Eyes on the Prize

When I first started mountain biking, a friend of mine went out with me to help me learn the basics. The most important piece of advice he gave me was simple: “Look where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go.” Easy enough, right? With every swoop and turn, I felt a little more confident. I rode over ledges (a whopping four inches tall) that I wouldn’t have thought I could ride. I was feeling pretty damn good. (We’ll ignore the fact that the trail we were on was equivalent to a two-lane highway as far as mountain bikes are concerned.) We were almost to the end of the trail, and I was really getting in the groove. We came to a spot in the trail that dropped down into a creek bed before climbing up the other side. My friend went first, telling me he’d wait at the top.

I dropped into the wash. And then I saw it. A big rock on the side of the trail. It shouldn’t have been a problem. It was well out of the middle of the trail. But I couldn’t stop staring at it. “That’s a big rock,” I thought. “I don’t want to hit that.” Next thing I knew . . . BAM! I’d hit the rock and crashed in the bottom of the ravine. Luckily the crash was relatively minor, and I had to laugh. If I had kept my eyes on the trail, I probably would have been fine.

While riding my bike today, I realized that this advice applies to more than just mountain biking. Last month, I submitted my work into a pitch contest. The results came out last night, and suffice to say, I didn’t make the cut. Am I disappointed? Definitely. The people involved in the contest all seem awesome, and I would have loved a chance to work with them more closely. But at the same time, I can’t keep staring at the rejection like I stared at that rock.

If you get on a mountain bike, you’re bound to crash. If you decide to put your work out there, rejection is bound to happen. And like crashes, rejection can hurt. But you can’t concentrate on the obstacle, because you’ll never make it where you’re going if you do. Keep your eye on your end goal, whether it be in school, in writing, or just life in general. And whatever you do, keep an eye out for that rock!!!

Why I write (and other things): My PitchWars mentee bio

Okay. So it’s do or die time. I think I’ve rewritten this blog post almost as many times as I’ve rewritten my query letter. It’s time to suck it up and post it.

I took the plunge and submitted my current manuscript to PitchWars this year. And, to be honest, I submitted largely because all of the people involved seem so awesome, and I want to get to know them better. So here’s a little bit about me.

I grew up in a tiny tourist town in Colorado. I wish I still lived there. Instead, I now live in a tiny tourist town in Utah. I grew up reading books and raising all different types of farm animals: sheep, goats, rabbits, horses and the occasional llama.

I wrote my first novel in middle school. I credit it with surviving that period of pre-teen angst. During seventh grade science, instead of listening to the teacher, I sat in the back of the class writing a story about my adult life operating a horse ranch with my best friend. We even raised a Kentucky Derby winner. The story enabled me to see past the bullying and failed friendships. It showed me a future that was only possible if I pushed through and survived. So I did. I didn’t go on to raise horses, but I am raising two pretty awesome kids.

I never really planned on pursuing writing. In fact, in high school, even though I did well in English, it was one of my least favorite classes. It wasn’t until college that I decided to abandon my dream of professional trumpet playing (just one of my not very realistic career choices, including country music singer) and pursue a degree in creative writing.

I am now a stay-at-home mom, and a freelance writer doing regular work for the local newspaper. I have written six novel-length stories, though many of them are doomed to the obscurity of my computer’s hard drive.

So why pick me? Well, I can sing my alphabet backwards (a trick I taught myself after hearing that cops made you do it for sobriety tests), and I can ride a unicycle. Not very far, but I can do it!

I’m also a hard worker, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get this manuscript whipped into shape so that it’s presentable to the world.

So there you have it. That’s me in a nutshell. I just hope you aren’t allergic to nuts.

Oh, and if you’re interested in checking out some of the other awesome authors that I’m up against, you can find more bios here: http://dcmorin.blogspot.com/2014/08/2014-pitchwars-contestant-hop-now-its.html

Need to get away?

Sometimes in life, we need to escape. Hit CTRL, ALT, DEL. Reboot. Whatever. But that’s not always easy. Life can make it difficult to hide from all of its problems, so we find our own ways to escape within the confines of daily life. Some people use music. Others turn to drugs and alcohol. Me? I write.

When I sat down to write my first novel-length piece, I had no intentions of writing a novel. It was just a story. A story about my future. A story that gave me hope. I was in middle school, and I was miserable. Now, to be fair, middle school is a rough time for most kids. Changing hormones, acne, trying to fit in . . . I don’t know a single person who wishes they could go back.

Middle school was extremely rough for me. I was bullied routinely. Because I cut my hair short. Because I listened to country music. Because I preferred soccer over makeup. It was non-stop noise, constantly buzzing in my ears, making me question everything about who I was, and who I was going to be. Add to that a healthy dose of family drama and a falling out with my best friend, and some days I was pretty sure the light at the end of the tunnel had been snuffed out.

Then I started to write Rosewater Creek. It was silly, really. A story about my life on a ranch on a horse ranch in Texas. All of my friends played lead roles. I had a jockey who eventually quit to take a job riding wildebeests, a sassy stablehand who was always yelling at me, and even a trashcan prophet.

Though the story was awful and will never see the light of day, it was not a waste of time. I didn’t write Rosewater Creek dreaming of fame and fortune (though I did ask a famous country singer to come star in the film adaptation my friends and I had planned. I’m still waiting to hear back on that request. I’m sure he’s just busy.) I wrote Rosewater Creek to remind myself that life could get better. That middle school wouldn’t last forever.

