They're not my Excuse from Tacheny Perry

They’re not my Excuse, They’re my Reason

People often assume it’s my children’s fault when my writing is going slowly. And it’s true. Being the mom of three boys is exhausting.

They're not my Excuse from Tacheny PerryIn high school and college there were times I thought I had no free time. But I didn’t know the meaning of busy until I became a mom. Until my idea of a break became being able to pee with the door closed.

So yes, they keep me busy. But they’re not my excuse, they’re my reason.

Every day they challenge me. They ask for more and more, and miraculously I find it. I wrestle three children into the car and drive across town. I bounce a baby, while listening to a rambling, nonsensical toddler story, nodding at all the right parts, and trying not to unwittingly promise him ice cream. Sometimes I lose it, but most of the time I don’t.

They're not my Excuse from Tacheny PerryThey count on me. They believe in me. So I am strong.

 

That momma bear instinct is real, And fierce. It grows out of a love that shouldn’t be possible and bleeds into everything.

They're not my Excuse from Tacheny PerrySo this is an ode to my children: they may not give me hours to write, but they help me find the strength to share what I have to say. They inspire me with stories. And force me to let rejection go. (Who has time to dwell when someone is biting someone else?)

I was a writer before I was a mom. But when I become an author, it will be because of my children.

So here’s to my reason.

Here’s to my boys.They're not my Excuse from Tacheny Perry

Rediscovering the Rush

I called my dad a couple days ago to ask him a serious question. You see, I’ve been starting savings-box-161876_1280to save money so I can go to the SCBWI conference in July. And the more money I put aside, the more guilty I became.

While writing the first draft of my first manuscript, I was impressively consistent. I had a toddler and an infant, but still I managed my goal of 700 words (I know Jack London said 1,000, but I figured 2 kids bought me at least a 300 word leeway). Sometimes the thought that my previous experience consisted of papers and short stories of no more than 10-15 pages became daunting, but the ever climbing word count was reassuring and I pushed on.

book-145399_1280As a newbie, I ran into other stumbling blocks as well. I remember the first time I had a critique partner read my work, say she thought it had tons of promise, and then hand me back a manuscript brimming with red marks. (…but I thought you said you liked it…? 😦 ) Still, there were more ups than downs. I discovered I enjoyed parts of the writing process I didn’t think I would (like editing, who knew?!) And I saw my accomplishments pile up: a completed first, second, 20th draft.

I started a blog (this one 😉 ), signed up to be a contributor and then editor for Albuquerque City Moms Blog, made plans to go back to school for my MFA once my children got a little older. I was confident I’d found the career I wanted to pursue the rest of my life.

And then I got pregnant, which for me meant hyperemesis gravidarum (or as I like to call it – the puke until you feel like you’re going to die disease). Writing stopped, but I told myself it was only temporary. In fact, I believe my last post said something to that affect. But even after I could move and eat without vomiting, even after our third son came and my energy level went up (slightly), even after he began to form a bit of a nap routine, I didn’t write. Not consistently anyway.

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Now, of course, I could come at you with all sorts of excuses. Legitimate ones even. I’ve got three boys 5 and under who, despite some progress, have yet to manage coordinating their schedules. I’ve got a baby who wakes me up several times a night. I’ve got family who is about 900 miles too far away to babysit or lend a hand. But none of those are the real reason I stopped writing.

I stopped because I got scared.

Which brings us back to the phone conversation with my dad.

My sister, who is amazing and extremely talented, has recently received both her desired chemistry internship and a journalism scholarship. I am super proud of her! Hearing about her exciting news brought me back to my college days. It’s not been that many years, but I feel like a completely different person. Back then, I thought I had everything figured out too. However, though I still enjoy music, I have absolutely no desire to utilize my music education degree anymore. (my kiddos are enough, I can’t handle being in charge of molding someone else’s too)

I have one manuscript, sure, but the second one has been at a stand-still for almost a year now. So I wondered: was writing my music ed degree all over again? And more importantly, am I good at it? Enough to make it my vocation?questions-1922476_1920

This is what I asked my dad. I wasn’t looking for false flattery or a boost for my ego. I was looking for honesty. And though he is my dad (and therefore bias), he’s also one of the best writers I know. So when I asked for the truth, I knew I would get it.

There is no twist to this part of the story. He did, in fact, as I’m sure you all suspected, tell me I was a very talented writer. And though he admitted this didn’t guarantee me a career, he assured me it wasn’t a waste of my time/money to try.

It was a nice conversation. But it’s not what inspired me to write this post, though it did motivate me towards what did.

The phone call ended with us deciding to exchange writing by the following week. So Saturday, though I still wasn’t convinced I had what it took, I sent my husband to the park with our children and I dutifully sat down to write.

A few hundred words in I found myself thinking, “God, I love this.”woman-1245817_1920

The rush. The high you get while creating a story. There’s nothing like it.

It’d been so long since I’d forced myself to sit down for any length of time and just write. I’d forgotten that feeling. I’d let doubt take its place.

But when I write, when I let it take over, the doubt dissolves.

So even if I never get published. Even if I’m not really any good. I’ll keep writing. Because I’ve rediscovered the rush.

And there’s no way letting that go.

An Unexpected Encouragement

It only takes one yes. That’s what you’re supposed to tell yourself, right? Because it’s true. But on a day like today, when I sit down to work, only to be greeted by yet another rejection letter, that message can be difficult to internalize.

20160213_085257I love writing, but it’s hard to know whether or not I’m chasing after a lost dream. Even though everyone experiences it, rejection can make me question why I’m working on my computer instead of washing the pile of dishes currently sitting behind me on the counter.

This week has been tough. My children seem to be permanently sick. My 5 o’clock alarm has gone off several times in a row, only to be ignored. I’m tired. And my internal assurances haven’t been enough to motivate great or even mediocre strides forward in my manuscript.

But sometimes outside help finds you at just the right moment.

I got an email saying I needed to moderate my website, which was surprising. Because even though I’d vowed to keep posts coming, I’ve already fallen behind. The email contained a comment in my About section, from my Dad.

“As I write this, I am thinking how proud your grandfather would be that his granddaughter is a writer!”

My grandpa, Robert T. Reilly, is one of my writing idols. He could do funny, serious, novels,Untitled design poetry, articles. For children and adults. You name it, he could write it.  And, as a child, every time I shared something I’d written, he’d ask for a copy and add it to the file he kept of my work. I loved seeing him slip my white sheet into that manila folder. Since his passing, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could share my latest projects; see him add them to my file.

It made me happy, picturing him smiling down at me, his granddaughter, the writer.

So thank you Dad for reminding me, that even in the tough weeks (or months), and even though I can’t send him anything to critique, I have to keep going. Because I have a legacy to live up to. And someone on the other side who’s waiting to put my first novel on his shelf.