Denial No Longer

I don't have my own office, or even my own uninterrupted writing space. I use my little desk when it's not occupied with a husband doing homework, and the bed if I'm feeling too ill to sit in a chair. I attempt to go to coffee shops and write, to change my creative surroundings whenever I can, but because of where I live, it's not often enough. Always, a child beckons at the door, or pulls me away from a battle between wizard and Curse Breaker to tell me he is hungry. Always, I'm left torn between the two lives I adore.

I don't have designated alone hours to write in that nonexistent writing space.

Instead I have a house full of little shoes, piles of dirty (and sometimes clean) laundry, hot wheels, children's art supplies, and demanding tasks. I don't have a nanny. I am the nanny. The only full time job I have is Mother. And Wife. Everything else is just wishful thinking, for the time being anyway.

Today I did the usual. Got the kids ready for school, dropped them off, put my toddler in front of breakfast, and sat down to my own breakfast. As morning ritual, I browse Twitter and Facebook on my phone while eating (smartphones were the best inventions, were they not?). Most days, immersing myself in the creative writing worlds on social media inspires me, motivates me (unfortunately, a lot of the time it motivates me to the point where household chores are put on the back-burner so I can write).

Today, however, it left me discouraged. I saw things I always saw, was aware of things I always knew. But the little flecks fell hard today, instead of drifting like light snowfall and blowing away with my thoughts of determination. Today, after realizing how these authors live their lives, all they've done to get where they're at (and realizing I'm not anywhere near that), and of course seeing again that nearly every trend in the market right now and what nearly every agent wants is middle grade and young adult, I was Discouraged with a capitol D.

These many thoughts were running through my mind when I was pulling the wet clothes from the washer and stuffing them in the dryer, managing to pick up the tiny sopping socks that had fallen to the floor while my mind was somewhere else.

I've dreamed of being a published author for years now. But in reality, not many, retrospectively. I think most authors started wanting their dreams at much younger ages than I did. I feel like I have a lot of making up to. But I'd like to think my passion and determination makes up for those lost years. I fully stand behind the Pat Walsh quote at the head of my blog. My writing talent (and yes, I can admit now it's a talent) wasn't something I immediately discovered. It was cultivated and crafted carefully. I wanted it. I needed it. So I gained it, by hard work and dedication. Isn't that how many talents are received?

I've already accepted the label of writer. But in reality, it's only part time. As much as I'd like to think it's a second "job," it makes me internally cringe to admit that at this point, it's more of a past time. The drive and passion makes it more than that, but the time and space I've been given to work it makes it only a past time. A dearly beloved hobby. I suppose that's the purpose of my post today.

It's one of those I'm-feeling-especially-introverted-and-thoughtful-and-melancholy days today. One where my internal struggles are examined at every angel, distracting me from the things that demand my attention. My eyes still light up at every tiny accomplishment my children show me, my ears are still in tune to every interruption I get (I've gotten four, just since I began writing this post...hence the reason my writing dreams probably won't be realized at this stage in my life).

But my heart aches with the raw realization I had while doing that laundry. Now that I've accepted that realization, and no longer face denial, I'm simply trying to deal with it.

It's hard having a dream that motivates your soul and spirit to the point of sleepless nights, especially when even through that dream you still know your priorities: that your family is first and foremost. I would never change that. I thank God with every ounce of my spirit for the children he has given me, and the husband I have lying beside me at night. They are my everything, as I've mentioned many times before.

But the writer in me wants so badly to be accepted in the world of published authors. I want my love and passion and work to be realized. The money is pointless to me. We have sufficient for our needs now, and I know anyway that a supple income as an author is as rare as finding a moth-winged bull (Ali Shaw reference). I just want to be known for the beautiful things I write. I crave for others to love my stories and characters as much as I do--to know them as real people in the way I do (I'm convinced Elizabeth and Henry are real, and that if I take a drive up to Oregon, I can knock of their door).

Sometimes I feel I should avoid social media sites like Twitter for a time, to put things into perspective. I get swallowed in the agent, author, and publishing trends, enter every contest, follow every person I can that may help me "break in" the business. And I've found a wonderful community of people who are surprisingly supportive and welcoming.

But in doing this, I've also seen the lives these people lead--these people who are, in a sense, my writerly idols. They have a large following. They have adoring fans (Oh, to send out a tweet of an excerpt and have fans eating it up!), they have opinions and skills that are valued. They have potential. They have an agent who loves their work. They have conferences and critique partners and critique groups, as well as book signings and book tours. They have giveaway deals. They have deadlines.

