(Photos by Matt Hussung)

Solar Eclipse fascination escalated to total frenzy in the days leading up to August 21. Who had solar glasses? Were they off the right list? Which schools would watch the eclipse? Would my home be in the totality zone? What did the weatherman have to say about cloud cover?

Not so many people were talking about the meaning of an eclipse. In may cultures, it’s a time of rebirth, a day to step into a new phase of your life.

Eclipse day was my first day as a full time writing student.


No, I didn’t plan for those two events to coincide. After juggling family, work, school, and medical issues for a full year, I was forced to accept I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do at the same time. I’d worked so hard for my BS in Civil Engineering, MS in Structural Engineering, PE License, and SE License that of course it was a no brainer to give up writing to focus on the career I’d been working at for over fifteen years. Except I surprised everyone, including myself, by doing the opposite. I resigned from my day job to focus on finishing my VCFA MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adult.

The response to this announcement was more supportive than I expected. A co-worker even called me from his construction job to give me his encouraging advice:

(1) Not everyone has the ability to quit the day job to pursue a dream. Embrace the opportunity and enjoy it.

(2) Don’t worry about what other people think. No matter what happens, you’ll have no regrets because you gave your dream everything you had.

On my first day working at home, I took my laptop and my solar glasses outside to our patio to watch the solar eclipse. The stubborn clouds refused to cooperate. While I waited for my brief glimpse of the partial eclipse, I listened to the SCBWI Podcast interview with Kwame Alexander. His wise advice, which he credited to his mentor Nikki Giovanni, helped me step into this new phase of my life:


“Always say yes.”

Get over your fears and try anything.


“Dance naked on the floor.”

Take risks and be your true, authentic self.


How are you going to make a living doing that?

“I didn’t know how I would do it, but I knew it was possible.”


About Jennifer Kay

Jennifer Kay is a KidLit author and Structural Engineer. She has a VCFA MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, is an SCBWI Rockford Network Rep, edits the SCBWI IL Prairie Wind, and belongs to Mystery Writers of America. Jennifer works as a writer, freelance editor, literary agency reader, and creative writing teacher.
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