I've been asked numerous times how I manage to write and be a mom at the same time. Well I can tell you, it ain't easy. But then nothing ever is. And nothing that's worth it ever is either.
But to answer that question, first of all, you have to really want to. And I mean REALLY. I've always wanted to be a writer. Since grade two. But it wasn't until late 2009 when I started Jessica that it really happened. But why then, when I had four kids, the youngest not even a year old?
Who knows. Well, ok, I can hazard a few guesses. Before Jessica I'd been working on a fantasy project that was destined to be a trilogy. And I use the word 'working' loosely, believe me. I was sixteen when I first got the idea, and although I tweaked it in my twenties, it was still a book idea that I'd been thinking about for more than ten years. So it was probably a good thing I moved on from it to try something new. I mean obviously that fantasy story just wasn't going to happen. Unfortunately, due to my huge failure at it, I was very scared of starting something new and failing massively at that as well, thus sealing my fate of never being a writer. But I tried something new anyway and it just worked. Jessica was new, fresh, and it made me very excited, fired up even, to write about her.
Another reason I think it came so easily is that I wrote it in first person. Writing everything "I" this and "I" that, just seemed easier. It helped Jessica to come out on the page better, it made her thoughts clearer. Although I will admit that it made a lot of me come out in her. Yikes.
People always tell writers- "write what you know". I remember thinking a lot about that phrase and thinking, Ha- I don't know anything! So what am I supposed to write about? But Jessica came about because of all these different daydreams I had in my own head and finally, on one brilliant day I thought to myself, why not mesh them all into one? Have one character experience all these stories? That thought never left. And when I finally decided to try it out, it just worked. It was almost easy to write. In fact most of it was easy to write. (It's the editing, and querying, and trying to get it published that's hard.)
All those things helped Jessica's story to happen in my head, like a movie. Then it became a matter of just finding the time to sit at the computer and write it down.
As to that- I started out by setting a goal- 50 pages by Christmas (that was obviously back before I realized that it's word count, not pages, that matter). I barely made that goal. I would write mostly in the early afternoons when my almost-one-year-old and almost-three-year-old were napping, my four-year-old was in preschool, and my six-year-old in grade one. It was the best time. My cleaning was done, the house was quiet, and I hadn't reached that I'm-too-tired-to-do-anything part of the day yet. Things changed after Christmas. It was like a fire got lit under my butt and I started writing a lot more. Sometimes I'd find some time in the morning. Sometimes that two-hour block of napping/preschool writing time extended all the way until the time when I knew I had to stop or else my kids wouldn't get dinner before bed. And yes, I felt immensely guilty for all those times. Sometimes I wrote at night, into the night, not stopping until 1, 2, even 3 am. And yes, I felt immensely guilty for how cranky I was with everyone on the days after those late nights. But it took me less than two months to finish the book.
The thing is, if you really want to write, you will. Even now, some days I really want to and others I spend my writing time researching agents or aspects of life in the late seventeen-hundreds (for book 2). Or blogging. (Which I'm doing now after I've already written more than a thousand words for today.) That's just the way it goes. If the story is in your head, you'll find the time to write it. You just will. So I guess the question shouldn't be, how do you find the time to write? The question is, how do you get that story in your head?
At least that's what I would have wanted to ask my current self ten years ago. More on that another day...