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...


What’s Important

Writing is what’s important. This is something I knew inherently as a child, when I’d scribble stories in notebooks, on napkins, sometimes on whatever surface was available (much to my parents’ chagrin). This knowledge, though, became somewhat eclipsed as I got older, by well-meaning teachers and peers who thought I had a talent for writing, who thought I could do something with my stories. I began to consciously study writing craft, to read others’ stories, not just for pleasure, but to learn, and I now approached my writing with the ideas of plot, character development, theme, at the forefront of my mind.

Photo by Amanda Morris

Photo by Amanda Morris

My writing improved, and I gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of just what goes into crafting a story. But it wasn’t as fun, I realized. It was no longer just coming home after school, firing up the family’s Macintosh II and typing away for hours. The material I was producing had noticeably improved, but the process had changed. I had met and become fully acquainted with my inner editor.

After my second child was born, the process changed yet again. Instead of going back to work, I started freelancing. Now writing was also a business, my sole source of income. I’d sometimes work seven days a week, squeezing in hours during nap or after the kids went to bed. I was writing a lot, but now it was for other people. I’ve ghostwritten dozens of novels, and each time I’d tell my husband about the latest project, he’d look at me with concern and say he wished I wouldn’t waste my ideas and energy writing someone else’s book.

I’ve never had that fear though, because ideas are everywhere, infinite, endless. I’m more afraid of running out of the motivation to choose writing over, say, taking a nap or vegging out in front of the TV after another long day. But even that is an abstract fear, one that I know I will never succumb to completely. There have been plenty of times when I’ve chosen sleep over writing, or going for a bike ride, or watching a favorite TV show. The ideas for stories are circulating all the time, and if I don’t eventually get them down, something just feels . . . off.

And yes, the sort of writing I’m doing has changed—right now I’m percolating an idea for a new novel but all of my actual writing has been a weekly ‘zine the four kids suggested—starring themselves, naturally. Is that really how I wanted to spend the few precious moments of time I had allotted for my own writing, writing about the very people I’d been taking care of and hanging out with all day? Weren’t there about five different novels, and maybe a short story collection, that I’d been mulling over and scribbling excerpts of that I should be dedicating this time to? But it turns out that writing the ‘zine is the closest I’ve come to recapturing those joyous, unfettered moments of writing before I discovered my inner editor, and that any sort of writing I do for myself is what is truly important.


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. 

Erica Smith is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and their children on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She has published an essay in the anthology Being Biracial and has ghostwritten many novels for freelance clients. When she’s not writing or with her children, she working with her husband at the local bike shop.

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