About 4 years ago, I began writing fanfiction for the ABC drama Scandal. This became my writing sandbox, the place I could explore plot, characterization, dialogue, and words. One highly addictive aspect of this practice was receiving reader reviews. The lauds, the praises, and petitions to update were okay, but I loved it most when a reader really engaged with the text and wrote a review showing that engagement.
It was akin to the feelings a teacher felt upon reading a student’s well written, fully engaged paper. That was only partly true though. My words, once they were read and reflected upon, were no longer my words. Something happened between my writing and the reader’s consumption. It was magic. Reading the reader’s reflection became my way of talking about the writing. These faceless and in some cases nameless readers (guest) were my conversation partners. It was addictive.
I still write fanfiction. I’m less addicted, but I do love reading reviews, though I am less compulsive about receiving them. I am a writing coach, editor, and consultant. My current client and I are working through his manuscript. We talk every two weeks about his progress and my edits to his manuscript. I enjoy these conversations immensely because they give me the opportunity to help the writer articulate what is on the page. It is self-affirming, sharpening the writer’s words through this active dialogue. This is an important part of the writing process.
Since I’ve recently updated on of my stories, I had a eureka moment this morning. I realized what I was looking for in my reader’s reviews. Reading others’ thoughts about my writing often helps me clarify. Many times I simply marvel at their perceptions and insights which sometimes go beyond my own.
One of my former students contacted me on Saturday via Messenger. He sent me a pic of a card I gave him for Christmas 3 years ago. I’m floored that he kept it.
As he chirped on and on about his life, I grinned and reminisced. I remembered his obligatory hugs and requests to teach the class a “science experiment.” To know you made a difference in a child’s life is bliss.
Today, this last day before I was to return to school, I gathered my two eager black labs and set off on a brisk walk in the biting cold. We welcomed the frigid air in exchange for the balmy, rainy bookends to the end of fall and beginning of winter.
Candi led the way with her sleek prancing. I walked in the middle. Rock, at the rear, interrupted our stride more times than I could count with his insistence on stopping to sniff and mark every inch of curb, pole, street, and yard. We encountered no other walkers possibly because of the temperature.
More than several cars and trucks passed our caravan on the road. Our street is hilly and winding so I keep an alert eye out for automobiles that may veer off the road. I noticed something. All the cars were white. After days of binging on episodes on The Twilight Zone, I began to hear the theme music. Was I entering another dimension? My neighborhood is pretty sleepy so on walks I have been known to imagine that I and my doggie compatriots are the last souls on the earth. My new observation was strange but in keeping with my last woman on earth daydreams.
I considered a more scientific approach. Should I stay put and take stock of the number of white cars that would pass now that I was aware? Should I remain outside until a vehicle of another hue passed? As I considered this, my gloved hands started to burn with coldness. I decided to return home. I hadn’t had breakfast or coffee yet. Perhaps I was delusional or maybe white is the number 1 car color?
This isn’t the strangest thing that has happened to me. I’ll have to write about that time a really nice black all weather jacket appeared in our foyer closet. I thought it belonged to my mother or some guests who’d recently visited. They each denied owning the coat. I’ve been wearing it ever since. That was 5 years ago. It’s my coat of many absorbed colors. I was wearing it on my walk. Coincidence?
One more day and my enchanted Holiday break will be ended. I’ve enjoyed these two weeks off. Lord knows I needed it! Considering that I don’t get breaks at school-Yes, I eat lunch with my kids-and the generally difficult job of shaping young minds, I needed some rejuvenation.
But I’m ready to return. Yesterday morning, I dreamed that I had overslept and would be late for school. I dreamt this not once but two times. Last night, I dreamed I was a substitute teacher in a class from hell! I have classroom on my brain.
I’ll ease back in on Tuesday for planning sans students. I have redone my seating and am eager to rearrange desks. In science, I’ll begin the unit on sound so I have to pull out the materials for those experiments. There are other things on my list, but mostly I’m eager to see them and hear all about their breaks. Typically most students are as eager to come back as I am.
It is 2016 and I have no New Year’s resolutions. I course correct multiple times throughout the year thereby removing the need to at the end or beginning of a year.
I am embracing 2016 as the best year yet. I’m not job searching or looking for another place to dwell vocationally. There are no major life altering goals I have to meet. So I see this year as blooming where I’ve been planted.
