Back from vacation and #writemotivation wrap up

I have been working so hard on my writing lately that taking a break from everything familiar and immersing myself in the creative energy of Santa Fe was just what I needed. It had been so long since we’d gone on a vacation together as a family, (maybe ten years?) that I really enjoyed getting to spend some unhurried time with them. And with my best friend there, it was all the more fantastic.  We ate various local cuisines – New Mexican (and ordered ours Christmas, of course), Middle Eastern, to name a few – we meandered down Canyon Road to soak in the local art galleries, even watched some artists working in their studios, which is something that I could have done that all day. We drove up higher into the mountains to Los Alamos to visit some family who live there. The kids got to see some horses and feed them and we went on a short hike. It’s so gorgeous up there. The sky is so brilliant, I swear it’s a completely different hue. I took hundreds of pictures and none of them captured it at all.

Traveling with kids requires some compromise. We had to throw in some touristy things and at least visit the hotel pool a few times during our stay. We had to find the closest zoo to see the elephants and the hippopotami before my son had a complete stroke, which was in Albuquerque and actually quite fantastic, and my son was also in desperate need of a train ride – another excellent addition to our trip. My daughter’s one requirement was shopping, so she had to experience The Plaza and all of the quaint little shops – I think she went inside every single one. That was not my favorite, but still, we made it enjoyable. Although the sales ladies in the pottery store didn’t fully appreciate my husband’s sense of humor when he said he was looking for something to juggle. He was making fun of their bazillion signs that said “do not touch”. Yep, that’s my family to a tee.

We have vowed that we won’t wait another ten years to take our next family vacation, especially since Trevor handled it so well. He was completely out of his element, with no predictable schedule, and he never had a full-blown meltdown. That’s pretty impressive for a kid with autism. We did have to make some accommodations for him and adjust our schedule a few times, but nothing unbearable.

I found myself inspired by so many things during our visit. I would make a mental note of a scene or a character or artwork to use later. That’s why I think it is so important to expose myself to different experiences and take time off so that I can let new experiences in. Now that we’ve returned home, which is another welcome sensation altogether, I’m fully recharged and ready to get back to work.

Here’s one last look at my #writemotivation goals for the month of May:

1. Revise the query for my completed YA manuscript until it’s tight enough to bounce a quarter off the sucker. I made a lot of progress on this goal throughout the month. I fear I could endlessly revise. It’s time to put this manuscript to rest while I’m submitting it to agents and move on to the next one.

2. Research prospective agents to whom I want to submit my completed YA manuscript. Yes. I have researched many, many agents this month. Goal accomplished.

3. Once items one and two have been successfully achieved, submit to at least three agents at a time. Yes, goal very much accomplished. I really have #writemotivation to thank for pushing me to finally take the plunge to submit and to keep submitting, even when the first rejections started rolling in. I’ve submitted to overnine agents so far. Not all have been rejections; some even requested more pages and I’m waiting to hear back. I’m hanging in there. I know this is just part of the process – a very stressful part of the process. Good thing I just went on vacation to de-stress, eh?

4. Get cracking on the next YA manuscript I have planned so I don’t check my inbox every thirty minutes awaiting responses to my submissions. This is a work in progress. I hope to make this more of my focus next month, now that I have the submission process down. I’ve signed up for a novel revision workshop in November and I have to have a manuscript ready by September. I’d like to use this new one, so I need to get some serious writing done. I’ll keep you updated. Stay tuned!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! Trevor still loves you and so do I.

Dr. Seuss has played a prominent role in our family. I read to my children from a very young age, knowing that one day, they would take off without me on their own reading adventures. Well, one of my children did. My son, Trevor was different. My son was diagnosed with autism at the age of four. He needed the security of repetition, of familiarity. He could never get enough of Dr. Seuss. We once flew from Oklahoma City to Denver on vacation and although Trevor loved being in an airplane, it was something new. His anxiety was extremely high. On that flight I must have read Go, Dog. Go! and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish at least twenty times. Each. (I can still read those two books with my eyes shut. *wink*)

Shortly after that trip, we expanded Trevor’s Seuss library – and I may have buried those two books just to save my sanity. (That incessant rhyming was driving me mad!) I’m sorry to say that I fell out of love with Dr. Seuss every time Trevor found my hiding place and those two books resurfaced and I was forced to read them again.

We ran into another situation with Dr. Seuss when Trevor hit grade school. He found a friend in his autism classroom that also loved the Dr. Seuss books. In fact, they both loved Dr. Seuss so much that they would spend the whole day talking in nothing but Seuss dialogue. All his classmate would have to say to get things started would be, “Hey Trevor, ‘Are you my Mother’?” and off they’d go exchanging lines from that book until they moved onto the next one. After much arguing, banning “Dr. Seuss talk”, crying in frustration, I learned to find the silver lining in this problem; he had found a friend.

Life with a child on the autism spectrum can sometimes feel like you have chaotic Things rushing about trying to help you fix a small problem only to end up with a wrecked house. The story of The Cat in the Hat and the other longer stories helped me fall back in love with Dr. Seuss and embrace the chaos. Who says life has to be neat and perfect? Who says our kids have to be that way either?

Seuss really wrote stories for his audience and not for the parents. Although his stories may have a moral or a message, they do not take precedent over the telling of the story itself. What parent would want a writer to tell kids that if they totally wreck the house and break all the rules, but manage to clean up and hide all signs of their crimes, they don’t necessarily have to tell their parents anything about it? I love that. I love how he ends The Cat in the Hat with a question – making kids think for themselves and NOT giving them the answer. Refreshing, no?

My son is seventeen, now, and although he can read by himself – all the way up to a third grade level – and he does read many other books, he still likes for me to read to him. And his favorite books are still by Dr. Seuss. I love you, Trevor.

And I love Dr. Seuss. Happy Birthday!