Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Operation publication

I've been a writer my entire life. When I was a little girl, I kept a journal. I wrote in journals throughout college. I poured out my heart in them— half the time, filling them with daydreams and wishes penned in bright pink ink. I became a journalist so that I could write for a living. It's amazing to be rewarded for something you love to do. And I loved writing. Loved it.

When my first son was born, I had an itch to write something for him. A love letter of sorts. Writing was what I did best, and I felt I could give the best part of myself to my child if I wrote stories that he could love. I wrote two books that year. Great books. I just knew that within a few months I'd be a published author, and my stories would become vividly illustrated, tangible books that I could read to my little boy at bedtime. Brightly colored books that he could thumb through and adore. But boy, was I wrong.

About a year after writing my first book, I finally got some positive feedback from a well-known publishing company in New York. A wonderful editor took the time to write notes on my manuscript and correspond with me. This was it! I just knew it! She proposed my book to her editorial board, and then..... rejection.

I felt the sting of rejection for the next seven years... I joked with my husband that I was saving all of the rejection letters to wallpaper our home office. Though I laughed at the thought, the constant rejection became daunting. So I quit writing new manuscripts. I became lazy in sending the old ones out. I became jaded by the entire process.

I quickly discovered that writers who don't have agents aren't as enticing as those who do. Most publishing companies won't even accept a manuscript from a writer who doesn't have an agent. And, sadly, most agents won't take on an unpublished author. It's a frustrating lose-lose scenario.

I write all of this not to garner pity, but to let you know that there is a whole slew of writing — great writing — out there that isn't being read. An amazing bunch of authors are producing valuable work but their voice never will be heard because they aren't famous or don't have agents. As a writer, it's discouraging, and as a mother it's disappointing because if all deserving authors had a voice, my children would reap the benefits of their work.

I decided today that I am not going to give up. My work is relevant. I'm going to teach my children that when they aren't being heard, it's important to speak louder.

I encourage all of you (if you're out there) to pick up your passion again if you've also given up. Don't give up on yourself. Set a good example so that your little ones will have great footsteps to follow. That's exactly what I plan to do.

Operation Publication shall now commence!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Meat-free me

About six months ago, I made a change. I decided to try on vegetarianism for size. I get on these little bandwagons every now and then... so I fully expected myself to fall off this one in due time. I thought sure I’d succumb to a random chicken nugget or a pepperoni.... But I wanted to try to live a cleaner life, which for me meant giving up eating most animal flesh. I decided to give myself a little leeway, however. I allowed myself to occasionally eat fish. I figured if Jesus was OK with it, I could be too. Plus, going full-on vegetarian was a little intimidating for me. I don’t call myself a pescatarian, because I very very rarely partake in fish these days. But I do allow myself the option. So I suppose you could call me a pescatarian if you like, or a slightly hypocritical vegetarian. But I digress...

I made this lifestyle shift in the spring after reading Alicia Silverstone’s book The Kind Diet and watching part of Michael Pollan’s eye-opening documentary Food Inc. For a long time, my family had been eating a mostly vegetarian diet and didn’t really realize it. We rarely incorporated meat, and hardly ever red meat, into our diet. But we did have our weekend barbecues and as an Italian gal, I loved my sausage and prosciutto. But I never felt quite right after eating a meat-laden dinner. I felt heavy, sluggish, bloated and just generally gross.

My motives for giving up meat were strictly health-related in the beginning. I wanted to feel better and be leaner. But the longer I’ve gone sans meat, the more I appreciate the humanity of it. I can’t imagine eating the flesh of a cow or a pig now. I can’t justify their slaughter for my personal pleasure — especially since I know that pleasure is fleeting but that animal’s demise is permanent.

I’ve noticed since converting to a mostly vegetarian diet, that I feel better, my skin is clearer, and my body functions more efficiently. I even sleep better at night (literally and figuratively).

I’m by no means becoming one of those preachy, strict, paint-wielding vegetarians who shakes fingers at hamburger eaters and disfigures fur coats. I don’t hug trees in my back yard, worship Jerry Garcia or wear Birkenstocks on a regular basis.

I don’t flash the peace sign to everyone who walks by either. But I do feel more at peace and generally happier. If indeed our bodies are temples, I am so glad I’m no longer filling mine with animal flesh. I’ve spruced up this temple.

I encourage everyone to give up meat at least one day a week just to experience something different. Have a Meat-Free Monday so that you can explore all of the wonderful other options there are out there, like a veggie quinoa pilaf or red beans and rice or a hearty vegetarian minestrone. You’ll be surprised how good you feel — literally and figuratively!