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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
I can also be found wandering the streets of various East Lothian villages.