approach life. My son and I are quite similar in temperament. Last year, I went to the RWA National Convention. I didn’t know a soul going into that conference; and frankly, it felt like the first day of college. Not fun for an introvert. At the time, my novel was still on submission and had been for a few months. Being on submission is fun for the first week or so, then it becomes a rock in the pit of your stomach. With each week, the weight of that rock grows heavier. The conversations with my agent that year revolved around: “Don’t worry, you’ll get there. But just in case...”

It would have been so easy to pull the proverbial covers over my head and hide.Then again, the year before, I didn’t even have an agent. So I still had a lot to be thankful for.

And this year? This year, I am going as an author under contract. There are cocktail parties, dinner meetings, lunch meetings, drinks, meetings with agent, editor, and publicist. This year, I need to utilize my dusty old calendar.

Oh what a difference a year makes! Of course, it helps that after that conference, I busted my butt, did a massive manuscript rewrite, and got myself a contract because of it. Because change can happen if you let it.

It is easy to feel down, to feel like nothing will change, or to want to give up. I’ve been there. Boy have I been there. It’s important to remember that things can change. But the point of change begins with you. If you throw in the towel, don’t put yourself out there change never has the opportunity to occur.

In that light, I’ll leave you with two of my favorite Emerson quotes as they go hand in hand in this situation:

“If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me.”

“Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.”


  1. Way to go, Little Man! And proud momma, a writer under contract. You've come a long way, haven't you? Congrats on all of it, Kristen.

  2. Thanks for the post! It can be discouraging when you're on the umpteenth rewrite and you think nothing will ever change. I've been working on my book for two years and some days I feel like I will never get done but I look at the writing when I started and I know I'm getting better. Give me another year or two and I might have a novel. :)

  3. Wow, so inspiring, Kristen - you and your son! It's good to remember not to sweat over the day to day when we can't see what lies ahead. We just have to keep working toward what we hope for!

  4. Kristen, your writing journey has been a pleasure to watch. Yeah, at times it has been nail-biting and nerve-wracking with the wait, but there was never any doubt you'd eventually make it. It's well-deserved.

  5. Kristen, gah, with all the sickness invading my house I missed this post.

    What a year it has been, indeed! Just observing your journey has been an education - and, as Susan said, nail-biting and nerve-wracking (can only begin to imagine what it was like actually living it!). And yes, you certainly did bust your butt ... so enjoy where you are. You've earned it. :-)