The latest installment of DinoLand is up this morning at Geek Eccentric! This month’s installment is a gastronomic one. You’ve been warned.
There are two things I’ve heard/read about writing with a baby.
The first is from Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird: “I used to not be able to work if there were dishes in the sink. Then I had a child and now I can work if there is a corpse in the sink.”
The second is a column in the Guardian by Maggie O’Farrell, author of The Hand That First Held Mine. I will not pretend that I’ve managed to nail down O’Farrell’s writing-with-the-baby-sling approach (he squirms!), but I can now understand Lamott’s point about the corpse in the sink. The thing is, I can’t make that work yet. Let’s be honest: the novel might howl for my attention figuratively, but the howls of my son are literal. When he needs me, he needs me. The novel can always wait. His naps are still unpredictable enough that I can’t concentrate on what I’m writing. I’m only writing with part of my attention. The rest of my attention is on him, listening for that next cry.
So sometimes, if it’s me and him at home alone, I don’t write. Sometimes I choose to unload the dishwasher, or throw in laundry. The laundry is less complicated, and demands less of me than the latest chapter of my novel.
But I still have to write.
I have to produce a chapter a month for DinoLand. (Although I wrote a backlog of material for the serial, I am getting to the end of that now.) I have a freelance career. I have to write the final novella in the Resistance series. I have to finish the second draft of my drag queen novel.
And also, I don’t feel quite like myself if I’m not writing fiction. Some people go for a walk to clear their heads. I write stories.
So the writing has to happen. But sometimes it just doesn’t. And that can be pretty frustrating.
Right now, I’m dividing my time into Stay-At-Home-Mom Days, Work Days and Writing Days. On days when my husband is away, I just concentrate on being a mom. On days when he’s home, I work on my freelance career and what writing I can, and once a week, I pack up the child and my laptop and head to my parents’ house where my wonderful mother watches the baby while I go to my dad’s office and write.
It’s not a perfect arrangement, but for now, it works. I do worry that I’ll have to come up with something else when my son is walking and talking, but possibly by then I’ll be used to being a mother and able to write fiction more frequently again.
Parents who write, how do you make time for your work? Does it get easier or harder?
It’s aliiiiive. Or rather, it’s liiiive.
In this month’s installment, the zoology team attempts to help a sick brachiosaurus. How do you do that? With armored vehicles, a team of acrobats and tranquilizers fired from a cannon. While praying. With a few ambulances on standby.
How does it go? That would be a spoiler. Click over to Geek Eccentric and check it out.
Just a quick post today: I’m working on freelance projects and prepping the fourth chapter of DinoLand for its publication on Sunday (there will be be big doings in Chapter Four, for those who have been following along. I promise you blood, my friends.)
That’s right, freelance projects! I love teaching as an adjunct, but I’ve been wanting to get back into the freelance world for a while, and I’ve finally had the opportunity to do that. It’s part of my long-term goal: freelance as a writer and editor until my books start earning me money and I can live the life of a full-time author. Then I can just sit in my office, eating bonbons and killing characters all day like George R.R. Martin.
Speaking of George R.R. Martin, it’s taking me a long time, but I am actually working on the final book in the Resistance series. No really, I am. The last book has a title and a new protagonist and everything. I know that my books are under 100 pages (as opposed to Martin’s 3,000 pages) and you’d think I’d be done by now, but as it turns out I have a lot of loose ends to tie up and I’d like to do that well, so it’s taking longer than I’d like.
What I can tell you is that the new protagonist is male, which is new for me in this series, and that we will finally find out what happened to the mysterious package in Beware the Hawk.
Also, the readers’ survey – I have not forgotten my “What Are You Reading” survey, which still needs a bigger sample size. (A lot of people read literary fiction, and almost no one reads philosophy. Descartes would be disappointed in you guys.)
And that’s it for me. I will post more later. I’ve been working on two posts for several weeks, but work and the baby have gotten in the way. Eventually both posts will see the light of day. At least, I hope so.
Today is a writing day for me!
A good ol’ fiction-writing extravaganza day. Today, I do my favorite thing in the world: make stuff up.
w00t for a writing day!
Well. Actually, it’s not really a writing day. It’ s really a writing couple of hours. I’ve set the day aside, and my mother has agreed to watch the baby, but between feedings, packing the computer and the manuscript and the child in the car, travel time, catching up with my mother and lunch, it’s a writing couple of hours, not a writing day.
But that’s fine, because these couple of hours make it possible for me to have several stay-at-home-mom days and freelance writing days without losing my mind. Just knowing that these couple of hours are going to happen at least once a week enables me to spend days vacuuming, and washing diapers without feeling guilt about my work. Guilt is the worst.*
I’m planning to publish a lengthier post about writing with a baby and how I’m trying to make it work. (I’ve been drafting it, during naptimes, for something like three or four weeks. I’m not even kidding.)
But for now, I’m going to work on my fiction. Because I have the time.
*And my mother is the best.
I call this “stealth marketing.”
(Pro tip: I just checked my metrics on Amazon. “Stealth marketing” doesn’t work.)
Final Statements is about a woman who is obsessed with reading the last words of executed prisoners online. (This is a real thing. Someone records the final words of death row inmates and then those words are posted on the Internet.) She has her reasons for this, but you’ll have to read the story to find out why she has such a creepy hobby.
This is the second piece in my short story experiment over at Amazon. About a year ago I decided to post my previously-published stories as e-books on Amazon. My first story, Undertow, went up on the site in March and it’s been read a few times, which is cool, because as far as I know, no one’s read that since it was first published in 2003. (The first version of Final Statements was published more recently, in 2011.)
I never realized how much horror I’ve written until I started this project. I tend to write a lot of literary fiction on a day-to-day basis, but when I started combing through the stories I want to publish on Amazon, it turns out, they’re all horror.
I’m too squeamish to watch a horror film, but I write horror stories. Go figure. This is probably what I get for being obsessed with Thomas Harris books in my 20s. (Clarice Starling, I still want to be you.)
Anyhow, that brings me to my next point. I have several unpublished genre (horror, of course) stories that I might include in this project. Rather than try to publish these pieces the old-fashioned way (send them to journals), I might just put them directly online. My reasoning: Amazon is where the horror readers are. Literary journals are where the lit-fic readers are.
Writers, what are your thoughts on this? I’d love to hear from you.
Just a quick post to let you all know that Chapter 3 of DinoLand is live today at Geek Eccentric. Head on over and check it out because the plot is thickening and it is getting real.
As an aside, I’ve been meaning to write more than these monthly posts about things that are getting published. I actually have several posts started, but the first month of our son’s life has gotten between me and this blog. That said, I’m hoping to post more in the next few weeks; I have some projects I’m working on now that the school year is winding down and I’ve also just wanted to blog more.