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

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A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire

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Catharsis to Career: How My Children Helped Me Get My Dream Job

 
Working in sweatpants, a fleece, and fluffy socks is dreamy. Having a cup of coffee or chamomile tea next to me while I type is the bee’s knees. The part that stings is, while I’m all comfy and tapping on my keyboard, I am at home. With my children. There is always some little person doing something, shouting something, or needing something. Right when I get to the part of my novel where I figure out my main character is, indeed, the villainous, wretched wench her husband thought she was, one of my children bumps his head or has a sneezing fit. I’m just as surprised as anyone -- both by the disruption and by the revelation that my beloved character is evil.

When I get back to work after fetching tissues, giving hugs, or getting Boo-Boo Bear ice pack, I have forgotten the devious way in which my character has hidden her dastardly deeds and the exact (Ugh! They were perfect!) words her husband uses when he finds out.

So I decided years ago to keep a separate document open on my computer to vent about all the absurd things that happen with my children while I’m trying to write. It’s like weeding before planting the petunias. I get all that irritation out and get on with my work. This journal helped me clear my head and concentrate on what I considered my “real” writing.

Then I went to a writer’s conference. I was excited to get out of the house and talk with other writers. I wanted to hear people “ooh” and “aah” over the genius of my character development and dialogue, to see them cringe over my ghastly descriptive narrative. Instead, everyone wanted to hear about my kids. I had brought one piece, one measly passage, describing the difficulty of raising children while trying to write. At the time, this seemed like a horrible mistake.

In one day, I became known as the “mommy writer.” Second day into the conference, I cried. Yes, I did. Near the registration table. In front of people. It helped my image, I think. Fellow writers approached me, wanting to read more about my kids. The consensus was that I ditch the fiction for now and focus on these anecdotes. My pre-writing purging was incredibly popular -- raw, intense, humorous, and true.

I refused to give in. I stubbornly tried to convince everyone that I wrote stories not truth, fiction not frustrations. The conference was not going at all how I planned. No matter how many times I brought my manuscript out at workshops, other writers asked to see my mommy journal. For years, I had strained my brain finding ways to balance taking care of my children and working on my writing, never dreaming that the two could, had, become mingled in a tangled, messy tapestry.

After the conference ended, I took a close look at those weeds. I had never spent any time looking through my collection of mommy moments. The more I read, the more I saw something worth reading. Some of the stuff in there was pretty funny. Apparently, by the time I returned to the computer after dealing with bumps and bruises and breakdowns, my anger had morphed into sarcasm and humor.

Now I keep a notebook nearby at all times to record the ridiculous antics happening at home. The writing I kept hidden on my hard drive evolved into a career. And my children changed from an interruption to an inspiration.

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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.


Sarah Brentyn is a geek, a mum, and a freelance writer who loves good books and good wine. She enjoys writing fiction like those people who enjoy singing in the shower. She is a contributing writer for her local paper where she shares columns about life, kids, and whatever floats her boat. Visit her at Lemon Shark. Connect with her on Twitter at @SarahBrentyn.


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Nice to see you here, Sarah! Great piece. I totally get where a lot of that frustration came from (at the conference for you, though for me it has been elsewhere). But isn't it funny how sometimes other people are better at holding up the mirror than ourselves? And who's to say that you can't write a wide range of things, right? Keep on keepin' on!
Sounds like you hit a goldmine of inspiration, and also discovered the importance of truth--it resonates with readers even if it evolves into fiction. Enjoyed your article!
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