Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Out of My League

I'm going to a writer's conference.  I'm very excited.  At the same time, though, I'm nervous.

I don't have a college degree that lets people know that I've put in enough hours to earn respect in the writing community.  The only things I've ever had published were a couple of poems.  I don't usually count these because they were entries in a writing contest that was more of an enticement to purchase the anthology than an actual contest.

I've always felt a little behind, a little out of step.  I have lots of ideas, but no one with any real authority has decided that I am worthy of publishing.  I can't even find a good editor for my book... and I'm willing to pay.

So I am a little nervous.  There are only 30 slots at this particular event.  It seemed like such a great idea to begin with.  Now I feel like I should gracefully bow out and let someone else who has real talent have my spot.


There's something in me.  There's this dogged determination, this will to keep at it.  I heard once that sometimes a desire to succeed is more powerful than innate talent.  (I want to say I came up with that myself, but I'm pretty sure someone else said it before I did.)  Sometimes the little girl who's gangly and stiff ends up being the prima ballerina while the little girl with the willowy, graceful limbs falls behind.  What's the difference?  One was born with it and has taken it for granted, and the other had to fight for it tooth and nail.

I've been writing since I was about 10 years old.  I sat in awe of my father's ability to hold a captive audience.  I wanted to be able to weave tales as he did.  Of course, his tales actually happened.  His colorful experience was the backdrop that brought his stories to life.  My life was pretty mundane and boring (at least compared to his).  So I had to make up the backdrops, and hope that I could weave in enough conviction to make people listen.

Over time I have learned that my brilliance is lessened (greatly) when I don't give my ideas time to marinate.  When I throw a bit of prose out into the spotlight, rather than rehearsing it until it is old hat, it becomes weak and dull.

So now, here I am, headed into the thick of it.  I'll once again feel like a child pretending to be grown up.  Hoping that they have a chair with extra padding so I can see over the table; wondering if I'll look silly with my feet dangling under the table; hoping that the other "real" authors will be gracious and forgiving when I open my mouth and they realize that I'm comparatively unseasoned.  Most of all I look forward to honest feedback.  I have steeled myself for their criticism, and hope that I can come away with a few pointers to help me become a better writer.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Trouble with 'Why'

I've recently discovered a very naughty word.  Okay, so I've known about it for some time.  I just didn't realize it's power until recently.

I read a book (scandalous) and ever since I've been using this word.  Well, I've used it before, but not as profusely, nor as boldly.

When I was younger I used the word primarily in my mind.  My fear of being thought of as foolish kept me from using it out loud.  I was worried that others might think I should have known the answers long ago.  I was worried that my use of it might be offensive.

Now I use it every day.  I use it in every situation.  I use it prolifically.  It permeates my religion, my education, my diet.  No situation is too genteel to quiet my tongue.

In fact, I'll use it here.  Why

I'll use it again.  WHY!

Insignificant, you say?  Apparently not.

Ask a evangelical why they treat homosexuals differently than gluttons.

Ask a homosexual why they must tell everyone what they like to do in the bedroom.

Ask a progressive why their agenda is going to work this time when it hasn't worked long-term in any other government in the history of mankind.

Ask a republican why it's okay to bow to the liberal agenda in order to get re-elected.

Ask a college professor why they are threatened by a students Christianity.

There's more

Why do some people preach that God is silent now that the Bible is complete?

Why do some "Christian" churches treat women no better than the Muslims do?

Why do we keep trusting the FDA to make decisions about what is healthy?

Why do we spend so much time watching pretend people live exciting lives on TV instead of getting out there and living our own lives?

Why do people complain that the education system in America is broken and yet continue to give up their children to it?

Why are there so many versions of history?

I'm not sure what the answers are yet, but I no longer worry about my use of the word.  By using it I may rock the boat of casual indifference, but by ignoring it I do myself and my fellow man injustice.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Free Publicity, Anyone

Well, Time Magazine certainly has achieved what it set out to do.  They have been getting all sorts of free publicity out of an article they ran on attachment parenting.  Now, here I am ready to keep this trend going.  

