Writing in the midst of life

After graduating college early, I devoted a year to writing. I decked out my office, bought a new desk, and attended my first conference. I wrote a middle grade novel that…wasn’t really about anything. While I had all the time in the world, I lacked experience, the kind that would make my stories mean something.

Enter life.

I met Shawn (my husband-to-be), moved to another city, got a full-time job, and started becoming a grown-up.

I still wrote—until we had a baby.

Although I occasionally found a burst of motivation and a pocket of time in which to put it to use, my focus lay elsewhere.

Now almost seven, Ellie has grown more independent, and I’ve reclaimed enough brain space to yearn for a creative outlet. So when the time for New Year’s resolutions came around this past January, I decided to recommit to my writing. Seeking time that would be free from distractions, I set my alarm for 5:15, prepared to chip away at my work-in-progress an hour at a time.

Then a funny thing happened: I loved that time so much, I found other opportunities to write. Working in a crowded dance studio waiting room or hearing My Little Pony in the background might not be ideal, but I wrote within the realities of my life today.

I was surprised by how quickly I finished the first draft of Dell’s story. Partly, it’s because the idea stemmed from something I do every day. Undoubtedly, I would not have written a story about a girl with cancer if I hadn’t taken a job at an oncology-focused advertising agency.

Similarly, when Shawn, Ellie, and I starting performing random acts of kindness throughout the year, it was because I wanted to offset the pile of gifts I knew Ellie would get at Christmas with regular reminders to be grateful for what she has and to do things for those who might not have as much. I didn’t anticipate these experiences making their way into a book, but my next YA novel centers on exactly that.

I named my blog Writing in the Midst of Life because I recognize that I have to carve out moments for writing now. But it’s not just about finding time to write; it’s about what drives my stories—what I think about, the questions I need to answer. Life gives my writing its heart.

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