A guest post to encourage, motivate and inspire…
In the months leading up to my daughter’s birth, I wrote my first novel. That makes it sound so easy, doesn’t it? But it was as much of a labor as the one I was about to have. My belly bulged as I walked down the sidewalk clutching my freshly printed manuscript to my chest. I had three weeks until my due date. Plenty of time to read it. Or so I thought. Two nights later I went into labor and by morning I was a new mother.
In the months that followed, I thought about my novel on occasion, still wrapped in the brown bag from the copy shop, but my baby’s cries and my exhaustion blotted it out. The manuscript resided in a variety of places: on top of my desk, on the floor of my closet, packed in boxes during several moves, and finally, locked in a safe.
That’s right. A safe. And that’s where it remained for five years.
Becoming a mother consumed me. I fell into a hole of sorts and when I emerged I didn’t recognize myself. Was I still a writer? Had I ever been? The novel gathered dust in the safe because I was afraid to read it. If it was terrible, then perhaps I wasn’t a writer after all. Better to keep it safe in the safe. Better to fantasize about its potential.
More time passed, and then one day I got an email about a writer’s conference. As I read about the speakers and panels, I felt a fluttering in my chest. For a brief moment, I worried over the logistics of childcare. Then signed up. Sometimes, you have to leap first and figure out the details later.
The conference felt like a welcoming back. I knew not a single person there, but I loved being surrounded by writers, some published, many not, all of us clutching our navy blue folders, going in and out of lecture halls, talking about books, our dreams.
A switch had been flipped. I started to remember what it felt like, for the first time in years, to be a writer.
A few days later I sat down with that thick ream of paper, my long forgotten manuscript, and read it. Some parts were not as bad as I imagined, some were worse. But the seed of my story, the theme that had moved me years ago, remained.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel the sting of disappointment that it wasn’t better. But after a moment, the feeling dispersed, and I laughed. Relieved. Because in a way, the hardest part was over: starting.
Soon after I began revising–and I’m still at it more than a year later–I’ve thrown out more words than I’ve written, and some days it’s harder to continue than others, but I keep on because that’s what writers do, and that’s what I am.
Join our After Page One series. We’re looking for 300 to 500-word guest posts that motivate, inspire, and encourage other mama-writers, and we’d love to feature YOUR thoughts about getting started, getting back to a writing project, integrating writing with motherhood, reading, or having a positive attitude.