Editing A Novel While Mothering – It’s Not for Sissies But It Is For Me

Editing A Novel While Mothering – It’s Not for Sissies But It Is For Me

As you know I’m editing my first novel. This is my fourth draft…or fifth draft? I’ve lost count, all I know is this is the most detailed painstaking one yet. It’s difficult to say exactly how long I can spend on just one paragraph or one sentence but;




Projections for finishing this draft at my current pace of, glacial, are approximately sometime next year. I’m not ok with that.

lib collage

Take this week for example, but first consider that not only do I want to get on with editing, I also feel motivated, able and driven to get on with editing.

Last weekend was great, we stayed home, worked in the garden, painted and I got some work done. I was in flow again, bliss. I wanted to keep it going and with Easter holidays looming I had only one week to do it.

fairy 2
My middle girl, beautiful, sensitive, witty and wise : )

Still I set myself a target of two more chapters by the weekend. At least then I could hit the holidays with a calm sense of all being right with the world because virtues of process aside I have to feel that I’m moving. I don’t count glacial as moving.

The plan was so simple, not ambitious at all, just a mix of two dawn starts and three playschool mornings on top of which I was starting on two new chapters, not touched since my last draft, so not completely sick of them, yet.

It would be enough, only it didn’t happen. A combination of events, chief of which, Sadhbh developed a really bad cold and had to stay home all week, and, being firmly in lambing season meant no Adrian for those early mornings.

An absolute joy of a child, my little boo Sadhbh

Any of you who can relate to this feeling, of another week, it’s not the first, and, there always seems to be something, another week of feeling I’m getting nothing done, will know how torturous it is and the mental gymnastics you have to deploy to stay sane.  The rest of you who don’t relate, will think me mad and that’s ok. I think the same.

I’m ok with that.

In order to deal, my mind is in overdrive, mindfulness, gratitude, acceptance, a great savouring of things, practiced, with fiery intensity.This is where I need to be now, being the chief thought holding the fire, this moment, here, now.

Then a feeling of camaraderie, of understanding and sometimes horror, that this is the story of creative mothers since the beginning of time. That while our part of the world has evolved to the point where the needs of wives and husbands are equal, and my husband is uber supportive and loving, it is still a problem that is yet to be solved, the problem of self and motherhood.

Next, I remind myself that I can use this time to do things that will support the work whenever I finally do get to it. Like the problem of clutter, too much clutter weighs on my mind, so no writing time is time to make that better. Then with reading, painting, blogging, journal writing, searching material for my fb page, taking photographs, daydreaming is important, being out in the garden, enjoying the children, their imaginations.

My eldest girl Shaylyn, our house in morning fog and from inside, in the gloaming…

All these things support and at the same time, scorch my mind, they support the book, one way or another so that it is never not being worked on. The paradox being, I do all of these better whenever I’ve written. And so it goes on, I want in, I get in, I have to leave, I need to get back again.

Talking with my mum she felt not many would have done it with small children, they would have waited.

My dad said I should start the next book.

My friend Madeleine Kennedy, an Australian artist said;

It’s difficult to manage  your time with small children but if you wait until they are older there’s the very real danger of never getting started at all.’

Madeleine’s words filled me with terror and my book is written so I think that’s my answer.I couldn’t have waited. And I can’t start another book, yet. I have to finish.

Recently I was reminded of Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs through some inspiring and stirring I felt, quotes from him. I remember studying and enjoying his work as part of a Social Psychology module for my PR Dip many years ago.

Based on his theory, I’m pretty much fulfilled, I’m doing what I’m capable of, or, considering this post, I’m damn CLOSE as I can get at the moment. But I am in the process of realising my potential and that is not only huge, but rare, even though, according to Maslow, everyone is capable of it. I’m lucky any way that you look at it, my activities are in line with my deepest self, so I can console myself and say, I’m not just in a state, well I am a lot of the time, but I’m also in a state of perpetual becoming, of self-actualization.

cloud sky
A recent painting plus the sky on that evening

That’s the latest from me. Actually I could talk all day but I have to go, still, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in comments if you have an opinion on this area.

I hope you have a brilliant weekend. Chat to you soon fellow traveller’s.

Read more about Maslow’s theory by clicking HERE

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8 thoughts on “Editing A Novel While Mothering – It’s Not for Sissies But It Is For Me”

  • I don’t know if it is any comfort but I know young kids wake early but at least they go to bed earlier. My kids are older (10 and 12) and although they are quite independent, the fact they are up till 9:30 now means that my time for working in silence when they’re in bed is much shorter!
    keep going – snatching those hours, trying to do some of it at the moment too.

    • Thanks Lorna, I appreciate that only I’m a real early bird and completely useless at night! I’ve been thinking of trying to change that, usually anything I write at night has to be rewritten! I know it would make more sense with little kids but so far I find while I can operate from the crack of dawn on little or no sleep, come four I’m wiped out. Thanks for the moral support

  • Oh Jane, I am exactly the same. The utter frustration makes me want to wind up into a tight ball. The past two weeks I NEEDED time to work (I was presenting a talk on my art practice) and three of the children were really sick… As I was. Torture. I just had to let all my hopes fall away. I keep saying to myself “this is only a season” and doing what I can, when I can. But yes, I feel your pain 🙂 Great post and wishing you deeply productive weeks ahead!

    • Thank you Emily, I’m planning for some very productive weeks once these Easter holidays are over. I’m even enjoying it, the break in general routine is great – every cloud as they say 🙂

  • I completely feel you with all of this. I am still working on my first novel with 2 kids at home. I’m trying to write it while writing articles to pay the bills now. I still need time to read and do my other creative works that nourish my mind like photography. It’s exhausting.

    • And dealing with everything else so you can get at the work is as exhausting, maybe more exhausting than the work itself! What stage are you at with your novel? Thank you for commenting and sorry for taking so long to reply, I’m in catch up mode today

  • The validation of hearing you say what I too experience always makes me happy Jane. The creativity and mothering balancing act. The constant reframing to not make it personal. Exactly a year ago, I posted about my Aha on rediscovering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in A post called I Need. What I discovered is that I needed to fulfill a few more of the categories on the 2nd and 3rd levels before I got to graduate to the self-actualization. Because yes, the more you create, the more creative you are. But you need healthcare and bills paid and community to feel safe enough to play there. And we are so very lucky to have lovely husbands and really sweet non-demanding kids. Not not lucky, our spirits deserve that quality of family to create the beauty we create. Keep slogging and I’m cheering you on from far away.

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