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Motherhood and Writing: An Unexpected Journey

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

I started writing when I was seven and always knew my life would involve writing and books. I started publishing in college and then went straight into an M.F.A program. I was a writer. Or so I thought.

After graduate school, though, my writing nearly stopped completely. I didn’t know if it was the stress of starting a new job, getting married, and moving three times, or if I didn’t flourish without deadlines and assignments. Either way, I was definitely not writing. And if I’m being honest, I wasn’t reading too much either.

Looking back, it was one of the most boring (and depressing) periods of my life. I wasn’t motivated or inspired by anything. Sure, I had lots of excuses: work wore me out, or I was busy learning how to crochet or bake, or I couldn’t focus during another move (or fill in the blank with a major family event). Mostly, I thought, I didn’t have time.

Then, in 2012, I gave birth to my son: 9 pounds of screaming, not sleeping, love. Suddenly I knew what not having time looked like. This is not to say that every person without children can’t appreciate time constraints; I am only explaining my experience which previously included time to binge watch the entire series of Lost and suddenly involved a baby that only slept for two hour stretches for the first year of his life.

I went back to work almost immediately, we moved again, and then, in the midst of no time and no sleep, I started to write.

I wrote with my son nestled beside me; there was no use moving him back to his crib since he would wake immediately. And I wrote in the middle of the night since I was awake anyway. Actually, I was revising more than writing. I looked at old stories I hadn’t revisited in years, thought they weren’t complete garbage, and considered what else I could do with them. I was excited to send out a short story to literary magazines, and in those weird twilight hours, I wonder if I might have the start of a novel.

Today I am working with my literary agent on that early morning novel and I read more books per year than I have since I was a kid. My time is still ruled by my family and my full-time job, but writing early in the morning has become a necessary part of my life. I protect that writing time viciously.

When people mention how motherhood can get in the way of the life of a writer, I remind them how little I wrote before having my son. I certainly never wrote a novel before he was born. When time is limited, I don’t have any to waste.

I am a writer again and it is not in spite of motherhood, as some might think. Writing, for me, is entwined with my family. Having a child helped to make me a writer again.


This article originally appeared in The Startup, on Medium.

Did you know I have a publication on Medium, too? It's called Epilogue and it is a space for writers to talk about writing process and the writing life. If you want to become a writer, you can go directly to Medium to find out more.

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