In May of 2015, when my youngest daughter was born, I left my classroom on an extended maternity leave. As that year wound down and it came time to think about going back to my classroom, I knew I wanted to continue staying home. I submitted my resignation a month before my youngest turned one and continued on the journey of being a stay at home mom. Which mainly meant surviving on little sleep.
I had taught middle school Language Arts for eight years leading up to the birth of my second daughter. I loved teaching “my kids”, as I referred to all my students. I loved reading and writing stories with them. With every unit I would teach, there would be equal parts reading and writing. They had stories to tell, though not all of them believed it, and it was one of my greatest privileges to help them get those stories on the page. I had wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid and my friend and I would practice teaching with my little brother and sisters. Before all of that, or really at the same time as that, I was practicing to be a writer.
I have ALWAYS loved to write. I kept a journal as a kid, which led to binders full of poetry, short stories, and the occasional idea for a novel by the time I graduated high school. In college, I immersed myself in mostly British literature while earning my teaching certification, and took whatever poetry classes I could fit into my schedule. I also worked on short stories and the beginnings of a few novels. The further into the teaching program I got though, the more the writing for fun took a back seat to my work toward becoming a teacher. I was hugely fortunate that the program director for English teachers was part of the National Writing Project and incorporated writing assignments into our work often. But writing my poems, short stories, and novels was put mostly to the side as I became a graduate, teacher, wife, and mother.
After my youngest daughter’s first birthday, a few important things happened all at once. Around that time, she began to sleep on a more regular schedule, we weaned from breastfeeding, and naps began to happen on a regular cycle. I was no longer exhausted from the beginning to the end of the day and started to get back to feeling like a functioning adult. At the same time, we moved into a new home with a writing space, met a new friend who also happened to be a writer, and I signed up to attend my first conference since staying home. In my writing space, I pulled out my old manuscripts and realized I had the time to work on them. From the friend, I learned about a workshop and was inspired to finish a short story . At the conference, I took a workshop and learned about the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. All of these things came together and culminated in a very important realization: I could actually try to my hand at this author thing.
Since I came to that realization, I have attended the NESCBWI conference twice, applied but was not accepted into the class I wrote the short story for (but received some great feedback), participated in and completed a first draft of a manuscript for National Novel Writing Month November 2017, and am regularly attending a peer critique group every month. I am working every day to better my craft, educate myself about the world of publishing, and write my stories. Welcome to my journey.