I’m going to tell you something about me that I don’t think I’ve shared on this blog before. You all know I’m writer. You know I like to write sexy, funny, sometimes heartfelt stories and you know I have a smart mouth that often works independently of my brain.
What you don’t know is that behind this writer facade, is a working single mother. That’s right. I’ve got a full-time day job in addition to the novel writing. I also have a second job blogging and writing freelance articles, under another pen-name. So finding time to write is a serious challenge.
Finding a quiet space where I can just get my head into the story and flesh it all out…well, that’s mostly impossible, because I’m not just a single mom, I’m a special-needs parent, as well. My kids live with me primarily, and my son is autistic. He is frequently (read: always) in my face, talking, demanding attention and interaction. He falls into something called echolalia, where he repeats phrases – usually movie dialogue for him – over and over and over. When he is home with me (which is all but every other weekend), this is constant. I love him with every breath in my body, but it does. not. stop.
Try writing a climactic scene while a never-ending movie narration with a thousand repetitive questions cycles around you. Imagine that even when you’re only in the next room, someone has to call your name every 2-3 minutes, just because. And you must answer. I cannot escape. I cannot entirely stop him because he cannot stop himself. I have no family near me, no one I can send him to for a while, and babysitters are a luxury this single mom can’t afford easily.
So I’ve learned to focus, while leaving one ear wide open. I’ve learned to look up from the laptop every ten or so minutes and engage and talk, because he needs that interaction. I’ve learned to shut the laptop down entirely and spend time with my kid even when I know it means I’ll be up till 2 or 3am writing after he goes to sleep so I can hit that deadline.
Because that’s what writers do. They write, because it’s a passion. It’s also a discipline, and that also, is what writers do. Well, the ones who actually publish, anyway. And it’s also what Moms do. Because no book in the world, mine or otherwise, can ever replace my son – or his sister’s – time and growing years. Ever.
And because I have to write this way, I know, oh do I know, the importance – no, the imperative – of editing your work. Sometimes I write brilliantly despite the chaos around me. Sometimes I only think I did. Rereads are important. Beta readers are invaluable. Fresh eyes on your manuscript are not only welcome, but necessary. For me they are, anyway. I’ve learned to guard every kid-free pocket of time fiercely and say no when I need to in order to have that time. Sometimes that sucks, but it’s gotten my books published.
The reason I share all this with you today is because I know your struggle. You think to yourself: “I don’t have time to write! And when I do, I can’t get focused. I need _____ or I just can’t write.”
Yes, you can. Stop the excuses.
If I can come home from my 40 hour a week job, make my kids dinner, tackle homework, listen to my daughter chat one ear off and my son chat the other ear and most of my head off, juggle all my deadlines, and still pump out a coherent novel or five, so can you. SO CAN YOU.
I am living proof that you don’t have to have the time, or exactly the right circumstances. You can just write anyway. Even if it’s coming out crap, keep writing. You’ll figure it out. Have a little faith in yourself.
Because I’m here to tell you, some days…that faith is all that keeps you going.