What Am I Working On?
Right now I’m focused on this blog, so I have probably ten or twenty posts in various stages of development. I have a thumb drive that has them all on it, along with tons of notes and fragments of ideas. If I were to lose it, I’d probably just shrivel up and blow away. My husband keeps asking me why I leave the house every morning clutching this thing in my fist. Because it’s my brain, that’s why. My life is sort of ruled by my D: drive these days. I hit “save” a lot.
How Does Your Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?
Not to oversimplify it, but because it’s mine.
I think the things that set every writer apart are their viewpoint and their voice. Just like if you ask five people to describe an accident they witnessed you’re going to get five different stories, so it is with asking five different writers to describe their experience as a parent, or their vacation, or a trip to the grocery store. You’re going to get five different points of view, with emphasis on what each person regards as important or noteworthy. I like to point out the amusing, the ridiculous, the obnoxious, the aggravating (and, more often than not, make fun of it). But what sets it apart is that it’s also colored by my experiences, which are threaded through my narrative (and which, hello, are riveting, of course).
And with five writers, they’re going to tell you about their experience in their language, with their metaphors and cultural references. It means that every single person blogging about the insanity we’ve undertaken in becoming parents, and the roller coaster that has become our lives (I think mine most closely resembles Space Mountain—I feel a little dated, the noise is deafening, and I have no fucking idea what I’m doing or where I’m going because I’m totally in the dark) is completely unique and therefore has intrinsic value. Yet we’re all able to relate to each other, and I love reading someone else’s blog and thinking, “YES! ME TOO! You totally nailed how I feel!” I hope I connect with people the same way. And if they get a laugh out of it at the same time, that’s even better.
This has been especially true for me finding so many parents with kids who are ADHD or have other behavioral or neurological conditions that often prove challenging to parents. I have one with ADHD, one with ADD and, as I discovered through my readings when they were diagnosed, I am ADD. In 1983 we didn’t have ADD. We had “kids who don’t pay attention,” or “kids who won’t apply themselves” (guess what I heard for the 3,249 years it took me to get through elementary, middle, and high school?). To find so many other parents who think, “Dear god why is this child such a nightmare to parent?” and be completely honest about their emotions and thoughts about it has been a huge help. I feel like I found a community of people who get me, and whom I get. And it’s always great when you feel gotten.
Why Do I Write/Create What I Do?
When I was about three, I wrote this: “Wunc ther was a grl who had oranj eys. She was a very werd grl” (“Once there was a girl who had orange eyes. She was a very weird girl.”) The scrap of paper with that plus the picture I drew of the girl on it is floating around my house somewhere. I should probably frame it. That’s my first known output as a writer. As a kid I read (I learned to read very young) and wrote all the time. I wrote mostly stories, both for school and for fun, and at one point I remember writing a screen play for an adaptation of Beverly Cleary’s “Fifteen” (and yes, it’s still under copyright, so it’s a violation, but only if I try to do anything with it; if it just sits in the box in my attic, it’s not hurting anyone).
Combine with this a childhood spent on the fringes, and battling depression. I was never particularly “popular” (whatever that means), and in fact went through periods where many of my classmates actively disliked me (I don’t know why—maybe it was just my perception. I like to think I wasn’t a complete asshole as a child, but maybe I was. Maybe I still am. Maybe my classmates were). As a result, I’m sort of needy and crave validation, but I’m usually too shy to ask for it for fear of rejection. I already had a sense of humor that I used as a weapon in my fight against depression, but I learned to employ sarcasm (and profanity) as well, which protected me from the assholes. I didn’t learn not to care what people think until I was quite a bit older (like, about two years ago), but I could act like I didn’t, and that got me to adulthood.
Once I had kids, and realized they were going to drive me to drink (more) if I didn’t have some outlet for my feelings about my inadequate parenting skills, I started posting on Facebook about it, sharing my frustrations with the world, but with humor to try to make myself seem less pathetic (not sure it always works). I would run into people I’m friends with on Facebook and they would say, “You’re the funniest person in my Facebook feed.” I was always genuinely flattered (and deeply grateful for the validation), and decided to take it to the next level and elaborate on my inadequate parenting experiences.
How Does Your Writing/Creating Process Work?
Many of my blog posts grow out of Facebook statuses. Sometimes a single status will have enough “backstory” for a post (“Wallowing in Their Own Filth” started as a status about my kids’ refusal to change their underwear, and they’re sufficiently slovenly in their personal habits that it was easy to expand on that topic). Other times I’ll find four or five statuses with a similar theme, and weave them into a post. Sometimes I’m inspired by something someone else writes—as Stacey said, my school carnival post grew out of something I read on her blog. I also carry two or three notebooks that I scribble things down in—overheard conversations, random amusing thoughts that are totally out of context but for which I might find a context, silly words and phrases.
