So how does she juggle it all? How is she adjusting to being a busy working mom?
The other day, another mother said something to me, in passing conversation about being impressed that I was a working mom. My first thought was “Huh? Me?” Probably because I’ve been doing my own thing and raising my kids for so long now that it’s just not a term I have ever associated with myself. I mean, yeah, we all work, right? At least, this is what it feels like when I’m slipping in dog puke on the kitchen floor on my way to wipe my preschooler’s nose; all while my two older kids are rapidly progressing towards a fistfight over my daughter’s refusal to share looseleaf paper.
But despite the circa 1980s vision of a “working mother” that pops into my head every time the phrase comes up (big perm, briefcase, power suit with big shoulder pads, and I know, I watched too much TV growing up), I suppose it’s true. Writing is, after all, a hell of a lot of work. But with three young kids, I guess everything sort of flows together…I don’t look at one thing as more work than the other. The moving parts are just different. My day is work, with fleeting moments of relaxation and/or the eating of something from my candy stash that gives me that ahhh feeling. My writing is just a part of the routine now, scrounged out of my three-year-old’s quiet times and pushed into tired nights when I might rather slink off to watch Ghost Hunters (thank God for DVR). But my surprise at the label, I’ve come to realize, is simply emblematic of me finally settling into my life as a published writer. The process is still as frustrating and fascinating as it ever was, but it’s not novel anymore. I go in my office. Small people follow me into my office and demand things like food and dispute mediation (which they often ignore, leading me to chase them away and in the direction of their other, louder parent). The pets snooze in here while I work. My husband gives the computer dirty looks when I’ve spent too much time with it on any given day. It’s all so…normal.
The settling in has been an eye-opening process for me. When my first book came out last year, I was an utter neophyte. As in, when it came to the world of publishing, I was about as dumb as a box of rocks. I’m a pretty smart girl, but I will admit to total failure to comprehend anything much at the beginning except “me write book/me sell book.” I’d written one (bloated, reasonably bad) manuscript, joined RWA, shopped the MS around, cried over a bunch of rejections, and finally, buried the no-go book in my closet and tried again. Wrote the Scottish werewolf book I’d been kicking around in my head, started subbing, and BOOM, suddenly I had an agent. Not long after, I had the sale. Two books, two years, start to…well, publication. Which is both very cool, and, looking back, incredibly overwhelming. My learning curve was huge from the start. A year after the release of Call of the Highland Moon, and having just finished up the trilogy with Wild Highland Magic, I’m still rushing up that curve, but there are a few ways I know I’m settling in:
- I confuse family members when I start to talk about the business aspect of writing, and so wind up fleeing to my writing friends, who actually understand what the hell I’m talking about.
- I actually have writing friends.
- I’ve been through both a publisher change AND an agency change (my agent recently formed her own agency with a partner, so of course I went with her), and I didn’t freak out.
- I have a blog, website, MySpace and Facebook, and I actually know how to use them. Mostly.
- Bad reviews no longer make me cry (brood or steam, maybe, but not cry).
- When I tell my family “I’m working,” they assume I’m doing something other than looking at Perez Hilton and may even let me write. Yes, sometimes I sneak over to Perez Hilton anyway, but my procrastination habits are too scary to really go into here.
- The word “deadline” now inspires more dread than excitement
And most importantly…
- When I talk/think/dream about what I’m doing, it always involves the word “Career.”
My life has always been a little crazy. I’m a Navy wife, with an often-absent husband, three young kids, two little dogs with a penchant for regurgitation and an occasionally sympathetic cat. People are constantly telling me (as I’m sure people tell every writer) “I don’t know how you do it.” But see, I’ve managed the whirlwind that is my life by having a head full of stories. Some things are always going to be rough, I think: putting out a new submission, for instance, still makes me a little sick to my stomach. But I don’t turn red when people ask me what my stories are about anymore (yep, I can say “sexy Scottish werewolves” with a totally straight face now, even to strangers), and I can even tell you a little bit about my own personal writing process, when pressed. I’d probably still pass out if Nora Roberts said hello to me, but I’m getting it. Slowly but surely, I’m getting it.
I’ve always written. But I finally feel like a writer. And no matter what comes next, that’s a pretty cool place to be.
Thanks for having me over for coffee, Sia!
Kendra Leigh Castle is the author of the MacInnes Werewolves trilogy, as well as the upcoming series The Fallen, coming from Harlequin Nocturne. She lives in Maryland with her husband, three kids, and menagerie of pets, and loves to be visited online at http://www.kendraleighcastle.com/ and at her blog, http://www.kendraleighcastle.blogspot.com/.