I am headed into hibernation.
Let me first apologize for the lack of posts on this blog. For a time, I have been too busy to post and, honestly, I haven’t known what to say. I haven’t known what to say for two reasons, and the most important is that I didn’t know what the schedule of my new life was going to look like. I was just waiting, week after week, to witness my new normal so I could make an educated guess as to what this season of my writing career would look like.
Turns out it’s less “seize it and hold on” and more hibernation.
I have made the very important decision to move my young son to an online charter school. Public school was defeating him and if you are a parent (or even if you are not a parent and have a good imagination), you can understand that I wasn’t about to let my second grader live his childhood defeated. Not if there was another option. And last year–just like PODs popped onto the radar a few years ago and changed my life–online charter schools became legal in North Carolina and opened their virtual doors this fall. After what seemed like a whirlwind of conversations and consideration (which actually stemmed from a couple years of deliberation), I reached a point which I really enjoy in life: when the next step becomes as clear to me as glass. So, with butterflies in my stomach, I removed my son from his pretty impressive public charter school and ordered the box of course texts and updated our laptop and…
It has been over a month, and it has taken some time to shake out the initial wrinkles, especially since there were vacations and events already on our schedule which did not jive with our new reality. This week is almost normal, and the overall adjustment continues. It’s exactly like having a new job. And as someone with a new job, I have to find space in my life to accomplish it and give it priority. In most situations, this means quitting your old job.
Which leads me to you. And hibernation.
I was faced with two distinct options when it came to what to do with my writing career while I am essentially a home-school mom. The first, which appealed to me on a very deep level, was to channel Stephen King and Benjamin Franklin–to refuse to let the dream die even for a second–and to embrace a life of late nights, passionate moments, and extensive compromise. This would still mean a slower production rate, but it would also mean still being a writer. The other option was to push a giant pause button somewhere in the career area of my life, to freeze everything where it stood: the three projects on the table, the half-done manuscripts, Owl and Zebra Press, The Starving Artist… but to do it in anticipation of returning some day, and to do it with the comfort that I am giving my whole effort to the task at hand (which, by the way, is no small feat with home-schooling, mothering, and house-keeping). Perhaps none of us know just what it means to become a parent, especially logistically, but I do believe in service and in sacrifice and in the dividends it returns.
I am still torn, people. But I have had almost six weeks to kind of witness what has happened in the aftermath of this tremendous decision, and I’m not sure I have much of a choice about my career. Those Stephen King late hours in the closet? So far, I have spent them sewing on Girl Scout patches, be-glittering birthday invitations, folding ten loads of laundry in one night, and… Well, you get the point. And still, the Halloween decorations are lingering on the walls and three boxes sit unpacked by the front door while my son and I come up with examples of singular and plural nouns (which includes “pooper” and “puffer fish” which, yes, falls into both categories and begins yet another conversation about the pitfalls of the English language).
I have much to figure out–to determine–about this season of my life. First, I have to find a social community for my son. That’s priority one. Second, I have to catch up with myself and then even off into a workable week. Third, I will do just a little bit of random writing and editing and illustrating and jotting notes and remember the writing world with a longing that causes an actual physical ache-like-a-moan in a part of my chest I wasn’t aware was there. Perhaps I will be able to slice away Facebook or something and get all Franklin up in my spare minutes of time in order to finish at least one project before the school year ends. But I’m not expecting too much. For now, I’m watching and waiting.
What is definitely in hibernation is any publicity, promotion, sales, marketing, etc. These days, that means the PODs are just sitting there, still available as I finish each project, and waiting for me to return (like in two or ten years) and hit it hard. It also means I get to step back from the part of my job I don’t love. It also means business is very much expected to be stagnant.
What I can promise you is to keep reading, and therefore grace you with my book review blog entries. So far, even my reading life has become sort of grinding and meandering, but I never don’t read. My current book stays with me at all times and here and there I read of Lancelot’s banishment to France while waiting on a doctor’s appointment. So in a way, I am still writing. For me, reading has always been part enjoyment and part education. And I promise to keep dreaming and scheming and jotting notes in my little red Moleskin.
I also promise that I will fight for what small moments present themselves, like this one, and like the ones that were previously surrendered to episodes of Ugly Betty. I will greet those moments standing up, alert, and ready. Which is not hibernation at all, is it? Perhaps I’m not headed into the winter, after all. Perhaps the spring is dawning. A long, wakeful, exciting spring, where images cloud my brain and hit against the inside of my skull for release and where I patiently walk one foot in front of the other until right there, it’s the rose I’m meant to stop and smell.