Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Time Management Tuesday: Mom Writers

Since reading that Ursula LeGuin once referred to herself as a middle-aged Portland housewife, I've been thinking about housewife writers. I will need to think about that some

But today I stumbled upon something that got me thinking about mom writers, which is like a housewife writer but also different. Are You a Mom Writer Thinking of Quitting? Read This First at Jane Friedman was a bit of a blast from my past. Guest writer Denise Massar's description of what she went through getting published while working as a full-time mom was different from my experience in that I was submitting directly to editors instead of agents (this was a long time ago), but on the other hand, the whipping back and forth between jobs/lives is very much the same.

Massar says,"Mom writers are wired to succeed at writing (and querying) because we can multitask like no other. We can switch gears in an instant." I can't agree with her first line, since I don't believe multi-tasking is an actual thing. However, that switching gears business is a whiplash inducing reality.

It Doesn't Get Any Better After You Start Publishing

Massar's description of submitting to agents prior to publishing books is very accurate. It is a job all by itself. As I said, I wasn't doing that during my high mother years. That came much later, after my career took a hit with the 2008 economic crisis, at which point I was dealing with eldercare, not childcare. The point where I considered throwing in the towel with writing came earlier, after I'd had a couple of books published. That was when I had two children in elementary and then middle school and was writing draft after draft of new books, swinging from one kind of work situation to another, depending on whether I had publishing deadlines to meet or was struggling to come up with ways to promote a new book or the books I already had in print. I also had periods when I was working up school presentations, which functioned, in part, to promote my books, but which needed to be promoted themselves. With writing, everything, absolutely everything, has to be promoted. (I will be promoting this blog post.)

I believe I actually said out loud to my husband that I needed to quit writing, because I wasn't doing a good enough job with it or the kids. I wanted to be better than that. I didn't quit, however. I don't remember what actually happened, though I am pretty persistent and obsessive and that may have been all it was. Then, of course, the kids grew up. And then the deadlines and promotional concerns dried up. It all took care of itself!

How Different Is The Mom Writer's Situation From That Of Other Writers?

I am, and it sounds as if Denise Massar was, talking about those women writers whose day job is...ah...momming, I guess we'll call it. But a great many women writers are momming while holding down entirely different day jobs. They're doing three jobs. I can't even touch what that life must be like for them. Are they mom writers? Are they doctor writers? Are they professor writers? Shop keeper writers, librarian writers, farmer writers? If I was struggling to switch gears in an instant, what are they doing?

What about dad writers?  Are things that different for them? Arguably you could say they were in the past, because society expected more of mothers than it did of fathers. But I don't know if that's the case, anymore. I'm seeing dads at home with kids, dads taking kids to doctors, dads taking kids to activities, dads taking time off from income producing jobs to stay home with sick kids. 

Certainly it can't be much different for dad writers who are the primary caregiver in the home. How many writing men planning to write while they cared for children got the surprise of their lives when they found out how much of their time was going to go to childcare? 

For that matter, a lot of writing moms were surprised to learn that fact of life. 

What Does This Have To Do With Time Management, Gail?

It all gets back to how our life situations are constantly changing. How we use our time today is determined by what we need to do today, which may be different from what we need to do tomorrow or next week. And what we need to do today is determined by who are today, which may be different from who we are tomorrow or next week. Writer or tinker or tailor or soldier or spy. Or mom.

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