Monday, August 13, 2018

Writer's Digest Conference 2018--things that I learned


What a weekend I had!

I went to the Writer's Digest Conference.
I was surrounded by writers.
I was surrounded by people who create.
I saw someone having a spirited conversation with herself. She saw me staring at her and she said, "I'm having a disagreement with my main character." and walked off.
I totally understand this.

I learned that other writers are not my competition. Nor am I theirs.
I don't read just one writer in any genre. Why should I assume my readers will? There is room for all of us on the bookshelf. (and if there isn't--we just build more shelves.)

I learned that if you are a female writer, you are not given as many chances to succeed as a male writer. Not nice--but it seems to be true. Women are more likely to be told to stop writing where men are told to write something else. (It was a fantastic discussion after one of the breakout sessions.)

I learned that there are many different opinions about writing a character who is not your race and culture. All of the opinions are valid. For myself, I know I could never write a story like The Hate You Give or Children of Blood and Bone. I couldn't.

That being said, no one else could write the story I'm writing with Shawn, a young black man as one of the ensemble characters, because I know Shawn. I hear his voice in my head clearly and I can't change his race or one thing about him. I will be getting (more) sensitivity reads, but he is who he is.

If we limit ourselves to what we know, we don't grow. Not as authors, not as readers. That being said there is a fine line between admiration and appropriation. Staying on one side of the line is safer. But don't bust through the line like a winning runner breaking through the tape. That isn't winning. The best line about this came in one session--"You can do it--just don't fuck it up."

I learned that for every "rule" you can name a book that successfully breaks the same rule. Which means that I can do--as long as I do it incredibly well.

I learned that stillness is power. On the page between characters  and sitting with agents pitching them. Four out of six want to at least look at my work. Two of them want complete manuscripts. I attribute this to good pitches, and a good story. I also managed to quell my tendency to babble and be still after my pitches--that's when they said--I want to see more.

I also learned I have a lot to do. A lot of writing and growing--but I'm running towards the path--not trudging my way to it. And That has more to do with the people I met there!

Thanks Writers Digest for an amazing conference!

To all who have come here from my twitter link--welcome! So glad to see you! Let's write the next chapter, shall we?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Finishing the hat- Microblog Monday

Yeah, I've been quite for a month.

I had to finish the hat.

My novel which is technically the second in a series but I hope will be published first is finished.

Well except for the rewriting.
And I'll be sending it to agents.
And I had to finish the hat.

I had to hide from my daughter, my husband, my father, my friends.
I hated it. I wanted to go out into the sunlight.
I wanted to hug my daughter--and I did--and then I told her "Go play."
I talked over the story with my husband. I woke in the middle of the night to work on it. I worked on it deep into the dark hours.
My schedule is all fucked up.
I finished it.
I have done more research.
I have to tweak it. I have to get it more ready. I have to edit it.

But the first draft is done.
And it's beautiful. Warts and all. Typos and all. Mistakes that make the editor part of me cringe and all.

People don't understand.
Sondheim, in Sunday in the Park with George understood and put it into words.

Look I made a hat!
Where there never was a hat!

More to come

Monday, June 18, 2018

Children do not belong in cages

When I was little I watched this miniseries called Masada.
If you can find it it is good to watch.
It starred Peter O'Toole and Peter Strauss.

There is a line in it where Peter O' Toole, as Flavius Silva screams "This is not Rome!"

This is not America.

This is not who we are.
This is not who we should be.

Children do not belong in cages.

Children do not belong in concentration camps.

This is not who we are.
Or, I should say, this is not who we should be.

People are saying this is right. If you see a child in a cage and your question is about their immigration status, you have a moral problem.

If you are not calling your representatives and telling them that this is disgusting--then do so now.

I always wondered why I would have done during World War 2. I mean I'm jewish, I would have died. But would I have died fighting?  I don't know.

But I have a daughter who does not look like me. I keep her COC (Certificate of Citizenship) on me at all times when we leave the house. D. keeps her passport card in his wallet. I am scared that someone will say she's not a citizen. I am scared that they might revoke her citizenship.  I am scared.

But this is my daughter. This is my country. I will use my voice.

Will you raise yours?

