Life after graduation. The NOW.

I should be revising my MG. I should’ve gone for a run today. I should’ve maybe gotten up two hours before the kids to get a solid block of writing time done and start the day feeling like I’d slain a dragon.  What I should really do is silence the nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me what I should and shouldn’t do. I should really enjoy the NOW.

I started so many blog posts after my graduation, but maybe posting would have meant that my MFA journey was really done. Guess what? In these weeks after graduation, I’m still as connected to my wonderful VCFA community of friends as I was the day I was accepted into the program. I also now have all these newfound tools to go back to my projects and start new ones. Last Monday I went to Jeff Zentner‘s book signing of Goodbye Days with my dear friend V. She’s in her second semester at VCFA and on the ride we talked about her semester and how things are going on my end. The realization that what I learned these last two years is latently waiting for me to tap into this knew knowledge and set of skills hit me with a flash (I know it’s a cliche. It’s still true). I also have so many opportunities knocking on my door because of VCFA. My life is changed forever. For a deeper peek into my VCFA experience, read my interview on Latinx in KidLit if you haven’t already.

I’m excited about the NOW. I went out on submission with a surprise project just a few days ago, and I’m hopeful for this one. So, so hopeful. I have a new puppy, Nova, and she’s been a handful and a joy to train. I love puppyhood and it’s so short. My 14 year-old Maltese, Coco, isn’t doing well at all, and I’m trying to enjoy every moment with him because even if it’s not the last, yet, it’s precious and unique. Dandi, at 10-years-old is learing how to cuddle (she’s always been feisty and aloof).

Julian and D. at prom
Juli and Valen in Puerto Rico (take me back! Not in time. To the island!)

And don’t even get me started on the human children! They’re growing. They’re precious. I come across old pictures of them and my heart squeezes in pain because I miss them that little. I miss their tiny voices, and I wish that those years they were all babies at the same time hadn’t flown by, or that at least I could remember more. But when I’m not having a good day, Facebook will graciously send me one of those memories and make me smile. Or I’ll remember about Julian going to sleep with gum in his mouth the night before first grade school pictures, and then waking up with a glob of gum right on his bangs. I didn’t know peanut butter helped with taking off gum from hair (it totally does!), so I cut the hair, and he went to school pictures like that. Reminiscing of how carefree he was, he laughed until we cried, and then I sent him off to Sophomore prom with his perfect hair and brand new suit. I saw him drive away and I wished I could remember that moment forever. If not the details, then the feeling. Always the feeling.

And talking about feeling, A Psalm for Lost Girls, by my dear Katie Bayerl came out into the world yesterday. I had the pleasure of beta reading Katie’s manuscript, and yesterday when I got the final copy of the book in the mail I went to the Acknowledgements section because it’s always my favorite part of a book. And what a surprise to see that Katie had included my name. I was humbled and honored by the gesture. I met Katie on my very first day at VCFA; she was one of our graduate assistants, and we connected immediately. Her book is full of feelings, about lost sisters, mothers and daughters, faith lost and found. It’s gorgeous and if one day I can write something that will feel my readers with so many emotions as Katie’s filled me with her book, I’ll be satisfied. And now I go revise, not because I have to, or because I should, but because I want to, more than anything. I want these characters and their

Los Hermanos Macana

experiences to reach someone, even one reader.

My shrine because those roots of the faith go deep, so deep and the heart wants what it wants.

 

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