Sunday, May 31st, 2015 • No Comments on May: The month in review
And here we are, wading into summer. After the blur of April, May was a pleasure. But then, any month in which I don’t almost die is a good month, right? And it was my birthday month, which made it all the sweeter. I lived to be 48! Hurrah!
Roadside turtle rescue
I’ve had 41.5 work hours this month– more than any other month this year (and far better than the 7 I managed in April, even if I did have a good excuse.). And I’ve been productive! Many words have been written!
I joined the bloggers at Mom.me this month and have already logged several posts. You can visit my profile and my posts here: Kristina Wright @ Mom.me.
It’s been a fun experience so far, though I’m figuring out there is a big difference between writing essays or stories and blogging for a site where the goal is readership. Of course I love to know my words are being read, that maybe what I write is helpful or entertaining, but I’ve never had to really think too much about how many readers I have. Blogging professionally has shifted my focus somewhat, maybe making me less focused on what I want to write and more focused on what readers want to read. It’s not a bad thing, just different. Like the difference between writing stories and editing anthologies. A good skill to practice.
I’ve also sold a couple more pieces to The Mid this month and one of them went up Friday. My profile is here: Kristina Wright @ The Mid. My newest piece, Is Parenting by Benign Neglect Really Such a Bad Thing?, is a little more serious than the other pieces I’ve written there. It’s fun to have a platform for sharing both my serious opinions and lighter fare. My next essay for The is a nostalgia piece: 5 Things I Miss About the 90s. That was a fun one to write!
My favorite byline this month, and possibly for the entire year, is the essay I sold to Narratively. I love this website, love the editorial staff, love the entire concept of long-form journalism and essays and videos on one beautifully illustrated and photographed website. Utterly charming. And so I was absolutely thrilled that my essay “Where Babies Come From” found a home at Narratively, retitled as How to Have Fun When They Say You Can’t Conceive. It is more personal than anything I’ve ever written and I have found I can’t reread it now that it’s been published. Sex is used as a framework for the story, though it’s not erotic (I don’t think) and it isn’t really about sex at all. The response to it has been phenomenal and I’m so pleased it is at Narratively.
In other news, while I was writing, my publisher was imploding. Cleis Press still exists as an imprint of Start Publishing, though it’s anyone’s guess what that means for my books. I guess I’ll find out in July, which is when my next anthology, Best Erotic Romance of the Year, Volume 1 (formerly Best Erotic Romance 2015) is due to be published. Until then, if you know anyone who needs a job, they’re hiring. I received a lot of condolences over this
train wreck situation, but I’ve had months to get used to the idea that no one is really looking out for me and that I just have to roll with it and take care of my own interests. And so I am. To be honest, warning bells had been ringing in my ears for even longer than that, so I’m mostly just amused by everything that’s happened. (C’mon, the juxtaposition of publisher resigns/hiring publisher links is funny, right?)
Meanwhile, I’m not currently editing any erotica anthologies, but I did write one short story this month for Sacchi Green’s Best Lesbian Erotica 2016. It’s a wonderful series and I hope it will continue to be published for many years to come. I’ll be honored if my story makes the cut.
This month I celebrated my birthday and Mother’s Day quietly with family and friends. We saw the movie Home (mostly amusing because I could see Jim Parsons as Sheldon), went to a baseball game, grilled out and enjoyed the unofficial beginning of summer. Speaking of summer, we took the boys to Busch Gardens last week, beating both the worst of the heat and the crush of the crowd because the kids are still in school. They’re both anxious to ride the big roller coasters, but aren’t quite tall enough for them yet. Probably next year.
I saw the The Age of Adaline this month and enjoyed it, despite a few plot problems. (But Harrison Ford was in it, so I can be very forgiving.) I’m currently reading The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh, continuing my streak of mysteries and thrillers. I’m really enjoying it. I’ll probably finish it while I’m sitting in the doctor’s office this week, wrapping up the last of my tests and appointments from my illness in April. It’s been a long process, but it’ll be nice to get the “all clear” and know I’m healthy.
