When I had my first child, sure my life changed. My sleep was dictated by her cries. I had to take her with me on all my errands and be sure there’d be a place I could nurse. Worse case, I had to time my arrival so I could feed her in the car.
No more running in shops or popping out for a coffee. There were schedules to follow and a baby to entertain.
But, overall, my life was like a less selfish version of its former self. I still worked. Colleagues and students called me by my name. In fact, many didn’t even know I had a family.
I was still Kristi or Mrs. Kristi.
Then, six months into my second pregnancy, I quit my job. My hair went from curly to straight. I only interacted with mothers. I was sick and tired and hungry and sweaty.
All. The. Freaking. Time.
The people at my daughter’s school, art class and music class called me, “Sylvia’s Mommy.” When I walked down the street with a big belly, pushing a stroller, I was invisible. Everyone looked at my cute toddler’s face and smiled at her. I was suddenly no one.
Just a mom.
That’s how it felt, anyway. Eleven years later, I’m only just now rebuilding my identity. I had three other children, went through the ups and downs over and over. I’ve had to be called “So-and-so’s Mommy” for much longer than I ever intended.
My writing felt like a selfish indulgence. So much so that I’d squish it in between naps and after bedtimes. I only told two people that I was even doing it. All the while, unhappily ticking the “homemaker” box on forms for doctors, schools, etc.
Last year I signed with my agent. I still ticked “homemaker” because I convinced myself that my book hadn’t sold yet so technically I wasn’t an author.
Then, my book sold. I still ticked “homemaker” at the gynecologist.
I signed my contract and I still hesitated and let my hand hover over my children’s Punjabi school form next to the line: Mother’s Job:_____.
I STILL wrote “homemaker.”
I told myself that I’d write “author” once my book comes out in print.
Why should I wait? What if my book gets bumped and doesn’t come out until 2018 instead of 2017?
If a friend asked me, I’d be telling them not to be silly, write “author.” Why won’t I let myself write it?
Being an author is like being a homemaker. No one really knows how much time, effort and work you put into things. Like when I do a really thorough cleaning of my flat. I feel like I accomplished something. Then, the kids get home from school, have a snack, run around outside, invite neighbors in. By the time my husband walks through the door, he wonders what I’ve actually done all day because the house and dinner are kind of all over the place.
My writing time can be the same. I spend hours working and reworking only to have family say, “You’re STILL working on that? How long does it take to write down some words?”
Recently the FOWP group shared our favorite writing quotes. Mine? (It’s funny now that I think about it!) Here it is: Claim it!
Yep, I’m pretty sure it was from a NaNo pep talk.
So, all of you who have a manuscript hiding in a drawer or maybe you’re in the query trenches or maybe your book is on submission…still. Claim it!
Posting this is my promise to myself that after claiming it to all of you, I’m going to claim it to myself as well. I promise to take a photo of the next form I fill out and post it here. You better be sure I do!