Something Special About Your "First" by Beth Merlin
Today I would like to welcome guest writer, Beth Merlin. Enjoy!
Sometimes I’ll catch a glimpse of my five-year-old daughter Hadley, amazed at the part I have played in raising a tiny infant to a fully formed person. She’s smart, articulate, opinionated, imaginative, compassionate, sweet, and hilarious.
But she’s also a terrible sleeper.
When she was a born, I read all the books on sleep training and the importance of letting a baby “cry it out,” but I couldn’t do it. Every time I heard those tiny piercing cries, I’d rush back into her nursery, lift her out of the crib, and end up rocking her to sleep. As she’s gotten older bedtimes got harder, and now at five, I have to lie with her for at least 45 minutes (on a good night) rubbing her back and telling her stories until she’s down.
I think back to those early days and all the mistakes I made. I often wonder how much easier both our nighttime routines would be if I could go back and properly sleep train her. I think about all the other mistakes I made as a first-time mom, and all the things I’d do differently if I had another baby. I chock some mistakes up to inexperience, some to exhaustion, some to being overwhelmed, and some to ego and a refusal to ask for help when I probably needed it.
A few months ago, I published my fourth book, Breakup Boot Camp. Like every writer, I struggled with some chapters and at times doubted my ability to get the book finished, but overall found the experience much easier than the last book I wrote and certainly wayyyyyyyyyyy easier than my very first novel. The truth is, I often go back to my first published book, One S’more Summer, flip through the pages wishing I could go back and have another go at it, convinced I’d do a much better job with the story now that I have a better idea of what I’m doing as a writer.
I wrote One S’more Summer over about 10 years’ time. I wrote some chapters on my phone while riding the subway to work. I wrote others by pen while sitting at jury duty. I had no idea if the story was any good or if it would ever see the light of day. All I knew is I loved this idea I had of a woman going back to her childhood sleep away camp when her world falls apart and had to get it down on paper. When I reread passages of the book now though it’s hard not to focus on all the things I’d write differently—the opportunities I missed, characters I wish I’d spent more time with, plot points I’d strengthen or abandon all together.
At night when I squeeze in next to my daughter on her twin bed, I sometimes think about the writing I could do, the Bravo shows I could catch up on, the spin class I could take if she were just a bit easier to get to sleep. But then I also think about how precious this time with her is and how much I’ll miss it when she’s older. She’s my first, and everything I know about being a mom I learned from being her mom. I got a few things wrong, but I can’t look at the incredible kid she is and not feel I got most things very right.
Just like One S’more Summer, everything I’ve learned about writing and being a writer, I learned from working on that first book. Would I go back and make some changes if I could? Sure, I would. Like with my daughter, I chock some mistakes up to inexperience, some to exhaustion, some to being overwhelmed, and some to ego and a refusal to ask for help when I probably needed it. But I also see the very best of my instincts as a storyteller in that book and the foundation I unknowingly laid for what would become the Campfire Series. I can’t help but be proud of the novel I wrote and all the readers who’ve let me know how much they love the story and book series that grew out of it.
Hadley will eventually learn how to get to sleep on her own, and I hope I’ll publish many more books throughout my career, but there’s no question, there is something special about your “first” even with all its perfect imperfections.
One S’more Summer, the first in Beth’s Campfire Series, is FREE across all major retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play) all February long so you too can FALL IN LOVE with the characters, the nostalgia, and the fun. Share the love and be sure to grab your copy and tell your friends.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Beth Merlin, a native New Yorker, loves anything Broadway, romantic comedies, and a good maxi dress. After earning her JD from New York Law School, she heard a voice calling her back to fiction writing, like it had during her undergrad study. Amidst her days in The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, where Beth majored in Political Communications, she found herself wandering into Creative Writing classes, and ended up earning a minor in the field. After 10 long years laboring over her first manuscript, her debut novel, One S’more Summer, released May 2017. International bestselling author Kristin Harmel called it “a fast paced, enjoyable read”.
The Campfire Series can be purchased on the publisher's website https://www.fireflyhillpress.com/one-s-more-summer