Interrupted by American Idol Auditions &
Lessons Learned From The End of the Journey

This last week has been a whirlwind of excitement for my son and our family as we focused on his dreams instead of mine. American Idol auditions.

It started with a simple press release I sent out last Monday with the hope that some local media would respond to the subject line: Local Teen Wins Dream Ticket to American Idol Auditions This Summer. Then the calls and emails started coming in and as of this writing he’s been interviewed for the newspaper, radio,and television several times.

Here’s a snippet of the newspaper article by reporter Rita Sherrow:

 

While visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, the 17-year-old and his cousins spotted the American Idol Experience…

“We thought, ‘It sounds like fun, so let’s try that out,’ ” Conroy said in a recent interview. “We were all surprised when I won.”

At the end of the day, the winners from all the previous rounds were invited to sing again. Conroy performed “Stand by Me,” a classic song he had never heard before that day and one to which he added his own “pop twist.” The audience liked what they heard, and he won a golden ticket to move to the head of the line for the “American Idol” auditions…All the daily winners of the “Experience” are invited to try out for the real thing.

It was an exciting interruption in my life and as you read this we have concluded our Idol journey. It didn’t work out as we hoped, and we are processing everything knowing God has a purpose and is in control. I will share more pictures and specific details in a post to come, but through this whole process I learned a few things that I will touch on briefly here, then write out more thoughts in a future post or two.

Sometimes Being Helpful isn’t Helpful

I took it upon myself to send out press releases thinking my son would enjoy the media attention, and he did, but there were other repercussions I didn’t anticipate. I also gave him unsolicited advice from time to time which only stressed him instead of helped him. I’m still learning what a parent’s support role to an almost 18 year old looks like!

Being Hopeful is Different Than Being Expectant

I’m still learning this balance. On the day of the audition a tv reported asked me about my expectations. I rambled off something like “I have no expectations and just wish for my son to do his best.” In retrospect that wasn’t completely honest. At the time I didn’t know it. We all had expectations of him making the first round auditions. And he didn’t. More thoughts to come later…

Sometimes Failures Lead You Down a Different Path

Even though we didn’t make it past the first round auditions, an other opportunity has already presented itself to my son, and I’m a tad envious and very excited for him. I’ll share more when I have more details.

A Child’s Disappointments Are Often Felt Hard by Parents

I touched on this a while back, but I didn’t expect to be hit this hard again. I think it goes back to my unintentional expectations of him getting through to round 2, and he didn’t. But his “rejection” just intensified my own writing rejections I’ve felt over the years. I’m still dealing and processing with all the emotions of that and the weekend Idol experience.

When Disappointments Hit Hard Offer Space and Grace

Whether you’re a parent or a kid, when disappointments hit we need to give each other space. I know when I’m dealing with a rejection I want to be left alone and so that’s what I tried to do with my son. I also offered grace as my family needs to do with me when I get a writing rejection. A lot of ugly oozes out of our rejection sores, but I tried to remind myself it’s only the hurt talking and I’ve oozed my fair share or ugliness.

Yes, our Idol experience is over and once again if we were completely honest with ourselves, it never really was my son’s  ”dream.” In fact, if he hadn’t won the Dream ticket, he might not have auditioned and the perks were sweet.

Having the Dream ticket opened up new doors for him, but it could have been the thing to lock that Idol door. (More on that later) Then again, if Idol was not part of God’s plan for his life, better to keep that door locked!

Now your turn:

How do you deal with your child’s disappointments and rejections? What have your learned?

 

Fighting Through Insecurities to Reach Our Dreams

Every since I can remember I’ve dreamed of being a dancer. I remember watching Flashdance, Footloose, Fame, and all the other fun dancing movies and thinking how much fun it would be to do that. But to achieve that goal would take hard work, discipline and talent. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but when I was ten I took my first dance lessons. To this day I can remember the recital. I also remember feeling chubby, uncoordinated, and self conscious in a class of older girls. So I quit something I loved for fear of ridicule.

When I went back to take dance lessons at 15 years old, it was obvious I’d never be good enough or catch up to the level of the other girls. My insecurities had held me back from reaching my dream of dancing.

Fast forward twenty plus years and my secret desire is taking form in ballroom and swing dance lessons. After attempting to swing dance in sandals last summer and suffering through insecurities and my ignorance on the dance floor, I thought it necessary to take lessons just in case I ever got the opportunity to go swing dancing again.