I don’t live in Texas. I don’t even own a horse. And I certainly didn’t raise a Kentucky Derby winner. My life isn’t anything like I pictured it to be during those bleak days, but that’s okay. Because by picturing that life . . . by writing it down, I gave myself hope. Enough hope to struggle through the daily grind that was middle school. And I came out the other side. A little bruised and battered, and definitely a different person than I was going in. But I made it.

Rosewater Creek isn’t my only novel that is destined to never see the bright lights of publication. I’ve written several novel-length pieces that are likely to reside in obscurity, but they’ve all served a purpose. One helped me realize that I wanted to pursue the dream of being a writer. Another helped me handle the ups and downs of an unexpected pregnancy. And every single word I wrote brought me closer to a reality where I can call myself a writer.

When you write, there will be naysayers. People who think you are wasting your time. And chances are, in their opinion, you will waste a lot of it. But you know what? It’s not a waste. Because if you’re anything like me, even if you never achieve your dream of being traditionally published, you love writing. And doing something you love can never be a waste of time.

Measure of Success

 

 

 

For a lot of people, a parking spot with your name on it is a measure of success. If that’s the case, strike up the band, pop open a bottle of champagne and let’s celebrate. Because I have officially arrived!

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Amy Glass has recently been stirring up a firestorm with her comments that women shouldn’t aim to get married and have children (I won’t repost her blog here, because I don’t want to send anymore traffic her direction.) Her theory is that anyone can do that, so it’s not an accomplishment. “You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.” Ouch!

Six years ago, I chose to become a stay-at-home mom. That decision was partially because of the ridiculous cost of daycare for an infant, but it was also largely because I wanted to raise my own kid. I didn’t want to pay someone to spend time with my child that I could have been spending. I made the choice to put a possible career on hold so that I could concentrate on raising my kids the way I wanted them to be raised. It was a tough decision to make, and sometimes I still wonder if it was the right one. But when my daughter sits down with her pretend laptop and works on writing an article, or my son reads his own fortune cookie, I know it was the right one for us.

My mom raised three kids. She is an exceptional midwife, as well as an exceptional mother. I know moms who are teachers, counselors, nurses, doctors and lawyers. I also know moms who, like me, devote their time to taking care of their kids. Whether they work or stay at home, the world NEEDS exceptional mothers. If every halfway intelligent woman decided not to have children because she wanted to concentrate on her career, where would society end up? Mothers are not just brainless incubators that are responsible just for making sure that the human race continues to exist. They are responsible for raising the next generation to be exceptional. 

What it really comes down to is the fact that everyone should be allowed to make their own choices in life without being criticized. There is nothing wrong with a person who chooses not to get married or have kids so they can concentrate on their career. But there is also nothing wrong with a woman who chooses to spend her hours cleaning up toys, washing laundry and wiping snotty noses.

So for me, I’ll take my name on my parking spot, which has now been decorated by my children, and I’ll keep doing what I do. Because these are the choices I make, and that’s all that matters.

 

When I grow up . . .

The other day while we were driving my six-year-old announced that he’d decided what he wanted to be when he grew up. My heart swelled in anticipation. What would it be? An soldier? A firefighter? A doctor? No. None of those. He wanted to be a . . . (pause for dramatic effect) dishwasher at a hotel.

Now, no disrespect towards dishwashers everywhere. It’s certainly a necessary job, and it’s one of the many duties listed on my resume as a stay-at-home mom. But it wasn’t exactly the type of shoot-for-the-stars goal I’d anticipated. Especially since I can’t even get him to help wash the dishes at home. So we talked for a while about some of the other career options that are available, and he finally changed his mind. Now he wants to be a scientist. Pretty broad, and I’m not sure the pay is much better, but at least it’s something to shoot for.

Afterwards I realized that, at almost thirty-years-old, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. The uncertainty is a little disconcerting, especially because I always had a plan when I was younger. For most of my childhood, I wanted to be a veterinarian. When I was in middle school I set my sights on Colorado State University because they had a good veterinary school. I did an independent study with a local vet, and I joined 4-H where I raised sheep and goats in addition to my family’s menagerie of dogs, cats and the occasional llama and horse. 

Then, sometime in middle school, like most childhood dreams do, things changed. After a particularly unsettling injury to one of the goats in our flock, I decided I didn’t have what it took. For a while, I was set on being a country music singer. (Good thing none of you have heard me sing. The shame would be unbearable.) Then it was a teacher. Then a musician. Or a Marine. I started college as a music major, but changed quickly thereafter to English. I wanted to be a writer. In all reality, making it in this world as a writer probably isn’t a whole lot easier than making it as a singer (short of the fact that I have at least a smidgeon of talent when it comes to writing. The same can’t be said for singing.) But I was passionate, and I started writing my second novel.

Six and a half years ago, my son was born. When my husband was offered a job in Moab, we decided we’d move, and I would stay at home with my son. So now, here I am. I am a wife and mother. And even though it’s hard for me to admit, I’m a writer dammit! This definitely isn’t where I thought I’d be when I was a kid, but I’m happy to be here. At least I’m not washing dishes in a hotel. And who knows. Maybe some day, I’ll find a real job. Or maybe I’ll find a way to make writing a real job. Only time will tell.

So what about you? What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you make it?