writing: behind the scenes

I haven’t been here all that much lately. Maybe you noticed?

I want to be here—I miss this space—and I am here, just not here here, if you know what I mean.

It’s the book that’s taking up all my time. Well, that and baking and going to the theater and spending time with the kids (because for some odd reason they persist in needing me) and cooking extra turkey dinners because TURKEY and writing Facebook birthday emails to friends that go like so:

This morning the power went out so I couldn’t shower, get supper in the crock pot, flush the toilets, make my coffee, or check email, Also, I couldn’t go running because it was raining, the kids were squabbly, and not a single one of the five mousetraps my husband set caught the mouse that has been plaguing us. I hope your day is going better than mine. Happy Birthday. 

About the book: the going is slow. Torturously slow. I started the whole thing over (no joke) and while I’m happy I did (because I finally feel like I might—maybe, maybe, maybe—be on the right track) it still kinda stinks because STARTING OVER.

But it’s okay. Really.

Though sometimes, I confess (quite readily), I get soooo weary of fighting for writing time.

It’s hard enough, dredging up the self-discipline to plop my butt down and type, but there are an infinite number of other things that must be attended to if I am to write.

First, there’s the child care for the younger two and the juggling of the older kids’ work and study schedules, and coordinating Melissa’s work transportation. If the older kids are at home while I’m writing, I have to give them to-do lists so Life Can Go On while I’m squirreled away in my lonely torture chamber I MEAN WRITER’S GARRET.

Second, there’s self-care prep work. If I’m to think properly (ha), I must have a decent night’s sleep, and exercise, too, so I don’t completely rot into a pile of nothingness. This means I have to go to bed in good time so I can wake up in good time to go running with my crotchety husband who almost always insists on fighting about running in the morning because dark/rain/cold/early/you name it even though he knows he’s going to lose so I don’t know why he bothers. Then, of course, there’s my shower to take, my clothes to put on, my coffee to make. After which I have to prod the kids downstairs, wrench their books from their rigid claws, de-glaze their eyes, supervise their chores, and then actually get everyone where they need to be.

All that to carve out a measly two or three hours of time for something I dread with every fiber of my being and that may not ever even see the light of day, hello, existential crisis.

Actually, it’s not all bad. I get a buzz from tearing words from my brain (call me weird), and I have committed cheerleaders who wade through my muck and help point the way, bless their hearts.

The bad news: There’s no fast way through this mess, so I’ll see you in ten years.

The good news: I have something to work on, yay.

Anyway, after writing all morning, come lunch time I’m generally so screened-and-thunked-out that the mere thought of composing a blog post makes me want to weep. Instead, I sit on the sofa and scroll idly while drinking the coffee that’s supposed to make me productive while battling waves of guilt because real writers churn it out and I could do more if I pushed harder. And then it’s time to make supper, and oh crap, I still haven’t checked my older daughter’s algebra and, Whoa-oa, THAT’S what my son calls that a clean bathroom?

And thus concludes my long-winded explanation for my skimpy posting. The end.

PS. In case you’re wondering, the man in the above photos is one of the owners at the farm where my daughter works.

This same time, years previous: in the sweet kitchen, the quotidian (12.1.14), nanny sitting, Thanksgiving of 2013, sushi!!!, the quotidian (12.3.12), Friday variety, Mom’s cabbage salad, beef bourguignon, and potatoes in cream with Gruyere.


  • Margo

    Oh, I thought he was your other husband.

    tee he!

    I love how the photos illustrate this post! I would love to write a book someday but wow, I'm a little scared of the process you're describing. Have you read Carrie Snyder's blog? http://carriesnyder.com/ She's a mom of 4 who is a published writer, but she writes often on her blog of the struggle to balance writing/family life and her struggles as a writer.

  • farm buddy

    I noticed not as many blog postings, so I am always very happy and appreciative to see a new one!! I also love all of your pictures! My life centers around my farm and animals, but I very much enjoy pictures of all your kids. You are doing a great job.

  • Susan

    I can so relate to these swings from frustration to guilt to overwhelmed to annoyed to elated and on and on. I'm not a writer, but my job keeps me busy at home (college prof) and I simultaneously need/thrive on it and despise it. I procrastinate grading because it's so painful, then feel guilty for wasting time, then hunker down, then have to make dinner, then see the mess in the living room, then resent that I can't work RIGHT NOW (while having real moments of connection and excitement in my work). Anyway, you're the writer so you expressed it so beautifully in its messiness, but it's a relief to realize these feelings aren't unique.

  • Karen

    No sugar coating.. and I love you for it. Makes me feel a tad normal. Why is it that women in general believe that for all we do, it's "never enough". I'm guilty of it. You said it yourself…"I could do more if I pushed harder"… But what exactly is the definition of enough? Because if what you do is not enough, than we're all screwed.

  • dr perfection

    Bug off Anonymous, 6:55pm. You have outed yourself as a small-minded trouble-maker, too cowardly to identify yourself.

    • Anonymous

      Dear dr perfection 10:46am,

      Anonymous 6:55pm here.

      Although, while to cowardly to show myself and being such the small minded trouble maker I am, I didn't/don't call names. I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

      P.S. Jennifer, I absolutely love your blog. Perhaps it was a bit rash of me to express my thoughts. Merry Christmas to you as well!

      Anonymous 6:55pm

  • ShirleyHS

    You sound like a true writer to me, Jennifer. And I love the horse images connected to the struggle to manage life as a mom and wife and human being while battling for creative time. All of it counts. And all of it is making you an even better writer. Nothing is wasted. Write on.

    • Jennifer Jo

      I keep telling myself nothing is wasted…and I believe it. It's just that much of the time I don't FEEL it.

      A quote from Jennifer Weiner: "Sometimes the point isn't to end up with something worth showing the world. Sometimes it's just rehearsal."

      Me: Sometimes I get sick of rehearsing.

  • Becky

    This is so exciting! I've been dusting off some old projects as well as lining up new ones to start on after the holidays (I need that small shred of sanity I have left you know), but I also wonder how I'm going to get it all done inbetween all the other commitments I have. My little blog has definitely fallen by the wayside, although that is not a new thing. I find when I get stuck writing other things, sometimes writing a blog post gets the juices flowing again. Sometimes I even publish them.
    You go!

  • beckster

    It does sound like you are having a existential crisis, and this is such a stressful time of the year. You are a very busy person with lots of blessings! No lecture here, I whine plenty, but I am trying to change my habit of looking at the dark but looking for the light. It's fabulous that you are able to enjoy the process of writing, so there's that! And all the love and life in your house in enviable to those of us that don't have it. Cheer up, Jennifer, you are missed when you aren't here, and missed when you aren't there. So you are valued in many places!

  • Anonymous

    I've noticed you have a lot of posts featuring/including/mentioning your daughter and her horse. Does that make her siblings jealous? She seems to get a lot more attention than they do. I sure would if I were them.

    • Jennifer Jo

      Yeah, I probably do showcase her a little more than the others, but that's because she's doing interesting/active/photographic activities at home where I have my camera. Much as I'd like, I can't exactly hop in the back of the ambulance with my son, and my book worms aren't the best photographic material… I don't think there's much festering jealousy between them (at least not about that), but maybe in a few years I'll find out otherwise…when they write their memoirs (eek).

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