Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dancing in the Hallway or Empty Nest Syndrome


Kim Watters here. Okay. I admit it. I’m one of those parents the teachers hate so much. Why? Because I’m the one dancing in the hallways on the first day of school. Yes! Arms pumping into the air here. I’m the one singing school’s back in session…school’s back forever… (Sung to the beat of that old Alice Cooper song with a little air guitar thrown in for full effect). Well, it may not be for ever, but close enough. No more TV, no more play dates, no more you promised we’d go there dirty looks…school’s back in session!
Last Monday was the big day for us. Back to school. (Arizona is weird.) My kids’ lower lips began to tremble as we pulled into the school parking lot. The flurry of activity around us heightened the tension in the eerily silent vehicle. Buses, trucks and cars jockeyed into position to unload the unwilling occupants. Strung out teachers and administrators attempted to direct the sea of metal and the long faces on the returning students (and school hasn’t even officially begun yet) into some semblance of order. Then of course there’s me and several other happy parents clogging the main artery in and out of school.
And yes, we danced.
You could see the giddiness, hear the laughter, and feel the excitement as we kissed our offspring goodbye before we waved them off in the direction of the classrooms. Okay, I admit, there were a few parents with long expressions, too. Obviously, they haven’t quite obtained the sense of freedom yet of packing little Billy or Susie off on their personal journey through life. But as a parent, and an author, you have to let them go.
So, you ask, what does this have to do with writing? Consider this. When you send that finished manuscript off to an agent, editor, or even your critique group, are you happy or sad? Do you feel the first blush of excitement as you hand over that envelope to the postal employee? Or is your head filled with doubts and you want to hold onto those pages forever, never letting them out of your sight? Are you dancing in the hallway? Or feeling that empty nest syndrome when the characters you’ve spend countless hours, days, or even years with have flown the proverbial coop?
For me, it’s a little of both. I’m happy to strike those six enormous characters at the end of every book. In fact, I jsut finished my second book for Steeple Hill this morning. I’m also terrified of the emptiness surrounding me because all those voices in my head are suddenly quiet, like the silence in that short car ride home from school. Where do I go from there? How do I fill the void? While my child or my novel adjusts to life on its own, so must I. How? By taking pleasure in the few moments of freedom. Bask in the relaxing sensation of reading a book for the sheer enjoyment of it. Take a hike or cruise the mall and let the mind wander from the realities of every day life. Get caught up on all the little projects that piled up over the summer.
Or better yet, dance with me. Because sooner rather than later, you’ll hear another tiny voice knocking inside your brain begging to get out. And it sure as heck won’t be sporting a Spongebob back pack and a brand new pair of sneakers.

5 comments:

  1. Congrats on finishing your book!
    And, I think I was able to divert Mikey and miss the SpongeBob fandom. I don't do sponges!

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  2. Kim, Congrats on getting your book done. When I finish, I'm just glad to send it off. I don't miss my characters because I know I'll renew our friendship during the line edit and AA's. :)

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  3. Thanks for the congrats ladies. Pam, you don't know what you're missing. Merrillee, I'm going to take your advice. :) Thanks for stopping by today.

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  4. LOL, Kim! My kids have been back in school for 2 weeks already, and the house is so quiet! I always miss them at first, but then I realize how much I can accomplish with the quiet and only having to feed myself. :)

    Of course, my oldest is back at college over 5 hours away, so that's a bigger adjustment. I'm still a little blue over that.

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  5. LOL Missy. Thanks for stopping by.

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