Choosing the Small

Journey in Love: A Catholic Mother’s Prayers after Prenatal Diagnosis is now available online at Our Sunday Visitor.

 

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With my first book published and another on the way, there is cause to celebrate. Yet I cannot help asking myself, where do I go from here?

That same question arose a little over two years ago, after saying goodbye to my littlest girl. In fact, two years ago this month was my son’s last fearful hospitalization. It marked a turning point in his life and ours.

Two years ago I decided to dive deep into writing. I joined Hope*Writers, to which I credit this success being possible. Home with time to spare, while healing physically and emotionally, I was ready for action. I looked online for publications and began submitting. Some outlets, like Mind & Spirit, worked out beautifully; others fizzled (looking at you parenting.co and 209 Magazine).

In Hope*Writers I learned the process of submitting non-fiction to publishers: write the proposal, the sample chapters, pitch the proposal, do not write “dear editor” but know the editor’s name.

In Hope*Writers, I found book recommendation upon recommendation. Some were [professional] life-changing (“The Memoir Project”, “The Business of Being a Writer”); others make me wish I could have that time back (“The Artist’s Way” – what a loss was that hour of skimming!).

In Hope*Writers, I met a network of writers looking to support each other, generous with their experiences and knowledge, willing to offer feedback. The group primarily consisted of Protestant-Christian authors, so their audience was somewhat different than mine, but the vastness of that market made me better prepared to pitch to the Catholic-Christian market.

More than anything, I look back to a brief conversation with Adriel Booker, author of Grace Like Scarlett whose advice, though lost in the stream of Facebook content, centered on the idea to go with my gut.

The common advice is when you finish a book, immediately begin to work on the next. The common advice is to grow the platform, get more followers on social media, sign more people up for the email list, then keep regular contract with your email list. The common advice is to work and pour yourself out in this way for that purpose.

But let us lay aside the common advice. Stretched thin, one must make choices. We cannot do it all. Stretched thin, one must choose what energizes rather than drains.

In this past year I found that going small, going local, looking across the street rather than across the web invigorates me and makes me feel I can make a positive impact on the world beyond the reaches of my home. Our world says more reach is better, but time and again I come to reflect, a more personal reach is better.

I need to loosen the reins and step back, but one thing is for certain, I want this column and my newspaper work to continue. Never on a social media post did I feel the connection I feel meeting folks in the Historical Society, the baseball field, the Chamber of Commerce, Bike to Work, and drive-thru dinner fundraisers. It is in person, when we take the time to talk, to listen, that we can hear each other’s stories, meet a person where he is at, see the look in her eyes as she thinks back to her aunt’s upbringing in this small town and those beautiful sycamore trees.

Books have to be sold online. It is the way of the world and Amazon Prime. But stories can be told anywhere. It the power of the local market. It is the power of the positive press and I am proud to be a part of it.

 

Previously Published in the Hughson Chronicle & Denair Dispatch

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The Power of the Positive Press

I sat down on the rattan sofa with its blue and white stripe upholstered cushions in my backyard, two years ago, the long-awaited funeral of my daughter Celeste then behind me. For months, my days were absorbed with the emotional preparation, the material preparation, the familial preparation of a life-limited diagnosis, a child who would not live long outside the womb, who indeed, did not live at all beyond the safety of my body. “What will I do next?” I asked myself.

 

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The writing world is full of best-practice advice. The advice almost always includes social media. If you read here regularly, you’ll notice the change in frequency in posts, and how these days, we see just a weekly post of a reprinted column.

I am living life. I cannot analyze alongside Google. I cannot pour my heart out over MailChimp. I cannot fret over whether or not this is the best blog layout.

I want to notice the feel of the breeze in my backyard. I want to stop and observe the beauty of my children’s faces. I want to focus when I ask them to focus on school work.

I want to be here. Alive.

This does not mean I have not been writing.

The weekly column continues, and along with that, the front and back pages filled with the news stories I have been fortunate enough to cover. I write for the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch. We are the positive press. We celebrate community. You get enough bad news. I come into events ready to learn others’ stories. I always wanted to know what motivates people. That is why I went into psychology.

Now I not only get to learn, but I get to share those stories as well.

I’m limited by a word count (or column square inch if you will). I do not get paid very much per photo. But I love it.

Each week, lately, I’ve been writing on seeing the bigger picture. My job presents me with a world to discover, to go in and uncover, and then report, shining the spotlight on the folks who might go unnoticed, counteracting the skepticism of our time, showing there really are people doing what they can to do good and help others, without looking for accolades.

 

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Below is one such story, and if you’ll permit me, while town events and graduations continue at full speed and my column is on hold while I take photos of kids eating ice cream and interview veterans serving their community, I’ll share a handful of these stories in lieu of the regular column. I hope you enjoy it. I know I do.

 

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