This is my offering as a Red Room get-to-know-you activity. I'd love to read yours! How did you get here?
I got excited about writing the minute my brother brought home a school assignment to nominate our mom as mother of the year for our hometown of Los Altos, California. Though he wrote his essay out of obligation, I participated for the fun of nominating our own resident June Cleaver.
Much to my brother’s lifelong resentment, I brought home the prize. I cinched it, I assume, with the line that said Mom “understood the problems of growing up.” So it’s not the makings of a Pultizer, but I was only nine years old at the time.
We were treated like royalty with a free portrait from chichi Sheldon’s studio that was published in the local newspaper, and served as Grand Marshall of the annual Pet Parade. There was also a pancake breakfast, a trip to Tahoe and even a cash purse. I was shocked that speaking my heart could bring such riches and fame.
This was both a blessing and a curse, because when I was old enough to do something consciously with this memory, I expected to receive the same accolades. Instead, I was humiliated to be placed in Bonehead English my freshman year of college. This humbled me so greatly that I didn’t write anything more than mandatory college essays for the next 15 years. Well, this is only partially true. I did write letters to my parents that often moved them to tears, but we all know how delightfully biased parents can be. Mom and Dad were sure I’d work for Hallmark upon graduating.
Instead, I stayed loyal to my Spanish Literature major and spent 10 years as a high school Spanish teacher. During half of those years, I balanced the raising of two beautiful bias-making babies of my own, and discovered that the physical and emotional energy of working with kids at school and at home was depleting me of both sleep and soul.
It was more socially acceptable to ditch my students than my offspring, so I left teaching to be a stay-at-home mom in 1999. I became an active volunteer and social networker extraordinaire, when it still had to be done face-to-face. Fellow moms seemed to relate to my humorous take on all the indignities of a mother’s life and pushed me toward writing about it.
I then spent a few years in a delusional phase that will live on in case studies for generations of Psych textbooks to come by sending queries to the Who’s Who of Literary Agents, Oprah Winfrey, Judith Regan and countless others who may still laugh maniacally about the audacity of my pitches.
I have spent the past 10 years trying to erase my ego’s footprint by following the rules of the industry. Hone your craft; start locally, build regionally, and never bother dreaming of national recognition for you work— as in: don’t call fame, it will call you; persevere.
Once I gave up the idea of writing for the destination of fame or fortune, I realized I truly enjoyed the craft. I also realized that while I continue doing what I love, I wind up persevering when others get discouraged at the odds of publication. And by knowing where I stand, I end up taking the baby steps forward that gratify me and make me excited to wake up and create again.
Causes Shana Moore Supports