Hannah Holt, today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author, is one of the few I’d met in person long before the challenge started. We met at the Rocky Mountain SCBWI conference the September before her twins were born. I remember how impressed I was then with her dedication to her writing (not to mention her obvious talent). Now, after reading this post, I am truly in awe. Although she’s since moved to Portland, she’ll always be one of my first writer buddies and supporters. Please welcome Hannah!
A year and a half ago, I sat in bed editing a manuscript when a doctor walked into the room.
“You won’t be able to finish here,” he said. “We’re taking you to the operating room.”
Hi, my name is Hannah, and I’m a write-a-holic. I lived in denial of my addiction for several years. Writing was a hobby, something fun. I could stop whenever I wanted. However, on January 20th, 2011, I realized I might be in over my head.
On that night I was in labor with twin girls, and I had brought a manuscript to my delivery room. I swear, I only wanted to finish one or two more edits. My husband, a wonderful enabler, even wrote a few suggestions in the side margins. In between contractions and the occasional vitals check, I scanned my document for typos and searched for holes in my story.
I didn’t realize something might be wrong until the room change. As it happened, my hospital required all twin deliveries take place in the operating room. So, they wheeled me down the handrail lined hallway and wouldn’t let me bring my manuscript. Nooooooo!
Like many young mothers, I struggle with balance. Obviously, I’m not great at it. However, here are a few things I do to maximize creativity while staying present during important moments, like birth.
- Write badly. Want to waste two hours? Sit down and decide to write the next “Great American Picture Book.” Hello, internal censor. Goodbye, productivity! I can’t afford to waste time like that. Writing is like an old fashioned water pump. The first water out might be rusty and bitter, but keep at it and sweetness will flow.
- Write for the smallest possible audience: yourself! A while ago I started receiving rejection letters like this, “beautiful writing, but too niche. Please send something else.” So I tried writing “to market.” Oh, the painful drivel I produced! And I spent precious time on that drivel. Save yourself the wasted effort. Don’t write to market.
- Take the kids along for the ride. My children are an important part of my work. Sure, I need work alone time. However, as much as possible I include them. My website, Lightbulb Books (www.lightbulbbooks.com/blog) is a craft and kitchen resource site, but it’s also a snap shot of daily life with my kids.
- Turn off your writer’s brain. Writers like to write off the clock and off the ends of the earth. We might be at the local park but have one foot in Mordor. Sometimes I need to turn off the smart phone, the computer, and the idea factory and just be present. Once in a while, clock back into life.
- Join Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 group. After the twins arrived, my writing career went on indefinite hiatus. This group has been a great support on my journey back to regular writing. It’s a fountain of information and a wealth of friendship.
By the way, the manuscript I was working on during labor never sold. Still, I don’t regret my passion. My children sense my excitement, and it makes books desirable. My house will never be completely organized, and I’ll never be a helicopter parent. However, as a mother, I think I’m doing alright.
Hannah Holt is a freelance writer and illustrator based in Portland, Oregon. She’s a Barbara Karlin Grant merit recipient and Phillip E. Rollhaus Essay Competition winner. Her website is Lightbulb Books (www.lightbulbbooks.com/blog).Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Family, Goals, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: 12 x 12 in 2012, Family, Goals, Hannah Holt, Julie Hedlund, Picture Books, Tuesday 12 x 12, Works in Progress, Writer