Today I'm very excited to have our first guest post by recent friend and aspiring novelist, Jamie Raintree.
Jamie is a women's fiction writer and mother of a 1-year-old daughter. Check out The Stretch Mark Club, her fictional blog about motherhood, and follow her writing adventures on her blog at JamieRaintree.com.
Writing Between Diaper Changes
When you first hear you're expecting, nothing else in the world matters but the day you'll welcome that little one into your life. Everything else melts away. But as time goes on and your pending parenthood becomes a reality, the truth sets in. Things are going to change. And are you prepared for it.
You imagine, you plan, you speculate, but until that bundle of blankets and smiles floats through your door and the dust settles, you never really know how you'll handle it. You never really know how your life will change. Will you be able to work and do midnight feedings? Will your mother call you to check in ten or fifteen times a day? Will your spouse ever master changing a diaper? And--dare you think it--will you have any time to write in the next eighteen years?
The question is, how does your writing life change after you have a baby, and the answer is, time.
Sometimes, when I'm holding my daughter and the lullaby music is on its third round and she's still smacking me repeatedly in the face, I daydream about the days when I had no one to worry about but myself. My days were planned around my writing and I made sure my work was done by a certain time, cleaned the house, ran my errands. When the magical hour struck I sat down in front of the computer and prepared to own my tortured artist title, writer's block and all. I procrastinated. I complained on Twitter about not being able to find the right words or whined about the uncertainty of where to go next in my story. I read just one more blog, and then another. I watched the minutes tick away until my husband came home and the stillness of the house was crashed. And it was. Every day. And I hadn't written anything. And then I flash back to reality with my daughter, quite literally, smacking sense into me.
Moms don't have time to procrastinate. We don't have time at all, actually. From the moment we wake up it's bananas and milk and diaper changes and doctor's appointments and ravioli on the floor and dishes and laundry and work and, oh yeah, significant others. Time to ourselves is a rare miracle and if writing is as much a priority to you as it is to me, we feel blessed if we have half an hour to even think about our stories. Fifteen minutes.
But maybe that's the best part of motherhood. An awakening from the fantasy of the writing life and a cold, hard dose of reality. Because then, when we do get the opportunity to grab our passion for just a moment and hold onto it for dear life, we cherish it. It's what keeps us centered.
What changes? You have to claim your writing time. And when you get it, you have to make every second count. You have to ask for help. You have to know your limits. You have to find balance. You have to be selfless and selfish at the same time. You have to know what you need and what you can give up. Most of all, you have to love this journey. It really doesn't get any sweeter.
So...the question is, how does your writing life change after you have a baby, and the answer is, it doesn't. Motherhood is my purpose, my love, my happiness. Writing is still, and always will be, my calling.