I took a tentative step towards becoming “legit” in the social media world today and created an author page on Facebook. Then I promptly “unpublished” it. Because while I have plans, dreams, and schemes – one of those being the creation of a relevant and robust author’s platform – I have to be honest … creating that page created two feelings for me. The first – a little bit of glee. I can’t wait until I can turn this page on and be like “look at me! I’m an author!” And then the other part of me wants to duck in a corner because … well. I’m not a published author yet. (Notice, I said “published.” I do believe that there is a distinction.)
Anyway – I’ll share more later about some of the research I’m doing in regards to social media. And when I’m not such a chicken shit, I’ll share the link to my Facebook page. For now, I assure you that I’m not taking myself too seriously. After all – how could I do that when this is my profile picture?
So, here’s the thing – I try really hard not to be “that mom.” I don’t think that my kids’ poop smells like roses. I don’t let them climb on strangers’ furniture and then praise their precociousness. I try really hard not to dominate conversations with how stinking cute they are. And while I think my oldest shows signs of being a burgeoning genius (he can count to 14! he knows colors! he knows letters! but he sucks with a fork! and he just turned two!), I keep most of those revelations to myself and only discuss them in whispers with my husband and the kids’ nanny.
Here’s a cliche for you: Becoming a mom did something to me. Yes, something beyond ensuring that my favorite jeans would never settle on my hips properly again. Something beyond the obligatory “when I see them walking around, my heart is gallivanting outside of my body.”
Becoming a mom has changed my focus on writing. Notice: I will never say that becoming a mom has made me a better writer. I came too close to not being able to bear children to be that kind of a twee asshole. But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that motherhood changed things. First off – reading books that “fill the well” and inspire me? Sandra Boynton may not have the same allure as the latest Diana Gabaldon, but it’s what I’ve been reading. Over and over and over again. And running off to the coffee shop to sit for hours noodling on prose? It still happens, but it’s usually a once a week thing that’s planned around bedtimes and my husband’s standing game night.
Having my eldest son paved the way for change, but Number Two pictured above was the game changer. I was working on my manuscript for “Afterlife” up until the night before we went in for our scheduled C-section. And then I finished the first draft of AL on the last day of my maternity leave (thanks to an amazing spouse and three mornings a week that our babysitter came to acclimate herself to two hooligans versus one). Having my youngest son – who turns a year old today (eeek!) – ushered in the era of “getting shit done.”
Lev Grossman wrote an engaging piece on how his daughter helped him find his voice. And talked about the challenges and frustration of trying to write in fits and spurts, but more importantly – how prior to the birth of his daughter, there were writing days where he let himself down, but with the arrival of Lily, he’d be damned if he’d let her down. (I love this: “Any time I wrote a sentence that was less than true I could feel her looking over my shoulder and shaking her head, slowly and sadly: Come on, Daddy. We both know that’s crap.”)
Although I spend time on Facebook narrating what I think my sons are saying with their expressions, I don’t have this image of them on my shoulders chiming in every time I make an editorial misstep. But what I do have are two really adorable and engaging little boys that have helped me prioritize.
So – happy birthday to my youngest and last baby, my littlest bear. And if you or your brother ever decide that you want to spend your lives stringing words together – do not let fear limit you. Live authentically. And the quickest way to write a novel is to park your ass in a chair and put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, and write.
“Filling the well” is one of my favorite cliches and it’s one that I find circling my head space when I’m doing almost anything that gets me outdoors, away from the computer, or encourages me to think outside of my mind’s normal realms of travel. My recent trip to visit a friend? I got a lot of work done on AL, but I also got a chance to revisit some favorite haunts that may or may not appear sometime in the future in my fiction. The occasional nights out that I have with old co-workers? Sometimes it is tempting to say no, but I work from home. I don’t interact with as many people as I once did and I find that those nights are usually filled with little moments where I see something that I can use in a story – usually moments or quirks that I can put in my characters.
This past weekend, my husband and I took a road trip up to Superior, WI / Duluth, MN to show our sons the Aerial Lift Bridge and watch some big ships come into the bay.
I am officially one chapter behind on the progress I’ve been making on AL edits, but this was good. And if you ever read a story of mine that involves a precocious two-year-old saying “oh no!” when Mommy hits the brakes too hard, it’s a moment from my own well.
I’m already behind. But I’m making consistent progress on AL and after 10 hours of driving over the weekend to see a very dear friend of mine, I made a ton of progress on version 3.
How do I make progress while driving? Well, first off – very carefully. Basically, what I do is retell the story in my head as I’m driving along. I throw out the niggling issues that are causing me heartburn and asking questions. Mainly … am I making things harder than they need to be? And honestly – if you’re asking yourself this question, the answer is probably a resounding “yes!” Some sketched out items for backstory were cut in favor of simplicity. I figured out how to tighten the pace (that was a huge “a-ha!” moment that had me pulling over in the next town and scribbling madly in my notebook).
I also finished my complete readthrough of version 3. Here’s a picture of Sunday morning and the glorious three hours that I had transcribing the notes that I had scribbled while reading:
I’ll share the story regarding the motel I had been staying in at a later date. While the place was dated, it was clean and the coffee was good and plentiful. (And it was QUIET! Yay for quiet working conditions!)
In the meantime – this is what else is going on in this world: