I have always been a writer, even before I was publishing my angst-ridden poetry on the notorious pages of Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. I was always a memoirist, even before I was blogging at The (now defunct) Pointy Toe Shoe Factory and now, here at GGC. I have stacks of diaries in my closet, under my shoes. In wooden boxes that say "do not open," my secrets are bound tight with shoelaces and rubber-bands.
I have written two novels. One book of short stories and thousands of pages of prose. I write every day because I have no choice. Writing has kept me sane. Balanced. Up at night, scribbling notes and posting them on the floor beside my bedstand. So I don't forget a line or an idea or a phrase come morning. So my brain doesn't melt in my sleep and leave me thoughtless. So I can remember to use it. Somehow.
Always a pen and paper in my pocket. Always listening in on conversations. Reading people. Judging people. Trying to understand who they are. And who I am as the spectator. The eavesdropper. The spy.
I based the two main characters of my finished novel, "The Envelope" on the man who played guitar on Hollywood Blvd and the woman who danced across the floorboards of my dreams. I set five pages a day as my goal, until I finished a first draft. And a second. And a third...
Then I got pregnant. And the pages fell to the floor and I left them there for several days before I knew what I was going to do. About my pregnancy. About my book. About writing every day and whether I would have the time or the inspiration, because I knew that my days of spending hours on subways spying on strangers, were over. I knew that I could not be a spy or a novelist with a baby. I didn't even know how I would write. Or what about:
"When I found out I was pregnant, I had a choice to make. Start a family or focus on my career. Then I decided I would do both. Or at least, try. Because I didn't want to give anything up. Because I was convinced I didn't have to. Because why should I? Because I was in love with Archer long before he had a name and a face and fingers. Because there was nothing that could stop me from doing what I wanted to do my whole life. Something I believed I could do."
So I picked the pages off the floor and got back to work. And I told myself that I would have to finish before Archer was born. But I never did. Not until months ago when I turned in my final draft, and immediately started work on a new novel.
I didn't sell The Envelope. But that doesn't mean I won't someday. I believe in the story and the work and my characters, who I fell in love with as I wrote them. With all of my heart I believe. And I think someday, someone else will, too.
But clearly it is not their time. And yet, it has suddenly become mine.
All these months of writing about Archer and our adventures has lead to this: My first book deal, with the awesome ladies at Seal Press. My adventures with Archer in print, bound up tidily as a tangible object. With pages you can stain and tear and dog-ear when you can't find your bookmark.
The book will be much like this blog. My first two years as a mother. In Los Angeles. Without rules or regulations or books telling me how to do or what way to do it. Balancing dreams with the reality. Telling the story. The whole truth. Pimples and puke and all.
The truth is, no matter what I am writing about, I have found my muse in Archer. The way he looks at the world. And me. I am a better person because of him. I am better writer because of him. I am more complicated and confused and interested and interesting because of him:
"I am not and never will be defined by motherhood, but I will wholeheartedly admit that motherhood has inspired and enabled me to define myself."
And all of the people that thought I was making the wrong decision, sacrificing my career to be a mother. All of the people who have been told they cannot do both. All of the dreamers who stay faithful to their realities, I have this to say:
It's all bullshit. Believe in proving everyone wrong. Believe in yourself. In your story. Keeping a dream journal beside your bed so you can wake up, read the pages and go on and make them come true.