Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Diary

I know I’m in the middle of a Mini Horror Stories Blitz about places I’ve lived, but today was a milestone day--my son’s 18th birthday—and this is the year he got The Diary.

I did one for his brother, too, and really, they’re mostly just mommy mush. You know—entries about how adorable they are or what new milestone they’d reached, clear through their academic or sports or music accomplishments…that sort of thing.


I tried to just leave what I’d written over the years alone and allow the enthusiasm of being Mom override the critical self-evaluation of being Author. But as I was reading through the pages, preparing the text to take to the book binder, I found myself cringing over the number of times I’d used the word “awesome.” So I did do some snipping, but the end result is still more like a home movie than something anyone (besides the star) would actually want to see. That’s okay. It’s just for him, anyway. Mommihood gets a pass on real editing.

Now, in keeping this diary, I didn’t go back and reread it as I went. I would just add something to the end of the Word doc and close the file until the next time. The text added up over the years to more than 200 pages, but I confess to not remembering what was in those pages until I “edited” the entire thing a couple of months ago.

Being reminded of his little childhood antics and his first bike ride and how he came “from the Land With No R’s” brought back a flood of happy memories, but it was also interesting to read about things I'd said I was putting in for “historical perspective” –things like dreaming of getting a book deal, recording music, wish-wish-wishing we could move out of our rundown rental and into a house of our own—because it was all in the voice of someone who had no way of knowing what the future actually held.

I could dive back into the Mini Horror Story Blitz here and tell you about that rental, but despite the recurring mold, the peeling plaster, the leaky roof and the dangerous neighborhood, that little rental wasn’t one of the places I’d intended to tell you about.

Maybe because it was a place I lived after Mark and I got married and love makes anyplace bearable--even  if you have to share it with bugs and drips and drafts and dead cats.

Yeah. Let me stop right there.

Or maybe I should promise that someday I'll tell you about Dead Cat Bob and his clones, but not today

Today I’m feeling like a little excerpt from my son’s diary might serve a better purpose: to give those of you who dream big dreams to not give up hope. As I’ve learned from my own experiences, if you hold onto your dream and just keep working toward it, eventually your day will come. So here’s me talking to my very young son about my very big dream, not knowing if or when my day would ever come. (The excerpt picks up after I’ve explained what a typical working-mom day was like for me, and that Mark had already had many articles published by various music magazines, and had just landed his first sci-fi story in Aboriginal magazine.)

Me, I weigh in with the most words written for no money, but I keep telling myself that will change. Right now, Walking on Sensitive Grass and Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief are under consideration at HarperCollins Publishers, but the editor there is just taking her sweet time and I'm getting really frustrated. It's been over a year since I submitted the rewrite for Sensitive Grass and a good 6 months since I submitted Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief and was told that she'd get back to me "soon." So, what I've done is start on Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man and right before Christmas I sent her the first three chapters. I hope to hear from her very soon. Meanwhile, I'll try to keep writing, but it's slow going with this chronic lack of sleep.

As you know there’s a happy ending to this, but at the time I didn’t know what the outcome would be. And as it turned out, I still had a while to wait. The Sammy Keyes series wasn’t picked up until after I’d written the first four books. Still, day to day, I didn’t know that it would take so long. Day to day I just kept hoping that today would be the day.

So whatever your dream, wherever you may be wishing you didn’t live, keep working, keep believing.

Eventually, it will be your day.

15 comments:

Ashlee said...

What a phenomenal gift - wow. I am so glad you kept believing and kept trying because we are all blessed to have the pieces of you that shine through in your books. Thank you for the inspiration Wendelin.

yuseyz said...

Thanks for the motivation. Oh and Happy Birthday to your son! Ashlee is right - you have inspired us through your books and your blog so thanks. :)
So in the exert you talked about a book called Walking on Sensitive Grass. What was that? Just wondering.
Anyways thanks again for the inspiration and for continuing in writing your books.

Robin said...

Happy Birthday Connor, and Happy Birthday Mom!

sammy4ever said...

That is such a special gift! Really creative and really sweet(:

Shaina said...

What a great idea! That is so special. It made me feel a little sad for when MY little boy gets that big. Well, luckily I have 15 1/2 years till he's 18, but still. Mommymoans. Thanks for sharing!

Optimistic4ever said...

First of all, happy birthday to your son! Also, like yuseyz said, you talked about a book called Walking on Sensitive Grass. What was it?

Dead Cat Bob and his clones. Sounds horrifying.

I love your writing, it's really inspiring. Your son is so lucky to be getting a whole diary filled with your writng!

Can't wait for next week!

<3 always,
O4E

Michael said...

Thanks for the note. The process, I think especially for us beginners, is quite daunting. But reading this helps.

Marjorie said...

Wonderful as usual Wendelin! a very happy birthday to Connor and a happy Holiday season as well.

Marjorie said...

Wonderful!

Julie said...

thats a really sweet thing to do for your sons, wendelin! i wonder what walking on sensitive grass became (not published, or with a different title)!!
now i really want to know about Dead Cat Bobby and his clones!!! psycho kitty queen, perhaps??!?!
well, happy birthday to your son (have you ever said their names??) and i hope you have a great week- mine will most certainly be slow, since i have to go to school until thursday! (although technically i won't be in on thursday cause my family will have already began the...fun....roadtrip from NH to south carolina for christmas!!! joy = NOT squished between your two older sisters and everyone in a pissed off mood from not getting going on time....sigh)
WELL ANYWAY :)
<3julie<3

Julie said...

thats a really sweet thing to do for your sons, wendelin! i wonder what walking on sensitive grass became (not published, or with a different title)!!
now i really want to know about Dead Cat Bobby and his clones!!! psycho kitty queen, perhaps??!?!
well, happy birthday to your son (have you ever said their names??) and i hope you have a great week- mine will most certainly be slow, since i have to go to school until thursday! (although technically i won't be in on thursday cause my family will have already began the...fun....roadtrip from NH to south carolina for christmas!!! joy = NOT squished between your two older sisters and everyone in a pissed off mood from not getting going on time....sigh)
WELL ANYWAY :)
<3julie<3

AbaGayleb said...

Happy birthday to your son(-:

xxCammyLoverxx said...

AWWW I love this! I want one! Well, from my mom.
Though I can't imagine her doing that. In the most non-bad way I can say this, this isn't her style of gift.
My baby sister is 1, and ever since she was born a year ago I've been keeping a journal for her because I want her to remember every second of her growth.
So I guess it's similar in a way!
Say happy belated birthday from me. Or all of us.
love the christmas themed stuff.
I also love how he probably didn't know you took that photo.
So you were just like *click*
and he was just like, "MUST...READ...MORE..."
Heeheeheeheehee
EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS POST IS AH-DORABLE.
--xxCLxx

Stefunny said...

He turned 18 on the 18th. How appropriate.

Very encouraging post. I definitely believe that perseverance plays a big role in dreams becoming reality, but I think that you have to be good at what you love to do also. Like, if you want to be a singer and work hard at it but have a terrible voice, that's the end of the road.

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments, and to answer the question about Walking on Sensitive Grass, it became How I Survived Being a Girl. Kind of funny story about the title change (if you've got life in perspective, that is,) which I may share someday.