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?

 

Are You Weary in the Waiting?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

It seems that if a writer isn’t writing, then she’s waiting… Waiting to get edits back from a critique partner.Waiting to hear from a potential agent or editor. Waiting to sell a manuscript. Even when a book is sold there’s still waiting!

Waiting can often bring weariness, especially if there are other areas in your life where you’ve been waiting on God to move. And weariness often brings a loss of hope, even defeat. It might even cause you to give up on your dreams!

Believe me, I’ve been there, but what keeps me pushing toward my dreams during the seasons of waiting is wondering if the moment I give up is when God has something wonderful for me. So what do I do in the meantime?

In the past I would whine and cry and question why the answer wasn’t coming fast enough, why I had yet to be published? Then I’d suck it up and trust God. After all God knew best, and if he wan’t giving me the desires of my heart, then it was for a reason. It was for a good reason. I had to believe that! I had to or else I’d go insane waiting and wondering when the answer would come.

Today I’m waiting yet again, but there’s not really any weariness. There’s a little anxiousness, but the obsession in wanting to know or sell my current manuscript is gone. Have I become content in the waiting? I don’t know, but I think I’ve learned how to surrender without whining to God about not giving me the results I want.

Maybe I’ve become weary in the whining.

Maybe I realized it’s futile to complain about things I can’t change. Have I truly learned to be content in where God has me? I’d like to think so, but I also hold on to the hope that maybe God has something far better than I can even dream!

And maybe that’s the real reason I’m not weary!

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?

 

 

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?

 

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?

What’s the Point?

Confession time! It’s getting harder and harder to rejoice with friends and fellow writers when they receive the “call,” that first book contract, or for that matter their ninth book contract! Years ago I couldn’t rejoice at all.  Jealously and longing for my own “news” was all I could see. Then God delivered me of that. Yes, it was God because it’s in my nature to covet, especially when it comes to something I’ve really been dreaming of for a long time, practically all my life.

But I gave my dream to God and trusted him to do what he would with my writing. Problem is, I’m weary and he doesn’t seem to be doing anything with my writing! I’m at the point where I’m feeling so numb and complacent in my writing journey that it’s torture to sit in front of the key board. But here I am 7 am and I’m asking what’s the point?

I asked God that question this morning. What’s the point of all this labor and torture? What’s the point of writing and editing and editing some more? Others seem to crank out a book and get it published on the spot, me, I toil and toil and nothing, nada, no fruit, not even a sprout.

So I asked God for a word. I opened the bible randomly to the Parable of the Talents where a farmer gave his worker money “talents” and the ones that multiplied the talent were given more. The one that hid it was admonished and thrown out! Okay, Lord! I’m trying to multiply my talents, but it ain’t working. So I figure I’d ask God for another word, half believing I’d get one and whalla! Psalm 45. No flipping through the Psalms to find one that applied to my situation. I turned straight to Psalm 45 and read verse one “My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verse for the King, my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.”

Whoa!  First of all, that’s the ACFW verse for the “Noble Theme” writer’s contest, now the Genesis! And Whoa, what’s God trying to tell me? That my writing should be for him and him alone, that I should be doing it for his glory and not worry about the rest? I wish I could. I wish I could. But it doesn’t seem to be enough to keep me writing past this current WIP. What’s the point of writing if no one ever reads my words? Some days it’s just too hard. Yet, I’ll keep toiling until I can’t any longer because my heart is stirred by a noble theme…

Just Plain Weary…

I’ve gotten past the weary in the waiting part after almost two weeks of the blahs (due to a rejection, what else) and just when I feel I can pick myself up off the floor and leave my pity party (and actually start writing again) I get slammed in the face with another issue.

Lack of support for my writing. (and the discussion of the value of writing conferences)

I don’t talk about it much or at all here, but I’m getting tired of justifying why I spend so much time writing (though it’s been considerably less over the years) and I’m tired of trying to convince family members this is not just a hobby but a career and life long dream that was birthed in me by God when I was about ten years old. I put my writing down for 10 years to raise kids and devote to my family, but it’s never been received well, especially because I went a little overboard when I first picked it up again. But God dealt with me on his own terms and I set writing aside for almost a year to reprioritize. My priorities aren’t always perfect, but my family is far from neglected!

I get tired of them not understanding why it’s important to go to writer’s conferences, and I get tired their silent mantra “show me the money!” (I’m using “their” as a generalization to protect the not so innocent!)

I’m not making money, therefore I’m not a real writer.

I’m not making money, therefore it’s just a hobby.

I’m not making money, therefore I should give it up and not spend so much time doing it.

I’ve never read a dedication page that said “Thanks to my wonderful family for questioning my writing career, nagging me about not making money and complaining about how much time I spend doing this thing that’s not making me any money!”

