Tag: college graduate

Wishing for the Empty Nest

Empty nest sign

No matter how I say this, someone will interpret incorrectly (ie. So I look bad). I wish my nest was empty again.

I know, I’ve been so focused on other things this past year, I haven’t mentioned a topic that many of you began following me to read about. You know, life after your children leave.

Perhaps I haven’t been able to post on the subject because I haven’t been experiencing it.

Remember when I was sad about seeing my older son leave for college. Refresh your memory here.

And then my younger son went to college and for some reason things started getting romantic around the house again. Yep, that post is here.

What happened after that?

My oldest son graduated from college.

And moved back in with us.

Oldest Moves In

Rewind to June 2013. It’s a happy day. Our first born son completed four years of college and earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Software Engineering.

And moved in with us “just until I get a job.”

And proceeded to take the “summer off.” He flew to Vegas to visit a friend, traveled to Idaho to see he girlfriend and took multiple road trips to hang out with college buds.

And the months passed. He applied for a few jobs. Interviewed for even fewer.

Fast forward to January 2014 when he lands a job working for his dad’s former employer (a place he held a summer job several years ago). Hurray!

February he purchases a $20,000 car. He’s paying $1000 per month on his student loans.

When’s he going to move out? Shrug is the answer.

Oldest Moves Out

After two years of marketing it, time comes when our house sells.

“They sold the house out from under me.” Really?

“I wasn’t invited to live in the new house.” True, but we would have allowed it.

Still, isn’t a year of living rent-free (while being gainfully employed) enough time to build up a cushion so you can rent your own place?

That’s March 15, 2015.

New and Empty

Not empty nestOn April 3, we moved into our new home.

Brand. Spanking. New.

It was me, hubs and the two cats. And all the piles of boxes.

But, after a few weeks, things were mostly organized and in their proper places. The new office inspired words galore.

Hubs traveled to China. It was the truly empty nest of silent bliss.

Fast forward to May 2.

Our youngest son graduates from college with a Bachelor of Business Marketing degree.

Youngest Moves In

And moves in to the empty nest.

Suddenly, having college graduates for children doesn’t look so lovely, does it? I mean, that’s the common thread in the return to the empty nest.

Even if the youngest would have had a job, he wanted to live with us (“And get the same deal” his brother got).

Sure. Free is the best price.

He’s saving for a wedding, being married, and setting up an apartment. His reasoning is sound. Savvy even.

But it means my nest is no longer empty. My house has been invaded by people who wonder what’s for dinner. People who mess up my perfectly decorated guest room.

People who cook late night snacks and leave my kitchen looking worse than a plundering tornado would.

And here we are. Do I love my son and his fiancé? Sure. But there are a few things I’m not too thrilled about. Funny thing – the cause complained about the same thing a few months ago.

Come back next week to read more about Being the Thing you Despise in Others.

Even in Writing it’s who you know

My youngest son, recent college graduate, swears he doesn’t have to apply for jobs. “It’s who you know, Mom.” In writing, I’ve discovered, this adage is also true.

Not that I agree my son should sit around waiting for someone from his “network” to offer him a job, but I see that in the world – made much smaller by technology – people tend to “know someone” who would be “perfect” for that position.

That doesn’t mean you can sit back idly. Someone searching for employment should pursue the online application process and follow up an interview with a thank you email. Or in the writing world – send out perfected queries and submit to contests and anthologies.

Along with all that, you should reach out to other people in the business. Here are the ways I’ve done this – AND the byproduct for my “career.”

Following Blogs

I started my own blog as a college assignment four years ago. Since then, it has left the “free” WordPress site and migrated to my author website. It still doesn’t generate as much traffic as I need for my “discoverability.”

However, networking isn’t about people following MY blog. It’s about me following them. And I don’t do it just so I can ask for favors later (ugh! Using people: still out of fashion in this new era).

