Hi, again. Some of you may remember me from a few blog posts I wrote here on Writers’ Rumpus in 2021. I dipped my toe into the proverbial waters of kidlit blogging with a few pieces inspired by authors, books, and topics that really spoke to me at that time, and I have no regrets. Blogging about kidlit-related topics is a lot of fun, and for those of you that have not done it before, I highly recommend it. There is just something about sitting on the other side of the table from someone and their work that inspires and sparks one’s own creativity like almost nothing else. It was a little bit out of my comfort zone, and you know what? I’ve signed up to do it this year, as well…even. more.
Are you someone who starts the new year off with a plan, or are you more go-with-the-flow? I am the former, and I tend to lace it with an inextinguishable dose of blind optimism that I have had since birth, almost annoyingly so (sorry). So, rest assured, I have started making a mental list of what I hope to embark on in 2022 (in no way conquering, just embarking– no perfectionism here), which may just get transcribed onto a slip paper that I attach to my bedroom dresser mirror and read every morning (see, I warned you).
But before I take this fearless leap forward into 2022, I want to take a look back at how I got here in the first place. My hope is that:
1) Some of this might resonate with those of you that have stumbled down a similar path of writerly self-discovery.
2) You can get to know me a little better, since you are now going to be reading/seeing my blog posts once a month.
So who do I think I am, and how the heck did I get here? Okay, that might be a little too broad. For simplicity’s sake, I will outline for you some pivotal turning points/events over the last couple of years that gave me the push I needed to pursue a lifelong dream of writing children’s books and living a creative life. I am still pretty new to this whole gig, so this could either pertain to where you are now, if you are new-ish like me, or where you were earlier in your writing career.
I felt the need to rediscover and express myself creatively. This sounds so cliche, even as I type it, but I will explain. I don’t think anybody was more surprised than me when I jumped into motherhood with both feet, nine or so years ago. I am someone who had no younger siblings, barely babysat in my youth, and worked about 50-60 stressful hours per week as a corporate consultant. Having my first child shook and tumbled an elaborate foundation I had built around me, and built the beautiful new one that I stand on today. There is nothing I love more than reliving childhood through the eyes of my children, and nothing that inspires me more creatively.
Over the past few years, I found myself really enjoying all of the books we read together, maybe even more than I used to as a kid. And that got me thinking about how much I have always loved writing and making up stories. Could I possibly do this as an adult?, I wondered. Nah…Yeah? I had no time for it in my daily schedule, and no clue as to how to get started.
Still unsure of any clear path forward, I simply started doing it in my spare time. Almost like a compulsion. And when I say “spare time”, I mean that I would hide from my family when I needed to, and cathartically bang things out on my keyboard. Poems, picture book manuscripts, the beginning chapters of an early reader. It was very therapeutic, and I started to feel just a little bit invincible, like I was living in color for the first time in a long time. I wasn’t sure where it would go, but I needed to keep doing it, even if just as a hobby.
I experienced some synchronicity that completely blew my mind, and changed my life. So…this one might not be that relatable to you, but maybe, who knows? I was doing my thing with my writing, no real plan in mind yet other than to enjoy it, when one day, I ran into an old boss/mentor of mine from my early twenties.
Now, this might seem like no big deal, but it was. For starters, he lives three hours away in a different state, and just happened to walk into the lobby of my local bank, where I had an appointment that day with a bank rep. He didn’t see me, and I didn’t have time to run into the lobby and flag him down before he turned on his heel and walked out again–and believe me, I would have, because that was the kind of relationship we had.
I’m sure it all sounds a bit nutty, but it 100% happened, and I am absolutely certain it was him. And do you know what it got me thinking about? The fact that I was still that same plucky, ambitious person that he thought so highly of. I could almost hear him saying “Gooo Hil-ry!” I missed him. And I missed me. I decided very shortly thereafter that I was going to do something professionally with this writing hobby that I loved so much. For real. So thank you, universe– that message was received.
I started taking more risks in my creative endeavors. I figured if the universe could send my old boss my way, out of nowhere, the stakes were high enough for me to put myself out there in a way that might fail, and even cause me to make a fool of myself. I owed the universe that, at least. Then COVID hit and we all subsequently went into lockdown, which really lit a fire under me to get out there and network (ironic, in a sense, but I did it virtually).
Nowhere to go, almost nothing to do at times; it was a ripe old recipe for writing extremely creative things and reaching out to similarly creative people with a fervor like never before. Bad poetry late at night? Did it. Joining all sorts of online writing groups? Check. Pestering my husband, friends and family on a regular basis to read my stuff and tell me what they thought? Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. In what felt like one of the most stressful and unstable periods of my life, I sought shelter in my imagination, and in that of others.
I met an amazing fellow children’s writer (hello, Kirsti) and life coach who helped me set more structure and professional goals around my writing life, and also introduced me to some writing groups that have become my lifelines and support systems over the past year. And my network has continued to grow. Blogging, as I am doing right at this very moment, is one piece of that larger plan!
So that is my writing journey thus far. If any of this resonates with you at all, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your experiences that led you to where you are now, and where you see yourself headed in the coming year. In terms of taking risks and continuing to move outside of my comfort zone, this is probably the most personal piece I have written about myself on a blog. I hope you enjoyed it. Happy New Year, and happy writing in 2022! Let’s do this, people.
Some Fun Facts About Me:
1. I am an over-caffeinated, middle-aged woman with dyed-red hair.
2. I live with my husband, our three sons, a male dog, and a male cat. Please send help (I’m not kidding).
3. I would consider myself an “ideas” person. As evidence of this, I have pages and pages of ideas (or “pitches” if I’m being generous with myself) that I am slowly working through to develop into stories.
4. I enjoy kids more than grown-ups, and definitely enjoy their books more than the ones deemed “age-appropriate” for me.
5. I am pre-published and proud, because it is both a slog and an exciting creative journey. Each day, I get varying degrees of both coming into play. If you feel like you are a hot mess and have no idea what you are doing sometimes, please know that you are not alone. It’s tough out there, and we have to stick together.
6. I welcome any and all ideas for monthly blog posts. Please reach out to me– I would love to hear from you!