A mother who writes – A writer who mothers

Stella Hervey Birrell, brilliant novelist and fellow Crooked Cat, is on my blog today to talk about How many wrongs make a Mr Right, her first novel being released on April 15.
Welcome, Stella! Over to you..

A candid account of combining writing and parenting for Astrid’s blog? BIG mistake. I am not going to look good here.

Leaving off drafting Chapter 7 to do the school run? Bad Writer!

Musing on Chapter 7 and ignoring the children all the way to school? Bad Mother!

It is true I gave up paid work to spend more time with my children, but it’s probably more true that I gave it up to write. If you want to be a good mum, you have to feel like a whole person. For me, that has to include work.

‘I combine meticulous organisational skills with a keen grasp of IT.’
‘I combine meticulous organisational skills with a keen grasp of IT.’

 

So, at first, off they went to nursery, and back I went to my paid work.

But then I wrote a letter to my husband’s son, and The Guardian published it.

I was netted, my head turned and trapped facing a different direction. How many people had to tell me it was good? How many would be enough, for me to choose to write?

‘Luckily,’ my salary was swallowed by childcare costs. We were already surviving without it.

So back they came from nursery and I stayed at home. At first, there was just an hour a day for writing, between six and seven in the morning.

These days, I am regularly not ‘present’ for my children. Physically yes, I’m right here. In my head I’m in a plot hole, or with a phrase that won’t bed in.

 

Cartoon © by Jacky Fleming, used with permission.
Cartoon © by Jacky Fleming, used with permission.

The cat paws me for breakfast, the children paw me for attention. They (the children, not the cat, he couldn’t care less) are surprisingly supportive of my work. I’ve promised them a camper van if I ever write a bestseller.

Parenting is noisy. Writing is not. Parenting is messy. Writing is not. Parenting is instantly fulfilling. Writing is not.

I do not bash out 1000 words in the same way I brush teeth, make playpieces, find clean trousers, wipe faces, or read stories. Nor can I do these six things at the same time.

Off you go while Mummy works out what on earth she is going to do with Chapter 30. (Picture and children: my own)
Off you go while Mummy works out what on earth she is going to do with Chapter 30. (Picture and children: my own)

Writing meant I had to mother myself a bit. ‘Come on Stella,’ I would say, in my own mother’s voice, ‘ten years is average, when you’re trying to break through. Rejection is part of the deal.’

Self-doubt is a familiar feeling for any parent, and all writers. As a writer, validation came completely and totally via an email offering a contract for my first novel How Many Wrongs make a Mr Right?

I wish one day I would open my inbox and get a message like this.

Brought to you by wishfulthinking.com
Brought to you by wishfulthinking.com

Writing is a life’s work. There are more stories I want to tell.

Parenting is a life’s work. It’s not a job that ends.

So I will write, and mother, and wish there were 36 hours in a day, for the rest of my life.

 

My book is available from the following places

Correct cover!

 

UK Amazon

US Amazon

Kobo

Nook

iBooks

Search ‘How Many Wrongs make a Mr Right?’ in the iTunes Store

 

 

 

How to find me! Please come and say ‘hi’ in one or more of these places

My blog space is https://atinylife140.wordpress.com/

Twitter is @atinylife140

I have a page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stellaherveybirrell/?ref=hl

Email me at atinylife140@gmail.com

I can also be found wandering the streets of various East Lothian villages.

 

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