Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday Salon: Spring Break

For the first time in a long time we stayed home for Spring Break. Having a kid in college whose breaks don't line up with his younger siblings' breaks complicates things a bit. It's mostly been a lazy reading filled span of time, punctuated here and there with a tennis match or two. I just finished up my stint as a preliminary judge for a writing contest, handing off a short list for the final round judge to read. That was a huge weight off my shoulders. And as an aside, let me tell anyone who enters writing contests to keep entering every one you can find (and afford). Conferring with my fellow first round judges just reinforces for me the fact that while there are some non-negotiable things to be found in worthy entries (chief among them being great writing, of course), different readers respond to different things. So winning stories deserve the accolades but many of the non-winners do as well. You can look at this as discouraging or as encouragement and use it to realize that even if you don't win, you wrote something worthy and of value.

Now I am buried under a stack of books to read for another wonderful initiative I have the honor of being a part of: National Reading Group Month Great Group Reads. I have so many books here that it almost feels like any time I am not reading, I am shirking my job. On the other hand, sometimes I need to take a walk in the neighborhood just to take a brain break so I come back and am looking at each submission with the same enthusiastic eyes. It's a tough balance. Time is limited and I have to weigh them all fairly but a fatigued reader is not ideal. And of course, I am still a busy mom first and foremost. So many books to read but my daughter needs a prom dress, my son has soccer practice and voice lessons. And tonight I have to take my daughter to a play she needs to see for class. I bought two tickets. The dilemma now is whether to go in with her or to take my youngest son (who has found his passion in acting) and have the two kids go in themselves while I sit in the lobby and read. This may be a game time decision and depend on how long the prom dress shopping lasts. If the decision was yours, what would you choose?

This week my book travels took me to a grieving family where letters from his recently deceased wife push a man towards the discovery of her long held secret. I watched as a woman agonized over who she should be with: her once missing through no fault of his own but reappeared husband or the fiance with whom she's rebuilt her heart and built a new life. I witnessed the painful decision to open up and talk about childhood sexual abuse. I traveled to a world in an epidemic where two feuding families, intimately connected, needed an intermediary to negotiate the fallout of a tragedy. And I witnessed the terrible absurdity of war and life in a displaced persons camp through a fable-like tale. Now I am in World War II London with those children who were not evacuated or were returned from the evacuation (intellectually challenged, physically challenged, or non-white), their wealthy young teacher, her supervisor/lover, and his roommate who is experiencing horrific things in war. Where did your reading travels take you this past week?


  1. I'd go with your daughter. The time she will be home is short.

    Just my two cents.

  2. I'd read in the lobby (unless I really wanted to see the play). I like building sibling memories.

  3. Thanks for those wonderful words of encouragement, Kristen! I have yet to enter a writing contest (and not sure I will be ready for quite some time), but it is good to know there is nothing to fear and lots to gain.

  4. My husband and I were just talking the other night about how we'll soon be planning our vacations around school breaks now that are daughter will be starting school. It's been a long time since either one of us has had to do that. Sounds like you had a nice spring break overall. And, boy, have you been busy!

    My husband has entered a couple of writing contests and the feedback he has received has been encouraging. He was a runner up in one, but didn't place in the other. It's nice to read your thoughts on it as well.

    I hope you have a good week, Kristen!


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