My baby turns a year old today. *Collective sigh*
My baby turns a year old today. *Collective sigh*

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.

You both are my greatest inventions.

Fiction, Process, Random

Process and Parenting

I’ve read some really neat articles lately that feature the offices / work spaces of the “famously creative.”  This article “The Writer’s Room” is from the New York Times. The other one is from BuzzFeed and features “40 Inspiring Workspaces of the Famously Creative.”

When I was a kid, having an office seemed synonymous with Being a Big Deal.  I’m not sure where I got that from – my father was a farmer, the farm and its 100+ acres was his office.  My mom later worked in an office, but since she owned the entire building – well … my mom had an entire building.  Somewhere in my mind and in my existence, I thought to myself that if I had a space with a working door and a desk – I’d have an office.  And it would be good.

Here’s my “office.”  I ended up claiming this space as my own after turning my old office / spare bedroom into a nursery.  To be honest … it’s a pretty great space and really gets me away from it all – with the exception of the Cat.  He is perched on my worktable right now, purring.  And likely plotting.

office illustration
Click on to enlarge and view the madness!


Anyway, as I’m doing edits on my first draft of my novel (the working title is “After Life” [AL]), I bought a pad of those easel-size Post-It notes.  Right now, I have three up and they represent some of the main characters that are in my story and will eventually have their character arcs sketched out.  As I’ve finished my first draft of AL and its initial read-through, I realize that there’s a story there and that there are some good moments, but that there are some things that are missing. I’m hoping that if I can physically SEE the arcs and can stare at them for awhile, they’ll jolt something into being.  So yes – that sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but it’s already working.  Last night after I affixed the current Post-Its to the wall, I had a couple thoughts regarding the backstories of a couple pivotal characters.


The revisions to my first draft of AL have taken longer than I originally anticipated – I don’t remember what my exact deadlines were, but I adjusted accordingly.  I want the first set of revisions to be done by end of first quarter (April) and ready for beta readers by fall (October).  To be honest – I think I might be able to hit the April deadline, but I think it’s going to take a little more love and attention before I set this child out into the world to get her first round of critiques.

Part of the reason that my edits are taking longer is because my “real life” – i.e., my job as a proposal writer, has been taking a lot of my time lately.  Not only from my writing, but (more importantly) from my family.  And then there’s the reality that I’m the mom of two children under the age of 2.  God, I love them and while they are my best inventions – they are marvelously exhausting.  But here’s the thing – even though I’ve lived solo on this earth longer than I’ve been a mother, I have found that motherhood has done some interesting things to my writing.  One of the biggest things is that motherhood has helped me prioritize my time.  It’s pretty easy for me to pick and choose what social obligations I’d rather skip in favor of spending some time with AL. I’d also say something about how it’s given me greater depth of feeling, but you know?  That’s probably a bunch of bullshit.  Motherhood is part of a larger whole of me – I draw from being a mom, just like I’ve drawn from being a reporter.  I’ve even got a couple stories that came from the time that I worked as a phone operator at a cab company.  Every writer is different.  We all bring something unique and personal to the mix.


Writing / Doing: Setting up the Post-Its were a step in the right direction.  I got a couple ideas jotted down last night that I need to play with and see how they work in the overall arc of my story.

Reading: Still going through Geneen Roth.  Picked up a copy of J.T. Ellison’s latest novel “When Shadows Fall” on my Kindle.  I’m looking forward to reading her latest.  Also, I’ve linked to my Goodreads account on this page.  This also reflects what is on my bookshelf – both physical, Kindle, and virtual.