So I signed up not just for swing, but salsa, rumba, cha cha and a whole slew of dances I was “expected to master” in just seven hour long classes. Okay, I admit, I didn’t plan on mastering them all, and the dance studio’s gamble won out when I purchased another set of lessons. And after 20 plus hours, I still haven’t mastered any of the dances. But I’m not quitting, no matter how tough.

I remember one particular lesson when my instructor arrived 20 minutes late with a scowl on his face and threw me into a salsa turn  immediately when I was still trying to get the footing down.

I tried my best, but I was perfectly fine with my bent legged salsa. Unfortunately, he was not. I guess we had two different definitions of “mastering” salsa. We spent the next 30 minutes trying to get my leg to straighten. I just couldn’t get it. And the more I tried, the worse and more confused I got and the more flustered we both got.

There was a point he kept pushing me that I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and quit, and say “This is not dancing with the stars.”  In stead, I asked him if I could practice at home and if we could move onto East Coast swing.

And we did. And he threw me into a spin again when I was still adjusting to the footing, but by this time he had apologized for his attitude because he’d just quit smoking that morning AND coming from a stressful, life altering situation. We laughed through my own klutzyness and made progress. I worked through my insecurities and inadequacies and kept pushing until I figured out what I was doing wrong. If I had given into the voices in my head that told me I’d never get it and my instructor thought I was hopeless, I never would have succeeded and learned.

It’s the same with our writing or any other dream in our lives.When insecurities start to shout that I’m not a good enough writer, no one will “get me,” and my story isn’t good enough to show my agent yet, I have to push through the inadequacies I have real or imaginary. My work may not be perfect, but who better to show me how to improve it than my agent who wants me to succeed?

I might never be worthy of Dancing with the Stars, but I’m not quitting. And too bad if I have bent salsa knees, at least I’m on the dance floor!

 

 

When You Just Don’t Fit the Market

I’ve never felt like I fit.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s on Long Island, New York, I didn’t know anyone whose parents (or grandparents) were divorced except mine. I didn’t know any other kids who had to visit their dad on the weekend instead of doing fun stuff with friends. And I didn’t know any other kids whose mother pulled them from the Catholic church when she found Jesus.

I didn’t fit.

In high school, I had my own salvation experience. Jesus had always been my savior, but in 10th grade he became my Lord. I didn’t know any other kids at my school who loved Jesus like I did, who drastically changed their ways over one summer, and who had to find new friends to hang around with the following school year.

Once again, I didn’t fit.

I went off to a Christian college in 1986 and thought for sure I would fit in. But how could a girl from New York ever fit into an evangelical Oklahoma school? I might have had the big hair, but I didn’t speak the language or dress the way they did. When people were fixing to go to lunch, I wanted to know what was broken. Eventually, I found people I fit with and it made my college experience one of the best experiences of my life, but after college I still struggled to fit into my church, my homeschool and mom groups. I don’t know why, but something always made me feel like an outsider.

Then I found my writing friends, and I finally found my home, that place that you know people love and accept you no matter what because they’re family and they “get” you. That’s what the writing community has been for me and most recently the dance community I’m a part of. I don’t have to explain myself to them, they just get me.

Where is all this going with fitting into the writing market?

The other day I had a chat with my agent about the story he’s shopping around for me. The consensus from editors so far is that the writing is really good, some even loved my writing…but the story doesn’t fit. Not a surprise, really. My last story didn’t seem to fit either. Too edgy, not CBA enough, too melancholy…whatever you want to call it, I find myself not fitting again, and this time I’m smiling.

Why? Because it just confirms the word my pastor spoke in church on Sunday and maybe something God has been trying to tell me all my life. I don’t fit because God doesn’t want me to!

God makes each person unique with different gifts and personalities so they can fit into different places. My pastor said we each are designed to fit in places only we can fit.

So I know there’s a place for me. A place my writing fits, and when I find it I will be smack in the middle of God’s will, the place he designed for me from the beginning. And I’m sure I won’t be the only one smiling!

UPDATE: After exhausting all leads in the CBA, we’re taking my current WIP to the general ABA. Uncharted territory awaits me! Not sure how I feel about it all, but I’m moving forward!

Have you found the place where you fit? If not, will you keep searching until you do, or will you conform to fit into a space that was never meant for you?

 

 

How Do You Define Book Launch Sucess?

It’s been quiet over here because I’ve been busy with my other blog, Writer…Interrupted, and my book launch. To keep up with all my writing and book news, plus learn the craft of writing make sure you subscribe there. I blog at Writer…Interrupted every Friday and share my journey. One of these days I’d love to learn how to balance two blogs, but for now, I’ll be posting periodically here about life, family and pursuing dreams! 

Last weekend I had the official book launch of Cherry Blossom Capers. Just like many women dream about and plan their wedding, many authors do the same for their book launch. I’m no exception. I’ve been waiting for this day and planning for years!

Even before the book sold I knew what I would do for my launch. A Mystery party! I first heard about the idea from author Christy Barritt and thought it was fabulous, so I stored it in the back of my mind . Then when my book sold and as the days to my launch approached, I started planning and writing the script which featured characters in my book.

A lot goes into planning a mystery party, so I won’t go into that here, but what I want to explore is what is the definition of book launch success? Is it the number of books sold? (If so than mine was a COMPLETE failure since I think I gave away more books to my book launch party helpers than people actually bought.) Is it the number of names and emails I got on my newsletter list? (I did okay there since most everyone signed up thanks to that extra entry for the basket drawing.) Or maybe it’s the number of people that attended? (There again I fell short of my goal!)

I went into my book launch with the lofty goal of 100 people or 100 books, and I did everything in my power to make that happen. I blitzed the media and my FREE event was posted on every local calendar in town as well as being featured on the local midday news talk show. My daughter even heard my event on the radio, but bottom line, the numbers weren’t there. Does that make my launch a failure? I don’t thinks so and here’s why.

While I spent more on my party and promotion than I actually sold in books, I had fun! Everyone who attended had a blast and left with a positive memory. Hopefully so positive that they’ll tell their friends about the party…and the book.

Even though my party is over, my name and book are still out there.  Who knows where the fruit of my promotion efforts will get me. Radio shows and local stations still have my information, and I might get another media interview. You just never know.

Just because the party is over doesn‘t mean it’s over! I’m already planning another mystery party with my church which features my book, and I plan on offering this mystery party to other organizations, book clubs, and churches. So while my initial book launch wasn’t profitable, I look at it as the seed to the bigger picture.

THE SUSPECTS

I’m sure there are many other ways my book launch party was a success, but I’m still recovering and processing it all. The bottom line is I don’t regret anything I did or the money I spent. Sure I would have liked to have sold 100 books or had 100 people attend, but for me, that doesn’t define book launch success. At least not this time! :)

How do you define book launch success? And what have YOU done to make your launch successfful?

5 Rules to Avoid Disappointments

It’s been a while since I got a rejection, (mainly because it’s been a while since I submitted something.) They used to hit me hard, and sometimes they still do, if I don’t follow the 5 rules to avoid disappointments I’ve learned the hard way over the years.

This weekend I forgot the rules. I dropped my guard, and let a non-writing related disappointment overpower me. I’m still dealing with the emotional fallout and honestly, in the big scheme of life this disappointment is too ridiculous to share. But it hurts just the same. And when your kids are involved, it sometimes hurts worse.

So what will I do next time to avoid disappointments?

Don’t Have Expectations

I know this sounds harsh and depressing, but over the years I’ve learned the higher my expectations, the harder the fall when disappointments come. Growing up I had one relative who would always promise things and never follow through. It hurt. Every time. So to deal with that disappointment I lowered my expectations of this person. And instead of expecting anything, I left the door open for the possibility that this person would come through.

This philosophy has also worked well in my friendships. You know the friends who promise you everything, but never follow through? I still love them, but I don’t expect them to keep their promises. I’m hopeful that they do, but my heart has been broken too many times to let my expectations of our friendship get too high. This also works well when submitting a manuscript. If I don’t expect a contract, I won’t be crushed when I don’t get one. By lowering my expectations, I’m guarding my self against disappointments, but not closing the door to possibilities.

Be Hopeful

Having low or no expectations doesn’t mean you have no hope. It just means that you’re okay with the way things will turn out. It means that you wish the outcome would go in your favor, but you’re fully aware it won’t. This is the second mistake I made this past weekend.

I let my expectations get too high that I forgot to be hopeful. Forgot to look at the big picture and put everything into perspective. I forgot there was a possibility of failure, and I’m dealing with the emotions that have been puffed up out of proportion.

Do Your Best

Whether you’re writing a novel or working full time for a company, if you focus on your performance instead of the outcome disappointments will be easier to handle. There are lots of reasons why we may not land a contract or get that promotion, but if the circumstances are outside of our control than it’s easier to say “I did my best and I (it) just wasn’t the right fit for me right now.” If you are proud of what you accomplished and have no regrets, than your disappointments should be easier to handle.

