Come hop on to Thinking Through Our Fingers. Today I’m talking about some of my favorite Latinx authors of the moment. Hope to see your there!
Today I rode my brand new bike to Baby Hulk’s preschool. Since I started school I haven’t been exercising much. Every once in a while I’d pop an exercise video, like Insanity or P90X or run/walk to the school. But the videos became boring. Baby Hulk insisted on getting out of the stroller to pick every. Single. Dandelion along the way. A 20 minute walk became a two hour event, especially because the most awesome park in our town is right on the way home from from the preschool. When the weather turned nice, I wanted to ride my bike. Put Hulk in one of those cute baby seats I’d seen in Argentina growing up, or more recently, in Amsterdam, where everyone rides their bike. But the seat I got didn’t fit my bike, so I convinced Jeff that if he got me an awesome bucket bike, or Madsen bike, I’d ride it every day (it was his fault for telling me to follow them on Instagram).
|He’s like, “Thank you, angels!!! We made it alive!”|
He did get it for me as an early mother’s day, and I was thrilled, because–hello!–isn’t it gorgeous? On my trial ride I did okay. When my Princess Peach wanted to hop on (there is room for 4! people), I just couldn’t take the curve, and fell. From then on, we all decided I’d only take Baby Hulk until I became more comfortable with the bike. After much hesitation, Baby Hulk agreed to get back on the bike (Do Not Fall, MOM!), and today is Friday, so here are some of my thoughts as I climbed the hillS up to my house.
- The hardest thing is to start. I know I’ll have to face The Climb at the end, and I dread it so very much.
- BUT: Riding a bike is one of my favorite things ever. When I first jump on it and we ride down the hill? WEEEEEEEEeeeeeee! What a thrill! It feels so wonderful! The wind on my face. My legs hardly pumping because we’re going downhill. Before I know it, we’re there at the preschool, and we have to wait a few minutes before going in because we’re so early.
- An easy downhill hill gives you a push for when you have to start climbing. Sometimes I have wonderful writing days, and I take advantage of them and write all the words because I know I’ll reach a point where I’ll need the extra cushioning of being ahead in the game.
- Even when it’s hard, do not stop! You’ll fall. It’s okay to go slowly. But don’t stop! Unless you get off the bike first. Sometimes it’s not the best idea to first draft, write two critical essays, and write a brand new especial free lance project. Sometimes I have to get off the bike of one of my many mom-roles or I’ll fall and hurt myself badly. I have fallen, hard, and I don’t recommend it.
- Learn how to fall to minimize damage. Sometimes a project is non-viable. Put it away. Return to it later or use it as a learning experience. There are no wasted workouts!
- Wear a helmet. In writing, more than a helmet you need an armor, especially to protect your heart. I’ve let myself be excessively aware of my shortcomings as a writer and given more importance to other people’s critiques than I should have. It’s okay to take criticism. It’s vital! Just don’t let it hit you so hard that you can’t write any more.
- Look around you and enjoy the scenery. Writing is how I analyze life, how I cope with things, how I think. But life is beautiful and without life, there wouldn’t be anything worth writing about.
- Change gears accordingly. It can’t be NaNo speed every month of the year. Sometimes I write tons of short stories and poems, other times I write a whole novel in 12 days. Sometimes I don’t write at all.
- You never forget how to ride a bike. But once you get on a bike after a long time, you might be a little rusty. Be gentle with yourself! Whenever I’ve taken a break from writing, it takes me a while to get back on a rhythm (I don’t take writing breaks often though. Sometimes it’s just a day or two, but I don’t even stop writing for long periods of time or I’d go even crazier).
- Don’t pay attention to the cars–or oh my gosh!–the bikes that will pass you as if you’re just walking. Don’t try to beat anyone else but the rider you were yesterday or the year before.
Last time I updated the blog, I went ahead and purchased the domain with my name. Blogger makes the transition super easy and painless, so now I (and this blog) can be found by going to www.yamilesmendez.com. Pretty sweet, huh? I had a wonderful weekend with my family. Although the brunt of the cooking and the Easter preparations fall on me, my writing was relegated to the bottom of my priorities, but I still got some done. If anything, I’ve been journaling/brainstorming/free-writing every day, which keeps the writing muscles warm, both in my typing fingers and my mind. Every time I hit a creativity block, it’s because I have simply not shown up at the page.
I want to link up to some wonderful websites that have helped me tremendously lately. This wonderful blog by Emma Darwin, This Itch of Writing, has the most life-changing advice I’ve ever read on point of view and psychic distance. I learn of it from my wonderful advisor, Mary Quattlebaum whose help is making me a better writer than I ever thought possible. I also started subscribing to The Skimm, a daily newsletter that gives me the latest news before I start my day. It’s April, and that means 30 Days, 30 Stories is in full swing. At least, it should be. In the past a different author published a short children’s story, poem, etc, on the blog. This year, there aren’t enough tributes, er, volunteers, so the blog has been sadly quit the whole weekend. If you want to participate, please contact Bruce and he’ll assign you a day or work things out with you. You don’t need to be a writer, or a children’s writer to share. It’s fun, stress free, and a great way to connect with other people. This is one of my favorite events of the year.
Last of all, I’m energized about Easter Sunday. I miss Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas in glorious, beautiful summer. But Easter in the North, with Spring’s promise of re-birth and second chances and life, can’t be beat. I know that Jesus lives, and I love him, and I’m grateful for another week, another Monday to fight for my goals. And if you need an excuse to smile this Monday morning, here’s a little gift. Go ahead and be different!
