Portrait of a Writer as a Wife and Mother of Three

Sometimes I wonder if there really are some writers out there that have it all together—tidy credenzas where they sit to peck away at the keyboard; cork boards with pinned notes for detailed plot twists; expertly sorted stacks of research ready for action. Let me be perfectly blunt—that ain’t me!

That’s probably why I adore creative fiction. I love how I can begin with a simple idea and some thematic guidelines and suddenly feel the story take on its own life. Fiction can bend and shape itself to various persuasions, and I earnestly love that it doesn’t always have to be black or white. It can be bold and colorful; it can be quirky; it can be deep and emotional; it can be anything and everything. For me, fiction eliminates all those confining boundaries, allowing me to write my own rules. In the end, as long as I’ve drawn in the reader and created an emotional response, I feel my work has succeeded in its mission.

That sounds all nice and lovely, doesn’t it? The part I didn’t tell you is the roller coaster of emotions, the highs and the lows, and the “could-a, should-a, and would-a”games can be totally exhausting for my family members. I suspect my husband probably feels his life reads more like a horror/suspense than an epic romance at times though he’d NEVER admit to it. He and the kids are supportive—well, at least until I’ve forgotten to cook supper, clean house, do that big project….

You get the picture I’m sure. So here’s a fun look at what my family has to deal with on an average day when I’m totally immersed in a writing project. I’m laughing as I write this—them not so much.

Inspiration Doesn’t Keep Set Hours

I will admit to waking from a dead sleep at 3 A.M. with dialogue running through my mind. That may have happened twice last week. I really believe the power of our subconscious whittles away at the issues we’ve pondered during our waking hours, and when a resolution is attained — Bam! I’m awake with the “he saids, she saids” dancing in my brain. Do you ignore that? Absolutely not! You get up and write it down ASAP before that flash of genius suddenly deletes itself from your brain.

Mama’s Talking to Herself…Again

People have probably thought me delusional on more than one occasion. I do a lot of writing in the school pick-up line because that is the one time of day I can have total peace and quiet without the allure of electronics to distract me. I can’t write dialogue without first rehearsing it out loud, and therein lies the problem. Imagine looking over at the next car and seeing a woman sitting in the driver’s seat just jabbering away to…no one? Yes, I’m that crazy woman. Yes, I’ve received strange looks. Yes, I’ve tried to pawn it off on a fictitious cell phone call.  You do what you have to do, right?

My Wife is Having an Emotional Affair with her Characters

What can I say? I get emotionally involved with my characters. I laugh when they laugh; I cry when they cry; I think about them in the far recesses of the night when my mind just won’t cut off. I discuss them as if at any moment, they may walk in the front door. When the story is finished, I feel like they’ve suddenly moved away without warning, and I’ll reread a few lines just to relish the “good times.” To all the characters I’ve loved before, I have to say “thanks for the memories.”

Bipolar Much?

The way I feel about the current piece I’m writing is volatile and can change dramatically, often without warning. One minute I’m a total genius, celebrating the most awesome example of prose to see the light of day, and the next I swear it is the most horrendous piece of trash to ever meet the computer screen. It’s always a work in progress but when self-doubt and perfectionism collide, there’s sure to be fireworks that will generally culminate in my ripping pages of text into a zillion pieces and then collapsing in tears of defeat.

I’m {NOT} Listening

I know it’s selfish, but if you attempt to have a conversation with me while I’m writing, I’m most likely ignoring you. There’s nothing I hate more than losing my train of thought so if the words are flowing, my ears are turned to the off switch. Please don’t take it personally — it’s not you; it’s me.

What do you think about…?

I need opinions — lots of them — and I’m not afraid to ask. And I’ll ask. And ask. And ask some more. I know it’s a pain, but you should really take it as a compliment. It means I value your opinion and want your feedback. Be honored — I don’t extend such opportunities to just anyone.

There’s Method to This Madness

Post-its, notebooks, and internet tabs — oh my! I’m not ashamed to say there are probably 20 tabs open across the top of my Google Chrome browser. I’m not embarrassed that I have approximately 20 half-used notebooks littered in every room of my home. (Inspiration can strike anywhere, am I right?) I’m okay with the millions of colored post-its stuck in obscure places around my home and car with crudely scribbled reminder notes. To you it looks like a disorganized mess; to me it looks like sweet progress.

Preoccupation, Thy Name is Brandy

Even if I’m not writing, I’m thinking about it. There’s been many a time my husband and I will be driving down the road or exercising or watching TV, etc. and out of nowhere I’ll bring up my current project. Those outbursts are generally met by confused, squinted eyes that slowly give way to the realization that I’m talking about my book…again. I know it’s annoying, but I just can’t help it. It’s always there, lurking on the rim of consciousness so I automatically assume you’re thinking about it too. You are, aren’t you?

Don’t Be Dissing My Baby

I understand you must have a thick skin in this industry, and I’m getting there. I’m completely open to suggestions because constructive criticism is extremely valuable to perfecting the craft, and I always want my baby to be the best she can be. But, if at any point you insinuate my work is futile, stupid or some sort of “pipe dream,” it is not going to go well for you.

You Mean You Wanted to Eat Tonight?

Full disclosure here: If inspiration has been kicking it today, the hubs might be coming home to no supper and a less-than-spotless house. I swear when the rhythm hits, it’s almost as if a time warp sets in and suddenly my day has been sucked somewhere into the abyss. I’m trying to do better—cell phone alarms are really helpful in breaking into my creative fog and telling me when it’s time to put down the laptop and come back to the land of the living.

Don’t you wish you lived here now? Anyone?

*crickets chirp quietly in the background*

All kidding aside, it means a lot to me that my family supports this dream of mine and truly believes this is THE route God has planned for my life. It may not always be pretty and sometimes I’m not on the ball when it comes to housework and daily chores,  but they all support me despite those imperfections. I couldn’t do it without them.

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