Last year I reviewed a fantastic thriller, Falling, by debut author Emma Kavanagh. I was honoured to be part of the Blog Tour for Falling's paperback release in the Autumn and I've been invited back to host this post from Emma to celebrate the publication of her second novel, Hidden, which I'll be reviewing soon (super exciting!)
Mother and Author
I always wanted to be an author. I always wanted to be a mother. And so, here I am. Book two, Hidden, is just taking its fledgling steps into the world. And I have two small sons - a three year old and a six month old. I’m tired. A lot. Did I mention that?
In most ways, being an author is the ideal job to have whilst simultaneously parenting two small people. My time is my own. I get to decide when I work, where I work. There is, however, a downside to that. My time is my own. I do not have a boss. There is no one who will yell at me, threaten me with disciplinary procedures, if I do not work on any particular day. Which means of course, that when there is sickness, or an inset day, or a snow day, it is Mummy’s work that is put aside.
The other problem is that, despite a weirdly common belief amongst the general public, books do not write themselves. If I don’t show up to work, my book does not get written. Additionally, publishers do not tend to pay authors who do not write books. So, no work = no pay.
Now, try explaining this to the world at large, who see you as a stay at home mother with a hobby.
The early new year period was a doozy! My three year old managed to contract every childhood illness under the sun, and so every week - and I mean every week - for a period of two months, there was something, some illness, some crisis, that meant work had to be put aside. Sometimes he was ill ill (vomitting, wailing, needing cuddles) and in those moments wild horses could not have dragged me away from him. But other times he was just socially ill - a viral rash with pretty much no effects on his physical wellbeing but which meant he couldn’t go to school or daycare. Now those days…sheesh!
See, the other issue with being an author is that it is less of a job, more of a way of life. I could stop writing no more than I could stop breathing. It is who I am. So on those days when I am yanked away and the words are circling around in my head, cawing desperately to be set free, I swear I develop a twitch.
Being an author and being a parent are, in many ways, very similar. Both tasks are primal. They are not about doing your hours and checking out. They are about a basic need - to write, to wrap my arms around my 3 year old when he is sick, my baby when those pesky teeth are tormenting him. When I get that time, when no-one is sick and no-one is clinging to me and wailing, and I can sit down with my notebook, my insides unclench a little and there is relief as the words begin to flow. Right up until I think of my children, and then the relief is beaten down by guilt.
I don’t think I’m special. I don’t even think I’m that weird. I think that parenting, by its very nature, strips you bare. I think that it sets itself against every other demand, screaming for attention. Being a working parent is hard. Being any kind of parent is hard.
So…I have come to a few conclusions. Would you like to hear them? Ah, sure you would. As a mother, I am doing my absolute best. The vast majority of us are. My children are extraordinary - they are brilliant, snuggle-tastic, and fill me with more joy than I can possibly say. So, I am initiating a set of guidelines for those of you kind enough to critique me on my parenting and my life management generally - you know who you are!
I would not take medical advice from those who are not medically qualified. Therefore, I will no longer be accepting criticism from those who are not similarly qualified. By which I mean, you may criticise (sorry, help!!) me if you are raising two children. No, hang on. I’m not done. You may criticise me if you are raising two children, whilst also working as an author. Wait…still going. You must be raising two children, working as an author, with a husband with a very full time job. And a background as a police psychologist. And a cat. And you must be named Emma.
Because the conclusion I am beginning to reach is that no-one knows exactly what my life looks like. No one really knows what my struggles are, what my triumphs are. Which means that no one is truly qualified to criticise me.
Apart from me.
And my conclusion?
I am working hard. Very hard. Harder than I have ever worked in my life. I am raising my children to be bright, engaged and engaging, interested and kind. I am building a decent career for myself. I love my husband. I generally remember to feed my cat and (very occasionally) to stroke her. Okay, my house is a train wreck. But, on the whole, I am concluding that I’m doing pretty damn well.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to write.
Hidden by Emma Kavanagh is available in hardback, £12.99, published by Century books. Read an extract at http://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/index.php/extract-hidden-emma-kavanagh/
You can follow Emma on Twitter @EmmaLK and catch up with all the stops on her Blog Tour by visiting these blogs: