Before I start my little list of the five ways one successfully (or unsuccessfully) maintains a professional status as both mother and author, I’d like to acknowledge that, for the most part, many of us exist and many of us are just as pent up, desperate, and in dire need of release. There’s a lot of people out there that have misconceptions of how parenting can look when one of those people doing the parenting is an author. Especially if it’s the mother and in a genre that generally has a little (or a lot) of sex.
#1—We Don’t Write ‘Mom’ Romance
Okay, this is actually a true-to-life assumption I’ve gotten on many occasions. I have kids—I haven’t died or lost all substance. My being a mother doesn’t weaken my ability to be creative. I’m a goddamn pervert; I have kids, I remind you. Though I sometimes forget it in the face of ongoing crisis in my home—like when one of my kids steals the other one’s toy and a fierce battle ensues over who is truly king of the toy—I do have more to say than what my life as a mother has afforded me.
I can write it as good as any sex-deprived singleton, probably even better. I’ve been deprived just as long, and often of my own will. It’s my honest belief that mothers who are forced to soak all day in incoherent ramblings of little demons with the faces of angels and a husband that just doesn’t get it are the ones that create those steamy, heart-clenching romances that leave you salivating for more.
We write, and we do it well.
#2—We Don’t Want It
Just because I’m writing it doesn’t mean that I’m expecting my husband to reenact it. And on that note, it’s not because I’m unsatisfied that I write it. Like working on cars, watching drama, reading fiction, writers write what they love, and I just happen to LOVE romance.
It’s no small secret that kids, especially ones as young as mine, drain the very life from you. Your sex life takes a dive. You trade sleep for sex; sex for cleaning. It’s an exchange system when you’re a parent. The romance has been stripped from you by rampaging toddlers that asked you every question that they could possibly contrive in a day—somewhere around two thousand that are rapid-fire in groupings of ten.
Writing (or if you read romance) is a way to get away, immerse yourself in romance that is somewhat unrealistic, or unlikely to happen to you, just as a way of escaping for a few hours. It’s just another way to avoid taking the express train to cookoo town.
#3—Sleep, What’s That?
I don’t sleep. Ever. I could easily sit and Netflix all night, but I’d rather write and feel fulfilled for the time spent pondering how to hide all the candy I just bought at the store from my six-year-old with a nose of a bloodhound and the persistence of the paparazzi.
So instead, I write. That’s when I write, and I don’t care if everyone knows it, or if my errors come in tens rather than twos. I’d just be escorting my sleepwalking three-year-old back to his room anyway, why not get something productive done? I’ll dream of hunky supernatural creatures later.
#4—Who’s House Is This?
Okay, I don’t like to admit this openly, but this post is all about exposure and honesty. Here’s the 411: my house looks like a tornado or two cut through it after a writing binge. I’m in my pajamas; my hair hasn’t been brushed in days (did I wash it?); I’ve been surviving all week on a caffeine-only diet; my eyes are red and hallow, and I’m pretty sure that my kids have forgotten who I am. It’s not pretty.
When I get on a writing binge, everything falls away. Even my children. I have a healthy routine of letting them have full access to both pantry and tablet when inspiration’s hit. It’s shameful, but I can’t help it. If I’m hit with the writing bug, I won’t stop until it’s run its course.
Writing is an art. Only true writers can say that it affects them like this. You’re not in control of your actions; all you know is that you need to write, and you need to do it right now.
Hopefully this all doesn’t come back to bite me in the ass when they’re teenagers.
#5—I’m Not Ashamed
Being a mother is one of the most amazing things to ever happen to me. Writing is a passion that I enjoy fully, but if it gets in the way of my duties as a mother (aside from the occasional binge), then I have no qualms dropping it and focusing on my family first.
I was recently asked why I hadn’t pursued traditional publishing, or why I didn’t promote myself on a higher level. It’s simple: I don’t want writing to get in the way of my ability to be a mother. At the end of the day, I won’t ever get these years back. Being with my kids and raising them is my first priority. I can write any time, any place. Being a parent isn’t about when you want to be one; you have to be that regardless of whether or not you want to.
So I’m not ashamed if I have to put writing aside for a bit to take care of the people that mean the most to me: my kids.
That’s just my two-cents on what being a parent and a romance writer has looked like for me. It’s been a lot of fun though, and I hope to keep at it.