I probably shouldn’t admit it here, but promotional efforts for my new book, Tough Love: A Wyoming Childhood have more or less come to a standstill since I returned to California from my home state of Wyoming last month.
For two solid weeks in Wyoming, I was out, reading and putting on writing workshops, engaging people in glorious conversation about the significance of telling our life stories. I met people of all ages with raw, captivating life experiences to share. I shared bits of my own life experience, exposing the wonderful, the challenging and the pivotal moments of growing up as an only child in rural Wyoming. Strangers and acquaintances came to know the strong and unforgettable characters who shaped my childhood: Great Uncle John, Grandpa Bucky, Mountain Man Chuck and that lady up in the Hoback who once danced naked. For two weeks, I was in author heaven.
Then I returned with my family to California, and the realities of being a full time mom quickly settled back in. This is certainly not a bad thing – it is simply fact. My husband, an engineer who diligently worked while his wife and two sons were away in Wyoming, transitioned from a day shift to a night shift while we were gone. And that meant that upon our return to California, we had some major adjusting to do.
For a while, all rhythm in our household was lost. Family dinner time was out the door, replaced with family time mid-morning and, if we were lucky, lunch together around the kitchen table.
Settling back in to life as mom and wife proved harder than I’d expected, coming off of an exhilarating two weeks in my home state where Grandma and Grandpa were always around to help with the boys and where I had plenty of time to wear my writer’s hat. I felt like life as a writer had no choice but to take a backseat for a while. I fought it. I cried. I wondered what the fate of my first published book would ultimately be, if I was not out in the world pushing it for all I was worth.
I am both a mother and a writer. This means that very often, something’s gotta give.
The writer Hope Edelman acknowledged her realities as a writer and mother in a blog post on Brevity, sharing a list of what she can and cannot do as a wearer of multiple hats. The advantages? She is really good at budgeting time, and says she has experienced a whole range of emotions that have enhanced her writing. The disadvantages? In her own words, she can’t “spend three months at a writer’s colony … stay at literary events past 9:15 on a weeknight … shower every day … be a foreign correspondent.”
Because I am a mother and a writer, I can snatch quiet moments as they come. I can multi-task – say, make an important phone call while I’m nursing my three-month-old, jot down an idea for a new essay on the back of a receipt in my three-year-old son’s preschool parking lot, confirm a book sale via email while kids catch five more minutes of TV. I can make two solid, blessed hours of work time pass in the blink of an eye. And, like Edelman, I can garnish loads of heartfelt material from the range of emotions that come with being a mom. Believe me, I have stories to tell.
And because I am a mother and a writer, I can’t give readings or host writing workshops every day of the week. I can’t tackle my list of marketing ideas fast enough. I can’t blog as much as I want to nor be in conversation with fellow writers and readers as much as I’d like.
For now, I just have to trust that, as mom and as writer, I am right where I need to be. My book is out. People are reading it, and the feedback is just heartwarming. I am so grateful and so humbled to all of those who have picked up a copy and have taken the time to read it. I hope there will be many more readers to come.
Seasons come and go in our lives, and I think to some degree a level of chaos is always present. Finally, I feel like I am working my way back into a rhythm where I can wear the hats of both mother and writer, as family woman and book promoter. There’s a lot of work to do. But then again, there always is.