We visited Charleston, SC over the Memorial Day weekend. We lived in the area for seven years, but moved away in 2000. It’s incredible how it’s grown. I’m feeling pulled to the area (and so is Jay), and so it was both a trip for fun as well as a trip to explore and consider whether we might want to move back there. With Jay’s retirement from the Navy approaching, the whole world is opening up to us. We can finally choose where we want to live, if we want to move. It’s a big decision– and it will be a major headache if we do move, as we have a house to sell here. But it was a fun, if exhausting, trip and I imagine we’ll go back soon. If I believed in signs (which maybe I do), I would believe that’s where we’re supposed to be. So we’ll see.
Clementine is going to have a lazy summer
And that’s May. Not terribly dramatic, but quietly pleasing. I like that. It’s been a good month for the writer and for the birthday girl. And now I’m looking toward June and wondering what will come. There will be more words, though perhaps not as many as in May, as school will be out and I’ll have both boys full-time again. But we’ll see. I’m getting better at managing a little writing time here and there when I’m home with them. But even if I don’t, there will be summer camp (2 weeks) in July, Jay’s retirement (which means he’ll be home/off for a few weeks before he starts his new job) and then… back to school in August! I’m not in a rush for that, but I am excited about the possibilities when it comes.
I hope you’ve had a lovely May… thanks for reading!
Thursday, May 7th, 2015 • 2 Comments on Hello, 48
Writing whenever I can…
Before writing my birthday post this year, I went back and reread last year’s post. The cliche of saying time has flown isn’t entirely true. I feel like I’ve savored this last year in ways I haven’t in previous years. It wasn’t entirely voluntary– forces beyond my control made it so I had to slow down and take it day by day. Three big events– losing my regular babysitter last August, some big changes with my publisher over the fall and winter and falling deathly ill last month– reinforced that I can plan and organize my life just so, but it won’t always work out the way I hope. And sometimes, that turns out to be a very good thing.
I have been a full-time stay-at-home mom for nine months now. I want to say it’s been easy, but it hasn’t. What it has been is challenging, exhausting, frustrating and–yes– rewarding. I know I am privileged to be able to stay home with my kids and for the most part, I really do enjoy it. But for someone like me, an introvert who thrives on a certain amount of alone time (not to mention needs it in order to do creative work), it’s been so hard to give up the part-time babysitting schedule I had up until last August. I panicked, I admit it, when I realized my alone time– my writing time– would essentially disappear.
It took me months to find a rhythm that works and, to be honest, I’m still not there. It’s ever-changing, the amount of time I have to write. It’s never enough. Sometimes I can write with the kids playing in the house with me, but most often I do administrative stuff when I’m at home with them– answering emails, editing stories and essays, promoting my work, querying editors, researching markets– and reserve the “real” writing for the times when I can get out of the house alone. Which most often means evenings (when I’m already tired) or weekends (which means missing out on family time). I wrote very little between August and December last year. I didn’t know how. I was plagued by guilt, self-doubt, resentment, frustration. My creativity withered under that weight.
2015 has brought a little more balance. Nothing has changed about my schedule– I’m still home full-time, I still have one kid going to preschool three mornings a week, I still have very few hours to write each week– but I have changed my focus and adjusted my attitude. If I’m only going to have twenty hours a month to write, I want to make it count. And so I’ve been focusing on writing nonfiction, writing what I know– parenting, marriage, relationships, kids, life. It’s been rewarding. I’ve sold to several markets, I’ve picked up a regular writing gig, I’m making the most of what little writing time I do have. I’m a stay-at-home writer mom, just doing the best I can during this stage of my life.
The change in writing focus hasn’t entirely been about a lack of childcare. The reversion of three of my completed and approved anthologies— books I worked hard on, spent many, many hours on– has made me more aware of how I spend my time and on what projects I want to invest my precious work hours. I was angry and somewhat bitter after the initial fallout, but I’ve made my peace with it. It may be “just business,” but that doesn’t mean I haven’t taken it personally. I did and I do, but in some ways I’m thankful it happened– otherwise, I might not be writing and publishing in other markets. And so, this past year has been a big swing in a different direction for me professionally, and while it wasn’t by choice, I’m very happy with where I’m headed.
