Any working mother will tell you it takes an amazing amount of skills to successfully navigate each and every day. Multi-tasking is imperative. A working mother must be chauffeur, chef, secretary and maid, in addition to the job they’re paid to do.
When the job is writing, things can get a little more interesting. When you’re an accountant or history professor or waitress, you can separate your work life from your home life. As a writer, there is no “bringing work home”. A writer’s work is always with them, inside their head, fighting for attention.
So, when I’m driving my kids to a doctor appointment or cooking dinner or fending off a grabby toddler while trying to fold clean towels, I’ve got a few other people inside my head saying things like “I wonder what would happen if …” and “Can you kill someone with a meat thermometer if you shoved it directly through the temple?” –The answer, in case you’re curious, is yes. At least in my new novel A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY the answer to the meat-thermometer-death-blow conundrum, is yes.
Unless you’re successful enough as an author to afford a nanny, working as both a writer and a mother can feel like the medieval torture of quartering. Sometimes I find myself feeling guilty for not giving my children 100 % of my attention 100 % of the time and then I feel guilty for not reaching my 2,000 words-a-day quota because I was busy with the children when they would have survived just fine playing safely in their rooms for an hour.
The answer? Do what you can, when you can, and hope for the best. If that means a question like “What’s that word? The one for having your body ripped apart by four horses?” creeps into your mind while changing diapers because you’re preparing to write a scene in which your main character feels torn in different directions, it’s okay. You’re not crazy, you’re just a writer.
What some people might call psychosis, writers call multi-tasking.