At 2 in the morning I clicked send, and Packet 3 of 5 was out of my hands. Unbelievably, this was my easiest packet although I had only three weeks to work on it, instead of four. Maybe it was so because I’ve been reading ahead. I remember that when I first found out the packet requirements, I was most nervous about the reading. Ten to Fifteen books per packet! How was I ever going to read so much. But when I was halfway through packet 1, I realized I had passed the required amount of books, and I could add the extra ones to my next packet. The reading became problematic when I realized I’d rather read and mark up books all day long thank work on my writing. Now I’m forcing myself to read slower and with more attention. Right now I’m reading Sorrow’s Knot by Eric Bow, and I’m blown away by its beauty and richness!
It’s September, and yesterday the Hogwarts Express left Platform 9 3/4 without me. Again. Although this summer has been pretty eventful (Coco attacked by a pitbull, Princess Peach spraining her foot, and Swan having an emergency appendectomy on Sunday night), I still haven’t received my invitation to attend Camp Half Blood. I swear I’m Poseidon’s offspring, and enough people can attest that I can be a major witch somedays 😉
Who cares that I’m too old for either Hogwarts or Camp-Half Blood? I’m still eleven in my heart. But last Saturday, I received the best next thing besides an invitation to either school or camp. I got my letter of admission from The Vermont College, specifically for the Master In Fine Arts Programs In Writing for Children and Young Adults.
I hugged that giant envelope against my chest, and ran to my family who was playing soccer outside. I wish I could encapsulate the feeling of the late afternoon sun shining on me, Jeff and the kids, as we all celebrated this victory. The next day, when I was sitting in the surgery waiting room at Primary Children’s Hospital, waiting to hear news on my daughter, I drew on this feeling. There was no need to encapsulate it after all. It’s in my memory forever. I’m sure the future will bring days in which I’ll wonder why I ever thought going back to school with five little kids and a husband with a very demanding job was a good idea, but for now, I’m ecstatic with my letter and the promise of adventure in the words “Congratulations! You have been accepted.” Vermont College of Fine Arts, here I come!
I debated whether or not to write this. I don’t want to jinx myself writing a bio and ruining my chances of being chosen by one of the mentors. But then, the other option was obsessing over my twitter feed. So I deleted my twitter app from my phone and decided to jump in. Why not? The main thing I want from PitchWars is the opportunity to work with a mentor.
Instead of having a GIF party, I decided to paste a personal essay I wrote to apply for the MFA program I’ve been dreaming of attending for years and years. I wrote a first draft of it during an exercise in Cynthia Leitich Smith’s workshop during WIFYR, and I learned so much about me from that exercise that I decided to expand on it in my application.
So here it goes:
|Rosario and the Parana River|
|Easter Day Family Picture|
|All my boyfriends 🙂|
|Mentors, pick me! Pick me!|
Many of you know that I was expecting a baby this summer, and even though I had planned on keeping the blog current to link to all kinds of awesome articles and sources for new moms, I let my blog go. Again. I had several reasons though. One of them is that I discovered that it’s a completely different experience being pregnant for the first time, or while parenting toddlers, to being pregnant when all four of my kids had busier schedules than I ever did. I was exhausted. All the time! I hardly had time to write, but I made myself work on three different projects until the very end of the pregnancy. I read ferociously. I immersed myself in words to distract my mind from the atrocious itching I always get as a result of suffering from Intrahepatic Cholastasis of Pregnancy, also known as ICP or OC. I had it with all my kids, but when before symptoms didn’t start until the third trimester, this time, they showed at 11 weeks.
If the itching weren’t bad enough, the exhaustion and weakness (also a result of ICP) exacerbated the fear of losing this kid. You see, the main risk of ICP is a high incidence of stillbirth during the three last weeks of pregnancy. Needless to say, I was pretty much maniacal at the end.
My due date was yesterday, July 22nd, but my baby was born three weeks early. His birth was nothing like that of the other kids. I went from two idyllic homebirths to the NICU.
He spent a whole week in the NICU. A week that really made me understand the meaning of time stopping when things are bad. That week seemed like a lifetime. Looking back on it, I don’t even know how I made it through it all, other than the fact that I felt myself and my fears and worries lifted by angels, heavenly and those here on Earth.
I understood the real meaning of envy. Hot, acidic, pervading envy when another baby went home and mine didn’t. I never knew that feeling existed. I hated it.
But I also felt gratitude and joy like never before. Freedom. Going back home with my baby felt like I had been set free.
I’m writing again. Yesterday I read a chapter I wrote weeks ago, and guess what? It wasn’t horrible. In fact, I liked it so much, this morning I woke up looking forward to updating the blog. And writing. And new stories. I think I’m back to almost normal. Almost.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m doing the 12 week Artist’s Way program. One of the first exercises Julia Cameron prescribes is the writing of three pages every morning, before doing anything else. This is supposed to be the place and space to spit out all the self-doubt and fears, so that by the time a writer or artist of any kind is ready to settle to work, the fears and doubts have already been said and can’t block the artist’s progress anymore.
I don’t know if I’m doing them right or not, but to me, they have become a sort of journal. More personal than a journal in fact, because in my official journal, I keep in mind someone (my family) might read it in the future. With the morning pages, I ramble and babble without direction. Once in a while though, I’ll put in writing something that has been in my mind for a while, sometimes even without being conscious of it. These sparks of self-discovery are fueling my story. I read somewhere that if you do something for at least 21 days, it becomes a habit. I’ve been doing the morning pages for longer than that–I’m in week 7–and I really hope they’re here to stay. Even if they’re only good enough to take all my whining and complaining.
On other news, WriteOnCon, the amazing free writing conference organized by the amazing Elana Johnson and company is taking place right now. Click here for a recap of today. There’s plenty of food for thought. Oy! If you’re a writer, don’t forget to enter the contests and numerous critiques in the forums. Who knows who may find you there?