This Writer’s Life

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Where other people have music or art or coding or cooking, I have words and stories and writing. It’s how I’ve always been. Nose buried in a book, burning through pages in a journal, itching to read at stop lights. Words and stories consume me. Their release into the world, on paper or screen, is a deep, full belly exhale.

A lot of good all that passion did me when college came around. I wanted to be a writer. But I was unfocused and naive. I thought writing meant you worked for a newspaper or magazine or you wrote novels. The English major I saw listed just didn’t seem to be the right fit for the writing I wanted to do. And really, didn’t English majors just teach? And journalism, well. I didn’t want to be a journalist. I wanted to be a writer, you know with a room of my own and all.

What a fool.

I’m glad, though, for my writer’s journey. It took distance to bring me back to writing, time away from it. It took motherhood and staring into the eyes of my children to come face to face with my heart’s true desire, to bring me back to me. So here I am. Figuring out how to be a writer.

A few truths.
1. I want to write fiction.
2. I want to write other people’s stories. I want to interview them and be their voice.
3. I want to write to inspire people. I want to stir something in others.

There. That’s the truth of the writing I want to do. But then there’s the tricky reality of bills and responsibilities and realizing I’m not a trust fund baby who can disappear into a cabin in the woods to write. So how does a woman, a mother with young children underfoot, teeming with stories get them all written down in a day with only 24 hours? And more than the writing, how do I find a community of writers? How do I hone my craft? How do I get my writing into the eager hands of readers?

These questions likely would be easier for me to answer had I given English or journalism majors a shot. Instead, I’m figuring it out deep into the night after bedtime. Each night it’s  a choice – do the writing or the other work of being a writer today. It’s tricky. For me the writing comes easy. Well, as easy as it comes when you demand inspiration at the end of a long day. It’s the other work which challenges me most.

I could disappear into my writing for hours, if I had hours to myself  to write. Which I don’t, really. But, find writers to connect with, invest in improving my writing skills, pitch publications – all that jazz? It seems impossible in the wee hours of the night. While it overwhelms me I tackle it as Anne Lamott would say bird by bird. In recent years I’ve said I’m going to devote myself to writing more. Well and dandy, however, the writing alone will not magically find itself printed in a book or appear for willing to pay readers on their tablet. So this year I’m dedicated to doing the writing and doing all the work necessary to go along with it.

In no particular order –

  • I started the Mom Before Mom weekly writing prompt link up. It’s my “if you build it, they will come” project.
  • I’m exploring other writing prompt link ups. I’m not sure how often I’ll participate but really good ones are usually hosted on blogs with a strong following of writers, making them great places to discover kindred spirits. Check out some interesting ones here.
  • I’ve got my eye on a writing class coming up in March. I’ve even got a writer-ly friend who wants to go as well. Hoping.
  • And while I figure out the kind of classes and conferences and workshops which work best for me, I’m diving deep into some books on being a better writer. I kicked the year off with Ann Lamott’s Bird By Bird and have Writing Down The Bones on deck.
  • I’m reading like a writer. I’m tucking away quotes from books to learn and be inspired. A writer’s reading journal, if you will.
  • I’ve got a running list of places to pitch and their submission guidelines. Year end goal: get published in a magazine. It won’t be Vanity Fair but a trade publication or local number will do, more than just fine. My secret hopeful year end goal might actually have double digits. I’m not saying.

Baby steps. Are you a mama and a writer? I want to know. What kind of writing do you want to do? What are you doing to make your writer dreams reality?

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  1. <3 it. All of it. You HAVE to come and meet Hannah. It's meant to be! And btw, I freaking love bird by bird. Anne Lammott rules.

    1. Seriously, Bird By Bird is so much more than just about writing. Have you read her latest? It’s up next!

  2. Oh, do I EVER know what you mean!! My brain teems with ideas and stories just begging to be fleshed out and written for others to read. But when? In the late hours? (Like right now) But then I’m impossible to live with the next morning and do more damage to my “other life” than I can endure. sigh. It’s a season, right? This time of putting the needs of little people ahead of my own? Wish I had a better response than – I understand.

    1. So true, just a season. Just last night I went to bed earlier than I have in ages and I’m so much nicer to be around this morning LOL

  3. Carla, I know exactly what you mean about finding your tribe and connections – the people who share your passion. Looks like you need to meet ‘Hannah’ and chat with Stephanie.

    I hope you get your cabin some day.

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