Seasons, relationships and the way we, as writers, craft words.
I had no idea the changes coming when I worked as a journalist in 2009.
I know two consistencies: change always occurs and I have always been a writer.
Have you examined the ways in which you’ve changed as a writer or author?
Like a scientist examines every variable of an experiment, writers experience more than one change in how or why they write. One of my reasons is simple:
In 2009, I take one last look at the University of South Carolina horseshoe. One of the many photos I found in which my now husband catches me lost in thought with his camera.
- Drop and Walk
Every mother’s birthing story is different. Some think, Awe, he is mine. Other new moms ponder Oh, my God, what am I going to do, as nurses prop a new baby in her arms.
I thought, Okay, I got the boy out in 20 minutes. Take these needles and stuff out of me so I can walk.
“Wait,” the nurse said. “You should rest there.”
“I’m good. I’m ready to walk.”
Fifteen minutes later, I walked across the room with equipment still hooked up with a tube and needle to my arm.
A baby is here. No time to waste. As a new parent you do not immediately realize the way you were writing is done.
When a child is born, so is a new writer.
- Everybody is Watching
All of a sudden, people watch you like a new Broadway show or a football team in its first season with a new coach. The questions roll through their minds.
Is she going to let Dad change all the diapers? Is she breastfeeding? Did she even try?
In some cases—like Soviet vs. American spies—families, friends and others watch you. They are looking to see if you’ll fit into the mommy cookie mold or spill over the top. You become slightly paranoid.
As your bundle of joy turns into a toddler, parents at the park watch how you handle your child when he or she screams, throws mulch or sand or hits.
You gain a new insight in the way people think. That creates great inspiration for characters.
“There by the river you will always be, love, you and me.” Six months pregnant, John hikes trails with me in the middle of winter. Somewhere in North Carolina, 2010.
- Five More Minutes
… are the famous words said by teens everywhere not ready to wake up and go to school. They are also the words of parents who remain dedicated to their craft. Something about any artist that is difficult to understand is that writing is not some hobby you stick in the attic after Junior or Sarah is born.
Writing stays in your heart, mind and spirit. If you’re like me, it is hardwired into you. You think plots, characters, stories, how you can improve this sentence or that scene or what makes another writer a genius.
A reporter friend gave my husband these words of advice:
“If you want to lose her, you’ll never listen when she talks about her writing. You’ll never leave her alone to write. You’ll encourage her to pursue her craft.”
I know a lot of parent-writers who are also fully employed. They are great parents and writers.
If you feel you do not have the time, because you have burp-up stuff on your shoulder, your toddler keeps hitting others and you feel like a horrible parent—you are not alone.
If you work hard and know you must come home and tend the flock, you are still a writer.
The reality is you are attached to the craft and you will not let it go.
- Words Move Us
My grandmother practiced the faith of words. That is any child who can read has the foundation to do anything he or she wants.
Read to your children. Read often. When that is not enough, turn off the idiot box or the iPad and snuggle up on the wePad.
My parents, John and I read to Charles. One night, I sat in Charles’ rocking chair reading my book. He opened a pop-up book with animals. One at a time, he said, “walrus,” “owl,” “Wolf howls,” and “whale.”
Charles loves cars and books. He will build a circular fort of books around him and look at the pictures. He says the words.
And even when we’re at the computer typing away, we should turn and listen when our children say, “Mommy, look.”
Otherwise you’re missing out.
By Rebecca T. Dickinson
Photos by John Bridges