Dancing In The Hallways

- by Kim Watters

Or Empty Nest Syndrome-What Type Of Writer Are you?

Okay. I admit it. I’m one of those parents the teachers hate so much. Why? Because I’m the one dancing in the hallways on the first day of school. Yes! Arms pumping into the air here. I’m the one singing school’s back in session…school’s back forever… (Sung to the beat of that old Alice Cooper song with a little air guitar thrown in for full effect). Well, it may not be for ever, but close enough. No more TV, no more play dates, no more you promised we’d go there dirty looks…school’s back in session!

Last Thursday was the big day for us. Back to school. (Arizona is weird.) And this year, both of my children had the pleasure of attending grade school. Yes. No more daycare, but that’s a whole different topic. My kids’ lower lips began to tremble as we pulled into the school parking lot. The flurry of activity around us heightened the tension in the eerily silent vehicle. Buses, trucks and cars jockeyed into position to unload the unwilling occupants. Strung out teachers and administrators attempted to direct the sea of metal and the long faces on the returning students (and school hasn’t even officially begun yet) into some semblance of order. Then of course there’s me and several other happy parents clogging the main artery in and out of school. And yes, we danced.

You could see the giddiness, hear the laughter, and feel the excitement as we kissed our offspring goodbye before we waved them off in the direction of the classrooms. Okay, I admit, there were a few parents with long expressions, too. Obviously, they haven’t quite obtained the sense of freedom yet of packing little Billy or Susie off on their personal journey through life. But as a parent, and an author, you have to let them go.

So, you ask, what does this have to do with writing? Consider this. When you send that finished manuscript off to an agent, editor, or even your critique group, are you happy or sad? Do you feel the first blush of excitement as you hand over that envelope to the postal employee? Or is your head filled with doubts and you want to hold onto those pages forever, never letting them out of your sight? Are you dancing in the hallway? Or feeling that empty nest syndrome when the characters you’ve spend countless hours, days, or even years with have flown the proverbial coop?

For me, it’s a little of both. I’m happy to strike those six enormous characters at the end of every book. I’m also terrified of the emptiness surrounding me because all those voices in my head are suddenly quiet, like the silence in that short car ride home from school. Where do I go from there? How do I fill the void? While my child or my novel adjusts to life on its own, so must I. How? By taking pleasure in the few moments of freedom. Bask in the relaxing sensation of reading a book for the sheer enjoyment of it. Take a hike or cruise the mall and let the mind wander from the realities of every day life. Get caught up on all the little projects that piled up over the summer.

Or better yet, dance with me. Because sooner rather than later, you’ll hear another tiny voice knocking inside your brain begging to get out. And it sure as heck won’t be sporting a Spongebob back pack and a brand new pair of sneakers.

11 comments

  1. I enjoy your books!

  2. Thanks Estella.

  3. So thrilled to know I’m not the only mom in the world who used to count down the minutes until school started again so I could write for hours uninterupted. Nowadays the kids are all grown up so all the hours are my own, but I remember those days.

  4. Your blog brought back a lot of memories. As a young teacher, the first day of school meant an end to my summer vacation. As a working mom, it meant my schedule would get crazier–taking the kids to their 6:45 a.m. band practice and figuring out transportation to all their clubs and activities. Now that I’m older, I wish I could live a lot of those first days of school again. Enjoy your kids while they’re young, Kim!

  5. Kim, like you I loved the first day of school–as a child and later as a teacher and mother. Even now, about the first of August I get charged up to learn or do something new. And like clockwork, a juicy story idea will hit then, too. These days I can immediately get on that story because I don’t have that little redheaded boy to get to school or a classroom to manage. I can do what I want pretty much when I want. Today your blog takes me back to enjoy all those lovely first days long ago. Thank you!

  6. Yeah, Jill. As a kid, I could neer understand my mom’s happy face utnil I became a parent myself. :)

    Shelley. Thanks for responding. I savor each and every moment with my kids. Even the four am “Mommy, I’m scared. Can I sleep with you?” wake up call.

    Melinda, glad I could help:)

  7. Love the way you turned Alice Cooper’s song into a mom’s rejoice and be glad. I used to call my kids ‘The Pyjama People’ which my editor found rather amusing. “Oh, no,” I’d say. “They’re baaaaaaaaaaack!” School break in December: kids wore pj’s all day, watched TV, played computer games and ate boxcars of cereal. Easter: Same thing. Summer: Shriek! Since I freelanced, I’d try to spend the summer ‘doing things with them’ but I still had to do phone interviews. By September, they’d be in school, and I’d scream north in the mini-van to get to the newspaper, where real people lived. I created a series of fantasy titles to share stories. The Pyjama People. Return of the Pyjama People. Pyjama People Meet The Mummy, and then, oh glory, Pyjama People: The Final Chapter. They all grew up and moved out. No more PJ’s except mine! Grin.

  8. Enjoyed your blog. :)

  9. Thanks for posting Lynne, I love the idea of the pyjama people.

    Thanks Dina. I enjoyed writing it.

  10. Like to watch Stargate Atlantis episodes and also Lost. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  11. Spongebob is really funny and hilarious. somebody says that spongebob is gay, is that even true?;*;