Friday, July 30, 2010

Always Keep Your Hair in a Ponytail - Or, How to Work With Jack on Your Lap

I've already written about working from home and how much of a pain in the butt it can be, so I won't go into too much detail other than to say that working with a baby on your lap (particularly one with a serious oral fixation - he's chewing on my beautiful desk as I type) is not something that should be attempted by the faint of heart. Today I fired off emails to a handful of agents and will now be waiting in anticipation/fear/dread for the next 6 to 8 weeks in the hopes that I even get a response. I queried 7 agents and I'm hoping that at least one of them will request pages. If not, I either need to rewrite my query letter or seriously rethink my novel. OR start the next one, which is a current goal that I am having trouble meeting.
Jack is starting to get seriously pissed (the holder of aforementioned ponytail is now soaked in baby spit - another good reason to keep it in my hair, because Jack using it to pull himself into a standing position was clearly not good enough) so I'm off to give him a bath. Also, I think he may have pooped.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Halving it All

Today's post is about the trials and tribulations of being a work-at-home mommy. Ask me how I feel about working from home and, depending on the day, you'll get entirely different answers. During deadline, I'm a raving lunatic. I spend most of the time in my office crying in frustration because Jack won't stop fussing and I have a limited amount of time to turn in my columns.
On non-deadline weeks, such as this week, working from home, or in the office with Jack, really isn't so bad. Today, for example, I drove the hour to work, worked for 2.5 hours, and drove an hour home. Jack hung out in his pack n' play, and when he started to get really fussy, my boss (a retired Marine colonel) told me to put Jack in his stroller and then proceeded to take him out for a 30 minute walk. While this was semi-mortifying, it was also very helpful. I got home by 2:15, Jack had napped during both drives so I assumed he was relatively well rested, and I figured I'd be able to do some book-work this afternoon.
That's when things went totally downhill, of course. Ever since our trip, Jack's been eating the solid food like a champ and slacking on the nursing. He slept really late today (still adjusting to the time change I guess) and nursed fine then, but when I tried to feed him again at 11:30, he wouldn't focus on the task at hand. I figured he'd be starving by the time he got home, but instead of nursing, Jack went into a screaming rage that lasted a good forty minutes. Nothing helped - the three attempts I made at nursing him resulted in him biting me, which caused me to scream, which in turn caused him to scream louder. I finally gave him his pacifier and stuck him in his crib so I could pump, and he eventually calmed down and took his bottle like a champ. I'd been toying with the idea of switching to bottles during the day and I'm starting to think I might not have any alternative. He went through a weird nursing strike a couple of months ago and I'm wondering if it's related to teething. I guess I won't know till the teeth come in.
So where is all this going? Well, most of the time taking care of Jack is the "easy" part and it's the work thing that makes me crazy. Apparently things are flip-flopped this week, which leads me to the title of this post, "halving it all." I really believed that I'd be able to work AND raise an infant on my own (not sure where I got that from), but so far I find that I'm either half-assing my job as a writer or half-assing my job as a mom. Even as I type, Jack is fussing in his exercauser and I'm feeling guilty for taking the time to print out an agent list (what I'm going to do when I finish this post, which I'm sort of considering "work" because I feel like it's a good thing to write every day, even if it's not fiction). While work today was relatively stress-free, I personally do not think it's acceptable to have my boss walking my son around in his stroller so I can get my work done. I know at some point (probably around when Jack learns to crawl, which is going to be pretty soon judging by the fact that he's up on all fours now) I'm going to have to decide: put Jack in day care so I can get my work done, or quit my job.
Which reminds me - the reason I thought I'd be able to work AND raise an infant was because I promised myself that I'd quit the job once I got an agent. And of course I had really hoped that would be oh, 6 months ago. Now I feel like I can't quit the job because I don't have an agent, but I'm not sure I can keep going the way I am. Some days I really wish my cares were as simple as Jack's: twirl the purple bug on my exercauser, or bang on the keyboard. Oh, to be seven months old again. Sigh.

