(lovely shannan martin of flower patch farmgirl is writing a novel–a novel!–and i asked the amazing mother of three to lend some insight on how she balances mama-hood with writing.)
On Thanksgiving day, I had an epiphany. I used to remember exactly how it happened, but we’ve had 3 straight months of snow since then and my brain has yet to defrost. What I do know is this: At the very end of that morning, I opened up my lap-top and started writing a book.
I had stewed over the issue for months prior. I plucked the petals off a bright new bloom in my mind, letting them fall in a little pile, right where I stood. I will write a book! I won’t write a book. I can do this! I could never write fiction. Ever.
I’m writing fiction.
When I write, that is.
The hard parts of writing this book are figuring out plot-lines and writing dialogue that doesn’t make me want to gouge my own eyes and stick my thumbs in my ears – permanently. The harder part of writing is finding the time to sit down and write, for Pete’s sake.
My day job gets in the way. I’ve got three cute, smoochy bosses, but are they ever demanding. I don’t even try to write during the day. I’ve learned the hard way about setting myself up for frustration and the plain truth is, when I write, I require absolute silence. No background chatter. No tv drone. And certainly no squealing/shouting/whining/singing.
The logical solution might be to write after bedtime, but that’s no good, either. The writerly juices just aren’t flowing after 12 straight hours of toddler/pre-schooler/kindergartner. The wit has plum dried up for the day. I’ve forgotten how to spell things and where to put commas and I might remember the name of my heroine at that hour, but I sure don’t feel like talking to her.
So here’s what works for me, in my shiny, alternate universe where deadlines do not exist: Two or three nights a week, I clean up from dinner and hand the kids over to my rock-star husband. He takes them to the library or their church program and I sit down with my cup of tea and a room-full of blissful silence and I type. I usually have no more than 2 hours at a stretch, but it keeps things moving. And as long as things are moving, I have work to do until my next writing session rolls around – I have a heaped up pile of thinking to do.
So, I think about my characters while I drift off to sleep.
I pray that I’ll figure something out to take me to the next place I want to go.
I think in the shower. I think when I’m grilling the cheese.
Every now and then, a tiny light flickers on and I’m excited all over again to write it down.
Rinse and repeat.
Once Saturday rolls around I steal away to the Fox Room and write for several more hours.
I’m keeping pace with the snails here, but we’re all moving, even if it isn’t obvious to the naked eye.
What I really, truly know about the art of writing is embarrassingly little. I don’t know most of the rules and I break the ones I do know. But I’ve got something to say, so I keep finding the time to sit down and say it. It feels really important to me already. I’m honored to be the one typing it out, and until it’s all said and done, I will hold this experience loosely in my palm. I will keep it near me and carry it around like the delicate thing that it is. Of course, I hope that some day, it will grow up and fly away, but if it doesn’t, I’m alright with that, too, because I can tell already that I will miss it if it goes.