Hello, Magical Worders! It’s been a long long time! David & Co kindly invited me back this week, and I’m delighted to drop in and say hello.
Some of you probably know why I dropped off the face of Magical Words, but in case you don’t, it’s because I went off and had a baby last April, and my focus has been sort of elsewhere ever since that happened (for some silly reason). But! I have a book out this week, and I’ve just finished writing my first novel since the baby was born, and so today I’m going to talk about Writing With A Baby.
A friend of mine, author Nick Harkaway, his wife had a baby about six months after I did. Three days after their daughter was born, Nick posted, “Well, back to work with me!”
I coulda killed him. I’d been really careful to clear my schedule so that other than revisions, I had no professional committments for the first six months after my son’s birth…and I’d gotten through those revisions (on SPIRIT DANCES, book six of the Walker Papers! Did I mention it’s out this week? :)) by the skin of my teeth. I could not contemplate doing anything in the way of new creative work for months.
I’m one of those people who firmly believes that if you’ve got time to watch TV, you have time to write. It’s just a matter of priorities. But hoo boy, lemme tell you, if you’ve got time to watch TV in the first six or eight months after the baby’s born? That’s also probably about all you’ve got brain to do, too. I tell you what, if you’re a writer and contemplating having a baby? Really, do anything short of killing yourself to clear your schedule for the first six months of the baby’s life, because no matter how many people tell you about it, until that small person is there, you just have no idea how bloody tired you’re going to be (and my kid’s a great sleeper, for heaven’s sake!).
But I’ve managed to finish the seventh Walker Papers, despite the regime change. Despite the teething and the late nights and the general fog of exhaustion. Despite the six continuous weeks of head colds and vaccination sicknesses and did I mention the teething? And this is how I did it:
My mom babysat. My husband took the baby for hours in the morning before he went to work. I got up early on the days I had enough consciousness to, and logged into the word war room, where fellow writers across the globe kept me going when I would otherwise have whimpered and collapsed back into bed. I became ruthless about going straight to the keyboard the moment the baby went down for a nap. I escaped the house a few times, going to the local writers’ centre to spend hours focused completely on writing.
And let me tell you, I’m used to Doing It All Myself. The idea that I needed help was offensive on some level. I kind of thought I should be able to manage. I mean, hey, what’s a few hours’ shortness of sleep? (Well, nothing, until it’s chronic…) What’s the trouble with putting the baby in the office so I can work and keep an eye on him? (Answer: he was pulling himself to his feet at 7 months and walking at 9. I couldn’t keep the keyboard safe from him!) And so on and so forth. I’m astonished, in the end, that I got the book done on time, and I’m wondering if I can pull it off again…
So c’mon. Tell me about *your* adventures in writing with babies or children. I will have an all-new, deep appreciation of them.
Oh, and I’ll send one commenter a copy of SPIRIT DANCES, too, ’cause hey, it’s out this week! And! If you’re a CE Murphy or Faith Hunter fan, let me point you at CE Murphy.Net and Faith Hunter.Net for the next week, because we have some great goodies coming up, including an interview with Joanne Walker and Jane Yellowrock, and perhaps just a little more of that crossover story we started talking about last year… 🙂