this is not a mommy blog

I changed the title of this blog a couple years ago. And when I wrote this new title, it wasn’t to put down those who write mommy blogs. Not at all. I enjoy reading mommy blogs. But this blog isn’t supposed to be one. This blog is a reminder to myself that before I became a mother, there were these things I wanted, and that my life was headed in a certain direction.

My hubby asked me a very important question a couple weeks ago, except he didn’t know how important it was when he was asking. He tends to do this, spout off insightful comments without knowing how insightful they are – and then I usually unleash a bitch-fest on him, because I don’t do well when the truth hits me hard in the face.

He asked if I thought of myself as a stay-at-home-mom, or a work-at-home-mom?

My answer to this question means two very different things. Am I a stay-at-home mom, who raises children for a living and writes for a hobby? Or am I a work-at-home mom, who aspires to write for a living, while simultaneously raising a child and not keeping up with her housework? In my current state, I’d say I’m pretty unproductive at both. But in truth, what I want to be is a work-at-home mom. The only distinction between me and other working moms is that my career ambitions don’t pay out until after the story is already written and published.

I need to start taking my writing life a lot more seriously. Events like these are effective enough to make you stop in your tracks and say, whoa, we might not have as much time as we thought we did. Considering my parents checked out at 38 and 54, I could be well past prime here.

This year has sucked, I’ll give myself that much credit. Do you want to know how much this year sucked? Hubby lost a job and found a very swift relocation, epic cross-country move, no family or friends here, gained fifteen pounds (!!!), hate this apartment, dad died – and hey look, I’m actually an orphan now (if a 29 year-old woman can be counted as an orphan – I don’t feel ready to not have parents). This year sucked! This year sucked so bad, you might even be inclined to laugh, in the way something can be so unbelievably horrible it becomes laughable.

I might even rank it up there with my 24th year, where we ended up moving back home to my dad’s, sleeping in a closet because there wasn’t actually room for us there – it was a big closet, you might even call it a room if it had a window. Come to think of it, I gained fifteen pounds that year too. I guess I’m quite obviously a stress-eater.

But even in my 24th year, I finished my degree. There was that. No year can suck in its entirety.

I had this draft saved from almost three years ago:

This was my first post to my paper journal after I found out I was going to have a baby:

“I haven’t written in this thing for so long. I find myself wondering if there is even any point anymore. I guess there must be. When I am 45, when my children are grown and going off to college, I’ll probably wonder what kind of woman I used to be before it all started. When I was young and newlywed, when my breasts and butt and belly were all in the right places.”

I could so easily become engulfed by this sweet sweet boy. I could forget everything I had ever hoped for myself and want nothing more than to be his mother. That is exactly what I am afraid of.

I had this conversation with Jim this morning (sometimes I amaze myself with my depth of thinking and intellect – only sometimes): that Dylan has come and joined our family, not the other way around. We were on a path before he came, and he joined us. It doesn’t mean we should change our plans, and it doesn’t mean we should stop. But just accommodate this little traveler and make him a part of our already existing life.

Even then, I was so afraid of letting my life escape me, and forgetting about all those dreams I had as a young woman, all those things I knew I really wanted.

So if I am going to consider myself a work-at-home mom, then that means not having made any money off my writing yet makes me a very unsuccessful one. This is not a mommy blog. This is the blog of a woman who is trying to jump-start her professional storytelling career, who happens to also be a mother, among other things.

I remember my very last rejection. It was from Zoetrope All-Story, aiming quite high for my first submission out of college, lol! But I got a note handwritten from whoever read it that said, “Thanks for the interesting read.” Hey, I’ll take “interesting” as a compliment, because from what I hear, magazines don’t just toss out compliments or even comments just for the hell of it.

I wasn’t very disheartened by the rejection. I mean, hell, it was Zoetrope, and it was exactly my fourth submission to anything, ever! We were taught well in my undergrad writing program about how many rejections writers get out there in the real world. We were taught about constructive criticism and how to make your writing grow from it.

I also took it as a sign that I wasn’t quite ready yet. I had just finished my undergrad work, I needed to practice on my own for a while, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I moved to two different towns, I had a kid. I wrote many failed short stories, two failed attempts at a novel, much, much, much practice writing, much learned from my former writers group, and five years later, I think I’m finally at a point of ready to try again. For real, this time. Taking myself seriously.

Trying is scary. I have this theory about avoiding fear of failure though not trying. If I never tried to publish one of my stories, then I could still say I haven’t failed. I could say that the only reason I haven’t published is because I didn’t try, or because I didn’t really want it. It wouldn’t be because I wasn’t good enough. I could still tell myself I’m as good as any of those writers. I could tell myself I could be published, if I wanted to, if I really tried. And I could make myself believe it. I could keep on writing for a hobby and finding people who love the stories I write, and live secure in this fallacy that I could be published, if I wanted to.

That’s how you avoid fear of failure through not trying – and I am expert at it!

Or I could try, actually try, and here’s the scary part – if I try to make this all real, and it doesn’t work, then I really have to say I’ve failed.

So I’ll try then. I will stop wasting time, I will finish stories to completion, and I will submit them. I even have a story in mind to start with, the one I submitted to Zoetrope, the “interesting read.” Looking at it five years later, I can see where the voice hadn’t matured yet, and where I am now better able to pull it together. Looking back at it again, it was a damn good story, just not ready yet. And maybe I’ll start a little more modestly this time. You know, maybe not one of the top paying markets in the country, lol!

I need public accountability. I need you all to take note of these goals and be critical of how much I’ve accomplished by Friday. I need that because I don’t know if I can keep myself accountable enough on my own. So…

writing goals:
– I’m going to submit something, somewhere, by Friday. That’s my assignment for the week. I just thought I’d put that out there, and I hope you’ll all hold me to that.
– also I want to make a good stab at chapter 3 of the novel
– fill out the bones of a second short story I’m working on (also have a market in mind for this one)
– finally (for crying out loud!) finish reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being!!!
– and don’t worry LH fans, two scheduled updates for you this week too

non-writing goals:
– finally get my Virginia drivers’ license and plates – I’ve been here seven months, I think that’s highly not allowed, lol!
– buy a new dresser from Ikea (oh the hard work!)

All this while raising a brilliant, well-adjusted, and potty-trained (thank you very much!) three year-old?

We’ll let the laundry suffer probably. We usually do.