Building a writing life

Sunday, May 14, 2017
Like thousands of moms across the country, I spent yesterday in a school gym -- one spruced up with banners, plants and white folding chairs but underneath all the decorations a place that is normally reserved for physical achievements. It was my daughter's college graduation and, as I struggled to pinpoint the graduation cap with a green sparkly border among a sea of caps sporting flowers, LED lights, photos and origami, one of the speakers paraphrased former President Barack Obama when reminding the graduates, "Remember you didn't build this life yourself."

That sentence resounded with me because my children -- the one sitting down on the floor in her white folding chair, the one next to me in the nosebleed section of the bleachers and the one relegated to the "overflow" gymnasium with the giant video screen showing graduation -- were the reason I became a writer. I had been writing for a lifetime but, in search of a way to be at home with my children while still contributing financially to my family, I focused on writing that actually paid.

As a thank you for the countless hours I spent playing dollhouse, baking cookies and chaperoning field trips my children provided an endless source of inspiration. I wrote about children's books, science fair and family vacations. Each childhood problem, interest and accomplishment became fair game for my writing. My writing including their embarrassing childhood stories, ones they hoped their friends wouldn't recognize because I never mentioned them by name.

As infants they snuggled on my lap as I typed one-handed. As toddlers they accompanied me to do research. As children they became accustomed to my insane hand motions that demanded silence when an editor called. As teens they spent supper time listening to me mull over writing ideas or interviews. They have been to book signings, speaking engagements, and writers conferences (only because there was a pool in the hotel). They can probably do my elevator speech better than I can -- one even got me a speaking opportunity.

It wasn't just words that built my writing life, it was my children. Who helped build your writing life?


Sioux Roslawski said...

Jodi--What a lovely post on Mother's Day. Your post is proof that you can do it all--if everything is balanced and some things are allowed to be in the background while others are in the foreground.

I think my students have helped me build my writing life. I've written for my students and alongside my students.

I hope your day today is wonderful. Thanks for this post. It made me reflect on my writing life that's blended with my family life and my working life...

Margo Dill said...

I was going to say the exact same thing as Sioux--what a great post for Mother's Day.

I think all the writers I have met as well as my family have helped build my writing life. I love that Obama quote--very appropriate and something we should probably all remember no matter what our profession or stage in life.

Angela Mackintosh said...

What a beautiful post, Jodi! I love the Obama quote, too. I would say my husband and fellow writers have helped build my writing life. I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day! :)

Renee Roberson said...

My kids, too, definitely. I never would have pitched my first article to a parenting magazine if not for them, and writing about parenting is my bread and butter these days. I don't think I would have attempted to write children's fiction without them, either, because I'm constantly checking out what books they are reading. Oh, and my hubby, too, for always making sure I have a writing space and back-up to attend conferences, meetings, etc.

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