Sh–er–Stuff my Mother Says, about Writing

- by Elaine Isaak

It can be hard to find balance when your biggest fan(s) are also your biggest critics.  Take my mother. . . (yeah, you know what usually goes in there, don’t you?)  But seriously.  She loves me, she wants me to succeed, and she knows that being a novelist is a crazy, complicated kind of job.

Well, okay, she’s not quite convinced that it *is* a job.  At the very least, she hasn’t figured out what the job really looks like.

Which probably precipitated her latest remark.

I had just collected her from a meeting, and we returned to our shared home where we spent a few minutes preparing a meal together, then I turned on my computer and said something about getting back to work.  She looked at me and said, “It seems like you want to spend all of your time writing these days.”

I wasn’t sure how to respond.  Well, yes, I do.  That’s not actually a change, it’s just that I’m under contract now, so the impetus is even stronger.  But even before I was published, I wanted to spend (almost) all my time writing.

She then said something like, “I guess that’s your job.”

I think the sticking point comes with the fact that I clearly enjoy my job.  I love my job, in fact. I love researching, building worlds, creating characters.  I love actually sitting there by myself inventing stories.  I think, if it seemed like a chore, it would be easier for her to see how Writing = Job.

But I also realize that, since I’ve been easing into this writing career a little more slowly than I’d like, that she, like most other civilians, doesn’t actually know what a writer’s life looks like, what its rhythms are through the day as well as through the year.

Education starts at home.  I think I need to step outside my happy world and talk with my family more about how I structure my time, the tasks I need to do and how to do them.  Create a sort of “Take your mother to work day” in which she could understand the balance of writing, reading, emailing.  Give her a glimpse ahead at the time the next book comes out and talk about the changes that will happen, what to expect.

In short, I might need to share the stuff I think about all the time, and articulate it, so that, next time I say I’m going to work, she can happily reply, “Have a nice day!”

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