On Writing and Mothering

This guest post is by the talented and lovely Brittany Knott. Read more of her beautiful writing on her blog Knee Deep in Lovely.

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Nothing motivated me to finish the first draft of my book more than my due date.

Because, really, I could have kept dragging it out. I didn’t have a publisher giving me deadlines or demands (or a paycheck, darn it).

But I knew. I had people warn me that when I had kids my margin for things like writing novels would be non-existent. I knew mom life would be different and I couldn’t loiter over a macchiato in a coffee shop.

So I anticipated August 2nd with so much longing to be a mother and so much apprehension about not being able to write when it had taken me thirty years to shed some of my mounds of uncertainty and finally do it consistently.

They were right, you know. It wasn’t the same after she was born. I did put things on hold. In those early days, I could have done more. She slept a lot. But it was inconsistent and I felt I needed long stretches of time. Also, everything about being a mother consumed me whole. For better, for worse.

My sweet doorman would ask almost every day, “How’s the book coming?” And I would duck my messy head and blush and say, “No progress.”

Meanwhile, motherhood began to give me so many things to write about on my blog. I was being broken apart in a way I never saw coming, and it was beautiful. It is beautiful.

If God can use motherhood to refine me, He can absolutely use it to make me a better writer.

He can show me my surroundings, my relationships, my world through a new set of brown eyes. Having someone to care for can’t keep me from writing, but not observing, not breaking apart and not stirring certainly will.

Of course, on a practical level, it is a bit more complicated than before. She is one now and I can’t write when she’s awake.  I can’t wake up before she does and write because she wakes up too early.

She takes two glorious naps a day. I’m trying to force myself to do “chores” while she’s awake (even though she tries to eat the Swiffer and climb inside the dishwasher), so that I don’t feel the pressure to do those while she’s sleeping.

Sometimes I catch myself prepping breakfast food or whatever and I have to stop and say, “This can be done when she’s awake.” And then I’m brought back to the things that cannot be done while she is awake. (Unfortunately that includes watching Undercover Boss). This morning during her nap, I sat out on the terrace and wrote a blog post so I wouldn’t be tempted to fold the laundry (read: pin 100 pictures of clothes I will never own on Pinterest. Real life.)

I will never be the poster child for productivity. In life or in writing. Motivation is hard especially because I don’t actually earn money writing. I know the years ahead (God willing) include more child-rearing, more chaos and less alone time. I’m praying for the grace to still have writing be a part of my life, bending and twisting along with us.

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Brittany Knott lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter. Her book, Viv: The Story of a Stray is in the crazy process of getting published. She hopes to use any profits to help fund an adoption.

 

I’m Not Famous and That’s Ok

Today I am 31.

It’s a place I’ve never been before, obviously. I’ve mostly stopped having all these high expectations about where my life will be at a certain age, but a few of them I still cling on to.

Like, I honestly thought I would be a successful writer by now.

What is successful? Is it rich and famous? Is it having a loyal fan base? Is it being able to do what I love without working another job? Is it waking up every morning feeling like I am still in love with this whole writing thing? I guess 2 out of 4 isn’t bad.

I am grateful every time I get paid for something I’ve written. I never want to take that for granted. I am grateful every time someone likes a post on WordPress or Facebook. I am thrilled by every comment. I know we are all busy and the fact you are taking time out of your day to read this means a lot. So, thank you.

I think I have given up on the whole fame thing. It’s honestly exhausting even thinking about it. Especially when it means people arguing with you, leaving terrible reviews and saying nasty things in the comments. I know I shouldn’t care about that but I do. It makes me sick to think about. I think my personality just can’t handle it. I got crushed once by an editor and it sucked. I know I just need to get over that.

So yeah, I am 31. I’ve had the same blog for 8 years now. I just started this one hoping to make more traction, more connection.

I am a mom, and I am somehow managing to not screw that up too bad, although there are days when I am not so sure.

It’s beautiful, confusing, heart-breaking, exhausting and wonderful all rolled into one.

My birthday morning started with my 2-year-old putting a tiny plastic ball in her mouth like it was candy. I yelled “No!” and she burst into tears and started crying so hard she couldn’t catch her breath and started gagging. She’s only done this a few times and every time it was because my husband our I raised our voice at her. I felt so bad. I couldn’t console her. She didn’t want to hug me and ended up spitting up all over my shirt.

The only thing that finally calmed her down was a Cookie Monster video on my phone. The day got better, and delicious birthday cinnamon rolls helped.

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Sometimes that stuff doesn’t phase me, sometimes it does.

Sometimes I think I am doing a great job at mom-ing and sometimes I know I have no clue what I am doing.

Sometimes I just want to sit in a field of flowers alone and write poetry.

Motherhood is messy and unpredictable. But so is writing.

You never know what’s gonna happen next, and I guess that’s part of the excitement.

It’s vulnerable. You’re always on display.

You have to let your heart break, and that always hurts.

So, I will continue to do what I love. I will keep writing, whether I get any recognition or not.

I will love my daughter patiently, day after day, watching her grow and watching my heart expand.

I won’t give up on my dreams, but I will let them take time.

I will let my influence unfold naturally, as God gives me favor,

Not by manipulating people into clicking on my blogs or trying to force fame.

I will stop giving my life deadlines and be prepared to be surprised. 

So bring it, 30’s. Because I am only gonna get better with age. 😉

Peace and Creativity,

The Stay-at-Home Something