I had trouble sleeping last night. We went to bed late and I was tired, but my heart was heavy and my brain would not shut down.
Today was my target date to have my first novel fully revised and ready to submit for query to agents and/or publishers. I did not make this goal.
Also, on the 9th of this month, my only daughter will turn twenty-five years old. As we are estranged and she is not allowing me to be a part of her life, the sadness I carry daily has sharpened, and its jagged edges are piercing my heart with each breath.
I remember the day she was born, how she used to be so happy and laid back, and how she was an inquisitive and creative soul from the start. Somewhere along the way, I lost track of that girl and watched her become withdrawn, angry, and resentful. She did not invite me to her wedding three years ago on the 21st of this month even though we had recently reconnected after a long silence where she cut me out of her life the first time. Our connection was tenuous at best after our reconciliation. Then the day before my birthday, two years ago in September, she and my youngest son cut me off again. I have only been able to speak with them once since that time, and it was at their brother’s wedding last August.
In spite of this sad situation, I have pressed on with my life as best I can with a broken mother’s heart.
I wrote the first draft of my first novel from September 2014 to January 2015. I wanted to tell my daughter and my youngest son all about it, as I told my two older sons, family, and friends. Since I couldn’t pick up the phone and call, or text, or message them on Facebook—or even send an email—I have found my successes during these last fifteen months remain bittersweet. My lifeline, usually Wesley, helps me keep tabs on them. The usual things. Are they okay? Are they safe? What are they up to?
So, here I am on the first day of June in 2016. I have a lot on my plate and I’m okay with that because it means despite the hole left in my heart by my estranged children, I’m continuing to live for the moment. I’m choosing happiness with self, my husband, my work, and my writing.
No, I did not tackle the revision and editing of my first novel. I haven’t written one word on the second novel past the NaNoWriMo achievement of just over 50k words this past November. I haven’t submitted to as many journals, magazines, or writing contests as I had expected I would.
However, I have accomplished some important things:
- I wrote one novel first draft. It is printed and in a binder on my desk. I achieved my first NaNoWriMo win in 2014 with this novel.
- I began a second novel and achieved another NaNoWriMo win in 2015.
- I participated in a Writer’s Digest Platform challenge with Robert Lee Brewer, who is the Senior Content Editor at Writer’s Digest. There, I began connecting with other writers. I came out of my shell and began to learn to share my work for others to read and critique to make it better.
- A poem and short story were published for the first time in a literary Magazine on January 1st of this year, in Firefly Magazine: A Journal of Luminous Writing.
- I entered the NYCM Short Story Challenge for 2016. There I met some more writers who also helped me learn how to write better. I didn’t win or even get an Honorable Mention for that contest, but the fact I did it was a huge accomplishment for me. I made myself vulnerable.
- I worked through a terrible bout of depression that began last year about the time my husband’s father got sick in March and finally lifted in February of this year. As depression is not new to me, I know I am vulnerable to its grip and I’m aware of what works and doesn’t work for me to remain balanced and stable. I have made changes accordingly.
- I made it to my third year with my husband, two years married. We had a rough first two years as husband and wife, and we have a lot to face with his impending back surgery, but I proved to myself I could stick around when things got dicey.
- I reconnected with an old and dear friend in Oklahoma, and she’s a blessing.
- I was featured on Renee Pellegrino’s blog Spread the Word.
- I got my job back at the bookstore because of an amazing woman with whom I had worked there before. She was chosen as the general manager at our Hixson location. It’s a positive work environment and let’s face it—it’s a bookstore. If a writer can’t be writing (and those of you who are writers will understand that not writing is much, much harder than writing; which, though satisfying most of the time, can be an excruciating thing.) My job is quite fulfilling. I meet a lot of people as the Customer Service Specialist, those with whom I work and those I serve.
- I’ve continued to blog, posting at least weekly. I have nearly 100 followers on Instagram. I am approaching 200 followers on my WordPress blog, I have garnered over 300 followers on my Facebook author page, and over 850 followers on Twitter. (This being the result of what I learned in the 2015 October Platform Challenge with Robert Lee Brewer.)
- I am a member of four writing groups online, participating actively in two of them. In our Platform Challenged group, I am participating with other writers to create an anthology of our collective work, and I am one of the five editors for this project.
- I have conducted three expert author interviews, published two of them, and I am working on the third.
- I have been published as a guest blogger on Robert Lee Brewer’s There Are No Rules blog on writersdigest.com.
- I have been challenged by a couple of close writer friends to improve my craft, hone it, and expand my horizons. They know who they are. No fear. Like a machine. Learn the rules. Never give up.
- I have been nominated by two bloggers for awards on WordPress: The Versatile Blogger Award and The Liebster Award.
- I was asked to write for a magazine called Five2One, by the managing editor, Sopphey Vance. I submitted an article which will be published this year.
- I’m writing now.
So, things could be better. I could have my novel ready to send out. I could be speaking with my two younger children. I could have more time to write. My husband’s health could be excellent instead of fair to sometimes poor.
But today, I choose to focus on the things that are good. Gifts from others and to myself that provide purpose, healing, and inspiration.
Most of all, I choose to be grateful because I still plunge ahead, do the next thing, and never give up on my dreams.
Today I have hope, and that is precious.