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Thursday, August 25, 2011

DEAR BULLY: My Hopes for My Daughter

So as many of you know, I have an essay in the soon-to-be released anthology, Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories (available for pre-order now!). In it I discuss my bullying experience from the sixth grade.

As we gear up for the launch of this awesome book, edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones, I got to thinking about what it will be like to one day share these stories with my daughter—who’s currently 4 months old, and thankfully far from dealing with this. But still, I couldn’t help but say a silent prayer that she never, ever, experiences the taunts and friendship betrayals that I endured.

So in an effort to get on top of things (I’m nothing if not efficient), I’ve decided to create a list of things I wish I knew when I was in middle school.

Without further ado…

To Juliet, May You Learn From My Adolescent Mistakes:

1. The cool girl with the awesome hair who’s allowed to wear makeup before everyone else and who all your classmates worship is 9 times out of 10 not a nice person. Don’t waste your time trying to please her. Find a real friend instead—it will save you a lot of stomach cramps.

2. Likewise, the cool guy who’s great at sports and who snaps girls’ bras and calls them names that make everyone laugh, is 10 times out of 10 a loser. When you go to your 10-year high school reunion, he will be fat and bald.

3. Someone willing to chase you around, call you names, and berate you in public (or these days, online), has a fundamentally flawed character. They’re weak and pathetic. You can’t change them, but you can stop what’s happening. Tell someone.

4. Don’t let anyone talk you into doing something you know is wrong. Enough said.

5. Your best friend is not always a friend. She should not make you feel bad about yourself and she should not be willing to “drop you” just because a cooler model comes along. Find a friendship that’s real and don’t base it on popularity, it will save you a lot of tears in the long run.

Truly, I could go on like this forever, but the bottom line is almost every woman in America has been bullied at some point in her life. So know that we’ve all been through it, hopefully we’ve all gotten past it, but we’ve never forgotten it. Middle school is some of the hardest years of a girl’s life, so don’t let any adult belittle what you’re going through. It’s trench warfare out there. But it does get better. I promise.

On a side note, DEAR BULLY made it into the NY Times Book Review this weekend. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Ongoing Search for Work-From-Home Mommyhood Status Continues

In three months, I’ve become an expert on nap analysis. For example, I’ve found that the little one’s morning nap is her longest and soundest of the day, so I’m now trying to cram in everything from showering to blogging to writing into a single nap. It’s amazing how productive you can be in an hour and half if you have to be. Consequently, her 3pm nap leaves much to be desired.

Anyway, since deciding I’m going to work in between baby’s bouts of playmat and bouncy seat, I’ve actually become quite busy. One of my very good friends read my blog and quickly sent some consulting work my way. (If you any of you don’t know, in my former life I was rather awesome at Quark. I can design a brochure in no time flat.)

So last week, I hustled to make some very official looking collateral materials for a very big financial institution leading me to wonder—what does my friend do for a living, anyway? It sort of felt like that episode of FRIENDS where they’re playing a trivia game to determine who knows each other best, and they all get stumped on the question, “What is Chandler’s job?” That was me. (Love ya, Tara!)

On the mommy front, I went to a family wedding over the weekend and took the little one to the rehearsal dinner, meaning we got to use one of the millions of infant formal wear gowns I received at my shower. How cute is she?

Everyone ooohed and ahhhed. Then we got to attend the wedding babyless as my parents were in town. Oh yeah, I drank more than one glass of wine--wild woman.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dusting the Cobwebs Off My Crazy Mommy Brain

So the baby is napping right now, which means I probably have another half-hour to work on the computer uninterrupted. (Dear Sleeping Gods, thank you for sending me a baby that is borderline narcoleptic.) I’ve decided to use this napping block to write a blog. Next nap, I’m gonna work on the book. The evening nap, I’m going to work on consulting projects.

This is how I’ve decided to structure my day.

When I started this whole mommy thing, you know a whopping three months ago, I assumed that an hour was not enough time to accomplish anything work-related. So I used these naps to shower, eat lunch, drink coffee, do laundry, yadda yadda. And I basically waited for the baby to wake up so we could play again.

Now, I’ve decided I’ve been doing this all wrong. I can eat while she’s in a swing and not consider it neglect. I can fold laundry while she sits under a mobile. I can blow-dry my hair while she stares at a ceiling fan. Not cooing and playing and reading with her ever second her eyes are open does not make me a bad mother.

And by accepting this, I’ve now freed up my naptimes for actual brain activity. Sure, you might not be able to write a whole book in an hour, but you can edit one chapter. And that’s something.

