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

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 A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire


The View from Here


I am in one of the troughs.

I don’t want to write this. I don’t want to do much of anything. My two-and-a-half-year-old twins take up the vast majority of my time and when I do have time to write I hear myself asking: “What’s the point?” I’ve been rejected by three grant organizations and two literary journals in the past few weeks. I’m tired from sleeping through the night maybe fifty times in the last three years. I’m exhausted from addressing need after need after need – theirs, theirs, and only sometimes my own.

I’m writing this because the troughs are part of the writing/mothering cycle. So are the crests – like last spring when it seemed that everything I submitted was accepted, every seed of an idea blooming as gloriously as the saucer magnolia tree outside my window. But it’s hard to remember the crests when you’re not actually on one.

So I need to remember two things: the long view and the short view.

The long view is the inevitable cycle of ups and downs in both your family and your creative life. The long view is that there will be another acceptance; there will be another hour in which to write; the twins will eventually fall asleep for the night; the twins will eventually go to school; there will, at some point, be more of a balance between my need to write in solitude and our need to be a family together.

But there is also the short view – the micro view, even. What can I do in the next few hours to start climbing out of this trough? I might have fifteen minutes while the twins are happily rereading the books we found in the library this morning. What can I do in that time? Look up submission guidelines? Brainstorm a title for a new essay? Make a list of things to do when I have more time? I might have a two-hour stretch while they nap. Maybe I can read one of the books I plan to review, or catch up with my journaling, or work on that one troublesome passage that just doesn't seem to knit together.

Or maybe I can make a strong cup of coffee and write about how hard it is to let my stagnant mood dissolve.  Maybe I can write something about how difficult it is to take the long view while also focusing on this scrap of time right in front of me.  And maybe some words will come, words that will form a current to draw me out of this trough and up towards one of the crests again.


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 so readers can learn more about you and your projects.

Randon Billings Noble is an essayist. Her work has appeared in the Modern Love column of The New York Times; Brain, Child; The Georgia Review; The Rumpus; Brevity; Fourth Genre and elsewhere.  She is a nonfiction editor at r.kv.r.y quarterly, Reviews Editor at PANK, and a reviewer for The A.V. Club.

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