Remember Father Knows Best

I’ve learned over the years that God knows what He’s doing even though I don’t understand it most of the time. And his timing is perfect. He sees things I don’t and knows what’s best for me and you. I forgot that this weekend, and instead focused on what I wanted. By focusing on God’s will and plan, even though you may not know it, it will help calm the emotions that rise when you’re inner two year old wants to through a tantrum. And when that two year old does start to whine (and he will) you can say, “God’s up to something, and he’s got something better for me planned.”

Celebrate (with) Others

This might be the hardest thing yet, and maybe this is the one God’s still working on with me, but when someone else achieves the dream you’ve longed for, celebrate with them. Some of us aren’t there yet, I know. So I’m adding a caveat to this rule…

Take your mind off the prize you just lost and celebrate others! I’m not asking you (or myself) to cover your feeling and emotions, but I do think it’s important not to wally in misery. The best way to do that is to take your eyes off yourself and what you lost and celebrate what you have. It doesn’t have to be related to your disappointment, just choose to focus on the positive in your life, especially when the emotions rise.

Dealing with disappointments stink, and since I’m being honest and transparent here, I’ve frankly had more than my fair share of them, and I wish they would just stop. But I know they won’t, so next time I anticipate something that might bring about a disappointment, I’ll remember my 5 rules for avoiding disappointments.

How about you? What can you add to the list?

 

 

Listen to Your Soul!

If you’ve wondered where I’ve been, it’s been too difficult to keep up two blogs at the moment so I post at Writer…Interrupted on Fridays. Today I’m talking about how the musical Memphis touched by soul!

Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy!

Who can forget that beloved Ms. Frizzle who inspired her class to “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”All but play-it-safe Arnold loved Ms. Frizzle’s fieldtrips that took them to places they’d never been before, often leading them into scary and unfamiliar territory. But oh the adventures they had! Even Arnold would end up enjoying himself when he finally quit focusing on the danger.

Sometimes I feel like Arnold, wanting to remain in the comfort zone, showing my work only to safe people, people I know will love it. But to go places I’ve never been before (like publication) and to experience the excitement and wonder of taking chances (getting a contract,) I first need to get messy and not dwell on the mistakes I’ll make (writing my manuscript.)

The other day before I sent my proposal to my agent I reflected on Ms. Frizzles words again and felt a bit like Arnold. I’m still only learning to write a first draft without editing the whole thing as I go. It’s not easy to leave my mess on the page and move on. It’s not easy to see mistakes in my plot and know I must plow forward before I go back and fix things. And it’s not easy to take chances and hit send on my words before I believe they’re ready to be viewed by professional eyes.

But that’s what I did. I hit send on my proposal to my agent because ACFW conference is in few weeks, and I’d rather look like an idiot in front of him, then in front of an editor. It’s not easy to get feedback on our mess, but it’s necessary. In fact, it was my agent who once told me “you can’t fix nothing!” So I figured he, if anyone, would understand my mess!

The email response came today. Before I opened, I took a deep breath, then hesitated. Then dove into the email, taking a chance, again. To my relief he said, “my writing is really good.” Of course, he pointed out a mess I needed to clean up before I showed an editor, but I took a chance and I’m glad I did. Now I can move forward with a little more confidence than before.

Are you taking chances or are your messes and mistakes keeping you from your next adventure?

 

Writing Lessons from a Dream

I used to dream a lot! Vivid, storyline dreams that made complete sense…until I woke up. But lately those kind of dreams are rare. So when I had a dream about Donald Maass as my drama coach dancing with me ballroom style as I sang “Popular,” I had to laugh! Here’s why…

I’m an impressionable dreamer. I actually DREAM things that my consciousness experiences, usually the night before.

Last night as I ate Ben and Jerry’s as my last hurrah before I went no sugar this week, I watched Drop Dead Diva. There was an episode on where Jane is in one of her fun dream sequences where she’s dancing with a popular male vocal Chip and Daleish group and her old, frumpy boyfriend shows up for a dance. She wakes and tells her friend Stacey about it. Stacey, in her wonderful, ditzy blonde goodness, thinks it’s a sign that Jane needs to date her old boyfriend. Jane reluctantly agrees, but in the end Jane and Stacey learn that the dream really had no meaning, and sometimes a dream is just to dream.

So as I share with you my crazy dream, you decide. Just a dream or a prophetic sign? Whatever you decide, it sure was a fun one!

As far as dreams go, it started out pretty normal. Random craziness with an obscure goal as I traveled somewhere. Vague enough for you?