What’s a typical day like for me? School mornings find me at Starbucks with my youngest, squeezing in an hour or two of work if I can (and sometimes even writing a few hundred words) and then running errands while my oldest is at preschool. Non-school days are more languid, with long mornings spent staying in our pajamas, snuggling in bed, reading or plotting (in my head) while they play quietly. Every afternoon is spent doling out juice and snacks, putting Curious George or Caillou on the TV, mediating fights over cars or LEGOs, hanging out on the deck (weather permitting) while they play superheroes or Transformers or monster, pushing them on the swing, doing crafts at the kitchen table, squeezing in an hour of editing or email writing or social media updating. Some days we go to lunch at Wendy’s (their request) or go to the park or the garden center or Starbucks for frappuccinos. Some days we have play dates with friends. Some days, Jay is off or gets home early and I’m able to get a couple of hours in the afternoon to write (like today, my birthday). This is my life currently. And it’s good.
My life, my loves
This past year has brought about an increased awareness of the brevity of life and the preciousness of time. Not to be cliched, but damn, have I wasted a lot of time in the wrong places. It’s human nature, I suppose, to amble aimlessly for years or decades, thinking there will always be time enough to do what we want. There isn’t, we know that, but it’s easier to pretend we’ll live forever than to take this living thing too seriously. I’m grateful for this life I have, I think I have always had an awareness of how truly lucky I am, but the near-death thing… well, I will write about it someday soon. I have joked that if my almost dying was supposed to be a sign, I have no idea what I’m meant to learn. But maybe the lesson is not in what I should change about my life, but in simply appreciating that I am still alive.
I’m excited about being 48. It’s such a nice even number, angles and curves together. The coming year will bring big changes– both boys will be in school in the fall and I will have three– THREE– days a week to write! I can barely stand the anticipation, though I’m not going to rush through summer and I know I’ll be sad and lost for a few weeks in the fall, missing my boys. Jay is retiring from the Navy this summer and he’ll also be in school this fall, as a middle school teacher. And in October we will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. The rest of the year is full of exciting, happy changes. And, always, there is the writing. I have more projects I want to work on than I have time for now, and the school year will bring many hours of contented writing for me.
There isn’t a lot of angst in life at this point. I’m settled, I’m happy, I’m grateful. And I’m ready for 48.
Friday, May 1st, 2015 • No Comments on New Mom Tips from a Once Clueless Mom
What do paper plates, Amazon, naps and babysitters have in common? They’re all mentioned in my first piece for Mom.me: 7 New Mom Tips from a Military Spouse
Here’s a teaser:
1. I stocked up on paper plates
Seriously. A friend told me about this before I had my son and I know I rolled my eyes. But let me tell you something: When you are sleep-deprived, the fewer chores you have to do, the better. I could still eat something halfway nutritious without moaning over the dishes. And yes, I have a dishwasher, but the loading and unloading of a dishwasher is even more exhausting when you’re already exhausted. Invest in a 500 pack of paper plates and don’t suffer a moment’s guilt over using them. For that matter, stock up on aluminum foil and any other disposable product that will make your life easier. You can save the environment when baby is older and sleeping through the night.
That’s a stock photo that goes along with my post, but here is the real thing as it was happening in February 2010. That’s my two and half month old son “talking” to his father in Dubai!
I have an eighth tip for new moms:
8. Utilize all available technology to make your life a little easier!
Whether it’s Skype to talk to a partner or family at a distance, DVR to record your favorite shows to watching during baby’s feeding times or the timer on your coffee pot set the night before so you can survive another long day with baby, use it! And whatever you don’t have can be added to your baby registry.
On another note, never in my life– at least not in the first 42 years when I didn’t have children– did I imagine I would someday be a mommy blogger. But I hope my experiences (most of them by trial and error…) and advice will resonate with other parents.