The Rewrite Chronicles: The Mom vs Writer Smackdown

Do you have healthy attitude about your writing? Now, if you ask me what I mean by healthy attitude, I’ve no idea. I was hoping you’d know.

Here’s the thing. I’ve crossed a line. Drunk the koolaid. Swallowed the hook, the line, and the sinker. Whatever–but do any of these things sound healthy to you? Let me know if they do.

But in this writing madness I do happen to be a mom. Please, for the love of all that you hold holy, do not label me a mom-writer. It makes me break out in issues. Mom issues. Mother guilt. Mom rage. Breaking out in mom-issues is worse than breaking out in hives. At least if you show with hives people say, “Try this ointment.” Break out in issues and people say, “Change your attitude.” Ointment is cheaper and easier to apply and can be applied without the help of a therapist.

Nobody goes around calling men, “Dad writers.” Men have their own issues–and having been raised by a single dad, I know several of them, but really, there is no men’s fiction. There is fiction, and there is women’s fiction. I have yet to figure out exactly what that means beyond–men don’t read me fiction. And this is not to say that women’s fiction is bad. I’m not talking about the content of the book but the label. The bloody label. Labels are really good for wine–less good for novels. Or maybe…hmmm…wine…

Take this wine bottle I just pulled off our shelf–Clayhouse Vineyard Adobe Red 2005
41% Zinfindel, 26% Petite Syrah, 18% Syrah, 10% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon

I could write a label for my novel like that–The Labyrinth House: A Novel 2008
39% love, 35% absent father, 9% supernatural, 10% friendship, 7% mother/daughter tension.

I’m going to have to work on those numbers, but you get the idea.

Back to that crossed line. On one side of the line is normal life. On the other is the writing life. I had Friday off–kid and student free!–and I spent it writing. By 3 o’clock I was hungry, but I ate chips, a tomato, and a popsicle. Fixing more than that means writing less than I did, and I don’t get a day off to eat. Or to wash dishes. Or to remember birthdays. Or whatever happens back on the other side of the line.

I’m not saying this is right. It’s just that one day, I’d like for someone to pick my book up off the shelf, read it, and have it mean something to them. Why this matters to me, I don’t know. Character motivation is a much more pressing concern.

That Friday night was my turn to put our son to bed. We did the usual routine, and after I read him stories and tucked him in, I stayed in the room with him. This must be a bad habit, but he doesn’t like to fall asleep alone and we’re suckers. So he and I made a deal (because I was obsessed with a scene). When all was quiet and he was beginning doze, I could write in his room. There next to his bed I tapped away on my laptop. I ended up in there an hour after he’d fallen soundly asleep. I written a few decent paragraphs too. Maybe my son dreams of typing and the computer light.

And maybe one day that reader of mine will say, “Gosh, she’s a good writer.” For the only person who can decide if I’m a good mom is my son.

7 thoughts on “The Rewrite Chronicles: The Mom vs Writer Smackdown

  1. Lovely. I understand what you mean about the momwriter thing. Although, not being particularly social or maybe because my kids don’t go to school yet or maybe because I come from an arty family or maybe because I’m staying at home with my toddler/preschooler, and people think I am actually a “good” mother. I don’t get much grief for how much tv my kids watch, or how long they go without baths, or how many chicken nuggets they eat… but then, I am thinking of banning the words “good” and “bad” from my lexicon.

    As far as I can see, they just serve as social control. And they are harmful for a recovering perfectionist like me.

    Are you a teacher, though? I might need to go back to teaching for financial reasons. How do you manage writing with teaching and raising a family. Seems like a Herculean task.

    I’ll call you Herculesa.

  2. Gosh, I was just clicking on some of your links and lost a good few minutes in Belleweather. I like it. Intriguing. Can’t take all the time I’d like to visit now, but I’ll be back to explore the region.

  3. I shall judge you on absolutely nothing, for you are a unique person on a voyage you alone are meant to take.

    You being a mom can only make you better in many ways.

    (Found you on your comment to another blogger. I’ll be back.)

  4. fairyhedgehog, you are kind–and thanks for being so.

    rowena, Herculesa–I like it! Though does that mean I’ve got innumerable tasks and whatever else that myth says? As for teaching, I’ll leave a note on your blog for that.

    Jannie Sue, you are wise. Let none of us judge–what a relief that is.

    Thanks for reading to you all.

  5. As you know, I’ve thought about this subject before.

    The levity that the term “mom” brings to a subject is very interesting to me, especially as a man. It seems to open a door to a very narrow stereotype, as well as bringing an assumed level of negativity. I think men, when hearing the term “mom-writer” instantly assume the woman writes in between bouts with the kids, or that she’s only interested in romance novels. Or that she’s angry about diapers and the crap that men give them.

    Really, adding the word “mom” before “writer” is merely a descriptive framework that people like to use. I would equate it, to some degree, to the use of “black” or “asian” or “hispanic” that a white person would use to create a framework within a story to friends. I can have a perfectly normal conversation, relaying a story about someone I once knew, without referencing their color, gender, or sexual orientation – and yet, the superfluous descriptives flow freely from my mind because somehow, they seem to be important.

    That’s why I prefer the terms “writer” or “author.” Sure, I’m a single dad, and that influences my writing. I’m also white, in my 30s, raised by parents who never had a need for divorce, raised in the North AND the South, always had a thirst for information, and I have a high tolerance for pain – all attributes which effect my writing.

    I praise you for being a writer AND a mom, and appreciate your unique perspective as the daughter of a single father – and for recognizing that you decide for yourself who you are.


  6. From what you just described, I would think you are a good mother, but who knows? I don’t really know you that well, do I? But I don’t think of you as a Mom-Writer. I think of you as a writer who also happens to be a mom. I think that being a mother has added another dimension to my life that hopefully makes me a better writer, although I don’t think of myself as a mom-writer, even though on my blog, I guess I have given myself that label. Though I consider my blog and my novel-writing as two different things.

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