While thinking about a blog topic, I began daydreaming about ice skating. It's been a few years since I've skated, but the chilly day and working on my final revisions to my upcoming release, ON THIN ICE, brought the sport to mind. I miss it terribly and think about it often. My location in the hills and my schedule have kept me from returning to skating, but it is surely in my blood and will remain a part of me forever.
Hand in hand with thoughts of skating come memories of my mom and how proud she was of my accomplishments. She's been gone for thirty years and I still hear her voice, "Patience and perseverence will get you far in life."
Stick-to-it-iveness, she called it.
I started taking skating lessons when I was ten. I was a bit too late to catch up with the competetive skaters who had started when they were as young as three or four, but I excelled nonetheless, and loved to zip around the ice executing daring maneuvers that only fearless children and serious athletes would attempt. Skating was an escape for me. Life at home was chaotic at best and more often painful than happy. When I skated, I was transported by the music, the intensity, and the focus required to master the art. I trained hard and sometimes skated four to six hours in a day several days a week. Though I only competed for a few years, the lessons I learned have stayed with me through every endeavor I've taken on since. There were times that my mother pushed me. She had too much invested in me not to want me to succeed. I didn't always understand that at the time, and it was often a source of tension for us.
Mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was twelve and she died four years later. I found out a week after her death that I was pregnant. I was sixteen and a junior in high school. Needless to say, these events put an end to my competetive skating, and I took a huge left turn into the struggles of life as a single parent. Again I leaned on the lessons I learned through my years of training in the world of figure skating. Sacrifice, hard work, self-discipline and commitment were the strengths that got me through some very difficult years and led me to persevere and succeed later on.
These same traits are the cornerstones to becoming a published author, no matter what road you choose, traditional or otherwise. I'm grateful today that my mother believed in me and taught me to believe in myself. I'm thankful that she pushed me at times and at others let me decide for myself what was right for me. Sometimes I learned lessons the hard way, falling repeatedly and picking myself up, brushing off the snow and trying again. Maybe because of that, or inspite of it, the lessons stuck.
ON THIN ICE is a labor of love and the book of my heart. Some of Penny's story is mine and other parts are how I would have liked for people to be and things to have turned out. I often say that writing allows us to re-write our history in some ways. When I first shared this story with others I was told it would never "sell" because I didn't follow the "rules" of story structure and plot. I heard terms like, "too many subplots," "too much telling," and "no one would believe that one teenaged girl could go through so much and come out sane." That one was from a contest judge, LOL.
Yet here I am--happy and healthy with two wonderful grown sons whom I truly admire. I may be breaking the rules, and I may fall. But for me, life is about taking chances, learning and growing, and sharing my experiences with others. Hard lessons are part of life, but I hope that by putting myself out there--on thin ice so to speak, there is a teenager somewhere who reads my story and chooses not to learn the hard way.
What lessons have carried you to where you are today? Did you have to learn them the hard way? Have you written them into your stories? Leave a comment and enter to win an advanced reader copy of ON THIN ICE coming December 15th.