Oh, and Flint, Michigan still doesn't have clean water.
There is a large percentage of Puerto Rico without power.

Monday, June 4, 2018

What I learned - Microblog Monday

Sorry for the radio silence.

I was trying like crazy to finish my book before the writing conference this weekend.
I didn't.
I'm about 6000 words out--a little more because the conference made me see a glaring error that I did two chapters ago and I have to fix now.

One of the breakout sessions I took was about storytelling--oral and written.

We were to write about times in our life when we needed help.

This is what I wrote.

My goddaughter turned one.

A year after her mother's four-day labor. A year after my eyes caught my husband's as I held her. We went home and cheerily threw out the birth control pills We joyfully went about the business of adding to our family. It would be easy, right, I mean I'd spent so long hearing that it only takes one time. It had been a year full of periods that were always on-time. I wasn't worried-much.

My goddaughter turned three.

Three years of hearing "great news!" from my friends until we were the only ones of our group who wanted a chid and were without. Three years of worry and once a month depression. Two years after sitting in a doctor's office answering aseptic intimate questions and hormone shots that made me question my sanity and reason for living.

My goddaughter turned six.

A year after we started the process to "Just Adopt." Social worker--a lovely one who would become our advocate--came to our house to decide if we were worthy to parent. We had to ask our friends to write us recommendations. We had to ask other people to help us become parents. No one else seemed to have this trouble. I had been losing friends who told me horrible things. Some forever.

My goddaughter turned eight.

No one invites us to baby showers anymore--nor should they. Mother's Day has become a landmine of epic proportions. After waiting to adopt for three years and realizing it could be another three we decide to try IVF. It doesn't work.

My goddaughter turned ten.

People tell us to get out of the line for China. We say no--that's where she is.  We've been waiting for five years, We see ourselves getting closer. But the wait is still so long. We renew our paperwork and pray.

My goddaughter turned thirteen.

She joyfully swings my daughter in her arms. My goddaughter laughed and my beautiful little girl giggles the way only a one-year-old can with her whole body.  After the laughter my daughter reaches for me.
My goddaughter gives me boxes of her old clothes, that her mother saved for me. Her mother, my heart-sister never doubted that we would watch our two children playing together.
Our child lights up our world and, even today, I don't know that the joy would be as much without the struggle and the help.

Monday, May 14, 2018

What I signed up for

So another Mother's Day has passed.

It's hard to be a mother without a mother. I never had a Mother's Day where I was both parent and child. I miss my mom. On Mother's Day I would cook for her. I would be with her. I miss that.

Yesterday kind of sucked.

Lotus woke up coughing and sneezing. I have my mother's superpower that I can touch a forehead and be within .2 of the fever.

I got frustrated with the pediatrician's office. I adore my pediatrician and it's a group and every doctor there has been amazing. But there's a few people in the office that aren't as nice. I touched Lotus' forehead and knew that she had a fever.

For Lotus, normal body temperature is 98.0. If she hits 99.5, she is sick. Don't tell me that it has to be 100.4 (which they did) because the doctor told me that temperature is an average and if Lotus hits 99.5 I should consider it a fever. I should not let her go to school. I should start Tylenol/Motrin if she goes over 99.5.

But they kept saying when she is below 100.4 it isn't a fever. I pushed and got her a sick appointment yesterday. When she got there (D took her since I had to tutor) her temp was 98.6. I though that the diagnosis was going to be "worried mom" but since the Dr. knew her and she wasn't acting herself, he took a strep test.


So then all the nice Mother's Day plans we kind of had went pfft.

I had a sad Lotus on my lap watching a lot of inane tv.

But I thought of all the Mother's Days before when I just wanted a kid.
And she rested her hot forehead against my cheek.
This is what I signed up for.
I rocked her and gave her medicine and candy to "get the taste out".
I held her trying to ignore the fact that I'm almost certainly going to get it.

This is part of the mothering stuff.
And Thank God for it.

Monday, April 23, 2018

My girl

A little about Lotus.
She's turning six soon.

She has her personality, her likes, her dislikes. She is proud of her Chinese heritage but she also knows that some people don't like it.

A few days ago she was asked where she was from, she told me she pointed at our house. (We're in sight from the school.) She said they wanted another answer and she wasn't sure about that.

