Welcome to Creative Mothers – a fortnightly series of guest blogs for people to reflect on the impact of parenthood on their experience of personal creativity. If you would like to take part with your thoughts, please take a look at the Creative Mothers page and do get in touch.
Today we meet Katie from The Squirmy Popple – when I read her blog posts I can’t help but think ‘has she done this writing lark before?’. Well, actually yes, she has…
In this post Katie shares with us how she has changed the way she writes (and what she writes) in order to keep her creativity alight as she transitioned from life pre-parenthood to life as a parent.
Before I became a parent, I used to write stories.
They were odd stories, usually. I wrote about children disappearing into an evil Santa’s grotto, a couple whose relationship was destroyed by sex robots and a corpse coming to life during an autopsy to swear at the morticians. They were often funny(ish) and involved a lot of dialogue, since I was interested in developing characters but not so much in developing plots.
Amazingly, sometimes these stories won prizes. Not big prizes, mind you – a £25 cheque, a trip to Bournemouth, a weekend in the Lake District – but it was enough to get me thinking that maybe I was onto something with this whole weird story thing.
My inability to stick to a plot meant that most of my stories were short. However, I did participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for two years, where the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I threw myself into NaNo with no outlines or plans, and ended up with two sprawling novels that made no f***ing sense whatsoever. I decided that long-form writing wasn’t for me. I like being able to create something that can be fully formed within a few days, or even a few hours.
I haven’t written a single short story in the 11 months since having my daughter. I find parenting to be so intense and all-consuming that I can’t imagine devoting any mental energy to a character’s imaginary issues when I have so many real-life issues to focus on. Will my baby nap today? Why is she throwing all of her fruits and vegetables on the floor? How can I get her to stop putting the laptop power cord in her mouth?
This is where blogging comes in, I suppose. It allows me to be creative while still focusing on the only thing that I can really pay attention to right now – the squirmy little baby who has filled my life to the brim. Plus, by writing about my parenting adventures and struggles, I can start to make sense of them. Sometimes seeing the words on the screen helps me realise that I’m not making such a mess of this whole motherhood thing after all.
Blogging is also great for me because I never have to write more than around 1,000 words at a time. People are lazy on the internet. They like to read pieces they can scan in a few minutes, with lots of line breaks and short sentences. It’s the perfect art form for someone with very little patience and a poor attention span.
Sleepless nights and dirty nappies may sound like dull writing subjects compared to sex robots and swearing corpses, but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Days out that involve nothing but walking back and forth in front of a shopping centre and waving at dogs? Watching videos of frogs singing in Spanish? Going almost a year without a full night’s sleep?
You couldn’t make it up.
Pleeeease, if you do one thing now (once you’ve followed Katie on Twitter and read her blog!) please read the short story about the corpse that comes to life that is linked in Katie’s post above. It’s absurd, dark and elegantly written…well worth a few moments of your time. You can also find it here.