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

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A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire...


Writing for Joy

I started writing a novel when my daughter, June, was eight-months-old. It probably goes without saying that it was not the optimal time to start writing a novel.

June was struggling with her sleep schedule. I was her primary care-giver. I was trying to maintain the status-quo of a mostly happy child, a content husband, a clean(ish) house, and a job that I enjoyed. I was severely sleep deprived and any free time, if it could even be called that, was scarce.

Photo by Amanda Morris

Photo by Amanda Morris

Yet, when I finally found myself with an hour to myself, I went to a wine bar, ordered a glass of Barbera, and typed this sentence “We are two hours from home when the Coast Guard catches the hull of The Zephyr in their searchlights.” Then I typed three more pages, before finishing my glass.

The week after I started the novel, I would not admit to myself that I was working on it. This was a time in my life where I should be letting go of anything non-essential. There was nothing about writing a novel that was essential. So when I spent time on it every day, I acted as if it was an accident, or a vice I hadn’t quite given up, but planned to.

It has been a month since I started the novel. In that month June grew two new teeth, my husband had food poisoning, we traveled for a week, I worked as usual, and our house became a little messier. I am also now over 50 edited pages into my novel and I know that it is going to be finished, one way or another.

Every day I work on the novel for at least 20 minutes. If I am not in the writing mood, I edit. Most nights after June goes to sleep, I write for the first half hour, usually longer. If I get done with a work project early, I squeeze in a few pages. I do background research when it is late at night and my writing brain has already gone to bed. Yes, I added one more thing to my busy schedule, but instead of contributing to my stress it has helped me decrease it.  

Writing this first draft  feels like playing. I find myself crafting dialogue for my characters in my head while soothing June. During June’s bath I sometimes tell her parts of the novel, as if they are children’s stories. So far she approves.

My husband says I am happiest when I am writing a novel. He might be right. There is so much joy in writing a novel for me. I am inundated with work and overwhelmed with the chores of life, but starting a novel was the right thing to do. It is as luxurious as reading on a hammock. Right now it is the only thing I am doing for myself. And that matters. A lot.


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.

Caitlin Thomson has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology. Territory Prayer, her third chapbook, was just published by Maverick Duck Press.

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Thank you for sharing Caitlin. I read your piece at a time when I need reassurance and encouragement to continue to work on my project. Thank you!
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