Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Milestones: #45

April and May are milestone months in the Bryant family. Three of us have birthdays (me, the youngest child, and the pup). Both our dating and wedding anniversary fall in this span, not to mention Mother's Day. And, starting last year, April became book launch month. I've launched one two Aprils in a row, choosing that date as a birthday gift to myself, and I'm hoping to keep it going as long as I can.

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Different people set goals at different times of the year. For some, it's New Year's, whenever your tradition celebrates that. For others, it's the starts of school years. For me, it's birthdays. That flip forward on my personal timeline is always a time for reflection and goal setting for me.

So here are my thoughts on #45.

Writing Life: When I was turning 42, I decided to finally commit to taking writing seriously and giving it a real chance. I'm a hard worker and when I commit to something, I see it through. It's been a great run at that life goal.

When I was 43, I signed my first book contract, and when I was 44, I saw my first book in print. Now, at 45, I have two books of my own, and have my work included in three anthologies, which allowed me to take this picture at my book launch party. See that grin? That's pride and joy and gratitude for the chance to follow this dream.


Looking forward, I still have plenty of dreams to pursue here. I'd like to fund a great vacation for my family from the money earned from my words. I want to finish all the books I've started, then start some totally new ones. I want to win awards and try not to brag about them too much. I want to be famous enough to be invited as the featured guest author at a con, but not so famous as to be recognized on the street by strangers. Pie in the sky would be complaining to my writer friends about how the television adaptation changed my stories and characters, but what can you do? 

Family: When I was 34, I thought my life had fallen apart and I'd never be able to put it together again. My first marriage ended. I was in financial straits that demanded that my daughter and I move back in with my parents. Then, on top of it all, I got sick and was practically invalided for an entire quarter of school, and was treated badly by my school district and my insurance company in the classic "kick a girl while she's down move." 

But, when I was still 34, I re-met Sweetman, a man who had been my friend for many years. Timing
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is everything, and for once the girl who is always early and the man who was always late had the right timing. Here I am twelve years later celebrating the first decade of my marriage to Sweetman and I still know how lucky I am. As I write this, I'm finishing a lovely quiet mother's day full of pictures and sunshine, and looking forward to a week in which I'll see my eldest daughter sing at a concert and finish another book with my youngest, and a weekend with an anniversary date to see Civil War! Lucky girl, indeed.
My family and writing career goals are all wrapped up in each other. I want flexibility and time to be able to be there for my girls, my husband, and my dog in the ways they need me. 

Teaching Career: This is my twentieth year of teaching. I've taught in small places and large places,
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kids from grade six through college and adults. On a day to day basis in the classroom, I still love this. Children inspire you to be the best you that you can be. There's something about being there when they understand something for the first time, whether that "something" is irregular verb conjugation or how to organize their folder or why that one kid behaves so strangely. It's like watching the world be born again, six periods a day.

That said, it's also exhausting and repetitive and it can be hard to hold on to your positive outlook when it feels like the state of North Carolina and the United States government is out to crucify you daily to hide their own failings. Being scapegoated can make you bitter and strange. It's hard not to feel frustrated knowing that, had you chosen any other career path, you'd be making double the money or more after twenty years and that your prestige factor would have grown rather than faded.

My goals here are to find a way to keep working with young people, but in a new way that inspires me to new height and offers a little flexibility that will help me with my family and writing goals. I've got my hat in a new ring on that one, so wish me luck!

So, the TL; DR version:

In my 45th year, my goals include: finding inspiration and flexibility in my paid work, making more money off my writing so it can become my paid work, and writing yet more!

2 comments:

  1. Hope you had a good birthday! We're at a similar place with age and writing. May you have many more April releases. :)

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