Milestones: Finding Time to Write

Mama Nervosa reached an amazing milestone this week: 10,000 views (and counting).  I know some of our readers are amazing and talented writers who run successful blogs that average 10,000 views a week, and we hope to get there someday. But for us, 10,000 is an enormous accomplishment. I can’t speak for Lauren, but for me? 10,000 means I can give myself permission to ignore the laundry for an hour and sit down to write.

Lauren and I met at a writers’ workshop in Iowa City; a mutual friend (and amazing writer) organized the workshop as part of Ariel Gore’s Literary Kitchen workshop series, and I signed up in a moment of temporary insanity. Because here’s the thing: even though I have imagined that I wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, I have spent most of the past 8 years (since leaving grad school) not writing at all. A fling with livejournal, a few letters, a lot of emails, the occasional witty facebook comment. That’s it. Not an essay, a chapter, not even a journal entry—and I journaled avidly from third grade through college and most of grad school. Even when working on a feminist book project with friends from undergrad, I primarily read and edited other people’s work.

I didn’t stop thinking of myself as a writer, which is weird, in retrospect, since I was very obviously NOT WRITING. Maybe it was my lack of do it start it keep it going capability, maybe it was all the negativity associated with writing in grad school, maybe it was just a natural shift as my location and day to day life and priorities and identity changed in ways large and small. But when Shell posted the workshop on her facebook, I knew, instinctively, that I needed to go. Even though I wasn’t a writer. Even though I had a small baby who was still breastfeeding. Even though I had no idea what the workshop would actually entail.  I signed up, paid, pumped a freezer full of breast milk, and got in the car.

At the workshop, I wrote and ate and drank and talk and danced and read my work out loud and listened to feedback from a room full of smart, thoughtful women, all talented writers. I wrote an essay about Phish tour that I’d been burning to write since I let the dissertation go. I remembered how good it felt to sit in a quiet room full of books all by myself with a laptop or with paper and pen and have the time and space and confidence to put the words on the page. And when Lauren (do it start it keep it going!) asked if I wanted to blog with her I made another crazy leap of faith and said YES, ABSOLUTELY SIGN ME UP. I neglected to tell her that I have never blogged before and I am largely technologically inept. I did not stop to think about how I was going to find time to write blog entries in between the laundry and the teaching and the parenting and the gardening and the trying to figure out how to come up with enough money to buy tickets for The Fresh Beat Band from stubhub since the good seats are all sold out but I already promised D we would go.

But here we are, 10,000 views later. I am still trying to find/make/steal/borrow time to write. I am ignoring a MOUNTAIN of laundry even as I type. So when I saw Shell’s kickstarter campaign go live today, I made a contribution, and I’m hoping some of you will consider contributing too. She’s trying to raise the funds to finish her (gorgeous, hilarious, heart-breaking) memoir. Shell is a kick ass mama, an amazing writer, a beautiful woman, and an honest friend. She was a foster kid and a teen mom and now she’s a PhD. She was a voice of clarity during crazy grad school nights, she is a hero to me as a mother and a feminist, and she is a powerful enough force to inspire me to show up at a writing workshop when I had no idea if I could write a single word.

So give what you can– and if not to Shell’s project, to some other mama who is trying to find the time/space/cash to do the work that means the most to her. Let’s face it: it’s insanely hard to do this on our own, and we all have resources we could use to help one another. Maybe you have food, or money, or time, or skills or connections that could bring someone else that much closer to living the dream. Look around. Ask around. Figure out who needs what you’ve got to offer, and give generously. Life is too short not to share the wealth.

13 responses to “Milestones: Finding Time to Write

  1. This is so lovely Jen. And YOU two kick ass. This blog is outstanding. You have stories to tell! I am so happy to be in a writing circle with such incredible women. Thank you so much for supporting women’s writing lives (including mine!). xoxoxox

  2. Clever Scribe

    Lovely indeed. I can identify with the feeling of writing again after not writing for a long time and I’m there now. So many thoughts banging around in my head yet very little time for quiet thought and reflection needed to get them out. Very inspirational post.

  3. I think that writing begets writing. So great that you are both taking the time for yourselves to do it.

    And congrats on 10,000 views! heres to the next 10,000 🙂

    • Thanks! Funny enough, writing for personal reasons is much more of a snowball effect than academic writing ever had for me. The more I do it, the more I want to do it!

    • Thanks! I am finding that writing begets desire to write (again, something that did not happen for me in school), and now I am just struggling to claim time to write. It is just so difficult to assert that writing is going to be a priority that my entire family is going to have to recognize and respect– my kids and partner are just not used to having to meet my needs that way.

  4. I just remember being at the kitchen island eating something and being like, I should just ask Jen to write with me. And then I asked you. And you said yes. And that was that. I was a last minute signer-upper to the workshop — it was also completely spontaneous and serendipitous! I also remember printing your essay for you, since you couldn’t do it while driving. 🙂 GOOD TIMES.

    • And what was really funny about that exchange was that I had no idea you were a do it start person– so I said yes, imagining that we would imagine a blog that might never come to fruition, but I knew that I wanted to be your friend and so it seemed like imagining together would be a good way to become friends?
      And then you actually HAD A BLOG. And I realized I was going to have to step up my game. And I was eternally grateful to you.

  5. Pingback: Excerpt from Pigs Are People, Too (and a Tribute to A Superhero Mama Writer) | mama nervosa

  6. Congrats on 10,000 views! And yes, totally give yourself permission to view it as, “People are reading. This means I HAVE TO WRITE.” (That’s what I do.) 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s