Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J is for... Juggling and Jumping

J is for... Juggling and Jumping

As a mother of three, I need to Juggle on a daily basis - who needs to be where and when and what they need to bring... if you're a parent you understand. So picture three balls in the air. Most Jugglers will tell you that's the first step. Once you get that, it's fairly easy to add more. So add in three demanding dogs, three more balls... but nothing you can't handle.

Things move fast and you need to stay on top of it. Keeping all those balls in the air takes concentration and organization. Detail-oriented precision. List writing. Calendars with big chunky squares to write inside.

Writing fiction, on the other hand, is all about taking the leap, Jumping into the abyss and putting yourself out there on the page or on the screen. Or in person, when you get around to the self-promotion part of the Journey. Jumping and Juggling are not always compatible. In fact, to take the Jump you need to Juggle even harder.

I took a leap last night, when my writer's Journey took me to speak at A Book In Hand, a monthly gathering in East Dennis. Each month, two authors stand behind the podium, in front of the gathered crowd, talk about their writing Journey and read from their latest book. Last night, I was that second author talking about Perfect Strangers...

The Juggling part came into play as I picked my younger two kids up from school (Middle Child has School Band on Mondays, so needs to get a ride to and from with his instrument.) After a quick snack, my daughter and I drove to my Oldest Son's track meet (30 minute drive) which was slightly more disorganized than usual (one of the mom's I was standing with compared watching a track meet to watching paint dry; I was thinking more along the lines of herding cats...) Meanwhile, my husband was dropping my Middle Child off for his track practice (and hopefully remembering to pick him up - which he did.) I pulled Oldest Son out early (after his final event, but not the end of the meet) to zip home and change out of mommy gear into "author clothes," picked up my neighbor and zoomed 'cross Cape to East Dennis, Just making it to the speaking event with moments to spare...

The other author went first, which was good so I could catch my breath. A multi-published YA author with an agent and a very pretty new hardcover from Houghton Mifflin, her introduction was filled with awards and accomplishments. Nine books. Several languages.

She gave a polished talk and had a cast of friends help her read her passage as if it were a play...

I was Jealous with a capital neon J.

She finished to a round of applause, and then it was my turn. The introduction I had written for myself focused on my Juggling and my Journey... because in reality, I don't see myself as an author first and foremost. I don't yet have an agent, and I haven't won any awards. I'm not translated into Urdu or French. I'm a mom and wife first. My family takes priority, as evidenced by my track-meet-cold toes and dog-hair-covered black pants. I stood there, lost for a moment as I wondered why I thought I was qualified to stand behind that podium. What was I going to say to this gathered crowd?

I talked about my Journey. I smiled a lot. I rambled about Juggling career and family, and the audience laughed along with me. I read a funny passage from the fourth chapter, where I describe the Cape Cod setting, and the part when my main character Jane gets a friends-with-benefits offer which shocks her. I thought the section gave insight into Jane's character, if not into the romance or the suspense parts of the book. And the audience applauded Just as much for me as they had for the award-winning multi-published author.

When it came time for the Q&A portion of the evening - yes, after wobbling back to my seat I had to get back up there behind the podium again - I was surprised that more than half of the questions were directed at me, or at both of us. I thought for sure everyone would want to talk with the "real" author.

Then I realized - I am a real author.

For a few moments there, I really felt like I knew what I was doing, what I was talking about. It was a great feeling. A wonderful step in the Journey.

My neighbor came back to my house afterward for champagne to celebrate me not making a fool of myself... my husband and kids congratulated me as well... but our conversation quickly turned to the track meet, to our kids, to other things.

Being a "real author" is after all Just one of the balls being Juggled.

P.S. (not J) Talli Roland has the best J word I've seen today - "Jinx" - check out her post here: http://talliroland.blogspot.com/2011/04/jinx.html and follow her for more of her fab wit and humor.


  1. I totally understand about juggling. I also have 3 kids and a full-time job. It gets crazy sometimes but I wouldn't want it any other way.

  2. Excellent post. Life certainly is a juggling act. Learning to incorporate writing into my life without taking away from family is something I'm still working on, but I'm slowly figuring it out. Glad to hear your night was a success.

  3. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall. Thank heaven for friends and family who celebrate our accomplishments. :)

  4. Jinx is an awesome J-word :)

    I don't know how you mothers do it! I find life busy enough without the craziness of having kids :D


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