Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Seeing What's There

I've been knee deep into reading my second draft of the novel. 360 pages of muck, junk, and beauty. I'm surprised at what I've written. When I was writing the second draft, I thought the story was so interesting and complex (I had, like, five storylines), but now as I'm reading it, I see that only two storylines are interesting to me. That lops off a good 150 pages right there! That's the thing about writing:  You don't control it; it controls you. My only job is to see what I have and determine if it's worth anything. Luckily enough of it is and I'm excited about starting draft three soon.

This whole seeing what's there business goes beyond the page. It's a theme in my life right now. I have to take a trip home soon to visit some family members I haven't seen in three years, since my grandfather's death. That's not by coincidence, it has been by choice because these family members aren't healthy for me. It's been tough coming to that conclusion, years in the making, but I accept that now. But because they are blood, I am still connected to them and when family problems arise, we still have to try to problem solve. Hence, I must go home to try to work on a family issue. I have no idea if I have the resources - financially, emotionally, or psychologically - to help a family member in need, but I must go and at least see what's there. I don't anticipate much positivity, but you never know what surprises - good and bad - await when you take the time to see what's there. At least I'll know the truth and that's always worth something.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012


A writer friend of mine was telling me that she used to believe that you need connections to get your work published until (drumroll) after many years and at least two full-length manuscripts under her belt, one of her top picks for agents accepted her work. Now she's in the fast and furious world of her dream (i.e., rewriting with the help of her agent and his team of readers) and her reality (i.e., working as a professor). No special connections necessary, just a will to write and the audacity to put her work out there, time and time again.

I don't know the answer to whether or not I'll need connections to get my novel-in-waiting published, connections like having an uncle in publishing or a cousin who's an agent, to get my work out there. But perhaps the answer doesn't matter because I'm going to write anyway. And at some point, I'll make a connection that leads me to my dream to become a self-sustaining novelist, like my friend. You gotta have faith, like the song says.

Sometimes, I think my dream is so far away and I don't give enough credit to the notion that I'm living my dream now. I am writing and writing what I want to. No I'm not making a dime from it and it isn't always easy to find time, but I do. 10 minutes here and there. I have the will to write and I have the audacity to put my work out there. I even have the connections I need right now: I have writer friends who are at different stages of their careers with whom I can talk about writing - the sweetness and the bitterness of it.

My connections will continue to grow and expand as needed. When I finish my manuscript (350 pages and counting!) I will find an agent or publisher, who ever I need at that time. For now, I just need to write.

So what do you think? Are connections necessary in getting your work published? If so, how do you build connections?

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Carrying On

In this blog experiment, I have laid down my vulnerabilities as a fledgling writer, mother, wife, and as a reluctant worker. In the six months of blogging, I have documented my sea/see change within and I hope that you have found something personal and worthwhile to take from my entries.

I invite you to look through my previous entries, if you haven't already. They still say everything I'd say about the challenges and joys of choosing to be both writer and mother/wife.

Through this process of blogging (and working on the novel), I have accepted myself as a writer, finally. (Why oh why did it take so long?) This process is what I've needed to now turn my attention--the little that I've have to devote to writing--mostly to my novel this year. If you are a writer and a mother or a mother trying to complete any goal for yourself, I know you understand.

As a writer, mama, worker bee, and wife, it's tough knowing where to put my energy at any giving point in the day. Most of the time my mind is split between the present and the future, my musts and my wants, dirty diapers and a smiling, bouncing 8-month old baby girl. You're nodding your head because you know the daily dance.

Blogging will have to take a back seat to writing my novel. Being more focused in my writing life will give me a little more piece/peace, I hope. I'll keep you updated from time to time. Drop me a line, let me know your out there.

Much progress in your passions in 2012.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

When to say when

Learning when to say when, uncle, enough, however you want to say stop, is hard to do, especially in this writing game. Let me clarify what I mean by "writing game." I'm not talking about the craft of writing, but everything else that comes along with getting your work out there, published. That's the game. Surely being a successful published writer (i.e., people read your work and you generate income from your publications) is easier when you know people of influence in the industry who think your work is worthy of publishing. After five years of working on my craft and at having a few moments where I've put my work out there, I've had little success. It's a tough pill to swallow: recognizing what a lonely, hard road it's been, but it is true.

I don't know many writers and the handful I know our relationships are not strong. There's much inconsistency in these relationships and they lack synergy. Read: they are all but dead. Today, I want to acknowlege this instead of continuing to hope that these relationships will turn into sudden support. It's time to let go.

It isn't easy knowing when exactly to give up hope in something. But I'm not giving up hope in myself, just in the dead relationships. Instead of putting energy into them, now I'm free to start looking for new connections. Ones that do have consistency and synergy.

Case in point. I've been hoping for several months that one of my writer friends would review one of my piece and introduce me to some of his connections. No such luck. Everytime I ask for feedback I get a lot of verbal "yes, yes, sure, sure" but then I don't hear from the person anymore until I contact them again. And it's "yes, yes, sure, sure" then nothing. Round and round we go, where we go nobody knows. My "friend" has been so touch and go with me and my work, that I'm foolish to call him a "friend."

But I have called him a friend for the last several years, not because he was, but because I wanted him to be my writer friend.

