Just Keep Swimming…

I’ve taken another hiatus and I apologize. I’ve yet to figure out a way to balance my fictional writing and blog writing. I seem to only be able to do one at a time. This hiatus, I’ve been busy writing many short stories and submitting like crazy. Anyone who has sent a piece into a literary market knows what a disheartening process it is. For example, in the past two days I’ve received two rejections. That’s just in the past two days.

In the past I would usually just stop writing after one or two rejections rolled in, but this time I decided, no, just keep writing, keep submitting. I’ve made it through about fifteen or so rejections without quitting so far. I don’t think this new found determination has come from a new growth of a thick, tough skin or a deep character refurbishment. I attribute it to one thing: becoming a parent.

This is not one of those, “Parenthood has changed my life and it will change yours too! You should have kids! Everyone should have babies, babies, babies! Parenthood is the only worthwhile endeavor in life!” sort of posts. I would never prescribe any ridiculously huge life choices to anyone else. Parenthood is hard. There are many things about the day to day rigors that just flat out suck, to put it mildly. It completely turns over every aspect of your life until you wonder what parts of the “you,” you were before still exists. For example, five years ago, I would probably be out with a cheap bottle of champagne in one hand and a microphone in the other at Monday Night Karaoke. The next day I’d be waking up around noon, still in a party dress, drooling on my laptop which probably had some mostly BSed paper on the screen with a blinking vertical line at the end. Right now, I’m sitting in what my stepfather calls, “Clo-jamas” which are clothes you can wear during the day and to sleep, with two breast pumps attached to my two-day unshowered body with zero makeup and damp socks from the splash fest my daughter just had in the bath. I’m about to write for an hour and go to sleep at around 7:30pm-8:00pm because the only way my daughter sleeps at night is if she goes to bed basically when the sun is setting like a reverse vampire. She pops her little head up when the first golden strand of light peeks out of the horizon. How? I don’t know, her room is pitch black with white noise, but oh well. So, it’s not the life everyone envisions for themselves.

What I mean to say is that writing used to be the sole thing I based my worth on. It was my “thing.” So basically, every rejection was a sign that the thing I loved most in the world (besides my husband) hated me and I should stop. Now, however, there’s this new person and she’s half-me. She will (God-willing) outlive me and hopefully make the world a better place. So my goals have shifted from me having this thing that I desperately wanted to be successful at to define me to having this person I want to help grow and empower so she can be better than my husband and I. Most of the time, that takes precedence over everything. So, I’m only not quitting simply because I have less time to worry about being personally successful since I’m more concerned that the half-me, half-my-husband, little person (who gives me slobbery kisses and does little baby downward-facing dog/headstand poses and blows raspberries from her upside-down vantage point every three feet while crawling across my living room floor), turns out to be, not just a decent human being, but a happy, healthy, caring, open-minded and empowered young woman one day.

Also, although I love every moment with my darling daughter (and I do, I really do. Even when she threw up down my shirt last week because when I was mopping it up, she was shrieking with glee and I realized, “Wow, this is the first time she’s ever seen a mop,” [I know, sad. I’m behind on my mopping. Vacuuming is so much easier] and it was amazing to watch her experience yet another banal thing for the first time and think it was wondrous), when she finally turns on to her tummy for her evening slumber and the hairdryer white noise is playing over the monitor, I go to my laptop and I start typing. It is there that I remember the one still extant part of the “Me,” that was. It’s even more important that I hold onto that one small piece of me now because I never want my daughter to grow up and think that her mother’s sole focus in life had been her. Of course, it pretty much is, but I want her to know that there’s more to me, that I’m a full human with interests and pursuits outside the home, that I have a past that did not include even the thought of having children. In other words, I hope to be a role-model and not a type-cast stay-at-home mother who’s always overworked and complaining. I want her to see me happy and enjoying every moment of her presence not slaving over chores and frantically cleaning up after her. I’m totally able to do that now because 1. I stopped caring about cleanliness (just “flipped the switch,” as they would say on Vampire Diaries-my guilty pleasure) and 2. Each night, during that hour or so while I’m cleaning bottles, pumping and writing while she’s soundly sleeping, and the hour in the middle of the night while I’m, again, pumping and  I enter “me-world” where I write freely and don’t give a crap if it ever sees the light of day or not and that recharges me for the next 22 hours when I will be completely and utterly devoted to my family.

Why am I telling all of you this? Well, it really bothers me sometimes that the writer life is often portrayed as people having a brilliant moment of inspiration and then spending all night typing away on a retro typewriter smoking endless cigarettes while drinking a brown liquor of some sort out of a glass tumbler and then cut to them getting published and sending their finished manuscript to an ex who told them they’d never be a writer as the ultimate F* you. I mean, sure, maybe it happened for some people that way, but the reality is that for most people, it’s not like that. It’s a lot of meandering. A lot of stopping a starting. More revisions than can be counted. A lot of life getting in the way or writing getting in the way of life.

I’m not where I ultimately want to be yet, but out of the mass of rejections, I did get one small acceptance. I will post the link here as proof that I have actually been writing fictional pieces during my hiatus and haven’t just been pretending to eat my daughter’s adorable baby toes to her perpetual delight all day long or throwing her onto my shoulders so she can touch the “Exit” sign outside our apartment door which she seems to think has magical powers (but there’s been plenty of that too).

You can read my short story, “The Other Side,” here, if you’re interested.

Thanks to any readers who haven’t completely forgotten about me and happen to skim through this post!

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7 responses to “Just Keep Swimming…

  1. Congrats on the acceptance! And for what it’s worth, I just received my copy of “Love Like Us,” and it’s gorgeous. I can’t wait to read it to my daughter when I give it to her for Christmas.

    I’m still getting caught up on *everything* in life from being sick for two days last week (which put me about two months behind) so don’t let a little late mopping stand in the way of your brilliance.

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad you like the illustrations. That part was really fun to do.

      I hope you’re feeling better!! I’m so sorry you were sick. I can’t imagine how run down you must feel being sick on top of Mom-ing and working!

  2. Balance is hard to master. Still haven’t figured it out. Not sure I ever will! The rejections are hard to take, but it’s awesome that you keep going. I gave up for and and have written this year off… it’s been a doozy, but there’s always next year 🙂 (Oh, and mopping? I don’t do it as often as I should, either!)

  3. Congratulations on getting one of your pieces published! I think it is hilarious that you are providing the link for your readers so that no one thinks you’ve been unproductive. What is it about the career of a writer that comes fraught with so many issues, when it should be seen as a job, like any other job, which has its ups and downs?

  4. OMG! I love this! Thank you for writing this. I lost that part of me(writing) and I am trying to get back to that person. I have two daughters and I’m married. It seem like there is no longer a “ME” that exist! This helped me!

    • So glad you enjoyed reading! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I think every writer goes through this! Writing is such a personal and isolated activity. It’s so hard to reconcile that with being an integral part of a family. When you care so much about the other people in your life, how do you justify doing such a solitary activity? But, I think it’s important we continue writing, if for no other reason than to show our kids that what we have to say is important, and if they have something to say that they feel isn’t being heard, well they will hopefully realize that they can write it down, too! That writing is an important tool for us all. I wish you all the best on your journey!

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