Friday, February 4, 2011

A broken hand, publishing dreams, but more so: the magic of my children

It seems the longer I go without a post, the more difficult it is to get motivated to catch up. So, as the twins are off to school and the Bear is apparently playing nicely upstairs, I will try to catch up on a few topics I’ve wished to discuss including my own stupidity, the status of my publishing aspirations, and the awesome way in which my kids (usually) relate to one another.

I broke my right hand New Year’s Day. While I wish there were a grand and exciting story as to how it happened, something involving Ninjas would have been cool-hell, I’d settle for one of drunken revelry that was at least a humorous cautionary tale of new year’s debauchery-but the truth is I broke my hand as I unleashed a great deal of pent-up anger and frustration at a great many things, in the form of a single punch directly to the floor on which I was sitting.

Floor won. I was in a cast for four weeks. It just came off this past Tuesday, and while I’m glad to have it gone, it’s still very sore and a constant reminder of the fact that I am a royal idiot.

The truth is I, like everyone else in the world, gets angry. But, as you may have surmised, I probably could manage it a bit better than I do. I like to think of myself as a generally peaceful person, not overquick to anger. I’m not certain that’s true, but I like to think it. I let some things fester to the point that I lost control for that brief moment-three seconds in all-and am paying for it now. I haven’t lost my temper since, so I guess that’s growth. I hurt myself so bad the wife didn’t even give me grief. But I know that going forward I need to deal with my irritation and anger in a more proactive and positive way, and not to let it fester until it boils over. I’ve been re-reading THE TAO OF POOH with the Boyo, and that’s helped gain some perspective as well.

As far as my publishing aspirations, after a very educational and productive Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC last month, where I pitched THE GEOGRAPHY OF HOME to five agents who all asked for partials, I have heard back from two who do not feel it is for them, and have heard nothing yet from the other three. I have also queried six others who were part of the conference that I felt might be interested. To date, I’ve not yet heard from them either, but that’s not unexpected, and if I get to March and that’s still the case, I can assume they are passing and I will move on.

Move on to what? Well, I will likely enter the novel in a few contests and may query a few other agents. If at that point there’s still nothing happening, then the book will be shelved. I am not interested in self-publishing it, as I do not really have the time, money, or inclination to take that on. For me, that would really be a more pride-driven endeavor than anything else. Perhaps it isn’t ready for publication or perhaps it simply isn’t good enough, but regardless, I have other things I want to work on, and have come to accept the fact that while I believe in the novel, I am not going to sacrifice future projects and my other responsibilities in an effort to see it in print. That said, I’m hopeful one of the remaining nine agents will be interested in it. But I’ve prepared myself either way.

I’m currently having a lot of fun storymapping and writing a preliminary draft of my next book. All I’ll say here is that the main character is named Freddy Pinkerton and the majority of the action is set in Morristown, NJ. The early and frantically creative days are often the most exciting for me and it’s been fun to start losing myself in Freddy’s world. I’ve been stuck in GEOGRAPHY for a very long time. It feels good to start something new, and it’s definitely taken my mind off of waiting to hear back from the other nine agents.

My primary responsibility and career continues to flourish in the arena of domestic engineering. The twins are enjoying half day Kindergarten and the Bear is loving preschool. The transition to cold weather has been a bumpy one, as our county seems to close school if five snowflakes fall. We had a series of days off last week that were unexpected, but we managed them well, creating a series of sled trails in the yard and did our best to channel our inner Shaun White. We’ve visited Mount Vernon quite a bit, and it is truly a wonderful site in the snow. They do an amazing job there and the kids have yet to tire of it, which is a real bonus. We’ve been busy with the library reading program, Tae Kwon do classes, and dance classes, and Daisy Scouts, and playgroups, and other activities, but what I wanted to touch on in closing here today is how awesome my kids play together.

As the twins go to school in the afternoon and the bear in the morning three days a week, they generally have a decent amount of time together. I'm driving a lot, but in general, there's a decent amount of time where they are able to be together. While they have their disagreements and difficulties, and we’ve faced some behavior challenges we’ve been dealing with lately, I am constantly amazed at the worlds and games and characters they create together. It is a real pleasure to watch them interact with their animals, or cars, or the recent discovered “Sports ball family” and witness just how much joy there is for them in being together. With the twins off to full time first grade next year and the Bear headed to five mornings a week at preschool, I wonder if some of that magic could be lost as they grow older. I worry that their relationships could change, especially the twins as they inevitably have different teachers and make different friends. My hope is obviously that they grow to be good and happy people, but also that they always retain some sense of the magic and the closeness that they have now, as kids. They are still with me most of the day, and while, trust me, there are days I pray for the bus to come early, I hope that I too never lose sight of the incredible gift that I’ve had these last years being home with them. Being able to greet several days a week with, “OK-what would you like to do today?” has been a real pleasure, and one that is easily lost sight of when one is focused on other things, like the budget, the schedule, and yes, the writing.

I need to remember that whatever may happen with my other interests, the job I’ve most wanted to excel at is stay at home dad. I hope I’ve done well. I also hope that as they invariably grow up, they never forget the magic they shared at play with one another. I know I’ve never seen anything quite like it and I’ll carry it with me forever. Especially if I feel my temper rising. Much better to focus on them than hitting the floor. And, it is still seven months until first grade. I think we can create a lot of magic between now and then.

I think the three of them will always maintain a sense of closeness, I really do. I know they’ll have their rows too, but I think when you share something as they so clearly do; it finds a way to thrive. And I’ll enjoy watching them grow. Not too fast though.