Part of a writing blog tour*
A clever and insightful philosopher type person once said,
If you wish to be a writer, write
I think that’s what he said anyway. I have since had a baby, and lost half my memory and two thirds of my brain cells.
It took me a while to get down with that ever so famous and wise quote though. I sort of resented it. It’s all very well, I would think, making it sound so simple. But where do I get the time? The inspiration? The chance to research? It was different for these Greek Philosophy fellows. They didn’t have an office job, a full social life and two series of Mad Men backing up the Sky Box. I’m a bit too busy to just write.
This was my life, pre-baby. I’d procrastinate, I’d talk about writing, but I’d rarely do much of it. And when I tried (to write the great British novel of course) I found it didn’t really come. What’s this? I would wonder. Perhaps I am not cut out for writing after all.
I now realise that writing, like any other job, takes practice. That a person doesn’t one day become a really good accountant, just for having a way with numbers. Or that a footballer doesn’t mosey on to the pitch and play like a pro without regular training. And that writing, like with most other things, gets easier with time, experience and, well, actually writing.
So anyway, I had a baby. Notions of ‘finally cracking out a novel’ on maternity leave were quickly replaced by a fear of never managing to shower or cook dinner again. But over the months – whilst adapting my expectations considerably, the desire to write didn’t leave me, it just changed. They say write what you know and I began to. If by knowing, they mean knowing that you are clueless, I think I have chosen the right path.
I do know my son; I do know that I have found parenthood dizzying, amazing, overwhelming and hard. I know that there is so much I don’t know, or understand. I know that when looking for answers (Hello, Google), I have seen other souls lost but loved up, aimless but humorous, unsure but instinctive, anxious but happy. And that is what I write about.
Every day with a baby brought an array of differing, complex emotions for me, through every-day, normal occurrences. Things that I would not have thought twice about before having a child – sleep, food, shopping, play, teething (I HATE teeth). I wanted to capture the real side of parenting, that is no less amazing than the glossy middle-class projection of it in magazines and adverts, but a bit more earthy, shabby and fish finger filled.
I know I’m not doing anything particularly ground breaking or even that different, I’m just telling the truth. I’m writing about babies, and I’m writing about parenthood. I’m just not bothering with the idyllic façade of the home, baby and food fit for the King & Queen of Pinterest or Instagram. I’m more the kitchen could do with a good sweep and is that poo on my leggings… kind of Mum, and therefore writer.
When I started my blog, I worried that I would run out of steam, excitement, motivation. That it would be like the time(s) I joined the gym for a year and only went for a month. But it isn’t. Maybe because I can do it from the sofa in my dressing gown eating cake, or maybe because I am better at writing than exercising (I am really bad at exercise), or maybe it’s because, despite my concerns, you really can never run out of ideas with a parenting blog. The mundane is actually packed full of material and my little gremlin is a constant source of inspiration – often through irritation.
He’s pooed in the bath and is trying to play with it – ping!
It’s 10 p.m. and he still won’t sleep – aha!
He’s chucked his dinner on the floor and is shouting at me in hunger – light bulb!
Writing about the parenting journey isn’t discussing when my son first crawled or talked, or waved bye-bye; when he ticked a milestone box or how he compares to his fellow smalls. Those things don’t matter, not to me anyway. It’s about facing challenges and finding humor or companionship in them, it’s scraping through some days and living to tell the tale. It’s messy and fun and uncertain and a bit of a rollercoaster. And I really think it’s OK to acknowledge that.
So amongst the faded notions of bestselling fame and fortune is this happy medium reality. I have some time for me to be me (even if I am writing about him), a chance to create and mold something, in-between and around the Big Stuff of Bringing up a Baby and building our family life.
Again, pre-baby (where it has been established by now that I was an idiot), I thought I would need so many things to write… the space, the time, the process. Yet here I am, with the least time I’ve ever had, but the most motivation. My space is on the sofa, around toys, books and crumbs, or occasionally in Tesco with the next decent idea scribbled on the back of a shopping list; and my process and time is – write what you can, whenever you can, stop faffing about and don’t ramble so much.
I’m still working on that last one, sorry.
Writing, like parenting, can be beautiful, inspiring, challenging, frustrating, tiring, motivating and a lot of fun. I have gained so much from it, not least the discovery of other writer parent types who amuse, provoke thought, entertain and sometimes make me cry but never in a bad way. I also find comfort in knowing I’m not the only one to scream into a pillow every so often and eat biscuits behind the cupboard door whilst pretending to find the baby some fruit.
So if you are after any quality reading fodder, I am linking a few of my favourites just below, because they are awesome!
Seeing as this post is slightly off-topic from the norm, it seems like an excellent opportunity to share below either your own blog, or mini empire if you wish to and feel it relevant. I love tucking into good, new reads too so you can also share any other blogs you enjoy and think I should check out. Lay down your links in peace! You can also get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.
*This was written as part of a Writing Blog Tour, currently winging its way around the globe. I was nominated by Emily-Jane from The Years of Stolen Sleep. The plan is to answer these questions and for the people you tag to do the same and so on:
Why do you write what you do? What are you working on right now? How does your work differ from others in its genre? How does your writing process work?
I think I have answered them, amongst a whole lot of waffle. Mmm, waffles!
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