HELLO THERE. Blossoming gumshoe that you are, I’m SURE you’ve put 2 and 2 together and figured out that our baby arrived. Finally. Almost two weeks late. (He’s grounded.) Anyway, as it turns out, birthing and keeping a newborn alive is, ahem, a smidge harder than strictly anticipated so I haven’t had much time for blogging.

However, things are beginning to calm down so I’m trying to turn over a new blogging leaf. But first, shall we do a little requisite photo sharing? Here’s Cormac. (Writing Nerd Side Note: though I’m a fan of Cormac McCarthy, our Cormac is not really named after the writer. However, I have been rather surprised how baffled people in public have been by the name Cormac–especially given that Cormac McCarthy has won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.)


Anyway, Cormac has presented all the usual challenges to writing. He eats a whopping 12 times a day so that right there is a pretty big hindrance. But truthfully I expected to be short on time. No big shock there. However, he’s also presented me with a challenge I didn’t expect: someday, he’s going to be able to read.

While I think it’s unlikely he’ll read my books as a child since they are very much focused on the female experience, I do wonder if as an adult he’ll get curious and crack one open. And just the thought of that makes me…blush and feel sort of clammy. The funny thing is, our books are G rated–maybe there’s the occasional PG moment, but that’s it. I have given copies to girls as young as 8 and not worried about it in the slightest.

But something about Cormac reading them makes me a little shy. I am very proud of our books. But I guess I want to be a superhero for him, the bestest writer that ever was, able to leap entire paragraphs in a single bound. Will he see that typo on page 35 that no one caught? Will he think that one character is a little two dimensional, truth be told? Will he not laugh at the funny bits?!

And this newfound shyness extends to ALL my writing. Yesterday, I finally found the courage to start the baby journal a thoughtful friend gave me. The first entry begins with an apology to Cormac, explaining how it’s not my very best writing and begging his understanding since I’m incredibly tired.

Logically, I know this is quite silly. He’s only seven weeks old. He doesn’t even notice the very loud Chihuahua running around our apartment and can’t hold his head up. Clearly he’s a long way from reading. Plus, we kids are always proud of our parents, right?

But with the tables turned, now that I’m sitting on the “parent” side of things, it feels different. It’s a lot of pressure to be the larger-than-life super mommy I want to be for him. I suppose in time I’ll get over this strange feeling. These books won’t write themselves, and I won’t allow silly pride to hold me back, but for now I’m adjusting to this new worldview, seeing myself reflected in his eyes.



Writing is the Hare; Editing is the Tortoise

by Alison on October 17, 2013

Some the best and worst decisions in my life have come about due to my inability to wait patiently.

And yes, if you’re reading the above and trying to parse out what it means for my personal life, we are still waiting for this baby to be born. He’s now six days a WEEK past his due date–and counting.

The Great Baby Wait has reminded me how very bad I am with delayed gratification. You see, in my head is a massive Life Check List, containing things both big (write and publish next novel) and small (get tomatoes at store). And inside me is a drive to check things off this list. I love how good it feels to check things off! It’s like Saturday and the month of October and Christmas Eve all rolled together.

due date

And while impatience has often been a motivating factor in good decisions, what I’ve learned these past two weeks is, when overindulged, it’s a terrible quality for a writer.

Right now, my inbox is crammed with sweet emails from friends, hoping this baby makes an appearance soon. And nearly all of them ask the same question: What are you doing with yourself? 

With no work and no infant to care for, it’s really just me and my lazy Chihuahua all day, every day. I am refusing to squander this time–knowing all too well how precious it is–so instead I’m using it to work on my current writing project. Now, Alison of the Past would have been tempted to crank out a 100 new pages in a week, rushing through each day like it was my last on earth, thinking only of that big cosmic check mark she’d get. But instead, Gestating Me is trying to work slowly, work steadily–and I’ve been pretty amazed by the results.

Have I gotten reams and reams of new pages written? Nope! But what I have gotten down on the page feels stronger, cleaner, and better. As an impatient writer, I’ve never been much of an editor. Editing to me is like eating your 5-7 servings of veggies every day. Do I know I need to? Yup! Do I want to? Nope! Do I ever hit this mark? Rarely.

But with this book and my newfound embrace of slowing down, I might finally be getting all those vegetables down. Every day I work on the book for a while, and then, I put it away. I go for long walks on the hills of San Francisco, I cook a lovely meal, I go to prenatal yoga, and I nap. And then tomorrow, I open up my computer and start the process again, moving small pieces of text around, ruthlessly deleting scenes that seemed clever yesterday and now reveal themselves to be what they really are: needless digressions bogging down the narrative.

check list

The truth is: writing is the hare and editing is the tortoise. Writing can be fast and sloppy and too proud to look back. Editing is slower, wiser, and willing to turn around and start all over again just to get the path forward right.

To write a book that sings, you need to be both the hare and the tortoise. You must allow both beasts to sit at your computer and have their days to shine. You can neither be so paralyzed by editing that you cease to move forward (so many projects of mine have come to a screeching halt this very way) or so drunk on the speed of the hare that everything your fingers type seems like spun-gold thread.

If you had given me my druthers, this baby would have been born last week on his designated due date. Oh, the cosmic check mark that would have been! Have baby. CHECK! But having to wait for him has been a gift too, an unexpected check mark about learning the importance of slowing down, as a writer and a mom.


Can Women Have It All? Writing After Baby

October 9, 2013

Oh, hi there. I know it’s been an especially long time since I updated. First up, check out the new site design! I keep clicking over just to admire it and then I think, This fine blog here needs a […]

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Does Popular Blog = Bestselling Book?

July 9, 2013

I hope what I am about to say comes as a relief to you. What I don’t want it to sound like is yet another deflating stat about how your book is never going to be a bestseller. Why? Because, […]

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Writer’s Block? 20+ Writing Prompts From Cheryl Strayed

June 18, 2013

Going into the Cheryl Strayed workshop, the tally of words written on my new project was exactly: 0. And it had been that way for longer than I care to admit. I’m not normally one to delay starting a book. […]

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Writers, What Is the Central Question at Your Work?

June 5, 2013

Way back in March, Holly convinced me to sign up for a one-day writing workshop with Cheryl Strayed. Actually, at the time, it took no convincing. I adore Cheryl and have read both Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things. In fact, […]

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BookBub: How to Save Big on Ebooks and Sell More Copies of Your Ebook

May 15, 2013

Remember the first time someone told you about Kayak? And you were like, FINALLY! That’s what it’s like when you first learn about BookBub. Much like Kayak, which searches (nearly) all travel sites and shows you the best deals, BookBub […]

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Battling Burnout: How to Keep Writing When You’re Over It

May 7, 2013

I think it was the third morning in a row when I dozed off in front of my computer that I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t just tired–I’d hit a wall. As a person, I’m pretty good at […]

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Bloglovin': The Best Replacement for Google Reader

April 25, 2013

Oh, Google. You giveth and then you taketh away. When in March Google announced that it was going to shutter Google Reader (and some other products I’d never heard of) I was one of the many people who began to […]

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Writing Advice from Writers: Start the Next One

April 4, 2013

Let’s do a little bit of circle time, shall we? I’ll go first. Me, I’ve won some and I’ve lost some. These days when people ask me “how the writing’s going” I tell them, Well, it’s really a career these […]

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