I follow writer advice blogs: Kristen Lamb, Jami Gold and Writer’s Helping Writers. I follow blogs of other indie authors: J. Keller Ford and Jennifer M. Eaton. I read their posts, comment when I have something to add, and share their content when I find it unusually valuable.

How has this network helped me?

Kristen Lamb critiqued a piece of flash fiction for me – just because she understood a new writer’s struggle to find good advice. I won a partial developmental edit from Jami Gold that took a story I was proud of to a deeper level.

The truth is, I have found helpful advice on these blogs and connected with the women behind these blogs in ways I never expected.

Connecting on Social Media

I am a late bloomer. I came to Facebook when it was no longer the edgy, fashionable thing to do.

The only reason I even signed up for Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest was because I trusted Social Media Jedi Kristen Lamb. If you’re trying to build an author platform, I highly recommend her book Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital Age.

It was on Facebook that I met J. Keller Ford (and began to follow her blog). She published a few short stories. I followed her publishers’ pages and shared interesting posts.

Thanks to my connection with J. Keller Ford, I found the submissions page to Roane Publishing, where my first short story was accepted to an anthology.

If I hadn’t been following her, I never would have discovered this small New York publishing company. Further, she is the one who shared her online critique group with me.

In fact, once I become a best-selling author, Jenny and I are taking a tour of castles in Germany. We’ve never met face-to-face, but I owe her a good deal in the scope of my confidence as a writer.

Joining a Critique Group

I’m leery of critique groups because I’ve been a member of a few. I wrote critiques like crazy. Read everyone’s stuff and offered advice about everything from word choice to character arc. In return?

“Too much telling. Show more.” No examples. Or they gave me a rewritten passage that was nearly identical and doesn’t feel any more like showing than what I wrote.

However, after I helped J. Keller Ford with an opening to her second novel in a three-book deal (I know! Crazy that a published author thought I had anything to offer her manuscript), she recommended me to a critique group in Scribophile.

It was here that I was offered some advice by Jennifer M. Eaton. When I rewrote my short story using her feedback, it was accepted to a short story anthology by a larger independent press.

Additionally, I meet monthly with a local group of writers. Several of them are independently published. We are regularly encouraged by a local published author (sci-fi novels and short stories).

We don’t do formal critiques. At first, I wasn’t sure about that. Everyone is welcome to read for five minutes and request specific feedback. Then we use various writing prompts to free write and share that writing for the second hour of the meeting.

This group helped me streamline the opening of the first short story I had published. One of the writing prompts helped me generate the opening for another short story I submitted. (It wasn’t accepted, but it turned into a marketable story.)

Paying it Forward

I’ve met with a local author a few times. Mostly, he has offered me advice about my next steps. I have hopes that he may help me with synopsis writing or perfecting queries in the future.

Other writers helped him, and he believes in paying that kindness forward. Without the encouragement (and introduction to an editor and agent) he received, he believes he would still be a moonlight writer. Rather than an award-winning short story author with a five book deal from Tor.

He’s the one who connected me with another local writer. She’s a humorist pursuing nonfiction writing. Now.

I invited her to Willamette Writer’s Conference last year because I didn’t want to go alone. Since then, she’s critiqued opening pages for me and offered me advice when I bounced ideas off her. She constructively criticized my website, helping me identify how to make it cleaner and easier to navigate.

Conversely, I’ve pointed her toward some of the writing resources that have helped me improve. I’ve asked her questions when she threw ideas toward me that set her on paths that have led her to paying work.

More importantly, I have another creative mind to jabber with about all the things no normal person wants to hear about. She celebrates my successes and kicks me out of my funk when things aren’t going well in my writing world.

In the end, networking isn’t just about WHO you know, it’s about how you reciprocate the good will with people you meet. In our ever-connected-to-the-Internet age, most of these people may live across the country – or across the world – but that just means your network can reach further than ever.

So, go ahead: network with other writers, editors, publishers and readers. Someday, they might drop your name in just the right place at the perfect moment.

What are so other ways writers network? Do you have recommendations for enlarging our circle of writing acquaintances?