One day, that will be me. I tell myself over and over again. Every time I start to think I'm not made for it, that I could never break into that world, I push the thought out with a reassurance that I will be there one day. I will not let myself accept failure. I will never quit. I will continuously try to better myself and gain more skills, and will never stop trying to break out that debut novel.

But these beloved authors and writers talk of writing spaces, and writing times, and things that come along with "the life of a writer." I don't have any of those things; nothing but a laptop and stories that beg to be told--which, I know, is how it starts. I have small children and live in a small town at least ten hours away from any extended family members. I live three hours away from the closest place that may have good writing groups. My three small children keep me extremely busy, and when they don't, my health situation makes it difficult to find the energy (mentally and physically) to write. I have a husband who not only works full time but is going to school for his masters, and picking up to go to a conference is just not something that's in the cards.

I can't do what's necessary to become a part of that world. While the internal yearnings draw me to it, the outside forces in my life won't allow it. I can't go to conferences or writing groups (not to mention, I don't have any professional degrees or credentials which could ever give me a leg up).

I am a stay at home mom, plain and simple. Nothing more.

And when I do have the resources and time to do what's necessary, I will be fighting against every odd.

Will I make it as an author someday?

I still believe, with every fiber of passion in my heart, I will.

I keep telling myself, "Sure, I'm not ready. But if I could just find an agent to love my work, all would fall into place..."

A part of me still believes that, I won't deny.

But for now, it's time to be a mom. It's time to force myself to stop searching and searching hopelessly for an agent who is probably not out there yet (or who isn't ready for my un-ready self). It's time to focus my writing on just that: writing. It's time to use my spare time (and it's not much these days, honestly) to write and read because I want to, not because I need to try to break in to that world.

I know I got into this game much later than other writers (again, another odd against me). Hell, I didn't even realize a writer was what I wanted to be until after I had my first child. I never even read many books, if any, as a teenager (curses to me, I know). I used to write poetry, and little short stories of no worth. But it wasn't until I was an adult that I started appreciating literary works, and reading. And it wasn't until I was moved by giving life to my first son that I felt I needed to express myself that way. It wasn't until I began what I felt at first was a hobby that I realized I was going to be a writer.

I'm still learning new things with every revision. I'm a rookie, through and through, and I'm well aware that my manuscripts probably show that. I'm thirty years old, but probably at the stage an aspiring twenty-year-old author would be. I still learn a new grammar rule every single week that I didn't necessarily know before. I love my novels and characters, but I know I have a long way to go, and that knowledge leaves me with less confidence. I am reminded of that every time I read other books, or creations from other talented writers I know (Wow, they have it all together. I wish I wrote as well as them. My book isn't nearly as good, nor is my premise.).

And the end result to such hurdles is always the same: every time I get thrown back, put in my place, feel sorry for myself and wish I could do things over in the past to be at a more advanced place now, I recover and rebuild. And after doing so, my determination to conquer is more fortified than ever before.

I'm happy with my life, and know it's moving at the pace it needs to be right now. I will keep doing this because I can never quit. But I've accepted that it's simply not the right time. *fights off the tears* 

*waves fist in the air* One day you will be mine, publishing!

For now, I have to go wipe a toddler's butt.


Kele Lampe said…
Jennie, this is a powerful blog. I've been where you are, though I've wanted to be an author as long as I can remember, and that's different. And I'm older than you are, which is a little different, too. But I know the longing to be validated, to make it in the publishing world. And I get the frustration with the whole traditional publishing process. I cannot write a successful query letter or pitch to save my life, and I've had years and years of trying. I believe my work stands on its own. I cannot jump through the hoop of convincing some stranger it will make them money in 200 words or less.

A little over a year ago, an editor friend of mine asked me to publish my work via Smashwords so she could read it more easily. So I released my first 3 novels that way. And it changed my life. I had been trying to accept that I was never going to get what I wanted in the writing area, but when I released my books what I realised was, I was subscribing to outmoded ways of thinking about publishing, ways that no longer served me. There's still A LOT of stigma in some circles about self-published--or, as I prefer--independent authors. Some people still promulgate the idea that "if you're really any good, you can attract a publisher and if you can't you're either not trying or you're no good." But it's simply not true, and there are so many options nowadays for getting your work out that there's no reason not to do it.

I don't have a zillion fans, but I have hundreds, which is more than I had before anyone had read my work. I don't make a huge amount of money, but it trickles in. What's important to me is that other people came play in my world now. Before I released my first 3 books, I had virtually stopped writing. Now I'm about to release book 5, and I'm working on book 6.

It's not the trappings that make the writer. It's the stories.


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