Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong somewhere? It’s an uncomfortable experience to walk into a place, start talking to people, and immediately realize that you’re different. I had that experience recently. I presented at a 3-day writing conference, and I took my 5-month-old baby with me. I should be used to this by now. After all, I took him to the Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium in February, but that was only for part of one day. This was an entire weekend of toting around a 20lb baby, juggling my gear, and having people walk up to me and start wiggling fingers and babbling at my son.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great ice breaker! I met a lot of authors who will probably remember me the next time we’re at an event together because I brought my baby. I love bringing my babies to conferences, but it has its downsides too. By day two I was burnt out. My baby was fussier, having his nap and feeding schedule thrown off and being overstimulated by strangers and noise. I could tell he missed his routine, and truthfully, so did I. I had to leave every class I tried to attend so that others could learn. I was so frustrated and since all of my presentations were done, I wondered if I should just go home. What could I possibly accomplish with a fussy baby and a troubled heart?
If I had been alone in this author journey of mine, I probably would have gone home. And there’s no shame in that, but I am so glad I wasn’t alone and that I didn’t give up. Instead, I sent a text message to my husband, who was home with my older kids. I sent another message to our writing group chat. I prayed they would be able to help. And boy, did they! While my baby rolled around on the floor, and I cried in a secluded corner of the conference venue, messages flooded in.
My husband encouraged me to stay, to enjoy the rest of the conference as best I could, to wait out our baby’s fussiness and be brave enough to see it through.
My incredible Writing Through Brambles critique partners gave me the best advice: to keep loving my baby, to adjust my expectations, take some deep breaths, and look forward to a new day. They reminded me that I was doing an amazing thing, pursuing my dreams in the middle of raising my babies. That I’m accomplishing so much during a time that’s difficult enough without adding writing, editing, and publishing novels on top of it all. And dear Rachel White came and gave me a hug since she was at the conference. She also held my baby during the classes I taught and helped me juggle all the things to and from my car.
Moral of this story? Don’t give up. But also, and just as importantly, don’t do this alone.
If you feel alone in the midst of changing diapers and picking up legos, helping with homework and meal planning, if you’re balancing time with your kids and time with your characters, you need to find your village! Here are some resources I’ve found to help writing parents connect. If you know of others, please put them in the comments below!
Start or Join a Writing Group
You’ll hear us preach about this all the time on our blog. But honestly? Being part of a writing group with other author moms is THE reason I’m published today and why I haven’t quit. Every week we meet up, share our work, and share the trials of being authors AND moms. We support each other and give each other advice. If you can’t find a writing group with other parents to join, start one! If you sign up for our newsletter at the top of this page, we have a free toolkit to get your ideal writing group started.
Connect with Author Parents
We’re not unicorns, I promise! There are four of us on this blog, releasing articles every week to help you learn the craft and stay the course. You can find others on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. It’s even better when you can meet in person at writing conferences, conventions, and other live events. Look for a conference or writing retreat near you and set a goal to go. (Or just come to Utah: we have over a dozen affordable conferences every year, and a high concentration of parent-writers!) Get a babysitter, save your pennies, make it happen. It’s SO worth it!
Here are a few active parent-writers to follow on Facebook/Instagram:
Parent-writer groups and pages on Facebook
Hashtags for Parent Authors (search through and follow these on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to find like-minded writers!)
Are you a parent-writer? Drop your social media links in the comments below and you’re likely to meet a new friend or critique partner! Let’s do this together.
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.