I set my Goodreads reading challenge at 24 books for the year. I want to keep plugging away at finishing my Fanfiction stories while continuing my original works in progress. I’m continuing to find ways to work smarter and not harder as an educator. My work as a writing coach and editor continues to be gratifying. This, my daughter’s final year in high school, brings many large and small projects.
I foresee 2016 bringing me great joy and satisfaction.
It’s December 22 and I’m 3 months into 40. Today I’m feeling my age but in a good way. When I was 20, 40 seemed eons away. I just couldn’t fathom it. As the world keeps turning and the candles keep burning, each year gets seems to come faster. Perhaps that’s why I don’t feel like I’m aging or maybe aging is something different for me than it was then.
When I gaze at my reflection, I see the same person. It’s not until I look at photographs that I see the subtle differences that confirm I have, in fact, aged. Each visit to the doctor confirms the aging as well. My gynecologist scheduled my first mammogram and incidentally it was today. What a smash fest! My girls were pulled, prodded, and pressed between cold plastic during that “photo shoot” until they gave the camera what it wanted.
During my annual eye exam, the doctor asked me if I’ve experienced any changes in my vision since, “I see you turned 40 this year.” I wanted to say, “It’s been all of 3 months.” But I said, “Nope, I can still read really small text up close.” I have been near sighted and needed glasses since childhood. My vision hasn’t worsened with age…yet.
Turning 40 has bestowed many gifts. I know myself better than I have in the past. I enjoy people and socializing but my own company is just fine. Marriage has given me wings. I pride myself on doing the best, but I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself. I take no one for granted. Having a best friend or a lot of friends is overrated. The best giving is when you get nothing in return. Writing and/or reading a good story is bliss. Working through a struggle instead of escaping makes life meaningful. Sometimes the smartest thing you can say is, “I don’t know.”
It is true that American culture is obsessed with youth, but in the right context, this is the best time to get older. I’m only 3 months in, but 40 is wonderful.
I signed my husband and I up to give blood on Friday. Our appointments were thirty minutes a part. Once I was stuck, pierced like Snow White, the iron reader came up low for me. I needed 10 more points to make the cut. The nurse stuck me once again, this time in the other hand. This time my iron was higher, but alas, not high enough.
I was disappointed, but determined to enjoy the time. While my husband continued through the process, I drifted over to the recovery table comforted by the greeter that I could try again in January when they were back. I kept the conversation going where the topics meandered and flowed around school, teaching, giving blood platelets, the last time we had given blood, and the greeter’s volunteer experience.
Finally my husband was done and by then another guy wearing a UGA shirt was as well. I knew the conversation would soon turn to football and the recently departed (from UGA) Coach Richt. When we left, we took pictures in the nicely decorated City Hall, inside and out.
Upon returning home, we collected the teenager and dove into thick traffic in search of more Christmas tree lights.
I will try to give blood again. I’ve been successful in the past. Since then, I’ve loaded up on spinach, chickpeas, and Farina.
December 1, 2015
Despite my teeth gnashing and occasional wailing, I am a teacher at heart. I enjoy building anticipation in my students. My excitement about anything spreads like wildfire. I am a builder of excitement and anticipation which is a big part of advent. We wait for the coming of Christ, the baby Jesus, O Emmanuel, God with us.
Our hearts beat a little quicker. We smile a bit wider. We look forward to good eating, fellowship, and gifts, receiving and giving. Unfortunately, for most of us, this is a time of hustle and bustle where we are filled with a lot of cares.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the details and things that have to get done. We quickly lose the excitement anticipation brings and instead the entire season becomes a burden. There is a better way.
I try to take each day, hour, and moment as it comes instead of harping on the past or worrying about the future. The twin to anticipation becomes experiece. The Christ child comes to bring salvation and abundant life. Advent commemorates these gifts that are better together.
Do you need a beta reader? If you are, I am the one. If you are a newish writer, don’t try to go it alone. Words are magical such that when they ooze out of you and on to the page, they change and morph. I’m not merely speaking of the banal job of editing, but also of the process of fashioning your piece into the best it can be. In my own experience, I’ve tried to do it alone. Don’t do it. You need champions who will read, critique, and question.
Contact me. I’m waiting…