I now must turn my attention to the slush pile. That's my reality. That's my way forward right now. The odds are stacked against me, but it's still better than being jerked around in a dead relationship hoping that things will change. I'm saying when now.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I'm still here and I'm still trying, but boy is it hard! Going back to work has been a disruption to my creativity - hence, why I've been absent from this blog. My daughter has been sick so much that she still hasn't completed a full week of daycare. There have been days I've literally pulled my hair out, stuck in DC traffic, worried sick, trying to pick her up because I don't want to keep her there a moment longer than she must stay. And evenings are just nuts! By the time we get home, we've got 3 hours to pull off making dinner, eating, cleaning up, tending to the baby, trying to catch up with each other, putting out what ever fires we must, brushing our teeth, preparation for the next day, including those damn bottles! And each passing day is heavier with exhaustion. I know I'm preaching to the choir for those of you reading. So, this is my reality now. No writing, no reading, no exercise, sometimes it feels like there's no air. So far from the prolific writer I want to be.

But the good news is, I have decided that at the end of my workday, before I rush off to pick up my daughter from daycare, I will sit in my car for 10 minutes, usually my only time I'm alone, and work on my writing. With this strategy in place for the last week, I've managed to clean up one of my pieces enough to send it off to readers.

It's not romantic or sexy, this writing life of mine, but it is the way forward for now. Piece by piece, little by little, day by day. Progress.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Down for the Count

Less than a week before I return to work. And we're down. My husband and baby are sick. And I'm just tired.

This week my baby girl was supposed to start daycare. This was supposed to be my week to practice before I go back to work next week (too soon, much too soon). However, my daughter got sick for the first time in her life. It's amazing how awful a little person can sound. Every time she coughs, I jump. So we won't be going to daycare this week. There will be no practice runs. I'll just have to do the best I can on Monday getting us ready in the morning, drop her off, go to work, and learn from that. I sure hope her cough/cold is better. I'll have no choice, if it isn't.

The transition is nerve-wrecking anyway you slice it. I wanted to write this week while my daughter was in daycare. But this isn't happening. Instead my daughter is coughing in my face every few minutes so I'm sure I've got her cold germ somewhere in me waiting to pop up when I'm in the office next week.

If there is any point to all of my complaining, it's that I'm frustrated. Once again. I don't see any good solutions for my situation. Staying at home with my baby is only part of the solution. I know now after 5.5 months of being a stay-at-home mom that I need more relief built into my days for just me. I need someone to watch my baby for a few hours a day so I can write and sleep. That would be the solution. But we also need money. So I must work. And as of right now, work full time. So my daughter will be in the care of people I don't know more time than she will be with me Monday thru Friday. It kills me to think about this. I'm trying to stay open that perhaps this can work, but I fundamentally disagree with this set up. My daughter is my responsibility, not some daycare's. I'm upset. I am afraid.

Needless to say, my writing isn't going very well this week. But I am managing to pump out at least one crappy page a day. I suppose that's progress.

If anyone is reading this and has been through this before, I'd love to hear from you. Any tips on surviving this transition back to work and to daycare?

I'm down for now, but I won't be for long...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How to Change My Life

I have a 17 days until I am back at work. I am having a hard time envisioning adding a 40 hr+ a week job into the mix. This mommyhood thing is super hard. It's intense giving your almost everything to someone else most of the day. No matter how cute she is, it is still hard. The endurance required is massive and yet nothing else in the world stops for this requirement. The laundry piles up terribly quickly, dust is so noticeable, and me and my husband still need to eat, and to eat more than just pre-packaged foods from time to time. And then to fit writing into the mix? This is the hardest job I've had, the job of really just managing my own life, the baby's life, the home, and being chief advisor to my husband. And now work. Whew!

I've learned a lot during my time at home with my baby. I've learned that I am still human with human feelings. On any given day, I am bored, exhausted, frustrated because I am limited, busy, in love with my baby, unsure, overwhelmed, alone, wanting, wishing, glad to have time to not have to work, etc.

I've learned that I have limits and the more I respect them, the better my day goes. When I try to stuff too much into a day, an hour, a minute, I am instantly frustrated. I've learned to step back and think about what must be done, do that, then stop. Rest. Breathe.

I've learned that the house is not my preferred domain. I will give myself credit for getting better at putting a decently balanced meal on the table before 9 PM most nights, but still, I'm not house wife material.

I've learned so many other lessons, but since this blog is about writing while mothering, I'll stick to my lessons in writing. My biggest lesson is perhaps the most basic lesson that makes me go duh! when I think about it. It is: this whole writing dream I have is not going to happen over night. Writing is a long, long road. And while I am glad to be finally walking down this road, instead of pretending it is not my path, I'm at the beginning. I have little to show my readers. I have an almost finished short story, a birth story, and an unfinished manuscript. Oh yes, and this blog (How could I forget!)

Hell, I don't really have any readers yet! But I am plunging away on draft 2 of my manuscript (I'm on page 156). When I began my maternity leave I really thought I could turn my entire life ship around and that I'd pull into the harbor of success (see some of my earlier entries in Aug) within these 5 and a half months. I had crazy expectations - that I'd finish my manuscript, get an agent, get a book advance, never have to return to a job I don't love, etc. - that would surely leave me disappointed and frustrated by now.

The good news is that I am not disappointed or frustrated in myself. I am glad to have gotten all that nonsense out of the way, so I can get down to the business of writing and learning to write well. Having those great expectations left me vulnerable to too much compromise in my writing. You know, writing what I think others want to read so that I could never have to work in a cube again as opposed to what's in my head and heart.

Now without the pressure of changing my life in a short time span, I can just focus on changing my life, little by little day by day. And enjoying the parts that I don't want to change at all, like my husband's sweet kiss before and after his workday and my baby's bright and unabashed smile.