Honoring my Reality as a Mommy-Writer

DIYMFA-Book-Cover-201x300The DIY MFA book by Gabriela Pereira is coming out soon. I was lucky enough to gain access to an advanced copy and I am loving it. I have been a fan of Gabriela since stumbling upon her DIYMFAradio podcast after reading an article of hers in WRITER’S DIGEST. One of the things that hooked me from the get-go was Gabriela’s philosophy of writers having to “honor their reality.” As a voracious reader of books on the craft of writing and memoirs of authors concerning their writing life, I started to beat myself up over my inability to “fit in” to any of their writing worlds. I started to think, If I can’t write like them, if I can’t create writing schedules like them, then maybe I can’t be a writer at all.

Thanks to Gabriela I learned that I don’t need to fit into anyone else’s mold of what writing is. I learned that I needed to honor MY reality.

Gabriela’s third question to the DIYMFA Street Team dealt with this topic head-on.

QOTW 3: Tell a story about a time when you had to honor your reality.

unnamed(1)My reality has been a bit of a bitch. Please excuse my French, but there it is. I “became” a writer in the midst of the worst of it – two chronic conditions were kicking my butt, threatening my vision and had already stolen the career of my dreams. I was home, on disability, lonely, sick, and scared. I started writing. There was no big publishing end goal – there was only a desire to connect with humanity. There was also a desire to prove that I still mattered. The words came, my story was told, and then I began to make up other stories. Writing filled my days and nights. Audiobooks fueled my imagination and the Internet kept me connected.

There was no question of when or how I would write, I just did. It was all I could do in the beginning – with my zoomed computer screens and inability to walk without getting dizzy – there was no question of honoring my reality, my reality offered me nothing else. For this reason, since writing came as easily as I desired it, I never foresaw the obstacles that may arise in my writing in my future.

In 2013, with both of my chronic conditions deciding to take five at the same time, I became pregnant. I felt healthier than I had in YEARS. It was magnificent for so many reasons. I laughed. I danced. I partied. I enjoyed every aspect of life but one:

I could not write.

I couldn’t tell you why. My theory is that my creative energies were too focused on the human-building project within me, but I have no scientific proof that such things happen. At first I battled. I tried forcing myself to the page. I began so many stories and finished none. I continued attending my writing group meetings, but not regularly. The guilt crept in, but then the joy overwhelmed it. I can’t say that I honored my reality at that time, I was too busy celebrating it.

I didn’t discover DIYMFAradio until my son was already born. It was a year after he was born and the writing was still spotty. I had told myself that the path to being the best mother was being the best me. I told myself I needed to embrace my writing for my son’s sake. All of that clicked and made sense, but the writing was still not coming – that’s when the guilt came in. That’s when I looked to other’s writing lives and wondered why I couldn’t fit mine in. Just about when it was all about to crush me I heard Gabriela’s podcast episode about Honoring your reality.

I reassessed my situation: giving birth, no sleep, breastfeeding, no sleep, fever/sickness, surgery, colicky baby, teething baby, exhaustion, quality time with my son, old illnesses reemerging, new ailments presenting themselves, juggling chores with a newborn… my reality had a lot going on. A lot of brand new things showed up that required my attention to ensure I learned the new rules. I decided to give myself a break. I was still a writer, but I needed a bit of a sabbatical to figure out what had become of my life.

My guilt was lifted. I told myself my job was to look for where I could fit writing into my new life – little by little – and to practice new routines. I scheduled writing group meetings that worked for my whole family and made those days a priority for me.

My son just turned two and sometime since he was born and now I have done three revisions on a novel I wrote before he was born. I have already pitched it and I have plans to begin the query process before the end of the year. I can honestly say that if I did not allow myself the time and space to honor my reality, none of this would have happened. I would still be spinning the wheels of guilt trying to figure out why I have not been as productive as Stephen King and Neil Gaiman!

QUESTIONS:

Do you honor your reality?

Have you ever looked to someone else’s writing life as a model to follow? Whose life? How did it go?

 

How Did I Become a Writer?

DIYMFA-Book-Cover-201x300This summer Gabriela Pereira will be releasing her DIYMFA book. I am super excited for it because I have been a fan of DIYMFA and DIYMFA radio for quite some time. As we build toward the release of this book, Gabriela has asked us to answer some questions about our own writing journey. Here is question #2:

QOTW 2: How did you become a writer?

imageIt is without question or pause that I say I was born a creator. Invention, the arts, storytelling – they all spoke to me. I had dreams of being a scientist, a journalist, an artist, and, above all – the one that won the day – a teacher. I never dreamed of “being a writer.” Even as a child I had no concrete idea of its possibility. I loved books. I even loved inventing stories to entertain my little brother, but the idea of making writing a part of my life plan wasn’t something I ever consciously thought about.

And, yet, it permeated every stage of my life. In my elementary years I invented stories for my younger brother and loved my creative writing assignments. In middle school and high school I constantly wrote endless “notes” to my friends, and kept a diary. In high school I added to that by writing poetry. In college the poems continued and the emails began. Upon graduating I found a job as a high school mathematics teacher – a place often bereft of writing – but I wedged it in. I created math worlds for my students with characters and problems of their own, inciting them to mathematical action in order to save said worlds. When illness stole that life from me I found my salvation online where I first wrote my story of loss, and then began to create fictional tales as well. It was then, when every other mark of my identity had been torn from me, that it finally occurred to me that – maybe – I was a writer. And, when my son was born two years ago, I decided that part of being the best mother possible meant being the truest form of myself possible. In searching my soul for the answer to what that meant, one answer rang truest:

I must write.

So when the question is asked of me: “Nicole, how did you become a writer?” there are a number of answers, but the truest one of all is that I became a writer by allowing my truest self free.

 

QUESTIONS:

When did you become a writer? Was there an exact moment that you can point to?

If you have long thought about becoming a writer, but have been holding back, why? What is stopping you from being a writer?