Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After Page One: Commitment


A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire


Writing Amidst The Carnival


FAQ: How do you find time to write, as a full-time mama without childcare, who works part-time?

Answer: I don't wait for a moment of solitude, I jump in and write amidst "The Carnival."

I'm not referring to the seminal Wyclef Jean album, but rather the fact that I write most of my pieces with my family rumbling and tumbling all around me.

Recently I read this article about the routines of famous writers, and was dipped into a vat of longing reading about the writers who devoted hours of their day to their craft, with breaks only for physical activity like swimming or running, returning to the page in the evening, perhaps with a stiff drink in hand.

However, I also read about several writers who plunge in, like Ray Bradbury, who wrote without quietude, with his family in the room. That seems right to me. And it is how I am getting it done.

Writing in the midst of one’s family is not ideal -- without the chatter of Dora in the background, I might be a novelist rather than a blogger.

When writing needs total incubation, I jot some thoughts down in the morning, then polish and finish at nap time. Sometimes I can steal 15 minutes here and there to write, adding up to a full piece. Other times the pressure builds for days, and I have to type, even if it means staying up late, my brain positively on fire.

E. B. White also wrote with the "carnival" of his house all around him. "The members of my household never pay the slightest attention to my being a writing man — they make all the noise and fuss they want to. A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper."

That final sentence may be my personal motto.

Maya Angelou also prefers to write in the morning, "Then I go out and shop — and pretend to be normal. I play sane — Good morning! Fine, thank you. And you? And I go home." Like her, I am often feigning normalcy as I'm clanging away inside with the desire to get back to art-making. Gratefully, I've found some fellow caregivers who I don't need to pretend with, so when we're at the playground and my daughter falls from the play structure into the sand because I was caught in a poetry-induced reverie and not watching her at all, they just help me dust her off and don't call Child Protective Services.

Recently I was bemoaning our financial woes to my friend and I pointed up to our apartment and yelled, "This whole thing is held together by string and luck!" Perhaps my writing career is as well. String, luck, and a ton of love and desire. In fact, that's what everyone is getting for their birthdays from me this year. It will come wrapped in toddler drawings, tied with a ribbon of precious time.


Join our After Page One series.  We’re looking for 300 to 500-word guest posts that motivate, inspire, and encourage other mama-writers, and we’d love to feature YOUR thoughts about getting started, getting back to a writing project, integrating writing with motherhood, reading, or having a positive attitude.   The list is endless, but here are some questions that might help you get started. We’ll publish a short bio at the bottom of your post so readers can learn more about you and your projects.

Rhea St. Julien was absolutely certain she would grow up to be a Fly Girl, but had to rethink her life goals when In Living Color was cancelled in 1994.  Since then, she’s carved a conciliatory life out of being a San Francisco-based freelance writer, who writes regularly for the online and print publication The Equals Record, as well as on her blog, Thirty Threadbare Mercies.  You can also read her pieces monthly in Golden Gate Mothers Group Magazine, and in this year’s edition of literary anthology The Mom Egg.

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Thanks for the inspiring piece--I especially liked the quote from E.B. White!
That's what everybody is getting from me for birthday presents too! I can so relate. Thanks for the great post. p.s. I write outside when my kids are playing, and occasionally have to dust them off also. I write when they are in the bath tub. They splash and I sit on the toilet with paper and pen. A mom's gotta write when a mom's gotta write.
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