Writing and publishing my memoir was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. It was heart-wrenching, messy and full of stress. It was also cathartic and rewarding beyond measure. Life-changing. A lot like becoming a mother. In fact the experience was so similar to getting pregnant and giving birth, I could create a Venn Diagram to illustrate my point (this will only make sense to fellow elementary school teachers). Instead, I’ve crafted a list.
- IT’S NOT AS EASY AS IT APPEARS:You spend a decade of your life trying desperately not to get pregnant. When you’re finally ready to become a mother, you think it’ll be a piece of cake. Just stop taking birth control and poof, you’ll become pregnant. Well, anyone who’s struggled with fertility issues knows this isn’t true. I kept a private journal for over 10 years, recording the scenes from my childhood. When I finally felt ready to weave those scenes into a book, I assumed it wouldn’t take that long. It took three years of committed writing time to produce something of substance.
- FALSE LABOR:You go to the doctor when you’re 8 1/2 months pregnant, feeling sure the baby will be delivered within the hour. After being examined you learn you are only one centimeter dilated and the doctor sends you home. You feel depressed and defeated. When I submitted my manuscript to my editor for the first time, I felt like I’d nailed it. I anxiously awaited his response. When he came back to me, the news wasn’t good. I had to do a complete rewrite.
- REGRET: After being told the baby isn’t ready, you go home and cry. Your feet are swollen and your belly resembles a rock hard, oversized watermelon. You are tired and cranky. You begin to question your decision to become a mother. You suddenly feel completely ill-equipped for the job. But it’s too late. When I reread my memoir and started to make the many changes my editor suggested, I felt overwhelmed. The more I looked at the words on the page, the more I questioned why I’d taken this on. Who was I to think I could pull this off? I wasn’t a writer. I was a kindergarten teacher. But I was too far in to back out.
- RELIEF: Your water breaks and now you’re sure this is really going to happen. You drive to the hospital feeling both elated and terrified. When my editor reread my revised manuscript, he sent me a text saying I’d done the hard work and it was time to send it off to the proofreader. It wouldn’t be long now. My book would indeed be “delivered.”
- LABOR AND DELIVERY: You experience pain at a level you never knew existed. Then you get the epidural and it’s not so bad. The next step was sending it off to the layout and design team. I agonized over letting it go, worried about whether it was “ready” for publication, but with the release, came great relief.
- PURE JOY: You hold that tiny miracle in your arms and you are overcome with joy. You feel a sense of pride and accomplishment you’ve never felt before. You want everyone to meet your beautiful baby! This is exactly how I’ll felt when I held my book, The Gold Mailbox, in my hands for the first time. I couldn’t wait for readers to meet “my baby!”
Ms. Beth Schulman is a mother, teacher and avid reader and writer. She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Individual and Family Studies and from Cabrini College with a Master of Education Degree, with a focus on Early Childhood Education. She has been teaching elementary school students for over 20 years. Beth has devoted her life’s work to creating supportive, creative and literacy rich learning environments for young children. She has also worked with professional teachers at The University of Pennsylvania through The Penn Literacy Network (PLN) as an instructor and literacy coach since 1997. Beth lives in the Philadelphia area with her two teenage sons, James and Ian. The Gold Mailbox is her first book.
“This dazzling and moving memoir is a roller coaster of loss and transition, held together by the reminder that love and family run deeper than we ever imagine. Written in gorgeous prose, this ultimately uplifting tale will have you savoring every page.”
Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance
Visit Beth’s website: http://bethschulman.com
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