In Which I Try to Tie Life to Writing…At Least for this Post

Today, bright and EARLY, I drove my son down to the high school to pick up his class schedule. He worked his way easily through the combination assembly-line, processing center (his description), while I waited in the parking lot (with Meg Cabot’s Insatiable for my reading pleasure).

We’re at a milestone here, of some sort. Oddly enough, things feel pretty calm and seem to be flowing easily toward next week, when school actually starts. I’m pretty sure we’re not just in the eye before the storm, that my son is ready for the next step and, I guess, so am I. The next few years are obviously going to be about letting go, and I think we’re at the right place to start doing that.

I’m writing about a hero whose mother can’t let go–can’t let go of who she thinks her daughter should be, of who she needs her daughter to be, for her own sanity. And it’s not going to end prettily, I can tell you that.

And I’m trying to be a writer who can and does let go of her characters. It’s starting to happen, where Caro will take over a scene and suddenly start talking to another character, or she’ll make a decision without consulting me and get a scene going in a direction I didn’t expect. And I’m working hard to go with this, to go where she’s telling me. It’s pretty clear there’s no point in arguing.

Does this mean I won’t argue with my son in the next few years?

Yeah, right. Does the sentence “Get out of bed now, or you’ll be late!” mean anything to you? (Other than being a direct quotation of my mother’s words, every morning, 30+ years ago?)

But…I will have to keep my mouth closed more often. I will have to listen and watch a lot more. I’ll be making fewer of the decisions and sort of just “being there” for the consequences, good and bad. Hopefully, mostly good. (As opposed to Caro’s story, where they’d better lean heavily on the bad side.)

Milestones. So much more complicated than plot points, you know?

What’s changing for you this year? What changes do you plan for your characters? Happy writing through all of it!


  1. nrhatch says:

    Beautiful post.

    It’s hard to step back when we’re used to being in the driver’s seat.

    But if we want our kids to keep passing new milestones, that’s exactly what must be done.

    Easy for me to say . . . aunt to 10 nieces and nephews and mother to none. ; )

    But I did run an AmeriCorps program for a number of years at Salisbury University. Young adults do best when they’ve been given increasing autonomy over the decisions to be made that affect them.


    • beckylevine says:

      Thanks so much! Being an aunt is the best–no need to interfere and no resistance from the kids, either. 🙂

      The thought of sending my son off somewhere in four years, with me having kept the kind of control a small part of me would “want” to is TOO scary. Trying to move from control to support. 🙂


    • nrhatch says:

      Support and continued education . . .

      Teaching him to envision likely consequences of actions (or omissions) before he leaps ahead mindlessly.

      Good luck.

      BTW: I found you via Carolyn Donnell


  2. Letting go is so hard! You spend so much time trying to make everything perfect and then you’re supposed to stand back and not interfere. Whether it’s a novel or a child, letting go is painful.


  3. Becky, sounds like you’re already learning so much from this new phase. I love the letting go connections — the letting go, even while we feel emotionally connected in a whole new way.

    Deep breaths. And yes, tongues bitten more often. xo


    • beckylevine says:

      I’m getting SO much better at not saying anything–something I never would have predicted for myself! Having a child has taught much better impulse control. 🙂

      You’ve been doing this for a few years now–seems like it’s working!


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