Welcome to my stop on the Writer Mama Bloghop! Writing as a mother creates an interesting set of challenges that I never realized could be an issue.
I have dabbled in writing on and off for a long time. After my son was born, I had a full-time job, not to mention motherhood being a full-time job in and of itself. I remember keeping a laptop in the trunk of my car when I worked at GEICO. I'd go out on my lunch break and write. Not a good idea. It was simply too much pressure to try to be on during that brief forty-five minute time-frame. At that time, my husband had a job out of state, and he was only home on the weekends. I was running everywhere, always exhausted. Before long, I gave up, putting my dreams on the backburner and allowing life to take over.
Eventually I was able to quit my job in order to be a full-time mom. Any of you out there who have ever tended a toddler will understand... it's next to impossible to concentrate on anything with a little one running around. I called my son Hurricane Jason because he was so curious and active. He never napped and was up with the dawn every morning. By the time my husband returned from work, all I wanted to do was go straight to bed-- forget about writing. There were a few times when I pulled out that old laptop and wrote a chapter or two, but writing a novel seemed like a pipe dream.
I'll never forget when my son started preschool. I was so excited about having three whole hours to myself while he was learning his ABCs and 123s. I failed to take into account the twenty minute drive to and from preschool, along with the utter mess left behind every morning. Silly me thought he'd return tired and would finally nap. Yeah, right. He returned more hyper than when I dropped him off, and the laptop stayed in its new home on my bookcase, unused.
Elementary school brought new hope, since he'd be in school for a full day. I didn't factor in the fact that his Kindergarten would be so awful that I'd have to homeschool him after school every single day. His Kindergarten class consisted of one teacher and thirty-five kids. Seriously, that's not a typo. I ended up volunteering several times a week to work with the more advanced children, while the teacher dealt with the rest. I loved my time in the classroom and continued volunteering throughout his elementary school days.
Then a glorious day came. Hurricane Jason moved on to middle school. He didn't want me to volunteer anymore because he found it embarrassing to have his mother at school all the time. So I cut back on my volunteer hours and suddenly had a lot of extra time on my hands. Three years ago, I started writing full-time while my son was in school. Within a few months, I had two complete novels written: Shadow Fire and Stolen Moon.
I was on a new high, a do-what-I-want-to-do-and-not-what-I'm-forced-to-do high. It was amazing for all of eight weeks or so. As it turns out, I have a tendency to become so involved in my writing that I lose all track of time. Hours passed that felt like minutes. I lost weight because I simply forgot to eat-- awesome diet BTW. I was a woman possessed. When my son and husband sat down and told me they didn't like me writing because I was too involved in it, I was devastated. They felt like I forgot all about them in favor of my characters and plot.
It is so important to find a happy medium. I try not to write when my son is home. Instead I edit the works of others during this time. Something about being analytical keeps me from entering that writer's zone where my brain loses touch with the world around me. It can be very hard to find a balance that works, and it takes some trial and error... sometimes a lot of trial and error. I'm not completing novels as quickly as I did three years ago, but my family is much happier.
My son is my biggest fan. He loves my books and tends to read them over and over. I think he might kill me if I don't get the 2nd Orion Circle book out soon. His praise fills me with such warmth-- it's like nothing I've ever felt before. I'm so glad that I can share this with him.
My advice-- communicate and listen. I would get so upset when my husband would criticize the amount of time I spent writing. Unless someone has written a novel, I don't think they really grasp the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that go into it. But family must come first. Sit down with your family and talk to them. Make a writing schedule if you have to (I don't do well with schedules- so that doesn't work for me). If you have young children and still manage to write, then you've achieved superhero status in my book!