A million years ago, I wrote an ebook called I’ll Write When the Kids Are Grown. It was a handy little tool full of advice to help writing parents, an extension of my e-zine and web site, The Writing Parent. It all began as I started a new journey with a new writing career on this fabulous new thing called THE INTERNET! With small people living in my house, I found it challenging to balance parenting with writing, thus The Writing Parent.
I started it on a whim, with no plan in mind. Just…”Hey, here’s a new ‘zine. Subscribe!”
I sometimes miss the days when I was naively optimistic. It made me less fearful of trying harder things, of striking out, of sending idea after idea out into the world. I was braver when I knew less, when I had less experience.
Don’t get me wrong: my attempts became more purposeful and intentional, but with that came more fear. Fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of making an editor think I was an idiot and telling all the other editors (because fear creates paranoid imaginary landscapes where all the editors hang out and talk about me), etc.
In 2000, I began writing my memoir — you know, the one I’m still writing and it will for sure be done this year, for sure, no doubt (but seriously) — and that just might be where fear got a toe-hold. Suddenly, I could see too far into the future. The future held publication. Publication held criticism and backlash.
And besides that, the future held publication and success. I was not ready for success. I desired it, but I feared it. I was not in a place that was healthy enough to believe I could have success.
I had a lot of healing to do. In the meantime, I wrote and trashed new versions of my memoir. I shared pieces of my story online and received invitations to speak in different places across the country. I turned down the speaking gigs and ripped my stories away from the world.
When you’re not healthy and whole, there isn’t really a fear of failure. You know failure. You already know you aren’t good enough — people have been telling you that all your life. You get it. It’s success that will take you down.
All the same, my writing career grew and my e-zine became more and more successful. And I couldn’t handle it. I shut it all down. I sabotaged the whole thing. I did not deserve the rewards of my hard work. I was amazingly prolific, and suddenly I couldn’t write a single word. I didn’t WANT to write a single word.
Still, my book waited patiently for me. It waited through the teen years and graduations and moving out and all the little life things that happen every day, every year.
My memoir grew up with my kids. It went through the stages of my grief and healing and growth. And as I sit here now juggling schedules with grownup kids and grand-babies, I am reminded of the advice I gave to other writing parents — you don’t have to wait until the kids are grown to write.
Sometimes, though, life happens and healing needs to take place first, and then you’re ready. Sometimes the kids grow up before it happens. And maybe then it’s time. Yes, it’s time.
I used to get up super early to write before my kids got up. I used to get dressed for work even though work was at home. I used to write my heart out and send submissions everywhere. Fearless. Hungry. All in.
Time to return to that.
This year for sure. Yes, seriously. For sure.
PS: I started a new course by the one and only Mridu Khullar Relph —
30 Days of Creative Courage.