Writing while mommying

My son and I in 2007

In the last 5 years, I have had 6 books published, and I’ve written 4 others. My children are aged 7 and 4. That means that all of this publication and writing has happened while they were infants. In fact, I wrote my first novel almost in its entirety while my daughter was a weeks-old infant.

People ask me all the time how I manage to do that.

The truth is, I don’t manage. Not really.

When you’re trying to write full-time (in addition to writing books, I also do other freelance writing projects) and you’re trying to be a mommy full-time, a lot of things fall through the cracks. I know there are a lot of people out there trying to tell you than you can have a writing career while the children are peacefully sleeping, or otherwise engaged by a spouse or sitter. But you know that life is more complicated than that. You get a great idea while you’re in the middle of putting Neosporin on that cut at the park. You think you can run upstairs and dash off a paragraph while the pasta pot is just starting to bubble. You cannot figure out for the life of you why your child won’t nap today when you’ve set yourself a deadline of 1000 words and you’ve only written 2 and the kid swears there are crocodiles in her closet.

Look, that bandage might go on a little skewed. That pasta is probably going to burn. And you might lose your patience with the scared child and tell her that her blanket will have to protect her from the crocodiles because mommy needs to get some work done right now.

But you know what? It’s OK. You are a human being. You are not going to do everything perfectly. You are going to mess up a lot of stuff along the way because that’s what happens to humans. You will find yourself frustrated, angry, pissed, upset, and crying. You’ll be overwhelmed by laundry, the deadline you’ve set for yourself, the stink coming out of your armpits, the constant nagging of your children, and your significant other wondering what’s for dinner. You’ll need to storm out, get a beverage, take a walk, ride a bike, hang out with friends and bitch on twitter to relieve the stress. And that’s all fine.

The bottom line is, if you don’t worry about all the things that you’re trying to do, and you just do the one thing at a time, you’ll get through it. I’m folding this shirt. That’s one less shirt to fold. I’m writing this paragraph. That’s 200 words closer to my goal.

That’s how I’ve gotten through it. Bit by bit. And next thing you know, it’s 5 years later and you have 6 books published, 2 more in galleys, another out to editors and you’re working on #10. The scrapes are healed, most of that pasta was edible, and your kid is now so over monsters.

All of that, and you’re fulfilling your dream.

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4 thoughts on “Writing while mommying

  1. Tracey says:

    Dude when I saw you were getting frustrated with M earlier, I wondered if you’d get around to reading this post today. I’m totally channeling you!

    I am having one of those days myself. I almost had to pull the car over this morning when the kids got me ticked off on the way to camp.

    Maybe it’s a full moon.

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