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July 20, 2011

Maternity leave for writers? Say whaaaat?!

 I had a baby recently - number two - and only a month or so later, despite the sleepless nights, I was chafing at the bit, wanting to get back to writing. I didn't actually have time to do any writing, mind you, but I was wanting to.

It got me to thinking. Most normal jobs give us new mothers maternity leave for at least a little while. I mean, normal jobs which pay money. But how much leave do we mummy writers take from writing? You know, the 'non-job' which pays squat-diddly?

Doesn't make sense, does it?


The oft-noted fact among writers and bloggers is that when you're working for yourself, somehow considerations like sick leave, maternity leave and the rest take a backseat. You might be running a high fever, and going through tissues like they're going out of style, but you'll still manage to dash off a post bemoaning the fact and asking for some bloggy love.

I started seriously writing for the first time (despite having dabbled in earlier years) 18 months after my first child was born. Now, I'm back into both writing and blogging 2 months after my second child...and believe me, I'm slow on the return compared to bloggers like the inimitable KLM over at A Rock in my Pocket, who barely missed a beat after having her fourth child in April!

We writers will write when we're on holidays. On trains and buses. In the middle of the night when normal people are sleeping. Some of us'll even take time off from paid jobs to write.

So yeah. We do it because we love it. And because we're just a little bit nuts.

I'd love to know what others (whether mothers or not) think. Here's your chance to spill the beans.

When was the moment you realised you had the writing bug, and had it bad?

And just how crazy are the lengths you've gone to in trying to find time to write?

If it wasn't before, my time really really is limited now, but I'll try and pop around and visit all my regular blog haunts. Also feel free to say hi and update me in the comments!

9 comments:

Claire Gregory said...

Congratulations on baby number two, Adina!

Having my first child absolutely destroyed my writing ability from about six weeks of pregnancy through to when she was about 18 months of age. It was so all-consuming, physically, mentally and emotionally- I couldn't turn my attention to my characters when I had to inhabit my own head so completely. And after she was born, I was exhausted, sleep-deprived, and just a total slave to a boob-obsessed little monster for more than a year- and of course loved every minute of it :)

I used to beat myself up about it constantly, but fairly quickly realised that you only get to be a first-time mum once in your life, so I gave up worrying about not writing and just enjoyed my time with my little one. When I went back to writing, I found I had all kinds of new perspectives that added richness to my writing, so in effect all that time off writing had been an unexpected gift.

I have a pretty strong sense that things will be different for me with the next baby, but I'm prepared to play the cards as they're dealt :) I hope you get the time and space to keep writing without stressing with a new little one to look after.

Hart Johnson said...

Congratulations on your baby! I wasn't writing when I had my babies... I had written prior, but had sort of given it up as a pipe dream... I started seriously writing when my kids were... I guess 7 and 10... and as each of them quit reading with me at night, I coopted that time for writing. I imagine though, that NOW, I would write immediately, as my maternity leave time had more READING than my full-time job time... It is a busy time, but at least it is time at HOME with some breaks--unlike the day job...

Suze said...

Bear in mind the hormone rush that comes after baby. And the fact that hormones affect and influence all creative endeavours.

Happy to hear a bit from you to know you and little one are doing well.

Mary Mary said...

First, congratulations on your new addition to the family!

I think I got the writing bug when I was hopped up on a lot of painkillers after a bad car accident. I couldn't sleep, my mind was a mess, and the best thing I could do was put to rest the story floating around my head. So that's what I did. And I loved doing it, so I just kept on writing and writing. It's not that I hadn't written before, it's just that I'd never taken it seriously until then.

I always write when the kid is in school. It's about the only chance I get to myself. In the summer, I stay up late and do my reading and writing then (I am so not a morning person!) so, needles to say, I'm more tired throughout the summer months. Go figure!

erica and christy said...

When I was 3 days overdue with my 2nd baby, one of the management team of my school came to observe me. Mind you, one of the management team, not my actual supervisor. She had never had a baby and was a (self-proclaimed) "gastric-bypass survivor." She watched me during my 15-minute music lesson with 16 preschoolers and later emailed my boss that she thought my heart wasn't in it and I should pursue another career. Did I mention I was 41-weeks pregnant with my 2nd?? (yes, I know I did, just reminding you)


Sometimes people are dumb. Take all the time you need.
erica

Misha said...

I noticed that I had the bug bad when I was in my first year at university and actually got cranky if I couldn't dash off some lines.

^_^

catherinemjohnson said...

I stopped writing after my first and had a completely different life and then a long time after that my mum and dad pestered me to write picture books instead of MG and I've only just gone back to MG, although chapter books now. It is so much easier to dabble in picture books when you only have pockets of time and I'd say it is different for everyone how having children affects you too. However things go you know you can always change things along the way, enjoy!

catherinemjohnson said...

I stopped writing after my first and had a completely different life and then a long time after that my mum and dad pestered me to write picture books instead of MG and I've only just gone back to MG, although chapter books now. It is so much easier to dabble in picture books when you only have pockets of time and I'd say it is different for everyone how having children affects you too. However things go you know you can always change things along the way, enjoy!

Enid Wilson said...

Congratulations and hope you get more sleep now.

I'm nuts too, wake up at strange hours to read, write or edit.

Chemical Fusion

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