Category Archives: Thankful

Guest Post: Birthing a Book by Beth Schulman


Birthing a Book Image

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.” 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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!”

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Beth Schulman author photoMs. 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.

 

The Gold Mailbox cover2

“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

Facebook: Beth Schulman Author

Twitter: @bschulmanauthor and @authorbethschul.

 

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Filed under Blogging, Booktrope, Gravity Imprint, Guest Post, Life, Literature, Survivors, Thankful, Writing

Ode to a Dear Friend Who Lives in a Bottle


Photo source: Unsplash.com/Carli Jean

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Carli Jean

 

You became my best friend

Though I didn’t know you for long

A mutual acquaintance introduced us,

          thought we’d work well together.

You comforted me through my illness

          made it more endurable.

I spent as much time with you as I could

          while careful to avoid accusations of “forgetting old friends.”

 

And then one day without warning you were

          GONE!

I was bewildered and hurt; was it something I had done, something I said?

I went to all your old haunts

          You weren’t there; left no forwarding address.

Asked those I thought would know where to find you; they didn’t.

I was desperate; the illness

          was unbearable without you

So I turned to other assistance

          Anything to stop the pain; but it wasn’t the same

For months, I felt lost without you

          Nowhere I looked, could I find you

 

Then yesterday, I revisited one of your old spots

and looked for you, on a whim.

          There you were!

Your beloved features beaming at me.

I laughed and cried and greeted you with a grin

 

At last! We’re together again

My dear, beloved,

          Excedrin Migraine!

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Filed under Anxiety, Life, Mental Health, Musings, Poetry, Random, Thankful, Writing

My Love Affair with Books: Friends that Never Fail


I’m feeling a bit nostalgic this week, so I thought I would share with you a post I wrote (but never posted) for my old blog back in May 2008. It’s a piece that’s helped to label me “introverted.” I’ve winced quite a bit while rereading this post; it’s clear to me how far I’ve come both in my writing and in my social interactions…and apparently some of my writing has been quite…pompous (a defense mechanism, perhaps), in the past… But I think it’s good to remember from whence we came. So, without any further adieu, and with nothing but minor edits for clarity and grammar made to the original post, here is the almost-8-years-younger Wendy.

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Photo source: Unsplash.com/Ermin Celikovic

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Ermin Celikovic

 

Once again I am reminded that books are the best friends one can have and perhaps the only tangible thing in which to place one’s trust.

If a book disappoints you, you can throw it away, give it away or sell it, and never have to think about it again, except for the odd moment when you see another book by the same author and wonder if this one will be as disappointing as that other one you had the misfortune to read.

Books can take you places you’ve never been before. They can introduce you to new and exciting people. They can increase your knowledge. They can entertain you for hours or days. If you happen to find several authors whose books form part of a series that you enjoy, then you are indeed most fortunate. You can look forward to the next book in the series, and every once in a while you can re-read the entire series and engage in mindless, effortless entertainment yet again.

Books are my escape, my outlet, my sanity. One of these days I may even write one myself. God knows I have several worlds cluttering up my imagination. A few of them have even started to take shape on paper. They haven’t yet started clamoring for attention, but when they do, I will be ready to tell their tales.

HEMINGWAY-Quotefancy-4056-3840x2160Yes, books are more dependable than people. Books will not scar your soul. They will not betray you to the point that you become more and more cynical with each book. They may move you to tears, but do not usually leave you searching at vulnerable moments for the odd darkly private corner to shed tears of anguish, betrayal and pain.

Books do not tell you, “I don’t want to lose you.” And the silent follow-up, “But neither do I want to talk to you more than once a month, or when I feel the need to let you know that I am still alive and kicking.”

Books do not tell you, “I’m feeling pressured,” and “I’m not saying never, but not right now.” Books do not tell you, “I can’t handle a long-distance relationship.” Books do not hand you the world one day and 3 weeks later, without warning, pull the foundation out from under your feet.

ode to booksBooks offer an unconditional relationship. They do not care if they must come to you. They do not care if you must communicate through Cyberspace. Books do not cringe, think you are needy, desperate or putting undue pressure on them if you need to spend a little more time with them today than you did yesterday.

Books do not tell you that they want a relationship on their terms, but not yours; that they get to set the rules and you get to accept them or risk loss of the relationship. Books will accept you on your terms. Yes, they might “talk back” every once in a while (i.e., do not live up to your expectations or cost more than you are willing to pay – high maintenance), but eventually, they will come around. They are willing to compromise, and won’t make promises they don’t keep.

No one ever says, “Books!” with the same exasperation reserved for a woman who is particularly difficult – i.e. who wants exclusivity in her relationship, who wants a guy to realize that yes, it’s long-distance right now, but it won’t last forever, who wants her guy to tell her that SHE’S WORTH WAITING FOR!!

Yes, books are my best friends. They may not speak to me in the conventional sense, but when my world is falling apart, they help me shore up the walls I allowed to be breached and they, slowly, help restore some semblance of sanity…

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