Plus it keeps my brain from rotting. And what could would a mommy with a rotten brain be? Yucky, yucky.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Motherhood, Stress, and Writing: The Wisdom of Uma Thurman

So I saw this movie the other night and it was like watching my life on film, only my life five years from now—an almost an Ebenezer Scrooge moment where I was being shown what would become of me if I continued on the path I was on. The movie is called MOTHERHOOD and stars Uma Thurman. (It’s on cable right now if you want to DVR it.)

Basically, Uma plays a writer whose life has been taken over by motherhood and as such hasn’t had time to write in years. To say I could relate is an understatement. I’ve hardly had time to work lately, and not because of lack of desire. You just can’t concentrate much when you only have a one-hour naptime to work with. And even if you have someone else in the house to help—like my husband in the evenings—you still can’t accomplish much when you have to nurse a baby every couple of hours. So I found I was forgoing writing in order to do things like shower and eat breakfast.

But the more I don’t write, the more I miss it and the more I stop feeling like myself. Or like my old self. And then I watched Uma say this:

“It's just that every day from the second I wake up till the second I pass out cold, my day, like the day of almost every other mother I know, is made up of a series of concrete, specific actions. And they're actions that kind of wear away at passion, if you know what I mean. The actions are petty and small like... Like refilling coffee cups or folding underwear. But they accumulate in this really debilitating way that diminishes my ability to focus on almost anything else.”

My husband turned to me at this point in the movie and said, “This is depressing.”

Uh, yeah.

So I’ve decided I’m going to make a concerted effort to write again. I need it, it makes me happy, and I think in the end it’ll make me a better mother. Because a happy mom is a good mom, right?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pen Your Own Romantic LOVE STORY With GCC Member Jennifer Echols

If you’re looking for a good LOVE STORY to curl up with before Labor Day, then you have to try GCC Member Jennifer Echols’ new novel, LOVE STORY, out this month through MTV Books.

As always, here’s a little bit about her book to get you hooked:

For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions – it’s her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family’s racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin’s college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a local coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter… so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she’s sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He’s joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin’s heart with longing. Now she’s not just imagining what might have been. She’s writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter… except this story could come true.

Here’s what Jennifer had to say:

Q: In ADIOS TO ALL THE DRAMA, Mariana is a bridesmaid in her cousin's wedding. How many times have you been a bridesmaid and what's the worst dress you ever wore?
Jennifer: I have been a bridesmaid three times. Two of the dresses are tied for worst place: one was shiny teal with poofy shoulders and an asymmetrical hem, and the other was a bright purple suit. Predictably, my best dress was my own! The last time I was a bridesmaid, at a beautiful rooftop wedding in Manhattan in September, my friend asked everyone to wear a pretty dress in a fall color.

Q: I've used some of my personal background in each of my novels. Did you take any snippets from your real life when writing your latest book? Base any characters on real people?

Jennifer: The characters aren’t based on real people, but I definitely based Erin’s struggle to become an author and work in the publishing industry on my own struggle. Her frustrations are my own.

Q: Let's talk publishing. What was harder for you, finding an agent or an editor? Why?

Jennifer: Finding an agent was not easy, but I did it first at age 22. Since I wasn’t published until age 35, I’d say finding an editor was harder for me! However, back in the day, I was doing things the hard way, without the internet! Publishing a novel is still a long shot, and it takes a lot of hard work and commitment. But with the information available online, at least it’s easier nowadays to look up more accurate information about agents and editors, and get your manuscript to someone who will enjoy it.

Q: Where did the idea for you latest novel come from?

Jennifer: I have taken every creative writing class available to me in school, and I taught writing at three major state universities. It has always struck me how sensitive writers (especially unpublished writers) are about their stories, and how volatile these classes can become. I thought this would make a terrific, dramatic background for a romance novel.

Q: Where were you when you found out that your latest novel was going to be published? Tell us the story.

Jennifer: Because this was the second book on a contract with MTV Books, it wasn’t as dramatic as some of my other sales! I came up with the idea a long time ago, and it had been percolating. When the time came to propose a new novel to my editor, I discussed the idea with my critique partner and got really excited about it, because she loved it. (I wish everyone had critique partners as helpful and supportive as mine!) My editor liked the idea, too, but she thought it was too sweet, and she asked me to make it “a little less Saved by the Bell.” So I did.

Thank you, Jennifer! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Copyright © 2008 Diana Rodriguez Wallach, All Rights Reserved