On writing with a newborn

I didn’t keep a journal when my first daughter was born four years ago. For the first week, my partner and I kept a notebook recording details of feeds, nappy changes, and the odd piece of commentary: “Day 3: a no good, terrible, horrible, very bad day”; “Day 5: first parental fight, re dates.” Dates the dried fruit, or dates on a calendar? Four years later, I have no idea, and the notebook is no help. Soon after it stops altogether.

Later, I wished I had kept that notebook for longer, or even better, an actual journal recording my thoughts and feelings. Becoming a parent was momentous and life-changing, and not entirely positive. I ended up writing a book about it, and when I did, I had only unreliable memory to go off. I think I did okay at recounting the experience, but I wished I’d kept better records.

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On Quitting: A Writer’s Dilemma

For several years I have been working on versions of an essay titled “Why I Quit School,” and now it has become my memoir project. From the moment I stepped into my kindergarten classroom to the moment I walked out of my university office for the last time, I’ve had a tortured relationship with formal education. Instinctually, I knew its obsession with compliance, uniformity, and competition was antithetical to real learning and growth, but I couldn’t keep myself from participating, from trying to show my classmates and teachers I could could excel within the system while giving it the finger at the same time. At times I succeeded, but ultimately the battle I was waging exhausted me and I had to walk away.

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What’s Not Getting Done When the Creative Work Is

I have written more in the past year than at any other time in my life. I’ve published book reviews. I’ve entered writing contests. I’ve offered feedback to friends on their writing. And I have written a 50,000+ word manuscript. Sure, it’s messy, and it needs some deep revision, but I wrote those 50,000+ words and I’m proud of it.

This writing has been squeezed in around parenting a three year-old, maintaining our family’s schedule, dealing with quite a bit of change in my original family, and working a full-time job. I know what you’re thinking. I’m Superwoman, right? You’re thinking, like the book turned movie title, “I don’t know how she does it.”

Here are some things I’ve let go in order to write in the past year. I am not proud, but when people want to know how I get it all done, this is the real answer.

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