Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where'd you go?

Many of you have been asking me this question after I skipped posting for three weeks. It's the longest break I've taken in six and a half years of blogging, and I've missed you too. Life offline needed my attention. All is well, but thanks for your concern!

My son on the stick phone at Fresh Pond in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Taken with my old Nikon FE SLR.

Last week my son graduated from high school, and it has been an emotional time. When I decided in my mid 20's to stay home with my children, I envisioned a lifetime of Lego and Brio trains, reading picture books, playing in the leaves and building snow forts. I couldn't imagine my little boy becoming a half foot taller than me and caulking the leaky tub. This summer he'll be a junior counselor at Chewonki, his first real job. In the fall he's heading to Middlebury College.

Not only is my boy leaving home, he's leaving the planet. He wants to be an Astrophysicist, but he also enjoys Russian literature and the mountains of New England. I'm so pleased that he's found his passion and so many good friends. He's a wonderful son. It's a huge relief as parents to see our job half done. He has a younger sister, and she's doing really well too.

My son at Mt. Katahdin on our camping trip in Baxter State Park, Maine.

My virtual child has been more demanding. Eve is the protagonist of my young adult novel set in England. Switching genres led me to switch agents, and my new agent gave me feedback in May. Laura didn't ask for major changes, but there was more research to do and a new first chapter to consider. Moving scenes led to a domino effect of inconsistencies. Now is the time to polish. A novel is not unlike Plato's cave. What I write is a shadow of the ideal story in my head. A good agent/editor frees the writing from the cave, and Laura is a genius.

I've been using my time offline to read too. Beth KephartMaria Padian and other friends recommended Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (2012), which I bought in paperback at Gulf of Maine Books. It's a satire of politically correct parenting, of architecture and of the high tech industry. The novel is set in Seattle, but it could have been Portland, Maine or Cambridge, Massachusetts. The premise is that a creative person unable to create will become a menace to society. Under pressure, Bernadette pulls a disappearing act greater than mine.

My one criticism was that the teen narrator was not believable. Bee was too old for eighth grade (14-15 years) but often acted like she was in elementary school. She enjoys going to the zoo with her dad and to touristy restaurants with her mom, Bernadette. Bee watches TV but doesn't have a cell phone. Her best friend says, "Goody, goody gumdrops!"and tackle hugs her. Other times Bee info dumps like an encyclopedia.

The disjointed teen voice was not a big flaw because the bulk of the narrative was told in emails between the adult characters. Bernadette and the other grown ups were more true to life, if exaggerated for comic effect. I only put the book down down to laugh. If you like satire and good writing, I strongly recommend Where'd You Go, Bernadette.

Next Post: July 3rd. I'll be tweeting more frequently but won't be back to blogging regularly until later this summer. For now, I need to focus my creative energy on revision. I don't want to become a menace to society!


Rose said...

Congratulations to your son and best wishes for continued success in college and beyond! No wonder you have been busy. And I do understand your mixed emotions--my oldest granddaughter just graduated from high school. My daughter-in-law is filled with pride at her academic success but is having a hard time adjusting to the fact she will moving away soon. Lots of tears already:)

Good luck with your revision!

Donna said...

Congratulations on your son's graduation and accomplishments! You both have done a great job! In ten years, your situation will hopefully be that of mine and my son.

Best of luck with your revisions! See you when you get back to blogging. Have a great summer!

Unknown said...

Wonderful news!

Congratulations to you and your son, Sarah. It's certainly a joint effort between children and parents to successfully arrive at this stage of the (educational) game.

Enjoy you blogging break!

Cat said...

We'll be here when you return. Wonderful son you've raised there ... I know he brings you tons of joy. Enjoy your summer :)

walk2write said...

Congrats to you and your son! It certainly is a mixed bag of emotions when children leave the nest. You've been working for that moment all of their lives, but when it finally happens, you feel like a part of you is being ripped away. So glad you're being productive. It's probably helping to ease the pain of separation.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Congratulations to your son. And to you!
Wishing you the best on the summer writing. See you in July!

A Cuban In London said...

Well, we certainly missed you, that's for sure. I'm pleased that everyone is fine. Thanks for posting the two photos of your son "before" and "after". :-) I am having a scare with mine, too, even though he's still not my height. But give it a couple of summers and I will be craning my neck like you! :-)

I wish you the best of luck with your novel. You deserve.

Greetings from London.

troutbirder said...

Glad to read all is well Sarah. And there is no greater satisfaction in life that to see ones parenting efforts turn out so well...:)

Booksnyc said...

Glad to hear you are OK and congratulations on your son's graduation!

Good luck with the revisions - I look forward to seeing your finished product one day soon!

Amanda Summer said...

Big congrats to your son on his accomplishments! Three daughters of good friends have attended Middlebury (two have graduated one is a rising senior) and they all loved it. I sympathize with the transition of having a child go off to college. My son is working at his college over the summer and we just visited him - the first summer he has not come home (a little quiet in the house!) Good luck on your edits. I have finished my ms and it is in the hands of beta readers as I speak, so looking forward to valuable feedback.

Les said...

Congratulations to your son, and to you and your husband for raising what sounds like a young man who will contribute more than he takes.

cynthia newberry martin said...

I enjoyed your update, Sarah. And me too, me too. Revision takes all the words and leaves none for anything else. I'm even reading less because my brain is fried at the end of the day. So excited for your son. I always wanted to go to Middlebury, but the cold kept me away! Little did I know then that I was a New Englander at heart.

☆sapphire said...

Congratulations to your son!! He looks great!! Good luck with your writing, Sarah!!

Sarah Laurence said...

All, thank you so much for your kind words about my son and for you encouragements on my writing. Your enthusiasm helped me keep going. I needed a break from blogging, but it’s so nice to be back. I’ve enjoyed catching up with your blogs.

Rose, congratulations to your granddaughter!

Cynthia P, and congratulations to you on your PhD!

Amanda and Cynthia NM, good luck with your revisions too!