But when I finally arrived at my goal, I was surprised to find I was in a Donald Maass acting workshop. Yes, acting! While he talked and demonstrated some dance moves, I tried to imitate them, but I was barefoot and everyone else wore shoes. So I put mine on. A pair of black pumps I owned in real life used for my ballroom dance lessons that hurt my feet. So I took them off again.

Then we were asked to sit in chairs in a semi circle around the dance floor. As Don placed everyone in their seat, I tried on a few other pair of shoes I just happened to be carrying around with me and settled on a funky pair of red flat boots with lace up ties. When he got to me, I was the last one and instead of placing me in a chair he took my hand and spoke to me. Oh, how I wish I could remember that conversation, but in essence he told me I was going to dance a scene with him and that it might not be in my comfort zone, but he wanted me to be open minded and try it. At first, I was reluctant, but agreed. Then we started to dance, ballroom style, first cautiously as I timidly sang “Popular” from the Wicked musical. My steps were small and unsure at first, and my voice muffled as I sang with “cotton in my ears.” Then he whispered, “Follow me and take big steps.” And we glided across the dance floor as I belted out the song, “I’m gonna be Popular.”

Dancing felt effortless as I was carried by my partner and sang my guts out. While dancing, I didn’t worry about what I looked like or how I sounded (because I had no clue with the cotton in my ears,) I just trusted my partner and knew by the smile on his face that I was going to be popular.

And when the song ended and I poked a baby alligator peeking up from a drain in the floor (after all, this WAS a dream,) I heard the roar of the applause coming from my cottoned ears, and I knew I was popular. Then I took my seat, not in the semicircle, but in the audience.

Was this dream a sign from God that one day I’ll be ballroom dancing with Donald Maass? I highly doubt it! Was it the result of my crazy weekend carting my kids to their play, reading Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass, working on my WIP after two weeks off, and watching Dancing with the Stars and Drop Dead Diva! Most definitely!

But maybe, just maybe it was also a sign.

If I analyzed each part of this dream it speaks to my conscious dreams, goals and fears!

When I started reading Fire in Fiction this weekend, I was inspired to work on my WIP again. It’s no secret my current WIP scares me on a couple of levels. It’s based on the real life story of my grandmother, and I’m writing it in a new genre, Women’s fiction. I want to do it justice, and honestly, I don’t want this story to be just another practice WIP on my way to publication. I want this to be THE ONE!

So I understand the setting of my dream  most likely resulted from my weekend experiences. Even poking the alligator makes sense to me, but why the song Popular? It’s one of my daughter’s favorites, and we did sing it in the car last week, but we also sang half of the songs on the Wicked cd.

No dream interpretation needed on this one.

Popular, I want to this WIP to be popular and maybe, just maybe I need to turn on the music, sing my heart out, and take giant, scary steps with Donald Maass.

What do you think?

Not Finaling in Genesis Doesn’t Make You a Loser!

Earlier today, Katie Ganshert wrote that she never finaled in the Genesis contest, yet is contracted for two books with Waterbrook Multnomah for a book she entered twice. Her post made me think about my own contest journey and road to publication, and how there are many hurting nonfinalists out there today questioning their writing and call.

I want to offer another voice of hope through my story.

I never finaled in the Genesis or any other contest, unless you count the time I entered in two different categories and made the top ten. Don’t get too impressed. There were only a little over a dozen entrants in each category and I didn’t win either category!

But I’m not a quitter, so the following year I entered again. I tried not to get too hopeful, but it bubbled until those dreaded results screamed YOU’RE A LOSER because you didn’t final.

Then the scores came back.

While most of the judges gave me great scores confirming my brilliance, there was one critiquer that showed no mercy. Of course, that one critiquer didn’t know what she was talking about and killed my chance of finaling!  But after the initial pain and disappointment wore off, it was that one critiquer that helped me grow as a writer.

So I honed my craft again, entered the next year, waited, hoped, prayed…failed! Same low ball score blew my chance again, but gave great comments.

Notice a pattern here?

The next year I didn’t plan on entering until a multi-published, award winning author friend encouraged me to do so. It was a different story in a different genre, and well, she knew what she was talking about, right?

Wrong!

Didn’t final!

Failed again!

Between contest failures I got my agent and champion Chip MacGregor who cared more about my writing and voice than my contest scores.

And my first novella comes out January 2012.

So to answer Katie’s Ganshert’s initial question can you get published without finaling in the Genesis contest?

The answer is YES!

What have I learned about entering contests?

