This Writers Life: New Teenage Driver

0c93fcd0e1d1772ad9501c3dd39b4c6cSo, this week I have been a little distracted. Why, may you ask? Well, I spent the week running around getting everything needed so that my daughter could get her drivers license. Which she did, yesterday.

I am both proud and a little scared.

She got her learners permit. She took all the classes online, then took the test online, so all we had to do was go pick up her license. She was excited, I was excited for her. This is a big milestone in a kids life. It’s that first taste of freedom, of being a little grown up and no longer a kid.

I, on the other hand, am scared out of my mind. Now, don’t get me wrong, she so far has been a decent driver. While I am worried about her, as she is a brand new driver with no real experience, I am more worried about everyone else on the road.

Where we live, as I’m sure every where else, no one seems to know how to use their blinkers, no one is paying attention, if they need to turn they do so at the last possible second slamming on their brakes to do it. It scares me behind the wheel, I can only imagine what will happen with her.

On a different note though, and I know every parent feels this way and says this and it’s a little cliche, I don’t feel like I’m old enough to be here yet. I’m really not sure how this all got here so dang fast. Is she really old enough to be driving?

I remember a moment, when she was maybe two, if even two. She used to go on walks with her ‘Tapah’ (cause she couldn’t say grandpa yet and the name stuck this whole time). He would put her in her stroller, put the leash on Buddy, and they would head out the door. She loved it.

Well, one time she saw him put the leash on Buddy, but he hadn’t put her in her stroller. She ran to her stroller and started freaking out. It was put up against the wall with a chair in front of it. She couldn’t get it out. She was pulling on it, and crying, and looking back and forth between the stroller and the door. She thought her tapah was leaving her behind. It was sad and funny at the same time.

Now, he did end up taking her that day, but the point of that story is that I remember it like it was yesterday. Like it just happened. But here we are and she is getting her drivers license.

I know that when I was younger my mother used to tell me to cherish everything, because time moves so fast. “In the blink of an eye you’ll turn around and she will be heading off to college.” Oh how true those words are. It feels like all I did was blink.

I know, cliche. But it turns out, it’s very true.

So here is to all you parents, who have watched your kids grow, awed at their triumphs, cried for their pain, and just couldn’t believe how fast time was moving. And to you parents who may just be starting out, it will go by in the blink of an eye.

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This Writers Life: Civic Duty

shutterstock_380003077I know that last week I said I was back, and I really truly meant it. I know I missed Monday and Wednesday, and I have a good reason. Have you ever been summoned for Jury Duty? That’s exactly what happened to me this week.

I had never been summoned for Jury Duty before. I didn’t really want to go, since I had just started my new job, but I didn’t have a choice. So, I went. Bright and early Tuesday Morning, I was to be at the court house at 7:30am.

When I arrived there was at least 70 other people there as well. I thought that the odds were looking pretty good that I wouldn’t be chosen. We were there all day, split into different panels, answering questions, and waiting, a lot of waiting. Finally, for those of us that hadn’t already been dismissed from duty, we were told to return the next day at 9:00am. There were 17 of us at that point.

Still liking my odds, since they only needed 7 jurors, I didn’t complain too much. Not at all out loud, just in my head, and then to my husband and anyone who would listen when I got home. So, I returned the next day and this time we were to be asked questions by the two sets of attorneys in the case the jury was needed for.

They walked us into the court room and immediately I recognized the prosecuting attorney. I knew him, worked with him; I should not be on this jury. The Judge then asked if any of us knew the prosecuting attorneys, through occupation or personal, and I immediately raised my hand. I explained to the Judge that I knew him and had worked with him for several years.

I was not dismissed at that point like I thought I would be. The Judge thanked me for my honesty and then both sets of attorneys started their questioning of the panel to determine the final 7 jurors. When the questions ended, they lead all of us back out into the hall while the Judge and Attorneys discussed who would be the final jurors.

