Motherhood & Words

D got a new job, which is, of course, a huge relief. It begins in a week and a half, and it means health insurance and a regular paycheck, a paycheck that will actually come when it’s supposed to come, a paycheck that won’t be a week late (or two weeks or six weeks late). It means summers together and no travel.

But this very good thing also means that I will lose my morning writing time because D will have to leave early every day. I don’t know if you remember how crazy I felt a year and a half ago, after Zoë was born, when D was traveling a ton and working twelve hour days. I felt desperate. I had no time that was my own, no time to put words on the page.

When D’s schedule let up a little, we agreed that things needed to change. I starting going to the coffee shop from 7-9 am, and he started going to work late, after I got home. That consistent time to think, to play with words, to write an essay and begin my revision of Ready for Air, changed my outlook on life. I felt like a person again, a writer again, finally.

I’m nervous about giving that up now, nervous that I’ll become irritable (or more irritable). I’m nervous that I won’t get the revision finished (even if I spend Saturday and Sunday mornings at the coffee shop). Will I get out of the groove if I only have two days a week to write?

I know this is the best thing for our family—the best-case scenario. So I’m trying to roll with it, to Stay Positive. I guess I also better write as fast as I can.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Ines on November 4, 2009 at 11:29 am

    I hear you Kate. I will thinking about you writing the Saturday and Sunday mornigns. I am glad for the new job. A paycheck is a good thing, I think.

  2. Ines on November 4, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I hear you Kate. I will BE thinking about you writing Saturday and Sunday morning. I am glad for the new job. A paycheck is a good thing, I think.
    (Sorry for the horrible typos).

  3. Elizabeth on November 4, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Hmmm–have you ever thought about changing your two hours to the night? I know you have little ones, but there's a certain beauty to the house when all the lights are out and you're alone at the computer. Also, there are some writing mentors/teachers who advocate the 4am-6am time slot (too dark and desperate for me!). I'm glad that your husband got this job and hope that you can continue to get your alone time to write.

  4. kristenspina on November 4, 2009 at 11:43 am

    I absolutely get this. I would try for the earlier morning (I'm an early bird), though I've spent many a late night at the keyboard while the house slept.

    It's such a hard balance, and scary to think about upsetting the formula that is working for you now. But, something else will click. You'll figure it out. I promise.

  5. Andrea on November 4, 2009 at 11:47 am

    It is so frustrating to not have that regular time for writing and it is hard (in my house anyway) for writing to compete with actual, paid work…hope you figure something out (Five A.M.?)

  6. BLOOM - Parenting Kids With Disabilities on November 4, 2009 at 11:48 am

    How wonderful to hear about your hubby's job! It will be a big change to find a slot to replace the 7-9 in the coffee shop — but the finanicial security will be a de-stressor.

    That morning in the coffee shop sounds delightful. Keep us posted on how you come up with a solution!

  7. emilylhedges on November 4, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    In the same boat. Where will Joe find a job? Where will we move? Will he start getting home at 9 instead of 7? And without my Norma, will I have any writing time? I'm scared too that every day will be like today…1:34 p.m. all day long.

  8. Sara on November 4, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    I hope you find a way to make time for your writing. Many nights I find myself shutting down the computer because I can't see straight any more and I can barely sit up anymore. On a good day, I get the writing/editing that pays done, but not the writing that I feel I need to do. On the rest of the days, I get only some of that done. My brain works things out as I settle into sleep. If only I could hook my brain up to the computer for a bit and let it take my words.

    Change can be surprising. Maybe you'll find a new routine or nonroutine that works for you.

  9. cath c on November 4, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    kate, that time you had was a luxury@! how fortunate!

    now, you're just like the rest of us…. 😉

    (writing nanowrimo while sick for 2 weeks already, and whole house sick and major pediatirc adventures….)

  10. cath c on November 4, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    kate, that time you had was a luxury! how fortunate!

    now, you're just like the rest of us…. 😉

    (writing nanowrimo while sick for 2 weeks already, and whole house sick and major pediatirc adventures….)

  11. Mummy mania on November 5, 2009 at 8:21 am

    great news about the job… that's a good thing anyway. but i ca commiserate completley with the loss of writing time – but i guess like all things parenting we have to weigh up the pros and cons of everything, and maybe with the extra money you might be able to et achildinder one afternoon a week of something?? is that feaseable? of even a swap playdate thig with another parent – you take her kinds one afternoon ad she takes yours one? that way you get to increase your writing time a bit?? just some thoughts – i'm in the same boat, my hubby works crazy hours so i had a childminder two mornings a week so i could escape to Starbucks with my laptop. but the recession put paid to that i had to resort to getting up at 5.30 in the morning to get an hour in before the girls get up. i have to admit i don't always make it. it's hard for us writing mums – but try and focus on the positive and do everything in your power to keep writig. good luck.

  12. kate hopper on November 5, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks for your support, friends. I'll figure something out. Sadly, writing at night doesn't work for me. (I get progressively stupider as the day goes on.) And my precious Zoë has been waking up between 5 and 5:30, so mornings are challenging, as well, unless I can leave the house. But maybe I can do an hour once or twice a week at a different coffee shop nearby that opens at 6 am. Something will come together. I know.

  13. Scheherazade's Den on November 5, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    I know exactly what you mean. The juggling of family, economic and creative needs is so tricky. You will find a way somehow though, even if you write small ideas/passages on your mobile phone or notebook while caring for Zoe.

    My partner lost his job when my boy was just 3 months and we have struggled on and off for a long time now, but what it has afforded us is lots of time with O and lots of time for ourselves. I'm starting a new job next week so I'm also scared about similar things – how I will find time for O, my partner, writing and myself! More money means more commitments and less time. It's all a catch 22 sometimes. I'm thinking of writing on the train into work.

    I'm a believer that things work around your most deepest, strong desires if you're clear-minded about it. If you want that writing time somehow you will find it, perhaps not in quantity but you will use the time you do have better. Or something like that.

    Good luck, at least it will free up your mind a little from worrying about money.

  14. Carrie Pomeroy on November 12, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Kate, to gain a little more time during the week, you might consider a school-aged mother's helper who could watch your kids for a few hours while you work in the house or at a nearby coffee shop. A kid in the 11-14-year-old range is a great choice, because they're not as busy yet as an older teenager and they don't expect to be paid much–something in the $3-5 an hour range seems to be the market rate.

    It has worked for me! Peace to you as you negotiate the changes. Good news can have its stressors, too.