Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On Moms and Writing

It seems like every time you turn around a mom writer is getting a book deal.  Personally, I think this is great, but I've seen quite a bit of negativity regarding moms who are writers online lately.  From the dismissive "just another Stephenie Meyer" comments (which btw, isn't an insult) to downright mean-spirited jibes, I've been a little shocked.  It seems that there's a misconception that moms writing books are the new fad.  As though many of us just looked around at our cluttered houses and active children and said, "Gee, golly, I think I'll write a book!"

Mother writers are not a new thing.  Seriously, check out Mary Wollstonecraft, or her daughter, Mary Shelley.  Or Francis Burney.  Or Sylvia Plath.  Or J.K. Rowling.  Maybe it's the birth of social media that allows us to come out from hiding and reach out to one another.  It's allowed us to make ourselves known outside of the published book spine.

But this is not a fad.  Writing isn't the new kitschy hobby of moms everywhere.   Moms who write, work hard.  Now, don't get me wrong, most writers work hard.  But the image of moms jotting down a few lines blissfully between meals and diapers changes is a bit out of whack with reality.  If you think a mom has all the time in the world to write a book because she stays home with her kids, you are mistaken.  This is what it's really like:

Get up with kids.
Wrangle them into high chairs for breakfast.
Decide what to do while they're eating: eat yourself, get dressed, or try to catch up with your emails or blog reading.
Choose blog reading -- you're desperate for contact with the outside world.
Clean up breakfast.  Empty dishwasher.  Start laundry.  Vacuum twice, because the kids got a hold of crackers 5 minutes after you did it the first time.
Sit down and try to ignore Barney on the t.v.
 Worry that they're watching too much television.
Tweet once.
Break up fight over lightsaber.
Switch laundry.
Vacuum because 1 yo hid a cracker in her pocket and then sprinkled it Hansel and Gretel-style all over the house.
Take a shower with 4 yo flipping light off and on and asking what's privacy while 1 yo screams and continually opens shower door.
Make lunch.
Find something you can just shove in your mouth, so you can dry your hair.
Wonder why on Earth you aren't skinnier.
Clean up lunch.
Consider buying a roomba to follow each child around all day.
Drag kids to library.
Page through books while taking dirty, public library crayons out of 1 yo's mouth.
Check email.  Sigh that no one has emailed you.
Check out books with help of 4 yo.
Put kids back in car 15 minutes later.
Drive home.
Stupidly, give them crackers as a snack.
Take call from hubby (Be ready when I get home).
Feel guilty for not making dinner.
Consider deleting your stupid, selfish manuscript, so you can be a better mom.
Scrounge up coffee money.
Meet husband at door.
Leave screaming, crying baby with him.
Feel horrible for leaving her.
Get to coffee shop.
Set up.  Get coffee.
Settle in to get in the right mindset.
Stare blankly at screen for fifteen minutes.
Finally get to work.
Write like the wind, ignoring the typos.
Get text message: "Can you come home now?"
Hit save.
Check clock.
Two hours.
Check word count.
2k words.
Go home.
Wrangle kids to bed.
Rock baby to sleep.
Try to watch show with husband while wanting to open up your manuscript.
Wait until he falls asleep.
Open up the document, stare at it.
Too tired.
Maybe tomorrow you'll get more work done.


  1. I don't know how you moms do it! You must have super energy! You're all hands on and not missing a beat with your kids or the writing. Props to you all. You are truly my heroes. I can't imagine anyone making a snarky comment about a mom with a book deal. There should be nothing but praise! Congrats on your book deal!

  2. I didn't know people were saying that about moms. I think whether you have a job at home or working outside the home it's hard to find the time to squeeze in the job of writing. It takes so much time too.

  3. Amen! I don't think people realize just hard it is for a Mom to scrounge together a few hours in between cleaning, laundry, needy children, needy spouse, cooking, etc.

    For the last 2-3 months, I've taken to staying up until 5am, sleeping a few hours, waking up and trying my best to be a good Mom, just to finish my revisions uninterrupted.

    How anyone can say anything derogatory towards Mom writers, doesn't seem to understand the devotion to our craft that is needed!

  4. Bit of a rant, really. But I hate seeing people bashing moms, so thank you for your words of support, ladies.

  5. I'm not a mom, but I am constantly amazed at how hard my mom and other mothers work -- and how much they get done despite being busy. I think it's amazing.

  6. Here, here! I finally had to admit that I'd get no work done unless I snuck down before everyone. Yes, 4:50 A.M. hurt, but the work I got done between 5 and 7 was worth it! I actually started to looooove those two hours of dark quiet last winter. Writer moms are awesome. :)

  7. You forgot:
    *Read entire prologue of Star Wars at least 3 times out loud to 4 year old
    *Get home- type with one hand while nursing
    *Remember that zombies are "in", so you don't feel too bad about the bags under your eyes


  8. If you added one-handed typing and playing mindless computer games to entertain toddlers, you'd pretty much have my day. I love being a writer mom.

  9. A-MEN. I've only got one kid at the moment, but he's a handful. I wouldn't trade motherhood for anything, but I love those moments I get to sneak in for my writing.

  10. Rock on, sister! Those are my fact, i'm typing this right now on my phone as the 2 yo eats, I stand at the counter stuffing my face with greek yogurt b/c it's better than chips, calculate when I have to pick up 7 yo & if I will ever exercise again. And all the while jotting down notes for when I finally sit down to write tonight! So glad to have come across your blog. Looking forward to following you on your journey.
    Tonya from Omaha

  11. Literally laughing out loud at this one. Especially the shower bit. GEEZ it is hard to get a shower! We have a membership to the YMCA, and I primarily go work out b/c they have childcare, which means I get a hot shower all by myself. I just do the working out bit so I don't feel guilty for only going for a shower.

  12. I do the same thing at the Y, Jess. But I twisted my ankle and now I can't even work out to justify it...I'm pretty sure its known fact that I come there for the quiet, hot shower, so I should probably just stick to my routine ;)

  13. pshaaa. I don't vacuum. That's what dogs are for!


  14. I missed this the first time around, and laughed right out loud, especially at the "stupidly gave 1 y.o. a cracker. All of it is so real! Thanks for sharing it again, along with the other posts.