Writing and MotherhoodSunday, May 2, 2010
I started writing in high school. Back then, I would wildly spin tales without having the slightest idea where the story was going or what the character's purposes were. After finishing up a chapter, I'd happily print it out and pass it around to the other girls in school who read it as if it was the latest installment in some teen soap opera. I still remember some of the settings and characters. For heaven's sake! What was I thinking? It was terrible writing. Truly despicable!
Serious writing came later when I was married. Roger was deployed and I was left alone in Southern California with a whole lot of time on my hands. My new life in the world of the military and a budding war in the Middle East gave me a taste of fiction coming to life in my own world. This was not the type of life I had ever dreamed I would be part of. I was lost in a world of saluting Military Police at the base gate, breathtaking CH-46 helicopters racing over the tops of towering palms tree, and the sight of hovering Cobra helicopters slipping down to the earth between power lines and dirt roads. Throw in the fact that my husband's unit was on the other side of the world being covered on international news by a once very famous political and military icon, and you can understand why everything was surreal. I literally felt as if I had joined the ranks of women from our history…the same women that took up work riveting airplane fuselages in factories or even flying the airplanes themselves in the WASPS.
I wrote three full length novels while I was in California. Were they good? Heavens no! They were terrible! But I certainly thought they were good at the time. I even worked very hard seeking publication. It was my first taste of what a stack of rejections looked like. And it didn't look good!
Then, my time as a military wife ended and my husband and I left California behind to head back to our hometowns. It was time to enter the "real" world. And boy was it an adjustment! But I didn't leave writing behind. I was still recklessly stubborn and determined that I was going to see one of my novels published. I kept writing as if my life depended on it. I finished another novel. This one was much better than the last, but it was still dreadful. I shopped it around to literary agents…and again received a fresh stack of rejections. It was getting to the point where rejections didn't sting as much. As much, is key. It still hurt. It still does.
Then, babies started coming along. When I was pregnant with my daughter, there was nothing I could do to get myself to write. I believe that my brain must have simply been overwhelmed by the amount of hormones that were assaulting it. Try as I may, words eluded me. I didn't write again until the summer I was pregnant with my son, nearly two years later. Unlike with my daughter, I was able to write. In fact, I wrote an entire novel those nine months--the novel that I just received representation for.
These days, I don't get to stay up through the night pounding away at the keyboard, madly hashing out the story that is running rampant in my mind. I don't have that luxury because at eight o'clock in the morning, the kids are going to be jumping into my bed armed with empty cereal bowls, demanding that I feed them. Then, of course, there are those terrible midnight screams and sounds of retching that propel me running into their room.
When I edit, the children get stacks of old manuscripts and highlighters so that they can "work" along side mommy. They love it and it keeps them busy. I write scenes between snack breaks and dirty diaper changes. I don't get to write to film scores anymore, but instead to the backdrop of PBS cartoons. But no matter how, where, or when I write, it always pays off. Not only do I get to lose myself in a world of fiction where anything can happen, but I get the reward of my daughter cuddling up to me with a book as she says, "One day, mommy, I'm going to write books like you."
And we will be. Both of us.