A case of off-again off-again: How I came to be a writer

My husband and I met a bit later in life; I was 32 when we got married, he 38. I was 35 when our son came, and almost 38 when our daughter came. You might say I’m in the thick of young motherhood. My son just turned four and my daughter is 21 months.

I was bound and determined to return to work after Sawyer came. But then he was here and suddenly the narrative changed. I wanted to be home. It was shocking. This from me, who, in my 20s, would secretly roll my eyes when a relative or friend told me she was leaving her job to stay home with her baby. There goes another one, another woman losing her ambition. But for me, now in my 30s and a new mom myself, there was a different pull, a grander plan. I did return to work for a little while, but it was no longer the same. What am I doing? I had somewhere else I wanted to be more. I just wanted to be with him.

Fortunately financially we could do it. My husband and I are on a monthly budget, and it’s comfortable but disciplined. I choose yard sales over a trip to Macy’s, Facebook marketplace sites over Amazon. My husband and I were this way before, as a way to limit our footprint (although we do like to eat out a lot – I’m not a very good cook. One time, I accidently made lava. My husband is the cook in our house, and a good one).

So I did it, the SAHM thing. I did (and still do) lots of play dates (we are fortunate to have several friends who had babies the same year). I survived cloth diapering while pumping full-time after my son wouldn’t latch. I weathered the Terrible 2s and the Even More Terrible 3s, whilst adding a new baby to the mix. Samantha is sweet and sassy and very particular. She already accessorizes with bracelets and hats and all things pink. I’m not a girly girl, so I don’t know where these preferences come from. But yes, we are in trouble.

With all of this going on, plus my husband’s very changeable work schedule (he’s a police officer), I wanted something that was just mine. I decided to finally get serious about an interest I’ve had my whole life, a hobby of varying intensity throughout my teens till now: writing. When I was in 3rd grade I wrote a short story called The Gingerbreads, and it won a local authors’ award. I followed it up in 4th grade with The Cake With The Gingerbreads, which also won an award. Teachers and parents thought it was cute I was already writing sequels at age 8, but I just thought that’s what serious writers did.

As I grew older and busy with high school, college and then career, my interest and attention to my writing waned. At 22 I moved away from the Midwest and began a corporate career. I would journal and write short stories, but only when it suited; I wasn’t too intentional about making the time.

Then in 2007 I met my now-husband and moved from California to Pullman. Trying to meet people and establish new routines, I joined a writing group in neighboring Moscow, Idaho. Once or twice a week 15 of us came together and engaged in writing prompts, enjoyed speakers, and discussed our craft. By then I had lots to write about: a recent backpack trip into the Grand Canyon, falling in love, truly in love, for the first time, and working on a trail crew in Alaska a couple years earlier.

2008 and 2009 brought more busyness: a move to Wenatchee, my starting and then leaving a grad school program, a wedding, and first home purchase. Once again my stories slipped away.

When my son was born and I decided to stay home, I saw an opportunity to return to my writing for good and not let go. I joined an organization in town called Write On The River, a nonprofit that hosts open mic events, writing workshops, and even an annual conference. It’s been great to connect with fellow writers, build momentum, and finally be able to call myself a writer. I started volunteering with Write On The River. I got more confident as I attended their conference, which was really low-key but packed with great info. The last two years I’ve helped plan it, which is cool, and I will be there again this year. It is the weekend of May 19 at Wenatchee Valley College. We offer workshops, critiques, encouragement, and overall a lot of positive energy.

I also started submitting work to literary journals and magazines, and got acceptances (and many rejections). I learned to take the rejections in stride, and used them to make my writing better.

These days I find my world slanted toward serious and grumpy, even a little disorienting, if I don’t get some serious writing time in. I use both TEAMS Learning Center and a nanny at least once a week. And I write at night after the kids go down. It helps that currently I have a book-length project, a memoir. I also write personal essay and poetry. If I don’t get time to work, I let the tantrums, the skipped naps, and uneaten meals cloud my clarity. Writing forces me to see a bigger picture, and it’s a guarantee that I have control over something that is all mine. Sometimes it really is the perfect ending to a day that was continuously sloped uphill.

My writing studio at home.