My youngest child started school this year, but it’s probably not what you’re imagining. She’s fifteen. She’s in a fantastic middle-college (or dual enrollment) program, following in the footsteps of two of her older siblings. However, I’ve been a homeschooling mom for about half my life, starting when my stepson was in seventh grade. And now . . . well, now I’m reinventing myself.
The thing is, writing has always been something that I love to do, but I’ve also had the excuse that it’s not my first focus. Now, committing to being “a writer” means that I could really fail. Yes, I’ve had poems and short stories published, but I don’t feel like a writer yet.
I recently got a very kind rejection for my book, including this bit: “Also, as we’re only looking for one more author in the near future, we do have to be very selective. As such, don’t take this as a slight against your obvious talent as a writer.” A writer? Well . . . maybe?
As I reshape myself, bit by bit, my life is developing a new rhythm. This now includes spending hours each week at a library with my laptop, index cards and notebook, partly as a taxi-mom gas and time saving measure, and partly as a self-imposed “showing up to the page” measure. I won’t lie. It feels selfish to focus so much on writing when there are plenty of things that need to be done at home, but if I’m going to be a writer, I suppose I should treat it like a job.
If writing is my actual job, that means that when I get stuck, I have no excuse to let it take a back seat. This can be tough, but I’ve recently hit on something that’s working for me so far. The inspiration came from a chapter of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, in which she talks about sitting down and writing, no matter what comes out. (Great book, by the way!) I’m using this approach to write scenes (or potential scenes) for my new book. I’m not picking up where I left off—just writing it down one piece at a time.
Deciding that I don’t have to know exactly what comes next has been really freeing, and as the book fleshes out, it’s getting easier to string things together, or at least to know what else I need to write to bridge the gaps. So things are flowing better, and some unexpected things have happened, too. But every good story evolves a little, doesn’t it?