A Writer’s Dreams Come True in Pieces

As writers, we have dreams.

When Deadly Design, my young adult thriller, came out on June 2nd of this year, it was a giant dream come true. Seeing my book on the shelf was (and still is) amazing. Having a complete stranger purchase the book and want me to sign it, is also completely amazing, but…

Okay, here’s where I try not to sound like a brat. Here, I’ll go ahead and say it for you.

“How dare you minimize the wonderful experience of being a published author!” “Do you know how much this would mean to many struggling writers?”  “Do you know how grateful you should be to have gotten a book deal, especially one with a major publisher?”

First off, I don’t mean to minimize the experience at all and I DO know what it means to a writer to be validated, to have someone say that their work is worth reading.

It means everything.

But here’s the flip side of that —

As writers (as humans) we have dreams, goals, aspirations. And they usually come in a sort of surreal completeness. We form a picture of what our lives will be like after we achieve our goal, down to what we’ll wear, how late we’ll sleep each morning, maybe even what we’ll have for lunch once this major life achievement is accomplished. But dreams don’t usually come in package deals.

Sometimes they come in pieces.

Before going to my first book signing in Tampa, Florida, my husband asked me why I didn’t seem ‘happier’. Besides being nervous that no one would show up, there was just something missing. My life hadn’t magically changed because I had a book out. There was no quitting my day job. My son’s health problems didn’t magically go away. Our aging dog still had a nasty cough and my house was still a wreck because I’d just finished my grading for spring semester.

Before being published, I can’t tell you how many times I fantasized about getting that magical letter or phone call from the agent who just happened to love the pages I sent. Followed, of course, by him or her saying that they’d already discussed the book with a publisher who is so excited about it. Here comes the nice advance, (few rewrites are needed because, well, this is a fantasy). Book stores can’t keep the book on the shelf and so on and so on and so on.

Of course, this isn’t how it goes, but I don’t think any writer can keep writing without those fantasies. To work so hard, for so long, to give up sleep and sometimes sanity for our craft, we have to dream big or we’ll quit.

But we also need to remember that dreams are often puzzle pieces. Encouragement from a beta reader is a piece. A rejection letter with a positive, personalized comment is a piece. A request for pages is a piece. Signing with an agent is a piece and so on and so on.

Writers are a special breed and we have to be content with each piece we get and we have to have faith that once all the pieces come together, it will make a beautiful picture.

Dear Teens, Here’s Logan.

Well, it’s the middle of July and that means the store shelves are loaded with back-to-school items. I always cringe when I see these because it means the end of summer is fast approaching. That means school.

Now for some people, school is great. It’s a chance to see friends, learn new exciting things, maybe get a break from home and family, but for others, the end of summer is like having their probation revoked —  it’s time to go back to prison.

I confess, I always loved learning; I still do, but I always hated school. As I’ve established in earlier posts, I didn’t fit in. Luckily for me, I went to a small school. People thought I was strange, different, but no one bullied me. No one called me names or criticized me because my life was about ballet and not about baling hay.

Times have changed a lot. I’m not that old, but since 1950, the rate of suicide amongst teens has gone up 600%. Is there just one factor causing this? Nope. There are a lot of causes, too many to fit in a textbook let alone a blog, but bullying is one of those factors and the beginning of school is the beginning of hunting season for bullies. In todays world, bullies have a new weapon: the Internet.

I wish I had a solution to this problem. Anti-bullying T-shirts and school assemblies are a start, but like my daughter, Sophie, said, “The anti-bullying shirts are red so your blood won’t stain your shirt after the bully hits you.” Oh, the wisdom of a six year old!

Logan Fairbanks, many of you have probably heard of him from his youtube videos, isn’t a teen. He’s only eleven, but he did something very brave to stand up to those who are using the Internet as a way to bully. Logan decided to face the mean comments head on, by reading them to viewers.

I can’t imagine how difficult it was for him to read the ugly, mean comments, but by doing so, he took the power away from those how seem to find pleasure in hurting others. There’s no easy solution to the enormous problem of bullying, but I wanted to introduce you to Logan because of his bravery and because of his willingness to let others know that they’re not alone.

Logan is not alone.

You’re not alone. You matter.

Are there teens or young people you think should be celebrated here? Do you have a story you’d like to tell about your own experiences? Let me know. We’re in this together.

Dear Teens, Here’s a Girl Who Took on a Shark!

Dear Teens,

I’m sad to say that I heard it again today — that annoying phrase that starts with “Today’s generation” and ends with something about how nothing matters to them but their “cell phones”. Urgh!!!!!!  But don’t despair. People often believe ridiculous things — and there are plenty of ways to show these misguided people that they’re wrong. Teens do care about more than their cell phones — a lot more.

Introducing Rachel Parent. The first time I saw Rachel, she was going up against Kevin O’Leary. For those of you who don’t know who Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary is, you can see him on the television show Shark Tank, where he regularly goes for the jugular when it comes to making money off of other people’s ideas.

Rachel challenged O’Leary to a debate over the labeling of genetically modified foods after O’Leary said that people who don’t approve of GMOs should stop eating. You see, Rachel is passionate in her belief that people should know what they’re eating. Her passion grew after she did a school project when she was twelve. The research she conducted led to many concerns and Rachel became an activist and eventually helped Canada adopt a law that all GMO food should be labeled.

Hmmmm…So teens only care about their cell phones? I don’t think so. Want to see a twelve year old go up against a shark? Go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvDOYYaZyj4

Stay tuned for more awesome teens!

And remember — YOU MATTER!