Mommy Guilt Versus Writer’s Guilt

As part of my membership in the New Hampshire Romance Writers of America chapter, I have met some fabulous women who also happen to be  extraordinary writers. One of those wonderful women is guest blogging here today and I am beyond thrilled that she is. I met Mary Stone at my first meeting last year, while she was pregnant. Very pregnant! I was immediately taken with how friendly, open and smart she was and when we got to chatting we both discovered we were Nurses. Fast forward a few months and she has had her lovely baby, and is embarking on the road to publication with her first YA novel The Lotus Operandi.  She’s blogging  today about guilt – something all women and mother’s know about and can relate to. Here’s a quick blurb about her, and her website address. Take a minute and go visit her there – it will be well worth the visit!

Mary  Stone, writer of YA sci-fi romance, has a BA in English from the University of Vermont and a BS in nursing from Simmons College. Her completed novel, The Lotus Operandi, is heavily influenced by her nursing education where she discovered that genetics, the insidious nature of microorganisms, and the fascinating and frightening reality of human disease have the makings of a fantastic plot. She is currently seeking representation and working on her next novel. Learn more about her at: http://www.marykstone.com/

I’ve been promising my friend and fellow author/RWA member Peggy Jaeger, a guest blog post for an inordinate amount of time. Admittedly, my own blog has been due for just as long. But every time I have a spare moment to sit down, my fingers inexplicably open the file for my new manuscript. Chapter 1 has been in-progress for a solid three months, despite the fact that the end has been plotted since day one. I just haven’t had time to finish it. The very thought of plot, however, reminds me that my writing to-do list includes the entire plot—because this same manuscript has been patiently waiting to be mapped (out of my head and onto paper). So maybe, I tell myself, today is not the day to finally finish that first chapter that I’m ridiculously excited about, but the day to finally map the book?

Now, invariably, as I’m deciding which to focus on, I look up from my screen in time to catch my seven-month-old perform some ingenious new maneuver. What ingenious maneuver, you ask? Well, to this first-time mom, ingeniousness comes in many forms. Pooping, for example, can be quite impressive. Burping has its flashes of brilliance. Removing lifesaver-colored rings from their plastic post. And then replacing them! There’s really no end.

Ok. So back to that first chapter. The very thought of working on a first chapter reminds me that I’m rewriting chapter 1 of the manuscript I’m currently querying. Which I quickly conclude takes precedence. Right? Right. Since my goal is to find representation and get published and the first manuscript, after all, is completed. And speaking of querying…I just rewrote my query letter AND edited my synopsis, and really, both need another look. Ok. (Again).

I close chapter 1 of the new book—which, by the way, I am convinced is the one that will garner agent requests and excite Pitch Wars mentors and catch the eye of a fantastic editor—and I switch back to my query. But that cute little man who has been squealing with delight at his own antics has just decided he’s hungry. Starved, apparently. So I close my computer, and this new momma is off and running.

Bottle. Burp. More bottle. Burp. Diaper change. If you have kids, you know the drill.

Back to the query. Read through. Ignore heart-warming baby laughter while painstakingly changing words and pulling commas and reinstating sentences that have been previously cut. More baby laughter. Wait…cutest baby in the world is not laughing arbitrarily, but looking directly at me and making intermittent communicative grunts. I ponder the situation. The last three days were work days, so today NEEDS to be a designated writing day. BUT, baby was in daycare for three consecutive work days and clearly needs some interactive time with Momma.

Close computer. Scoop up baby. Happiness ensues.

Now. As you might surmise, this scenario repeats itself with one day melding into the next. Throw in some Twitter time. Balance it with ear infections that call for a surge of kisses and cuddle time. Add a healthy dose of researching agents. Follow it up with teething and commensurate consolation. Enter a contest. Lull baby to sleep or read picture book or begin teaching new skill. Rewrite the query—AGAIN. Have an impromptu photo session…

They say you should write every day for a multitude of reasons. Before the baby, I was putting in 12-hour writing days on my days off.

They also say that in the blink of an eye your baby is a teenager, a young adult, a parent. I can’t tell you how many people have wistfully advised me to enjoy every moment.

So yes, that query is addressed to my dream agent. It will be sent pending revision of chapter 1. The synopsis is done. I think. The new manuscript is waiting. I keep reminding myself if I set small goals then 8 months from now I’ll have a first draft instead of a mountain of guilt about what could have been.

The mommy guilt? With scores of people remarking how happy my baby is, I think I can scrap it.

As for the writer’s guilt? If you’re reading this blog post, then I can scrap that, too. At least for a day or two.

Peggy here: wasn’t this a fabulous piece? And sooooo relatable – especially to us moms who suffer or have suffered from that guilt everyday about whether to devote time to our writing WIPs or our human WIPs ( kids!). If you feel the same, have a comment, or even a tip on how to balance this crazy writing/family lifestyle, drop me a line and/or visit Mary at her website.

 

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Mommy Guilt Versus Writer’s Guilt

  1. Peggy, thank you so much for having me to your blog today and for such a warm welcome!

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  2. Peggy Jaeger

    You are more than welcome! It was a great read and a lot of people related to the message!

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  3. Great post. I can relate to both.

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  4. Commenting for the second time, thanks to my digital ineptitude. Every working mother feels guilty. When our son began to crawl, I moved my desk and typewriter onto the landing outside our small flat (after warning the neighbours) while my husband looking after the baby inside. No time for my own writing in those days, I was a translator with deadlines to meet and I had to put the hours in. We survived, because families have to find the best balance for their own circumstances. Good luck, Madeleine

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