One person’s humor can be another person’s yawn. One person’s proud can be someone else’s embarrassment. On either side of the fence, I find that most things in life are not as they appear on the surface, because there exists the chapters before and the chapters not yet written, and all we see is a snapshot.
Profound? Maybe. Prophetic? Confirmed. Pedantic? That’s your call.
(Forgive my lack of an obvious segue here — hang with me), I recently completed a writing course with author Christina Katz called Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff. I want to make some money as a freelancer, with a side benefit of feeling more comfortable calling myself a writer when I have more clips. I know, I know, it is not necessary to be published to be a true writer, but truthfully there is some ego involved. And freelancing is my next challenge.
The class was a fantastic experience — a wealth of information on writing list articles, how-to pieces, fillers, tips, cover letters and much more. Most importantly for me, it was a kick in the pants. I willingly signed up for a kick in the pants and I am so glad I did.
I have been following Christina’s blog and reading her newsletters for over a year. I own two of her books, and am ready to purchase the third. I respect her advice. But it was one of her most recent posts that touched me more deeply, one where she asked “writer mamas” to share their Proudest Moments. I think it is a great read whether you are a writer, a mama, both or neither.
After reading story after story, here is what I chose to share in this on-line conversation about pride. Because I am still a self-handicapping procrastinator budding deadline embracer, my contribution is in the comments section (umm, missed the cut-off):
This collection of Proudest Writer Mama moments left my heart on my throat. I am so touched by these stories of accomplishments, ones that society may consider large or small, but are each huge to all of us that have this goal. Thank you Christina for inspiring each of these writers to post these experiences, and to each writer for sharing the private insight into their dreams.
My proudest moment came the day I received my copy of the anthology “ The Ultimate Mom“, in 2009. My essay “The Impromptu Birthday” was my first published piece, and was not just a shot-in-the-arm of confidence, but really the I.V. drip that kept me going through my self-doubts. I held that book in my hands with the late afternoon sun streaming in the windows, looked at my name in print and smelled the pages as I let them riffle. Then I looked at the mountain of dirty laundry in the dining room and the sink-full of dirty dishes still left from breakfast, (and quite possibly the previous night’s dinner) — and felt a sense of accomplishment, a quiet peace that after many years and multiple careers, I had finally found what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Subsequently, things started hopping. I appeared twice as a guest blogger on Jane Friedman’s Writer’s Digest blog “There Are No Rules“, was invited to do a radio interview about my story, did a book signing at my local Barnes & Noble (did you know you could do a book signing by being a contributor to an anthology? I didn’t!) and most recently appeared very briefly on CBS Sunday Morning as an attendee at the Erma Bombeck Humor Writers’ Workshop. No matter that my published story of motherhood is about poo and lying to my kid to accelerate the potty training process; the radio interview was broadcast from a nursing home-based radio station with a broadcast range of approximately five miles; at the book signing I sold 11 copies, with eight of those purchased by my friends; and on my seven second stint on national TV, I inadvertently uttered the words “incontinence problem” and “recovering valedictorian”. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, that lots of things in life sound far more impressive to others until they know the details.
But I am proud of these moments, even though a disturbing number of them involve bodily functions. The real pride blooms from this: each and every time, I had pushed myself far beyond the edge of my comfort zone, and laid myself bare with as much authenticity as I could bear.
…it is that same authenticity that I feel in these Writer Mama stories. We can all feel proud.
Other than being a mom, my best job ever, nothing has been as personally fulfilling as being a writer. Wife, daughter, sister and friend are treasured roles… and in all these areas, I have been unbelievably blessed. But, writing? I can hardly wait to see what happens next, (and it will not be the missing component of the body function trifecta, I promise).