Sunday, August 19, 2007

I spend a lot of time crying.

Last week my son, Ethan, was away for an end of summer “boys only” week long bash. Normally I could handle it alright but this year is a different. This year he is five years old and this week he will start school. Without him here last week, I had 194 tear filled hours (give or take one) to flip through the pages of his life, pictures of him and by him: a documentary of a boy. My boy.

I owe my writing to Ethan and apples. You see, few years ago I was trapped in a miserable job working sixty hours a week. I didn’t have enough time with him and the little time I had I was too tired to enjoy. Late one night I was watching him play in the middle of the room. He was reading simple words and adding: “Two plus two is four. Four apples. Two plus three is five. Five apples. Mommy! I count apples.”

Apples? He can count apples? Foggy and sleepy and confused I thought “When did he learn to do that?” I was sleepless that night thinking of all the things I was missing out on in his life, trying to recount the last time I had giggled for no reason, hating myself for turning into a corporate drone. He was only three at the time but since his birth I tried to impress on him the importance of finding his passion and pursuing it.

But what about me? Writing is my passion but for practical reasons I never seriously thought to pursue it. Utilities, medical, 401Ks, 529s, shoes…argh! I had myself convinced all those things meant working ten hours a day even if I was miserable. Then I thought of the gleam in his big, brown eyes when he announced he could count apples. I wanted him live every day looking at the world with that glimmer in his eyes. If I wanted Ethan to live that life, I would have to lead by example. When the sun came up the next day (I hadn’t slept so “waking up” isn’t exactly accurate) I made changes the smart way: immediately and without thought. I quit my job and took a significant pay cut to work in a field more creatively challenging. With my extra time, I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.

And cried. A lot.

I cried sad tears when I got my first paycheck – I hadn’t thought the pay cut would be that drastic. I cried tired tears through my first NaNoWriMo. I cried a few celebratory tears when I finished my first manuscript and many many more a few months later when I found out my manuscript had sold. I cried happy tears when my book hit the shelves of a bookstore – a real bookstore, a big one with a cafe and couches and everything.

One day when we were scoping out my book, watching to see how many people would buy it (don’t pretend like you haven’t or wouldn’t do the same thing). Ethan announced to a stranger who selected it “My mommy wrote that!” The pride in his voice could not go unnoticed.

So what did I do? I was happy, pursuing my passion and my son was proud of me. So I didn’t cry, I smiled.

How do you like them apples?


Kathy Bacus said...

What a tear-jerker of a post, Bethany! What's so weird is that this very morning I had 'the talk' with my seventeen-old-son. No, not that one. He probably knows more than I do on that subject. It was the other 'big talk'. The one about the importance of finding a job that he is passionate about. A career that gets him up in the morning all excited and anxious to start the day and doesn't suck the soul out of him by day's end. A job that energizes and challenges and pays enough to cover the bills.

Writing does that for me. Like law enforcement did in my life B.C. (before children). And life is way too short to spend so much of it miserable--or missing out on what really counts.

So, how do I like those apples, Bethany?

I like 'em just fine.

Great inaugural post!

~Kathy a/k/a Bullet Hole~

Anonymous said...

That's an awesome, inspiring story, Bethany. :)

Gemma Halliday said...

I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried a little while reading your post. How inspiring, Bethany!

Though, I have to hate you just a little for selling the first manuscript you wrote. How cool are you? Then again, I'm not sure my dining room table would be as level without my unsold first tries propping up the wobbly legs.


Christie Craig said...

What a great story. I didn't cry... oh heck no. It's just allergies making my eyes water.

Thanks for a great read!

Crime Scene Christie

ReadingIsSoMuchFun said...

Bethany this was a very good post inspiring. I want to congratulate you for doing what you want to do. I am glad you are a writer :-) YaY! For you & you son :-) Loved the ending I know you were blushing when your son said that part about his mommy wrote that book :-)


Anonymous said...

Great post, Bethany!

And, yeah, somebody pass the box of tissues this way. *sniff, sniff*


Estella said...

Great post, Bethany!

Jae Arronson said...

Oh, man. Why'd you have to go and make me CRY, Bethany? Loved the post. Loved the pivotal moment. Good for you for realizing the importance of passion, when it comes to work. Now, if only I could figure out how to apply it to my own life...

You've given me something to think hard about today. Thank you.

Allie Hollister said...

You have a very lucky son, Bethany. I'm so glad you were able to pursue your passion, for your sake and his. And ABSOLUTELY, I would scope out a store. Bravo for being able to admit it. lol


Lyric James said...

Oh're trying to make everybody cry. LOL That is a great story and I do like those apples. :-)