Once I have an idea, I panic. Just kidding. I get something, anything down “on paper” (because of course it’s not paper, it’s Word). I’m to the point where I have to “compose” on the computer. I can use paper for notes, but it’s all in a Word doc from there. I’ll bounce around from one topic to another over the course of several days to several weeks, working on the one(s) I have ideas for, adding a couple of paragraphs, hitting save, and moving on to another one, depending on my mood. I do most of this on the ferry on my way home from work. I have a half hour ferry ride, and in the afternoon I’m on an earlier ferry than the ones my friends are on, so I have a chunk of uninterrupted time to work. Sometimes I try to get some work done on the weekends, but we all know how that goes (“Mommy, can I have a computer turn?” “Mommy, when we go to the store today, can we get…” “Mommy, can you get me down a bowl?” “Hey Mommy…hey Mommy…hey Mommy…”).
When a post is “complete” it will sit on my thumb drive for anywhere from a couple of days to a week or so. I’ll go back and read it and reread it, constantly tweaking it, both the content and the syntax. I have a bad habit of using the word “that” when it could just as easily be removed, so lots of times I’m deleting errant instances of “that.” I’ll find typos (places where my brain hustled my fingers on to the point that I dropped a word or words), and occasionally delete sections, or rewrite parts (for instance, this post will be “finished” probably three to five days before I post it, but I’ll edit it twenty times before that).
Then I hit publish. Then I hit “refresh” a lot to see if you lovely people are stopping by to say hi. Like I said, I’m kind of pathetic and needy that way.
OK, so that's me! Now, to introduce the next three bloggers who will tell you about how their writing process works, allow me to introduce Jeannette from Mommy Needs a Martini, Kelley from Kelley's Break Room, and Cassandra and Momus from the team-written blog, The Next Delusion. Each of these lovely folks sent me a bio, their social media links, and links to two posts so you can get to know them. Here, in their own words, is a little about them:
Jeannette Bellesfield is a married, full-time working Mommy to two girls (born '10 & '12) whose life consists of work, diapers, bottles, stories, naps, craft fails, power struggles and, of course, martinis over at Mommy Needs A Martini.Social Media Links:
The Day I Met Jacob: http://www.
Fairies in a Jar...?: http://www.
The Next Delusion
Cassandra: I am in my mid-forties with a daughter in college and a 10 year old son. Somehow I find myself working as a data analyst despite my love of words and deep mistrust of all things numeric. Over the years I have engaged in a variety of delusional behaviors to enable me to pretend that someday my life will involve more than statistics and PowerPoint. I blog about my life, my delusions, and all of the things that either irritate me or make me anxious. My goal when I sit down to write a post is generally to make Momus laugh.
Momus: I am slightly later into my forties than Cassandra, which is a fact she reminds me of on a weekly basis. I have two daughters, aged 14 and 11 who are so much smarter than I ever was (or will ever be). Like Cassandra, I have followed a wayward career path, with training in psychology which somehow morphed into data analysis. I blog about my endless missteps in life, my character flaws (I field nominations for those), and a variety of skewed perspectives. My goal in writing a blog post is for Cassandra to still be speaking to me after she reads it. Anything else is a bonus.
Apologies to My Mother: http://www.Two Nuns and a Giraffe Walk Into a CVS: http://www.
You can follow Cassandra on Twitter at @TheNextDelusion
Kelley's Break Room
Kelley's Break Room is a humor blog meant for everyone: mothers, fathers, single women, single men, teenagers, the elderly with good eyesight, highly developed infants and your neighbor on the left. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post and she has been a contributor to NickMom since 2011. She is a co-author on the popular book, I Just Want To Pee Alone. She was named in Mashable's 2013 "17 Funny Moms on Twitter" list and has appeared in the Huffington Post's "Best Parenting Tweets" list several times. One of her tweets was also read on The Steve Harvey Show in May 2014 by Steve Harvey himself! She has appeared on Great Day Houston, Houston's Fox 26 Morning Show and on the NickMom TV show Parental Discretion with Stephanie Wilder-Taylor. In her a professional life, she is a speech-language pathologist in a hospital and a public school. She's been married since 1999 and has two sons born in 2004 and 2008. They can all sort of make her crazy.
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