While in the hall I thought for sure I would not be picked. How could they fairly try a case with me on the jury? That would be a conflict of interest. I was certain that the defense attorney would ask for my removal, as it might jeopardize her case with a juror who knew the opposing counsel.

We were in the hall for about 20 min before they called us back in. Then, they called my name. “This is it, this is where they tell me I’m dismissed and my services are no longer needed.” That’s what went through my head since I was the first called.

“Please have a seat in the juror box seat 1.”

What? Really? You can’t be serious. I’m sure that’s exactly what was on my face when I heard the Judge tell me to have a seat in the Jury Box.

Still, I did as instructed while they called six more names. Once done they told everyone else they were dismissed. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. How and why did they choose me as a juror? Especially given the fact that I knew the attorney and had worked with him at another firm this can’t be right. But, it was, I was, and the trial was to be that day.

So the trial began. We heard witness statements, audio evidence, and from the defendant. We were given instructions and sent into the Jury room. We didn’t take long, it was a simple case. All of us were in agreement from the moment we walked into that room. We discussed, agreed, and flipped the light to let them know we had reached a verdict.

We were brought back out to the jury box and handed over the verdict. It was read, there were tears, and we were thanked and dismissed to go home. In the end, I’m still in shock that they kept me on the jury. Though, it didn’t harm the defense’s case, seeing as they won.

All in all though, it wasn’t a bad experience. There was a lot of waiting, sure, but it was still interesting. I was even given a little pin as a thank you from the court. I wouldn’t want to do it again, but I am glad I had the experience.

How about you all? Have you ever had jury duty? Were you picked to sit on a jury? How was your experience? And, what are your thoughts on them keeping my on the jury, even though there could have been a conflict of interest, or even bias (there wasn’t, but there could have been if I were someone else)?

This Writers Life: About Strength and Loss.

grieving-takes-timeSo I have been thinking all week about what I would write about today. I debated on talking about the first week back at school for my kids, the books I have been reading, or even posing a few questions. But none of those really struck a chord with me that made me want to write about just yet.

Finally, I decided, just this morning, that I wanted to write about strength and loss.

On Saturday evening, I lost my Grandfather. It hurts. After I got the phone call I began making my own calls. Making sure I had someone to stay with the kids, a place to stay when I reached Maryland (thank you to my bestie who would have slapped me through the phone for thinking I even had to ask if she could have), and making sure I and my spouse had the time off work to get there and be there.

But then, I get another call. There won’t be a service.

Now, this came as a shock to me. Why? Why wouldn’t there be a service? It made no sense, and made me think it was a lie. I still think this. But I’m not going to voice why.

So I started making calls again, thanking all those who had stepped up in my time of need, willing to help ensure I could get there, but that I wouldn’t be heading out of state. Of course, they were all shocked as well.

I don’t pretend to know what people think, what makes them who they are. I am not a psychiatrist. I didn’t want to sound selfish, and therefore, did not voice my objections and feelings of hurt at learning there would be no service, I just said ok.

But why?

Because, I’m not the only one who lost someone. My mother lost her father, my aunt and uncle lost their father as well. My cousins and I lost our grandfather, and my children lost their great grandpap. Everyone is hurting.

Loss is such an insurmountable feeling. I can understand what my mother is going through having lost my own father a few years ago. But I know there is still nothing I can say or do that will help her grieve. The only thing I have to offer is strength and understanding. To her, to my kids, to the rest of my family.

While my heart hurts, and I will miss him, my family needs me here. And for you I say, feel the loss. It’s supposed to hurt. While you may feel that someone has more of a right to be hurt than you do, that is simply not true. You are entitled to your feelings, they are valid.

I do not care if it’s worse somewhere else, you can’t push your pain away for that reason. “I know it could be worse,” “Someone else has it worse than I do,” stop it. So what. Someone somewhere will always have it worse than you do, but that doesn’t make your feelings any less real.

Grieve.

Which is what I have been doing this week. I am strong for my family, but I still allow myself to feel the loss. I am not pushing it away. Strength can come in so many different guises. You don’t have to pretend that everything is ok to appear strong. Sometimes, the strongest thing you can do is feel the pain.