My child has her butt firmly on smartass island.

Sometimes she laughs and covers her mouth. I don't know where she learned that and I've been working on breaking her of the behavior. Her smile is too pretty to be hidden.

She still sleeps on her own bed in our room. Generally she can go almost a week before climbing into our bed to snuggle up.

Speaking of which she just climbed onto my lap for snuggles. I love that she still does this.

She prefers TV over most other screen time. We're strict about devices and not as strict about TV. She loves My Little Pony.

Her hair is long and she loves me to style it differently. She has her own sense of style and it lovely.

When she walks into school it reminds me of Norm on Cheers. Everyone yells her name in greeting. She doesn't do drama. And she has enough moxie that she sometimes disobeys her teachers. I kind of like that, even if it isn't always easy.

She's kind and she doesn't like it when others aren't. She makes me smile and gives me hope for the future.

She's almost six.

Seven years ago around this time I had no idea that my waiting was coming to an end. Seven years ago I was in Infertility hell.

Six years ago I had redone my home study and paperwork in hope.

I don't forget how it was living with infertility. I still feel pangs when her friends moms are pregnant. I feel bigger pangs when she asks for a brother or sister.

I wish all who wanted to, could know the love of a little girl like mine. Or a little boy. Or twins. Or. Or. Or.

Just know you have an ally. You have someone in your corner.
And my daughter.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Dear China Mommy - Year 5

Dear China Mommy,

Our daughter will be turning six in a few weeks. She decided she wants a bowling party and put her foot down about who will be invited.

Her whole fricking kindergarten class.

I had said, you have one person more than you are old, but she talked me around. She said she wanted these people and then Hilly.

"Who is Hilly?" I asked.

"You know her, she's the one who doesn't sit and she wanders around the room and hums a lot."

Oh. I thought. The autistic girl. I looked at her face.

"I don't think she gets invited to a lot of birthday parties, mommy. I think it makes her sad. She doesn't hurt anyone and she's not mean and I want to invite her, even if her mommy says no." I nodded. I couldn't speak, you see, because I had this lump in my throat.

Did she get this compassion from you? Did she get it from me? Did it mingle together from both of us?

So why are we inviting the whole class when she wants to invite Hilly?  So she doesn't feel singled out. Or that's what I think she was trying to tell me. Sometimes I don't understand what she's trying to communicate, but most of the time I do.

Our daughter is about three and a half feet tall. She is so graceful -- definitely your influence. Her smile can light a world.
She's lost her first tooth and the permanent one has come in crooked. Orthodontia is in our future.

She's learning to read and she says how "Words just pop out at her." as she looks around.

She asked why you left her to be found. She asked if she was bad. I was driving and I pulled over so I could stare into her eyes and tell her that it was not at all because she was bad. I told her that we would likely never know the full reasons but I had some guesses.

I think it was because she was premature. I think you were scared as hell that her lungs were underdeveloped and took her to where she could be treated. Even if it meant never seeing her again. I sometimes wonder if it was not you who took her to that place, if it was a family member who you have yet to forgive.

Her school is far more white than the daycare and pre-K she attended. She notices that. I think she's been made fun of, but if she has it's rolled off her back as our daughter does not start fights. She does tend to finish them.

Our daughter takes stalling to go to bed to an Olympic sport. But she knows that if she asks for more hugs we will give them.

Our daughter has an incredible capacity to love. She has an empathetic quality that is rare in 60 year olds, not only 6 year olds. But she has it. I believe it was put there by you, nurtured by me and her father.

Today she asked, for the n-teenth time, for me to tell her the story of when we first met. I told her again. But today she asked, Why did I stop crying when I heard you sing.

I gave a few suggestions and she kept shaking her head.

"Okay, Lotus, Why did you stop crying?"

"Because I recognized you. You weren't China Mommy, you were my mommy." She sighed as she saw my eyes fill. "Happy tears?" She asked--she's used to this by now. I nodded. We cuddled. Then she asked to send some love to you. And we hugged and sent some of our love to you.

I hope you feel the love that our daughter feels for you.

I hope you know the love and unspeakable gratitude that I feel for you.

God be with you, wherever and whatever you need,
Your daughter's mommy.