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.
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.
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