Be strong for those around you while they need you, but never forget, you lost someone too and are allowed to feel it.

R.I.P Grandpap, I love you, and will miss you.

This Writers Life: Pushing Forward

keep_moving_forward11I know on Fridays I tend to talk about what’s going on in my life on a personal level, but today I want to talk about what’s going on in my life on a professional level. I want to talk about pushing forward.

If you have been reading through my blog, you know currently I am working on world building for my new WIP. You also know that I have fallen down the rabbit hole of research. So much so that my original story idea changed to fit the world I was creating. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The problem I am finding though, is that as I am building, as my story is changing, it is starting to sound more and more like another published novel. This, of course, scared me. While a lot of writers take inspiration from everywhere, things around them, shows they watch, stories they read, we have to be careful that we don’t get too close to that line. That line of where we are clearly following that other inspiration source.

Was this my intention? No, not at all. But, now that I have noticed it, I can adjust. It does sadden me however. I was really growing attached to this world, the characters, and the story that was forming. But, I can’t, won’t, allow myself to tow that line so close that I might tip over it.

As writers, this is usually something subconscious that happens to us. A story that we read years ago, that we don’t even know we remember, is suddenly staring at us on the screen. We let details, or traits, or settings slip in from that story. If you recognize it, you have a chance to change it so that you are not looking at the same story.

Thankfully, I have only started the outline phase. That’s where I noticed some of the plots were eerily similar. So I have plenty of time to make adjustments so that it’s not the same, it’s something new, and mine. So that’s what I will be working on. Making the needed changes so it is not the same story, making it mine, making it new.

If you find some plot lines, or scenes, that are strikingly similar to another story, don’t fret. Make the changes needed to differentiate your story, to make it yours, and to keep pushing forward.

This Writers Life: About Bravery

BraveSo today, I want to talk about bravery. As writers, as people, as humans we sometimes shy away from doing something we want to because of fear. We fear how we think we may do, we fear what others may think of us, we fear failure.

This week, I witnessed bravery in the face of something that would have terrified me. And I witnessed this from a teenager.

Now, I have said before, that I believe teenage girls to be the cruelest animal on the planet, and I stick by that. But, setting that aside, I witnessed my daughter look that fear in the eye and… shrug.

This week my daughter tried out for the High School Volleyball Team. Why did this simple act put me in awe of her? Because she has never played volleyball in her life. Aside from the few times in gym class, which of course does not go over the rules or positions. So she really had no experience in this sport.

Given that, she had really enjoyed playing in her gym class, and was set on trying out. My stomach was in knots for her, but of course I supported and encouraged her. She wanted to do this thing, where the odds were greatly stacked against her. Trying out with a bunch of girls who had far more experience, far more skill, and she still went for it.

I took her on the first day of tryouts, and I watched her shoulders square, her chin lift, and walk into that gym with her head held high. In that moment I stood in awe. So proud that she was trying, so proud that no matter how nervous she was, she didn’t show it, so proud that she didn’t let the fear stop her.

Now tryouts are over, and this isn’t a story, this isn’t fiction, and my heart broke for her when she told me she was cut and didn’t make it. However, she still said, after telling me she didn’t make it, she wants to practice, and she wants to go to the summer volleyball camp over the next summer so that when she tries out again next year, she will make it.

She faced the fear, the insurmountable odds stacked against her, and faced it with bravery. And though she didn’t accomplish her goal at this time, she isn’t lettting it stop her. In fact, she is more determined than she was before tryouts. To improve, to make it next year.

Sometimes in life, we allow these things, these fears of failure and doubt, to tell us we’re not good enough and we don’t try. We aren’t brave. I was reminded this week why we shouldn’t let that stop us. And I was reminded by my teenage daughter.