Monday, July 26, 2010

On Being Small

Hello again. We got back from Half Moon Bay on Saturday night and I am still in recovery mode. Jack is trying to adjust to the time zone (as am I - couldn't fall asleep till nearly midnight last night) and I am trying to get my life back in working order. It was great seeing friends and family (17 of us in San Francisco, all trying to get on a single bus to Chinatown - good times!) and I really enjoyed the cooler weather, but it's nice to get back to work. Work being my actual job, as well as the pursuit of publishing. The agent did get back to me but had no constructive criticism, CC (a well-known author who had sort of taken me under her wing) has apparently decided she hates me, and my "dream agent" sent a rejection almost immediately. So, where to now? My mom's cousin, a wonderfully kind and generous man, has offered to send my manuscript to his agent at William Morris, so we'll see if they have any words of advice (I'm certainly not expecting representation). Meanwhile, I am eager to get to work on the new book, but I am going to have to do some serious multi-tasking if that's ever going to happen. I also need to compile a list of possible agents and start querying, despite CC's opinion that if I do that, I will be rejected all around.
One of the great things about the weather in HMB was the running. Sarah and I ran 10.6 miles last Sunday with Kim and her friend Christine, which was not difficult because it was so nice and cool. Then I came home to 110 degree heat and wanted to shoot myself. But, with such wonderful running weather, I was able to sort of daydream as I ran, rather than focus on how miserable I felt. As I ran, I started thinking about my book (natch) and the more I thought about it, the more frustrated and upset I got (running and crying is NOT easy), which made me run faster and harder, which was good in and of itself, but not the point. The point is, I started to think about my life and why I want this book published so badly and what it would mean to me. And I realized that right now my life feels... SMALL. I feel insignificant and unimportant, and it's not that I want to be famous or that I think being an author will make me more important as a person, but I do feel like it would give me a purpose and fulfill me on a level that is currently unfulfilled. It's not that I don't love being a mom or think that it's not a big and important job (what could be more important than raising a human being?), but there is the (somewhat) intellectual side of me that always dreamed of having a career, and since it doesn't look like I'm going to have a traditional career at this point (I'm 30 and have never held a job longer than a year and a half), becoming an author would mean that I did SOMETHING with my education and hard work. Maybe it's because I'm surrounded by highly successful people like Sarah and John...I don't know... I just know that I want more out of life. And I feel like I've done the work and put in the time and I've suffered the criticism and fallen down and pushed myself back up, and now it's my turn! 7 months have passed since Jack was born and I don't feel any closer to my goal, but I'm going to keep trying, because despite how dejected I feel most of the time, I just can't seem to quit.
Speaking of Jack, the little nugget is getting seriously frustrated trying to figure out this crawling thing, so I'd better get back to my number 1 job as Mommy. TTFN.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Onward and Upward

Okay, so I was in a wretched mood this weekend. Just after I finished writing my last post, my sister called me in tears after breaking up with her boyfriend. Since misery loves company, we spent the evening and the following morning feeling sorry for ourselves and giving each other useless advice. Later we saw Twilight: Eclipse (the movie was yet another reminder of what success can look like if you ever manage to achieve it!) and I drove Sarah home to D.C. When I got home, my beautiful family was waiting for me, groceries purchased, house relatively in order, pb and j bars for a dinner with friends baked and cooling on the stove. To make me feel even more guilty for being such a grouch, my husband had purchased the most pathetic mixed bouquet ever (two browning roses and a half-naked, drooping daisy amidst some rather sad-looking foliage). A few more tears and a good cuddle with Jack and John, and I was feeling somewhat better. We spent the evening with two awesome couples and their chitlins, drinking wine and eating cheese. I am so grateful to have made a few great mommy friends in the area finally. I am waiting to hear back from an agent to see if she has any last-minute words of wisdom before I continue on my search. Then it's onward and, I hope, upward!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Starting Fresh

Welcome back, Blog.  I retired you for a while, but I think it's time you were resurrected.  And I really hope we can be friends.
Why now, three years after I created Scribble Babble?  I don't know...just to have somewhere to vent, I guess, which was why I started a blog in the first place. It's Saturday afternoon, I don't have much to do, and Jack is blissfully asleep. John is about to go for a three-hour run (insane) and while I could be starting my next novel, I feel like without a little encouragement, I just don't have the will to do it. Sigh.

Oh, and I have work I should be doing. But I really don't feel like doing it. :P