A far as attachment parenting, I started out Babywise, and it was horrible.  I regret a lot of what I did with my first born.  Although I appreciate the advice I was given, in my youth and inexperience I took it to the Babywise extreme.  
In view of my experiences, I can totally identify with the defiance pictured.  I think our society has become so oversexed that something as natural as feeding your baby the way God designed is considered socially unacceptable.  

In view of my experiences, I can totally identify with the defiance pictured.  I think our society has become so oversexed that something as natural as feeding your baby the way God designed is considered socially unacceptable.  

Secondary infertility really didn't help with those regrets.  After trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for several years I vowed that if I had another child I would treasure every moment I had with her.  My son was five by the time we had our second, and by then I had done my research, and completely changed my parenting tactics.  

I think it's ridiculous that someone would have a problem with attachment parenting.  I would much rather see a parent attentive to their child's needs, than ignorant and letting the child grow up ignored.  

I read a comment today that went something like this, "Children need to learn how to function in the real world, and coddling them is bad for their development."  I would like to remind everyone that we are talking about people who breastfeed and co-sleep, etc while their children are very young, allowing them to reach independence when the child is psychologically ready.  A three year old doesn't need to learn about how hard the world is, by being pushed away by his own mother.  Why rush it?  In our society kids will be sticking around until they're 18-20.  As many mothers have said of potty training, "They won't be wearing diapers when they graduate from college."  

First of all, those early years are so misunderstood.  I knew a mom whose 2 year old looked like a 4 year old.  The poor kid would push other children down the slide so he could have his turn, and the mom got so frustrated with the judgmental stares she received from other parents at the the behavior of her toddler (who didn't look like one) that she finally began asking them, "How old do you think he is?"   

And it's not just about how long you breastfeed, either.  I have a friend who explained it perfectly.  "If you were out in public, and someone pulled a bottle out of their diaper bag and held their infant while feeding her the bottle, no one would think twice."  But if a woman sat down to breastfeed and didn't try to hide it, she would be the subject of everyone's conversation in a 50 foot radius.  

I understand the Christian talking points about how men are turned on visually, and that the sight of a woman's breast can cause a man to lust after her.  Well, I'm sorry.  I think it's time for men to learn self control.  It's time for them to learn how to handle themselves in a public place.  It's time to stop being so selfish.  It's hot and sticky and sweaty sometimes, and having to put a blanket over a baby is uncomfortable to the mom and the baby.  

I was at an amusement park once.  I had paid a pretty good amount of money to go there.  It was so hot and muggy that I ended up having to leave because I knew it would be offensive to nurse without a cover-up.  There were no air conditioned areas that I could use to nurse privately.  So, basically in order to keep some guy from picturing himself having sex with me, I had to leave and go home.  

Really?  Is that how it's going to be?  Some sicko can't watch a baby being fed naturally, so instead of him being punished, some poor mom and her baby can't go out in public?  Yes, I get angry about it.  It's time this changed.  

Here's the simple truth.  What a person does to raise their child is THEIR business, not anyone else's (barring abuse).  No one has a right to tell me how long to breastfeed, or where to send my children to school, or what kind of food to feed them.  I don't have a right to tell any other parents that what they are doing is wrong.  I'm sick of our society trying to take parental rights away.  

Now, having said that, I have one caveat.  Parenting is (or should be) a joint effort between a husband and wife.  Children need the stability of both a mother and father, in a committed relationship: not necessarily argument free, but committed to working things out together.  That being the case, I have chosen, in light of scripture, to submit my own free will (and defiance) to my husband's preference that I cover myself when I'm in public...thus the reason I left the theme park, and didn't just let it all hang out.  Let me be clear that we have discussed nursing in public numerous times, and came to a compromise on the issue.  This compromise changed with each of our children.    

Really, parents.  It's time to stand up for your God given rights.  While it's wise to heed the council of those who have gone before, God is the one who gave you your child, and He knows what is best.  Oftentimes, His ideas of a great parent and society's ideas are completely opposite.  Don't let public opinion ruin your child.