Instagram, Children’s Books, and Third Grade

What’s new in my life? The title sums it up.


I started an Instagram account a month ago @sarahmcinneswrites. It focuses on what I’m reading and writing with a few lovely landscapes and gardens mixed in. I like that Instagram invites bite-size pieces of writing. Unedited, I tend towards verbosity, but Instagram forces me to be more selective with my words. Plus, it’s a streamlined platform for me to follow other Instagram writers. I enjoy images of the “writer’s life” – from notebooks and coffee mugs to the envy-inducing “writing spaces” filled with sunlight, greenery, and comfy chairs.

I had zero interest in Instagram until I attended a writers’ workshop at the Durham Public Library called “How to be a Rock Star at PR: How to Brand You” presented by Alice Osborn. Learning about marketing for authors was a far cry from my usual writing routine of curling up on the couch, sipping coffee, listening to 1930s-40s popular music, and tapping a pen, waiting for the muse.

When I came home from the workshop, I started googling information about Instagram for writers. Posts like this one from one of my favorite writing blogs Writers In The Storm helped convince me. And thanks to lists like this one and this one, I started finding accounts that are great for writers to follow. I realized I could follow some of my favorite authors as well. Now I get to see Elin Hilderbrand’s daily photos of sun-drenched Nantucket. (Nantucket is on my list of must-visit someday vacation spots thanks to reading all of her novels which are set there). From zero interest in Instagram, now I’m trying to post on my account about once a day.

Children’s Books

I’ve started creating a character sketch and jotting a few plot outlines for a character named Lucky Max. I don’t want to give away too much of my idea, but I will share its genesis.

I was talking to my son, Sweetboy, about his special autistic brain. I was wishing there was a book character like my son, so that he and kids his age could read about an awesome kid who was autistic and did a lot of fun things. Books about autism tend to fall into two categories. 1) Books for younger kids that are about autism. These tend to explain autism and/or feature a neurotypical kid saying that they like their autistic friend anyway. Some of those books are better than others. 2) Novels featuring an autistic character, written for upper elementary and middle school grades.

But when I spent an afternoon researching online and another afternoon sifting through the children’s room at the library, I found slim pickings for books featuring an autistic character, not with pity, not about autism, and written for my son’s second grade level.

And as Toni Morrison said, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”

Sweetboy has a great imagination and sense of humor. He likes making up stories. I might very well pull him into a mother-son partnered authorship on this writing project.

The character’s name is Lucky Max – because I want to push back against the notion that it’s a stroke of misfortune or bad luck to be born with autism. On the contrary, Max is a lucky kid who has a lot of fun.

Third Grade

The first day of third grade for Sweetboy is tomorrow. He is scared and nervous, as am I. Third grade worries swirl above my head like a storm cloud. But instead of thunder and lightning, it’s stressful academics and nebulous social dynamics. I took my son to the school to see his new classroom and meet his new teachers. It went pretty well. His anxiety was temporarily assuaged. As for me, I do my best to keep my anxieties hidden beneath encouraging smiles and comforting hugs.

Over the past several months, I’ve been rearranging some parts of my life in order to free up my time and shift my priorities. One goal is to spend more time reading with Sweetboy in the evenings because I think in third grade he’ll need even more help than I’ve been giving him. (Another goal is to create more dedicated writing time during school hours.)

My son’s backpack, stuffed and ready to go, along with his pristine new shoes and the T-Rex shirt he chose to wear for the first day of 3rd grade.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So that’s what has been going on in this writing mama’s life. I turn 42 in a few weeks. I’ve always loved the invigoration of new beginnings in autumn. My birthday always coincided with the start of a new school year. But now, I don’t know. What will 42 bring in terms of my spending more time writing? How will third grade go for my son? I wish I had a crystal ball. Right now, I am swinging like a weighty, bronze pendulum between optimism and anxiety.

Maybe I should check my Instagram. I find the nature photography to be especially relaxing.

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