Funny, compassionate, friendly, weird, silly, uncool, and nerdy are all words that could be used to describe me. They are either words that others would use, or words that I would call myself. One word that is unlikely to appear on the list (mine or anyone else’s) is “tough.” I am not tough. I never have been. I don’t like conflict or strife. In fact, I’m kind of a sap. I don’t proudly wear my heart on my sleeve. I don’t really want to be sensitive. It’s just the way I am. This is what I’ve discovered while both writing and parenting.
Being a mother, though, means I can’t really afford to be not tough. I’ve had to get tougher or I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. I’m not just looking after myself anymore. I have two sweet little boys who depend on me for pretty much everything. There is my husband, of course, but I’d bet for every one “Daddy!” there are at least ten of“Mama!” and I can’t afford to just think about my own fears and feelings. I have to be tough. There’s no other option.
Writing and Parenting Experience – Hand in Hand
I am on the brink of facing another opportunity to test my fortitude. I have written a novel that is going to be released very soon and, just like motherhood, it is presenting new and unexpected challenges. To be honest, I’m pretty intimidated. Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Writing is a very personal thing. Intimate. When we read a good story, we usually don’t think about the person sitting at the keyboard, but there is a real person who has poured themselves out onto the page and allowed us to wander around in their beliefs, emotions, and fears. When I started writing my story, I wasn’t thinking about how I would have no say in who read or didn’t read it. I was so excited to get the phone call from the publisher telling me that they had accepted my manuscript. It was later that the doubts started creeping in.
Not everyone is going to like my book. Not everyone is going to agree with the things that I write. And I have the suspicion (and this is what bothers me most) that some people will read my book expecting to disagree with and dislike my story. Remember how I said I don’t like conflict? But this is where I get to practice being tough. Yes, I poured myself out into The Valley Without Her. It showcases my sense of humor, my values, my ideas, and, of course, my ability to write. That doesn’t mean that I have to let it break my heart when I get negative feedback. In fact, I refuse to let it when it inevitably comes. So read my book and love it. Or hate it. Be indifferent, or don’t read it at all. It’s okay. Just don’t expect me to sit down and cry if you’ve called me “preachy” or “sappy” or “predictable” or even “dumb.” I’ll still be funny, compassionate, friendly, weird, silly, uncool, and nerdy, and just maybe a little tougher. I’ll still be me.
How have you balanced writing and parenting?
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