And though she didn’t make it, and though my heart still hurts for her, I couldn’t be more proud of her. For the way she handled herself, for the way she faced something that most adults would have shied away from, for the way she didn’t let this one obstacle stop her in her tracks. That she became more determined. And proud, that she taught me something.

So, to my daughter, one of the bravest people I know.

This Writers Life:You know you’re a writer when…

20121101091032-you-know-you-re-a-writer-whenYou know you’re a writer when… You are sitting in a waiting room because your teenager needs a sports physical before school starts and you’re people watching for facial expressions and mannerisms to use for your characters.

You know you’re a writer when… You’re back to school shopping and you’re mentally mapping out the store as a place in your fictional world you’re working on.

You know you’re a writer when… Your teen rolls her eyes at you and storms off and you take note of how her hair moves, the sound she makes as she moves away, the expressions of others around you, all so you can use it in a scene.

Around here we are gearing up for back to school. Which means running around, shopping, and exhaustion. It means going to about fifty different stores because you have four kids to buy for and you take them all separately. It means, people watching and using everything you see, hear, smell, touch as inspiration and research for your current work in progress.

That has been me this week. This will also be me next week, and the week after, until school starts.

What really drove this post though was the waiting in the doctors office. I caught myself looking around, mentally taking notes of everyone around us. How they were sitting, what their body language was saying about them, their facial expressions, and even how they spoke to each other and the ladies behind the front desk. All of it.

It was kind of surreal. I mean, I have never actually caught myself doing it, it was always something I just, did. But this time, I caught myself because I was focused on my daughter and she looked up at me, gave me a face and asked “WHAT?” That’s when I realized what I was doing.

I just kind of smirked and shook my head at her and looked away. Not really ready to explain what I was just doing. Knowing it would make her feel uncomfortable as she was the focus of the moment. Though, since I know she does read this blog, I’m going to say “Sorry!”

It’s in those moments, when you catch yourself doing something as habit, something you never have really thought about or taken notice of, when you realize “Hey, I’m a… (in my case) Writer. So this is not weird.” To the writer at least.

It’s those moments that make me smile. That make my heart soar. That make me feel giddy. Those moments where something that once felt like I would never remember to do this thing, is suddenly a habit that you don’t even realize you’re doing it. It comes naturally all of a sudden.

And, You know you’re a writer when… You finally, after years, say I am a writer.

This Writers Life: Grateful for the little things.

what-are-you-grateful-forSo, last weekend I purchased a new laptop, and I love it. In fact, I am writing this blog post on said laptop from the comfort of my bed. Not that this will be a common occurrence, but that it’s a possibility, I’m grateful.

You see, I work from home. For my day job. The thing that pays the bills and keeps a roof over my head. I have my own in home office and have it all set up for that job. I wake up, go into that office, and work until late into the evening.

That job is not exactly great for creativity. When I am working in there I have found that it is hard for me to switch my brain over from day job, to creative it’s time to write mode. This was becoming a problem. To the point that I didn’t even want to write in there anymore. While in that office, all I thought about was day job work, stress, day job emails, etc. Not the best place to focus on my writing.

So buying this laptop, while a little thing, opens up so many possibilities for me. It will allow me to physically leave the office, and still work on my writing. It will allow me to have one central location for my research, drafts, images, etc. Without it being bunched in with work stuff. It will also allow for an automatic brain shift. You see, this laptop will only be used for writing, either for the blog or my current work in progress. So when I open it up and turn it on, my focus is solely on writing and nothing else.

This excites me. I have felt so hampered and distracted in the office as I always found myself drifting back to work stuff, even after I was done for the day. On Sunday I turned on the laptop and set everything up. Switched everything that related to writing from the office computer to this laptop. I immediately felt freer. I am now free to work on nothing but work stuff while in the office, without thinking about writing, and free to work on nothing but writing and writing related things without thinking about work stuff.

It’s a little thing, but it’s those little things I am grateful for. Just this small, seemingly inconsequential thing, has opened up so much for me. It’s amazing what a small item can do to shift the way you think about things and how you work.

So how about you? What are you grateful for today?