Hitting Pause

What an incredible weekend at the Decatur Book Festival. I heard some amazing authors speak (including the great civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis), and my two older kids met their favorite authors. It’s weekends like these where I simply bow down to the ATL.

I am so very lucky to be able to live here.

I’ve been toying with the idea, for a while now, of quitting this blog. It’s not that I’ve stopped enjoying blogging, as much as it is that I have come to enjoy other types of writing more. Once blogging feels like a burden, it’s time to re-examine the point of it.

In some sense, I hold the time of year accountable. This very gradually changing season, from summer to almost-fall, where I eagerly await the arrival of honey crisp apples, hot chocolate with marshmallows, chameleon leaves showing off their new colors– has prompted this decision.

For now, I won’t do anything drastic. I’m just declaring a blogging vacation for the month of September.

But I may, or may not, return in October.

Watched this hot air balloon land just outside my neighborhood on a walk last week.

Watched this hot air balloon land just outside my neighborhood on a walk last week.

We’ll just have to see.

In the meantime, be good, and don’t stop writing.

Booklovers take your (book)mark…

I hope to run into you at some point during the Decatur Book Festival, which takes place this Labor Day weekend. I’ve attended almost every year since I moved here in 2007, and The Festival is, by far, my favorite annual Atlanta-area event.

Friday night I’ll be attending Congressman John Lewis’ keynote address. Saturday afternoon at 2 PM, my daughter and I will be introducing internationally best-selling middle grade/young adult author Gordon Korman, and hitting just about as many panels/talks that I can cram into a two-day period.

My next article for ArtsATL profiles two of the weekend’s authors– affirmative action expert and Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy, as well as University of Georgia Professor and Kindezi Charter School hip-hop and social justice teacher Dr. Bettina Love.

Kindezi mural in honor of Trayvon Martin

If you like the article, I’d GREATLY appreciate it if you could share it on Facebook or Twitter. (Please? Pretty please?)

And if you see me walking around, stuffing my mouth with a vegetarian corn dog (yes, they sell them and I eat them every year) please stop me and say hello!

Hope to see you there!

This Is Writing, at 40

I’m feeling reflective this month, and I’m not sure if it’s because I turned forty last week or because my kids are growing up so fast, or because I recently traveled abroad.

Or, perhaps it’s because I’ve been on submission with my novel for nine months now, and nothing has happened. (Yes, this might very well be it.)

But here’s the gist of what’s been cycling in and out of my mind:

I thought when I turned 40, I would be at a different place than I am now.

I could list a whole lot of examples here, but quite frankly, it’s boring, stupid stuff. I wish I weren’t so superficial. I wish I could be zen about life. I wish I could spend my days meditating and writing profound things and be at peace with where I am in life.

But I can’t. I am a deeply flawed individual who cares too much about achievement.

I have no one to blame but my own, Type-A self.

But turning forty has helped me to realize something– I need to recalibrate my thinking. I have to take a step back more often, and step away from the pressures I inflict on myself. I have to stop pushing myself to do more or be more.

I have to understand that the ultimate measure for success in writing, is the joy in the process of writing. Not the result at the end.

Amidst the angst of being on submission with my novel, I seem to have forgotten what incredible joy writing this book has brought me. I have forgotten about the dreams I’d have where I’d come up with a great plot twist or the chills that would crawl down my spine when I realized that one of my characters had a far darker side than I’d ever imagined. I forgot about how it felt to bust out laughing while sitting at the dining room table when I wrote something funny.

SunflowersHow could I have forgotten what it felt like when I got to the end? To type, THE END so loudly and proudly I nearly busted the keys in my laptop? To print it out, all 300-something pages, and tell my kids– Yes, I wrote this. I wrote this whole thing by myself.

Somewhere along the line, the novel had transformed itself from a piece of my soul to a mere email attachment garnering rejection letters.

When did I forget the joy? I don’t know. But if I am lucky enough to live another forty years on this earth, I hope never to lose sight of the joy of writing again.