No, dedication pages are all about the support and understanding of these family members. Maybe that’s what makes a writer… the support they have to follow their dreams and the tenacity to never give up.

So, what do I do? Continue this battle, wage war silently and do what I can, putting writing further and further on the back burner or just turn off the gas all together? Don’t think I could live with that prospect, especially when it’s hasn’t come from the mouth of God. Or maybe this is the enemies way of defeating me… I’m almost there, but I also know I’m way to stubborn to be defeated. In fact, things like this make me fight harder and harder until I get what I want or keel over in exhaustion…which very well may happen.

Not sure what the answer is except prayer and lots of it!

Ready to Bury Digging Up Death!

That’s the novel my agent has shopped around and it seems like “Digging up Death” should never have been dug up! My latest rejection was pretty detailed and I heard that’s a good thing. Means I’m on my way… problem is it takes so darn long for me to write a novel, I might be six feet under before I cough up a publishable one!

Am I sad? Yes. Discourged? A little. Confused and wondering what the heck I should do or write next? Yes! You betcha! I don’t want to think about pouring another year of my life into a book that will be rejected. I feel like I’ve already robbed so much time from my children because I haven’t been able to figure out this balance thing. I was really hoping this would be the one! Honestly, I’ve read worse books in the last month that got me wondering how in the world did THAT get published, surely if they can, I can.

But God knows best! Sure glad he does, ’cause right now I feel like I know nothing!

From One Addiction to Another…

Seems like when I kick one addiction, another addiction pops up. For example, before I blogged I was an obsessive writer and critiquer until God told me to stop. So I did for a season and picked up blogging. It was a way to deal with not writing. Yeah, I know it doesn’t make sense, stop writing and start blogging, but it served a purpose and God got control of my writing.

Then I became an obsessive blogger. Recently I’ve lost the drive to blog only to have the drive shift to Twitter and Facebook status checking. Though I’d much rather be working on my WIP, the mindless surfing and status checking late at night has to stop! It’s robbing me of precious hours and precious sleep, so I’m declaring a Facebook fast and Twitter strike. At least until Christmas, so if you want to get a hold of me you’ll have to email. But I really need to limit my time checking email as well!

Wouldn’t it be great if I could kick the habit before the New Year? And maybe I’ll have completed my current WIP by then!

Twas’ The Night Before Listing: Sellers Beware! House Happenings Part 3

Twas two days after renovations and all through the house were wood floors and new carpet, no need to grouse.

All the rooms were picked up, all nice and clean, most everything was hidden and not seen.

When what to our frustrated ears do we hear, “You’ll never get the price you want, is that clear?”

At first we were rigid and oh so confused, we have so much square footage, a backyard you can cruise.

“Location, Location, Location’s the key.” We never understood before, but now,we see.

According to the rules and laws of the land, no matter how big, no matter how grand,

if we list our home way above any other, we cannot, will not get it, oh bother!

No matter how much other homes get per sq. foot, our hands are tied, way firm is the root.

Though our house is bigger, our yard is grand, we cannot, cannot go against the laws of the land!

Okay, my feeble attempt to have fun with a very frustrating situation. We’re all done with renovations. Wood floors look great. New carpet, clean and wonderful. We hoped to make our home look its best so we could get the best $$ per square foot which ranges from $65 – $80 for two stories, most two-stories selling on the low end, while one stories get higher $$ per sq. foot. Go figure!

So we’re hoping to get $75 -$79 a sq foot, and come to realize that it doesn’t matter how big our home is or how huge the back yard is compared to the rest of the neighborhood, we CANNOT (I’m talking, it would be illegal and buyers won’t get a bank to loan the money) go over the “selling cap” in the neighborhood!

Big time frustration. “So you mean my exact home, with the same yard three miles down the road would sell for $20,000 more just because of the location?” Yep.

“So, no matter how much more money I sink into the house, it doesn’t matter because I won’t get any more for it even it I put in granite counter tops.” Yep.

“And even though a one story across the street with an microscopic backyard went for $75 a sq. foot, my house can’t go for that much because it has more sq. footage and at that rate it would price us out of the neighborhood.” You got that right!

Well, I say that should be criminal!!!!

And ya think with my husband’s mom as a realtor we would have understood the concept BEFORE! Good thing we did the minimal amount of work (word floors were only $500 extra than carpeting the area and we did it ourselves!) So we’ve decided to go For Sale by Owner, to save on the realtors fees, but hubby informed me that buyers are going to WANT the savings factored in! Oy Vey! When will the robbery end! I’m hoping we can sell our home for a FAIR price and walk away. It’s been a great house for us, though its floor plan seems to be less desireable in the town we live in! Please pray the right buyers come along and fast! We close on the new/old house on September 15!

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