About Me

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I'm a published author of short fiction for kids and adults. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I'm a former content writer for Spirit and Truth publishing on their Living the Word series. I've also worked as a paid book reviewer and as a student editor for The Louisville Review literary magazine. I'm a wife and mom to two great kids, three dogs, and a cat. I love books, movies, gardening, kids, and animals.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Battling the CrossCurrents

A few days ago, I went for a walk. Earlier in the week I'd received yet another rejection on a novel I've been submitting. This time I got lots of personal feedback from the agent. I wasn't surprised at the rejection. I'd been struggling with the middle of my story for months--certain there was a problem, after feedback from both my critique group, and a couple of volunteer readers. When I'd work-shopped it in the fall at a SCBWI conference it had gotten some very positive comments and interest. However, even the guest author I'd gotten a one-on-one critique with warned that with my novel's strong beginning, I needed to be sure I followed through for my readers and gave them the payoff they'd expect. The agent I got a personal rejection from questioned whether I was writing my right story. This came at a time when I've been questioning how I can fix this novel or even if I'm capable of doing so.

When I came home from my walk I wasn't feeling a whole lot better about myself. But my walk had done something positive. It had motivated my family to go outside and fly some kites. As I watched them, all three of their kites were aloft on the wind soaring. But then my daughter's kite hit an unexpected cross current of air grounding it. She struggled and struggled to get it aloft again without success. Asking my husband for help she left and came back only to watch him experience the same problem. Each time it seemed like the wind was beneath it ready to send it soaring another gust of wind would hit it from a different direction and send it crashing to ground again.

I realized that the struggle with this kite, which looks like a beautiful owl, reflected my current emotional state. At the conference I'd come away hopeful and confident that this novel, this story, was ready to be seen by others. Only to find that perhaps it was close but still not where it needed to be to soar. Self doubt, and not a little self loathing followed as I fought with myself to take my story in a different direction than I'd originally set it on. These doubts and defeatist ideas had me effectively grounded. Worse they'd shut me off emotionally from my characters making it impossible for me to guide them or more importantly be guided by them.

My husband continued for several minutes to struggle with the kite. My daughter had given up after just a few attempts. But he knew the winds were right it was just a matter of finding the right current to get the owl up in the sky again. Doggedly he made attempt after attempt to send it flying. String got tangled and had to be untangled, trees got in the way, random air currents viciously slammed it to earth over and over. It was a monumental battle to get it in the right place at the right time. He didn't give up. And I realized I could be like him and continue to fight for my characters or I could be like my daughter, give up and move on to something new. Neither course was obvious as being the right one. The most worthwhile things in life rarely come with road signs offering you directions that say, "this way stupid." Or "this path offers lessons in futility, turn back now." I'm not certain as a writer how you can know you've reached the end of the line with a project. This is the first time I've ever gotten so much strong interest in one of my novels. It isn't my first book, its just my first near success. I haven't decided to shelve it. But I have decided to give it some space and stop trying to force something to happen when I'm obviously not ready to do the kind of writing it requires to fix. The cross currents out there are still very strong. When I'm ready, I'll go back to it with the determination my husband showed with my daughter's kite. And when that moment arrives I will find the right breeze to catch that will send the wings of my novel soaring.

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