About a month ago - it will be a month next week - I wrote about my son's dreams, aspirations and goals to learn gymnastics and maybe even be the best he can with it. It's hard for me to tell sometimes as he is rather tight-lipped about everything. Living with my 6 year old is just practice for when we have a teenager in the house, right?
Then I realized something. Monkey Tree has never seen me pursue my dreams. I've done it in spades, but all well before his time. In fact, I consider myself lucky for the sheer number of dreams I have accomplished but what that means is that MT sees the result - the awards, the photos, the stories - and never the preparation that goes into planning a goal let alone all the work you must do to actually be successful. In his little 6 year-old mind he probably thinks you can imagine it and whatever the goal is will appear.
Because of that realization, and a reconnection I was not expecting, I am doing something I have wanted to do for years but never felt as though I was writer enough for the organization. Am I a good writer? Yes. Am I an excellent writer? Yes. Am I a literary writer? Yeah....not so much really. I write genre fiction - but then again publishing is changing at every level meaning literary fiction with it's doorstopper tomes and character driven stories rather than plot driven stories is always something I have wanted to write. I don't see why literary and genre cannot meet somewhere in the middle and come up with some absolutely incredible pieces.
But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes - showing my son that no matter your age having a goal that you pursue is important. For most it's that next promotion at work. But what about those of us who are stay at home Mommies or Daddies? For the most part we aren't working for pay. We work - we work hard. Then our kids go to Kindergarten full day and we have 8-9 hours on our hands we were not expecting. What to do...
So my first chosen project is a writing project. I have several works in progress right now. Two are in editing - trying to figure out if one is worth salvaging the other I am editing in part to ensure I left enough threads to capture up for book two which will be written this fall. It is the last WIP that is most intriguing. It started as a short story and is now the start of a novella or short novel about a young, almost 13 years old, Jew who has seen more horrors than most in 1944 Prague. The most traumatic was the cutting of the Peyet - the earlocks ultra orthodox Jews wear as part of their reverence to G-d. That cutting was as personal an affront then as the beard cuttings of the Amish community is today. This story has grown from just a young Ultra Orthodox and his evil nemesis the Kommandant of Prague to include a Romni girl, a Christian couple who has not heard from their son since he left under a draft to fight for the Nazi's and a young SS officer who is not quite sure where he stands in all of this. Then there is the main character, the one everyone is looking for - The Guardian of Prague.
This project is one that is a labor of love. I began studying the Holocaust in 1980 when my parents took us to Dachau as a last trip before we left Garmisch-Partinkirchen before we left for the States. Truly, my studies began when I was 8 and we visited the Anne Frank House but it began in earnest when I was 10 on that last step. This is my opportunity to show that lessons not learned the first time around may be repeated over and over until we do learn. It is also my opportunity to tell the story in a different way. So many stories about the Holocaust have been told, but mostly those stories are behind the gates of a camp. This story will never be in a camp.
But it is a story that is a bit to mature for my 6 year old, so how will he benefit from my work on it? My goal is to apply to an amazing program in New Hampshire known as the MacDowell Colony. If I get in, fantastic! If I don't, well - I will try again next year and I will start to look into publishing my short story 'Mouse.' Technology has given those of us who are writers a bevy of outlets. If I do get into MacDowell it will be an amazing experience that I can repeat often, but only once a year. Alice Walker wrote there, Michael Chabon, Irving Berlin and the guy who wrote Our Town just to name a few. Just the opportunity to walk where they walked would be enough - but I will also get to speak with other artists and perhaps learn from some of the best before bringing those techniques back to my son's school.
Besides As long as he sees me working towards a goal and we talk about it, that is a first step, right?
Have a happy weekend, y'all.