Thursday, April 30, 2009

Life and Writing

A really cynical writing professor of mine once told me that writing was an incredibly hard profession because life is always getting in the way, and it’s impossible to write when you have to deal with life.

Okay, in a way that’s true. My life is this: stay-at-home mom to two little boys, wife, part-time writing professor, errand-runner, dinner-preparer, launderer, well, you get the point. A day in my life is all of that – changing diapers and playing with my kids, wiping tears and runny noses, grading papers. And the writing?

While other moms I know put their kids to bed and then hang out with their husbands, watch TV, or go to bed early, I write. I have a date with my computer every weeknight between the hours of 8 and 11 and sometimes on weekends, too. I don’t always get writing done, but most nights I do. And even if I don’t write, I almost always try to get something writing-related done, even if it’s just writing a blog post. This also means, I hardly ever get enough sleep or get to clean my house, but I’ve learned to be content with my mess and savor my morning coffee, if it means that I’m able to write.

And here’s the funniest part: Since having kids, my life has been more hectic than I could ever imagine. Most days, I barely have time to breathe. But I’ve somehow managed to get more writing done than I ever did in my pre-kid life, where I had actual bona fide leisure time. Incredibly, I’ve written two novels in the last year and a half. I think after my first son was born, I realized how much writing meant to me, how much I not only wanted to, but needed to do it. And also, I thought about the fact that someday my baby was going to get older and ask me what I did for a living, and I wanted to be able to tell him that I was a writer, a real writer. This gave me something I never had in my pre-kid years, the discipline to sit down every single night and write, and to treat writing like a real job (albeit one done only after dark!)

There’s something else, too: in my crazy, busy kid-filled life, things are always happening. I meet interesting people at the park; I find myself constantly falling into embarrassing situations (Might I mention that I’ve been thrown up on, in public, twice in the past month!). And all of this becomes part of who I am and what I write about. Even The Wiggles – my youngest son’s favorite show -- made its way into my latest manuscript! Life is what gives me the details, and in my opinion, it’s the details that really make a piece of writing stand out.

So, to tell you the truth, I think I actually love the fact life “gets in the way,” of my writing, because without it I know I never would’ve found my way to writing for real.


Lisa Patton said...

Jill, it seems your professor is a bit of a sage!

Well said and beautifully written. You make writing seem effortless. So you have an MBA in writing, huh? DUH.
You're right, it's all about the day-to-day!

Maureen Lipinski said...

I'm the same way--I've written more since my son was born than I ever did when I had loads of free time. A large part of that, like you, is because I want my son to be proud of me.

Tracy Madison said...


Great post! And you're right, it is about the day-to-day. It's just the days go so dang fast, lol.