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New Experiences

I’m taking a day out from the series on querying agents to talk about new experiences. Tomorrow, we will resume the series by talking about the actual query letter.

I spent almost all of yesterday sitting on the floor of the bathroom while my son learned to use the potty. He did it!!! He peed and pooped in his potty. Of course, now he’s obsessed with using it, and wants to try all the time. So much for leisurely potty training sessions.

As my son gets older, I think about how all these “firsts” are passing me by; his first tooth, his first word, his first steps, the first time he used his spoon alone, and now the first time he used his potty. He’s growing up so fast, and while I want nothing more than for him to be a healthy, happy little boy, a part of me is achingly sad knowing my time with him is limited, that someday, he’ll leave and I’ll be lucky to see him several times a year. It makes my heart break a little every time I think about it.

I hear you, though. You’re wondering, what does this have to do with writing? Well, I’ve been trying to cheer myself up by thinking of all the “first” writing experiences I hopefully have ahead of me; the first time an agent wants to represent me, the first time I sign with an agent, the first submission to a publisher, etc. All of these firsts, both with my son and with writing, are hard to imagine until they happen. The sheer joy of each experience has been, and hopefully will continue to be, a radiant burst of fireworks coloring an otherwise pretty, but ordinary sky. My “ordinary sky” fills me with contentment and happiness, but those bursts of sizzling fire provide the excitement that helps one to truly savor life.

Recharging your Writing Batteries

If you follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been feeling a little discouraged with my writing lately. I don’t know if it’s a combination of working too hard, gloomy gray weather, and my son’s bad sleeping phase, but I’ve been feeling very reluctant to start on my next novel. I’ve got a great idea (maybe the best one I’ve ever had) and yet I continue to put it off, finding a million things I “have” to do instead; cleaning, helping my husband put up a backsplash in the kitchen, exercising, reading, watching movies…

I think, for me anyway, that when I feel like this, it’s a message that I need to slow down and relax. I have a sort of type-A personality. I like to have answers to all my questions, I need to have everything planned out, and I need to stay busy. Sometimes, I even feel guilty if I sit down and read for a while.

Even though I haven’t brought in any income with my writing yet, I still regard it as my career. I work hard, everyday, busting my butt to try to make it work. I know I only have until my son (and our future kid(s)-fingers crossed) leave for kindergarten to get my writing career off the ground. At that point, I will probably go back to school, finish up my last year or so, and get my Bachelor’s degree in teaching or nursing. And so I work, getting up hours before my son, working during every naptime, staying up after everyone else has gone to bed. I put in the hours, collect the rejections, and try to make it work. So far, it’s been for nothing, and that can be discouraging. I’ve said it before here on my blog; yeah, it’s nice hobby to write, but I’m really writing because I want my stories to be read, to have people fall in love with them. It’s kind of hard for that to happen if they’re tucked away in my hard drive. Plus, if I just wanted a hobby, I’d knit.

So, the best thing for me to do right now is to recharge my writing batteries; try new things, go to museums, watch educational specials on PBS, read great books, watch great movies, go for long hikes (or snowshoes), cook new recipes, play with my son, spend time with my husband. I know it might feel like you’re not doing anything, but you are. You’re feeding the big idea center in your brain. It all goes into one big pot on the stove, and someday soon, you’ll turn on the heat, simmer it well, and have a delicious pot of stew (or a novel!).

Writing and Parenting: the Same Skill Set

Before I get into my post, I wanted to thank you all, my loyal readers. Yesterday, The Literary Mom broke the 1,000 view mark! Not too shabby for a little over two months. It’s nice to know that I”m helping someone, or at least providing  interesting reading material. Thank you, everyone. Now, on to my post.

You know, when I got pregnant, I never thought that being a parent would help me be a better writer but it has. It turns out that writing and parenting require many of the same skills and virtues.

Can’t get your baby to stop crying and go to sleep even though it’s one o’clock in the morning? That same patience will help you wait while editors or agents have your manuscript. Feel like you can’t write unless you get a good nights sleep? Just wait until you have a baby. You’ll be able to write anywhere, at anytime. Turns out, once you have a baby, you don’t have a choice when, where , or even with what, you write. By the way, don’t try to write with a crayon while in your pediatrician’s office. It’s embarrassing when your pediatrician feels bad for you and offers you a pen. Cooking healthy, delicious meals for your family helps you build a good plot. How? You take your ingredients, put them in the bowl in the correct order, add a touch of spice, and mix it all together and hope it comes out all right. At least with writing, you can revise. If you make a meal that tastes like crap, one that even the dog won’t eat; let me tell you, there’s no revising that (or living it down either).

There are also the less tangible things that come along with being a parent; love, understanding, and mental and emotional growth. It makes your life and writing much richer and more varied. Even though it can be super hard to be a parent sometimes, and even though it definitely wrecks havoc with your life, I wouldn’t change it for the world. In fact, it IS my world.