Friday, September 23, 2011

All My WIP Children

As authors, we often refer to our books as our children.  At conception, those little babes fill us with joy and anticipation.  We imagine their future in every detail and nurture the concept until it is fully formed and ready for the real labor.  Oy!  You think 15 or 20 or 30 hours of labor is tough, try two years!

As each WIP grows, it takes on a personality of its own.  You love them all, but you can't help but compare them sometimes and realize that each one needs a very different kind of discipline.

One WIP has you running non-stop right from the start and you're always excited to see what he's going to do next.  He takes risks and isn't afraid to get a little dirty or scuffed up.  Blunders are just another nugget of gold waiting to be mined.  And he does not like to wait...for anything.  He's that child of wonder who is always discovering some glorious secret that he can't keep.  He inspires you and sucks the life out of you at the same time, but you always know that eventually he will "wow" the world if he gets the chance.

Your next WIP is not so gregarious.  This shy little bud needs more coaxing.  She is brilliant, but hyper critical of herself and afraid to put a foot wrong.  She becomes fixated on some ridiculous detail and can't move on until it is just right.  Yep.  This is your perfectionist.  Completely obsessed with the details. And though you try to hide it, she knows you expect more out of her than the others. Before you know it, those unspoken expectations have spun out of control and cranked up the pressure until performance anxiety almost cripples her.  The best thing to do is take a spa day (or two or three) and have a make-over.  She'll need a heart-to-heart reminder that she is just as awesome as your other WIPs. She's just different.

And somewhere there is that sweet, quiet, parent-pleaser who is just waiting for her chance to shine.  This was your first.  She had to be the test subject, the kid who got to endure all your early parental mistakes and experimental discipline.  There were no hand-me-downs, but her hand-made clothes were a bit cheap and unfinished. You hadn't quite learned how to cut the patterns and sew yet. Amazingly, she still has her dream intact.  She just waits patiently to see if she'll get another chance to go to the ball or the parade or whatever it will turn out to be.  No judgement.  No grudges. Just hope.

It's the shy one who is giving me fits now.  I'm hoping that she is a gifted child in the end, and that these are just her perfectionist growing pains.  That I'll be able to unlock her inhibitions and give her a little more faith in herself so she can really take off.  After the first spa day, she is starting to loosen up a bit.  She is still a little afraid of the big finale, but I think I can get her there.  Soon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9-11-2001

As we sat around the breakfast table this morning, the entire Ghost Family remembered that day ten years ago.  Ghost Son was 4 and Ghost Daughter was 6 months old. I was surprised not by what they did or didn't remember, but by what they understood.  Both of them startled me with their keen perspectives.  Ghost Son shared the details he could remember and talked about how his Civics class discussed things on Friday. He is becoming such an adult who every day gives me boundless hope.

Ghost Daughter talked about how wrong it is to assume that all Muslims are like those people. She was appalled to think that anyone would make such a generalization.  She went on to talk about the impact of those events not only on the people connected to them, but on those who would be collateral damage simply because of the color of their skin or the way they dress or the beliefs they profess.  She understood so much more than I had ever imagined.  More than a lot of 10-year-olds might.

For the Project 365 blog today, I chose not a photograph but a drawing.  The indelible impression of that day on a 4-year-old's world.

That's why I write for young people.  They are amazing...

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Letter to my WIP

Dear WIP,

We've been together for a while, now, and I've come to know you pretty well. You are bold and interesting and not afraid to take some risks.  I always liked that about you.  Sure, you say some stupid things now and then, but who doesn't?  Lately, though, you have been so hard to talk to, afraid to open up.  You're holding back, showing me only the tiniest bits of your world where you once wore your heart on you sleeve and felt free to gush.  Is it something I said?  Have I offended you?  Did I give you bad advice? Are you having mad hormonal surges or something?  

I can only wonder if this new wrinkle in our relationship is because you are growing up.  Believe me, I've been there. One day you are doing your own thing, oblivious to the existence, let alone the opinions, of anyone else.  Then "Bam!" You realize that you're not alone.  That others are watching you.  Maybe you start watching them.  Before you know it, you are constantly comparing yourself to others or worried about being left behind or making the wrong choices.  All of a sudden you are aware of what's out there and it scares you.  That's growing up.  I won't lie; it ain't always pretty.  And it definitely isn't easy.  You will be judged, rejected, deconstructed, and made over.  But that's life. That's how we become our best selves.

Or maybe it's me.  Maybe I've made all the wrong choices for you. Maybe somehow I've lost touch with the real you.  Have I stifled your voice or failed to listen closely?  Maybe I've been the one who's afraid.  So scared to get it wrong and send you out there unprepared that I become overprotective.  After all, you are my responsibility. But maybe it's time to let you have your head a little more.  Drop the reins and let you run.  It's hard.  You'll never know how hard. I just wonder, have I given you enough direction to keep you from dashing head-on into catastrophe?  I guess it's time to find out.

So here it goes.  I'm letting go and letting you lead the way now.  I'm right behind you.  Just remember, don't be afraid to show yourself as you really are. Make no apologies.  Just put yourself out there.  

One last thing.  When it's all said and done, I, and a highly qualified team of specialists, can always give you a kick-ass make-over, so be bold, be sassy, and run like hell!