Do it for the right reasons
Check your motives. If you’re only in it for the glory of an award, you need a reality check. Only ONE person can win and while finaling is an honor, no one really remembers the runners up, unless you keep it in your signature line!

Enter contests with an open mind and heart. When the scores come back, listen to the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then figure out how you can improve your craft. You just might get the most help from the lowest scoring judge!

Let Yourself Feel
It’s okay to feel sad, depressed or angry about a rejection or a contest loss. Just don’t wallow in it. I learned the hard way that before I read a rejection letter I should lock myself in a room for a while. Though I always think I can handle the rejection, my disappointment manifests in my shortness and lack of patience with my family. I never intend to take out my pain on those around me, it just happens. I also learned that when I allow myself time to grieve, then I am better able to handle life around me.

Contest Judges are Subjective
Entering contests is a crap shoot. You might be the best writer in your critique group, but because you got a judge that was more strict or savoy on the writing rules, had a bad day before she sat down to judge your entry, or was turned off by something in your story that had nothing to do with your craft, you could get a low score. And not final. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer and will never get published.

Bottom line is that while some judges might think you’re brilliant, others might wonder why you even entered. Judges are subjective and you can’t base your writing and self worth solely on test scores, but be open to listening to all comments. If you receive consistent low score with all judges, then it’s a good idea to take a closer look at how you can improve your writing.

Be Kind and Gracious to Judges
I admit, I’m a tough judge. But I’m also thorough in my commenting. My goal is to be fair and  help writers grow in their craft, not be easy on them. Judges work hard and you may not agree with their evaluation, but you should be kind and send thank yous if it is permitted.

Don’t Air Your Complaints!
I once judged a contest where a disgruntled entrant who didn’t final complained to my contest coordinator that her submission had finaled in other contests and that the judge (me) didn’t know what she was talking about. The contest coordinator reviewed my critiqued and agreed with my findings!

This bitter attitude did not portray the writer in a positive light, and I’m sure when she calmed her emotions down, she regretted her actions. Don’t make the mistake of voicing your negative thoughts in public. In the end you will only look bad.

So if you didn’t final in the Genesis or another contest, all hope is not lost! Many published writers have been where you are now. We know the disappointment, the negative emotions, and internal dialogue bouncing around your head. Allow yourself to feel and grieve and maybe even avoid all those congratulation posts on the internet, then after the disappointment eases a bit, get right back in the game, celebrate with your friends who finaled, and grow in your craft.

Who knows, not finaling may just be the best thing for you and your writing!

What are YOUR contest experiences and how do YOU handle rejection?

 

My Journey to Balancing My Dreams

I’ve been thinking a lot about my personal goals, my children’s dreams, and what I want my family to look like. Unfortunately, all three are often in conflict with one another at different times.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to write and I’ve never doubted the calling, though I’ve struggled often with finding the time to pursue my dreams. I started my first novel right after I got married, then I had my first son and writing took a back seat to the demands of mothering.

I didn’t know there were writing support groups like ACFW, and I didn’t have writing friends to encourage me. I didn’t know I could write and raise children like so many do now, though in a way I’m glad I didn’t know. It allowed me to focus on my children and hold on to my dreams, knowing that one day my chance would come. So I set aside my WIP for ten years or so, had three more babies and did occasional magazine work. But my heart wanted to return to fiction.

I thought when my fourth child was two that it was finally time to start working on my own dreams of being published. Little did I know was that at the very same time God was calling me to homeschool.

What ensued there after was this stressed out mom trying to learn how to homeschool, be a good mother and write. Unfortunately, I felt like a failure on all three fronts at one time or another, somehow getting off balance at different times until my priorities became so out of whack that I had to sacrifice my writing and dreams for a season. The grieving process was real and painful. But in that grief this blog was birthed, and I started to interview other moms who seems to do it all. I grew as a mom and writer.

The other day I read something from Mary M. Byers that resonated with me.

“When you say yes to something in your life, you automatically say no to something else.”

I wish I would have understood that sooner. Then maybe I wouldn’t have been so anxious to move on to the next stage of my life and career. Maybe I would have savored each moment just a little longer.

Now as my kids are older and have dreams of their own, I’m trying to balance theirs with mine. It’s a never ending learning curve as I adjust and evaluate just how much dream pursuit this family can handle. How much I can handle and do before I burn out…

Will there be some regrets and what ifs? Probably, but if I remember that when I’m saying no to the pursuit of someone’s dream, I might just be saying yes to something more important!

Can you relate? What have you learned along the way?

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