Friday, July 18, 2008

I did it...I wrote a novel

A few months ago I lived a different life... Let me paint the picture.

September 2, 2007 I unlocked the door to my 6th grade language arts classroom and stared at all of my hard work. My two boys and I had been in nearly ten days last summer just getting my room ready for my new team of kids - rearranging furniture, hanging new posters, creating new centers - everything to create a learning environment where 11 year old kids would feel comfortable sharing their very souls on paper - with each other - without judgement.

Tall order.

Turns out I got an excellent crop of human beings and the year progressed rather quickly. Each day I'd rise out of bed, so incredibly in love with my job. Teaching literally runs through my veins, fuels everything I do - how I think - how I live - who I am.

That was until March 17, 2007. To say the day was monumental wouldn't give it its proper credit by a country mile.

But I've jumped ahead too far. Let me back up a bit. There is a ton of life and heartache inbetween.

Ok, students learning, writing pieces on courage that would bring a tear to a linebacker's eye. Cut to the weekend of November 5th, my cousin Chris' wedding at the Finger Lakes, NY. What a cool place in the world. Great wedding, great best-man toast, great fun. And I got pregnant. And I turned 40 three days later.

Surprise.

I already have two incredible kids that I would seriously offer up for the 'best kids in the world' award. Let me know if that exists. However, by up until November 4th I'd already lost three pregnancies.

Took the test, had the ultrasounds, saw the specialists. All was a go - que the wicked nausea. Nausea so bad that it made the flu seem like you ate too much cake after dinner. Live my life on the sofa nausea...take a short-term-disability leave of absence from my classroom nausea to the tune of 3.5 months nausea - dropped 12 pounds in 5 weeks nausea - could only eat white rice and drink lemonade nausea. The suckiest of all nauseas.

I remember having an ultrasound the week before Christmas break and there was a strong heartbeat. The second day of vacation the nausea hit me like a swing to the head and progressively got worse. My first day back in my classroom I had to leave by 9:45 a.m. - couldn't stop gagging, which is not a good look for a teacher of adolescents, trust me. Tried a few more days without making it through and then got a doctor's note to stay out until the wickedness passed - or until the end of my 5th month. I schooled my substitute teacher and emailed her everything I could to make the transition smooth.

I was on the couch. I became rather caught up on the presidential primaries and MSNBC's Morning Joe was my new favorite show. My husband and boys picked up the rest of life in our house and handed me glasses of cold lemonade and rubbed my forehead while I rocked back and forth in nausea hell. The 13 week ultra sound was on a Friday and my husband was going to go into work late so he could come with me. I filled out the paperwork at the High Risk waiting room and kept asking my husband if he felt like everything was Ok - he kept reassuring me everything was fine...just fine.

Nothing was fine.

No heartbeat, tears, questions, fear, devastation, anger, depression, deep sadness, mourning and lots of support. I watched all three seasons of LOST over the course of five straight days. Each time the credits would roll the tears would come, like someone flipped the switch but then, with the genius of DVD I'd hit 'next' and the tears would stop. It really was magic. By the end of the 5th day I made it one whole hour without crying which was a personal record.

Then the email arrived that changed my life. It contained three little, simple, powerful, intense words...

WRITE YOUR BOOK

The email came from my good friend, the assistent superintendant of my school district. I'd told her at a dinner, before the pregnancy fiasco, that I had this idea for a book...just came to me one night. I sat up, grabbed one of the pieces of paper on my nightstand and scribbled the idea down in the dark. Just the basics - but boy were they CRAZY basics. Over Thanksgiving break I'd developed the story a bit more by brainstorming out some specifics and stream of consciousness thoughts/ideas. I'd filled 10 journal pages before I knew it. Then nothing.

I couldn't write a book.

Then the pregnancy and loss...then the free time with no nausea. I'd decided to just take a leave of absence from teaching and stick to the plan of coming back after Spring Break - mid March. The thought of facing all of those students, who'd I showed my first ultra sound pictures to, made me sick to my stomach.

Ok, so, I don't know about anybody out there but, who has the gift of four weeks of uninterrupted time dumped in their lap? No kids, no work, no pressure, no nothing. Except my raging self-doubt. I can't write a book. Not me. No way. Who was I kidding? I'd been trying to get my five children's picture books published since 1994 and I had a stack of 'No Thank-you's" to prove it. The thought of writing a novel...a real book...freaked me out completely.

After I read that email with the three little words I sat down and wrote the first senetence of my book...

Theodora sat in the principal's office, again.

And then, two months, 14 drafts, 30 readers later I had my first young adult novel...

The End of Normal: The Dream, The Boxes, The Courage and The Book

I guess the reason I'm blogging all of this is to make one point: DO IT. WRITE YOUR BOOK. Do the thing you've been avoiding or dreaming about. Just go for it for god's sake. Why not? The darkest moments define who we are - will we succumb to the dark or rise up and reach the light?

If my book ever gets published I'm going to dedicate it to the child I lost because with his passing, he unlocked The Courage within me and allowed me to write this book.
He pushed me to do it. I know it.

Now go out there and do your thing.

Make it happen.

Isn't that exciting?