Sunday, February 27, 2011

Writing, Parenting, and GUILT

Lately I've been feeling a lot of guilt.

This is mostly because:

When I'm writing, I remember the pile of laundry that needs to be done. When I'm doing laundry I think I should really be spending time reading with my five-year old. When I'm reading with my five-year-old I feel bad about the sinkful of dirty dishes. When I'm working on the dishes the baby starts crying and I know I should just hold him for a minute. When I'm holding the baby the big kids start fighting about what to watch on TV and I think I really should get them all dressed up in warm clothes and send them outside for a half hour to play. When they finally get outside I feel like I should be writing.

It's a vicious cycle.

I think it's impossible to be a parent and not feel guilty every now and then. Being a parent is hard and it takes SO MUCH TIME and ENERGY. It's physically impossible to accomplish everything I need/want to do everyday in 16 waking hours. I often feel overwhelmed.

Then I get reminded of just how great my life is.

A few weeks ago I was putting my oldest to bed she gave me a big hug and said, "Mom, I know you work real hard to clean the house and write your book, and I think you're doing a great job."

I may not be anywhere close to perfect, and I may never be able to do everything I wish I could, but I do have very sweet kids and a wonderful husband who love me despite my imperfections. That's got to count for something.

Do you have mom guilt, dad guilt, writer guilt, etc.?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A healthy dose of PERSPECTIVE

I'm very sick right now. Three of my kids are sick too, including the baby. My family hasn't all been healthy at once since January, and because of that I haven't written anything all month. I'm snuggled up in bed right now with baby, trying to keep warm despite a wicked case of the chills. I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself for the past couple of days.

And then I read about the earthquake in New Zealand. I realized that Chistchurch is where my dear friend Wen Baragrey lives. Any of you that follow Wen know that she and her family have had a very trying couple of months. Her premature grandson was born in November and seemed to have complication after complication before he finally came home in January only to head back to the hospital last week.

Thankfully he and all of the rest of Wen's family made it out of the city okay, but it was a scary time for everyone. Wen detailed the experiences of her family here.

It's so easy for me to get caught up in mylife and my worries and not realize that other people are suffering far greater challenges. But today my thoughts and prayers are with Wen and the people of Christchurch, NZ.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Author Website

We've had a whole lot of yuck at my house this week. The baby had an ear infection and now he and my 3-year-old have RSV, and my girls are recovering from strep. Not fun.

So I'll keep this short and sweet.

For months I've known I needed to create an author website.

My agent recommends that ALL writers who want to submit their work have a website (not just a blog). Websites are nice because agents and/or editors can look through in just a few minutes and get a pretty good idea of who you are and what you write.

I worried putting up a website would be a ton of work and/or super expensive and/or very time consuming. I didn't want to think about it, so I put it off for months.

Last week I finally decided it was time. I now have an author website It's nothing fancy, but I think it will be sufficient for now. And to my surprise, it wasn't hard, it wasn't expensive, and I got it done in just a couple of days.

Do you have an author website? If not, have you thought about creating one?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

SPEAK and Free Speech

I usually steer clear of controversy on this blog. I don't like making people mad (and I hope I won't make anyone mad today!). But this is something I've been thinking about for a long time.

Last week I finally read SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson. I've had it on my list ever since all the hubbub last fall. For any of you who missed it, this should give you the gist of what went down.

I know I'm super late to this discussion, but I wanted to say a few things now that I've read the book.

First, I thought SPEAK was excellent. A must read. The subject matter (recovering after rape) was painful, but so important. I felt like both of the scenes dealing with rape were done well. They were not gratuitous at all, but still showed the violence and horror of the act. I agree one hundred percent that the Missouri professor was WAY off base calling it soft porn.

It is absolutely a book I want my kids to read when they get older.

All of that said, I want to address one of the issues I had with the uproar last fall. While Laurie Halse Anderson and all the bloggers and writers who rushed to her defense had the right to speak up and defend something they believed in, so did the guy in Missouri. And though I don't agree with what he said, I do believe he had the right to say it.

In the U.S. free speech is a right for everyone, not just writers and artists. Not just people with whom we agree. EVERYONE. Whether a person is conservative, liberal, communist, or just plain crazy they have a right to say what they believe. Sometimes I think we forget this.

Here's an example:

About a year ago, I was on Twitter when a published author tweeted about reading a Goodreads review of her book. She was livid. The reviewer found some of the things in the book offensive and rated it low.

So, the author went to the Goodreads review and left a scathing comment about how the reviewer was an idiot, and the review was tantamount to censorship. AND THEN the author posted a link to her reply on Twitter and encouraged her followers to leave more mean comments on this poor person's Goodread's review. Goodreads! This was not some national reviewer. This was just a reader who picked up a book and didn't like it.

I thought the whole thing was very TACKY. And wrong. The author had the right to write her book. She had the right to include any content she wanted to include. But the reviewer also had a right to voice her opinions. Having the author and twenty of her twitter followers jump down the the reviewer's throat, and attack her personally, for sharing her thoughts was more than a little hypocritical.

Needless to say, I deleted the author from my twitter feed.

I think the issue I had with both this situation, and to an extent the SPEAK uproar, was that people did not simply defend the books in question, they also attacked the person voicing their opinion. It is one thing to say, "I totally disagree with you. I believe this book was good and important for XYZ reasons," it's quite another to say, "Because you made this comment you are a pervert/homophobe/idiot/insert- overblown-insult-here."

I think we need to accept that not everyone will like what we write. We may offend people. Our books may even get banned. And while we have the right to defend ourselves against criticisms we find unjust, we should try to do it in a civilized manner. It's importatnt to respect other people's right to speak freely, even if we strongly disagree with their opinions.