Last week, as we bid good-bye to the school year, I felt a pull of nostalgia. Endings always seem to bring out my sentimental side. Once again, my children turn another corner as everyone moves up a grade. In July, my twins turn 8. Eight also matches the number of years since I left teaching. (Well, I wobbled away from teaching, but we’ll get to that.)
Before I set off on this crazy journey as my Facebook alter-ego, “Audry Fryer, Author”, self-published mom-trepreneur and blogger of feel-good posts, I was a teacher. I substituted day-to-day at various elementary schools, taught Kindergaten for a year (despite my best efforts, I was heartbroken not to be given a contract due to the school district downsizing its staff), took on a substitute position for a few months in third grade (and made some fabulous friends), and finished up as a Pre-K teacher (where I made many wonderful memories). I loved teaching, especially younger children. Most likely, I would have done it my whole life. But then, “life” had something to say about that.
|I consider this my "before" picture!|
About seven months into my pregnancy with twins, I was put on bed rest and took leave from teaching. Little did I know that leave would last eight years and counting! Once the twins were born, I discovered a new reality. Schlepping twin babies and their older toddler brother back and forth Monday through Friday coupled with the fact that I’d owe more in childcare than I made, brought me to a life changing decision.
I took on a new role, “Stay-at-Home Mom”. My husband’s job (once he said yes to every bit of over-time) could pay the bills, at least for us to survive. I, then, would take care of, well, pretty much everything else. It was a lopsided solution and not my ideal dream, but it worked. Well, it worked to a point. My creative side, the one that had a blast teaching Pre-K, was one grumpy b-otch. I was sleep deprived, exhausted and, counter intuitively, desperate for a creative outlet.
I’ve always enjoyed writing. I used to fill notebooks with poems and simple children’s stories. For a time, I sent out a few to a publisher once or twice. After being rejected a handful of times, I became discouraged. If only I’d known how many times some of the most successful authors had been rejected before they made it big. A handful of rejections is a drop in the bucket, barely a ripple in the pond, but I didn’t know that.
By the time I decided to write a full length novel, I was a dog-tired, worn out mother of twin toddlers and a child in a half-day Pre-K program three days a week. Despite my blurry memories of those early years, I do clearly remember that I wanted to write. Whether I was deliriously optimistic or simply following a dream, I wrote. I propped my feet on my couch, opened my laptop and tapped out a story to my heart’s content. As I worked, I felt energized. Amazingly, I was giving up a time when I could be napping and I didn't miss it.
That story turned out to be the first version of Going Barefoot in Greener Grass. It was a rough first version, but I had done it! I had written a full length novel, piece by piece like fabricating a quilt, and I had done it during the short bits of quiet time I managed to find in my day.
Fast forward to today and the same incentive to continue writing coupled with delirious optimism over making it into a career. As for delirious, these days it’s less from being sleep deprived and more from my three children’s action packed schedules!
Some days I miss being a teacher, especially after spending a morning volunteering in my children’s classrooms. However, just thinking about how much their teachers accomplish in a day makes me exhausted. I’d like to think I could do both, teach and write, but I know better. My husband still works endless overtime hours. I still take care of, well, everything. And, I’m still writing during short bits of quiet time squeezed here and there after taking care of all things domestic.
So, for now, I’ve decided to stay on this new path I’ve chosen for my life. I have to say that the internal rewards have been more satisfying than my turtle paced book sales. It’s easy to feel unmotivated as my writing career looks more like a sprout than a tall blooming sunflower. Over this past year, I have learned about aspects of writing that I never considered back when I typed the opening sentence of my first novel. From improving my social media presence to building my writer’s platform, it can get a little overwhelming. Yet, just when I think of quitting, a new inspiration sparks my imagination and I’m writing again.
Often, I’m drawn to articles or portions of books describing the backgrounds of authors who eventually went on to successful careers. Though the details are different, every one of them faced adversity, rejections and life decisions. The ending to the story of my writing life is still unwritten …
Here’s to delirious optimism!
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Audry Fryer is the author of women's fiction novels:
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