Writing with the rug rats

September 10, 2009 at 12:18 pm 13 comments

Please join me in welcoming an dear friend, funny (might we even say wacky) person and  New York Times bestselling author, Angie Fox. Angie Fox, author photo

Note: Angie is participating in Unleash Your Story as the team leader for the MORWA team. You can join Angie’s team or sponsor Angie by clicking here.  All donors (through Angie’s team or through any UYS participant) who give $25 or more between Sept 9 and Sept 21 will receive a free book from our $100 book list.

A few weeks ago, my daughter came to me with a broken Ariel doll. She’d snapped the tail fin right off and was shocked when I couldn’t repair the plastic. “But mom,” she pleaded. “You can do anything!”

I didn’t know whether to correct her or to thank her. Because the truth is, most moms I know are a bit frazzled (myself included). It can be hard to find ten minutes for a shower some mornings, not to mention time to write a novel.

So what is the best way to write while raising kids? I wish I knew. But here are a few things I have learned along the way.

Get organized.

The Accidental Demon Slayer

Just like your kids have a schedule (mostly), get yourself on a writing schedule. Personally, the only time I can write is when my kids are unconscious, so I write during afternoon nap times. If one or both of the kids don’t cooperate, I set my alarm for 4:00 a.m. the next day and sneak in a writing session before the family wakes up. It’s not always easy. Heaven knows I’m not a morning person. But it’s the best way I know to keep my books, and my writing, on track.

Plus, you’ll be surprised at how your muse really does cooperate when you commit yourself. For example, when I sat down to write the Accidental Demon Slayer series, I had no notes about a sidekick for my heroine. But in the second chapter, when Lizzie learns she’s a demon slayer and there are some very scary, very angry creatures on her tail, she takes comfort in her dog. As I was writing, I thought, ‘This is a sweet moment. Now how do I throw her off?’

I made the dog say something to her. Nothing big. After all, he’s only after the fettuccine from last week. And he knows exactly where Lizzie can find it (back of the fridge, to the left of the lettuce crisper, behind the mustard). It amused me, so I did it. Thanks to her unholy powers, Lizzie can now understand her smart-mouthed Jack Russell Terrier. I ended up having a ball with it. Pirate can say and do things that my heroine can’t. He’s such a kick to write.

Angie Fox Dangerous Book cover

But you know what? I’ve noticed that nine times out of ten, those kinds of “ah hah” writing moments only happen when I’m on schedule and wholly committed to my writing. It’s like making an appointment with your muse. She knows when to show up, and that you’ll be there.

Know you can do it.

Just like the time my five-year-old emptied her Barbie pool on her bed “to see what would happen,” I had to go with the flow when I realized I had written a talking dog into a story with a geriatric biker witch gang that was about to hit the road. When unexpected things pop up, the trick is to push forward.

In the case of the Barbie pool, we used plenty of towels – and a hair dryer. In the case of my manuscript, I researched and learned about the Biker Dogs Motorcycle Club, made up exclusively of Harley riders and their dogs. I ended up meeting some of them, along with a few other bikers along the way. These bikers were so great to me. They hoisted me onto the back of their Harleys (with dogs in tow). They took me to biker rallies (note to self: don’t wear pink). And they laughed at me when I tried to put my helmet on backwards (I still say I was distracted by the Pomeranian wearing a tiny pair of motorcycle glasses).

I was not only able to keep my dog and the Harleys too, but after a few outings with my new biker friends, I was able to make my geriatric biker witch characters a lot more realistic.  MidT2DS

Have fun.

As moms, we’re so used to doing everything for everybody that we sometimes forget about ourselves. This writing, this time with your book, is something fun and amazing that you can do for just you. What have you always wanted to write? What will you do for the pure joy of it? How can you get started?

Luckily, my critique partner is also the mom of two small kids. We’re always trying to amuse each other as we write. Typical feedback will come like this, “What are you doing? Don’t get me wrong. I like it when you come up with quirky new hideouts for the Red Skull biker witches. But we’re heading into the climax of the book. Why do we need a new one?”

I usually don’t have any good answer to questions like that except, “I did it because it made me smile.” But, really, if I’m amusing myself as a writer, won’t my readers have more fun too? At least that’s my excuse. In the case of the new hideout, it worked out. The Red Skulls end up on this abandoned riverboat that they’d enchanted years earlier (while drunk on dandelion wine). Now they not only need a safe place, but they need to catch the Choking spells, Lose Your Keys spells, not to mention the Frozen Underwear spells ready to attack from around corners and behind the old jukebox.

And in conclusion (because your kids are probably emptying your underwear drawer as you read this), I think it might be easier in some ways to write while balancing the needs of a family. When you have distractions, you have to take a stand for your writing time and your story. You have to let yourself have fun along the way. And you have a profound sense of accomplishment when you do sit down and let those words flow.

Besides – we’re moms. From what I’ve heard, we can do anything.

New York Times bestselling author Angie Fox writes the Accidental Demon Slayer series for Dorchester. Well, when she’s not chasing her daughter (age 5) and her son (age 2). Visit her at www.angiefox.com

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Week 1 results & New incentives! Top Reader/Writer

13 Comments

  • 1. Teresa Bodwell  |  September 10, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Angie–thanks so much for your words of wisdom and for your hilarious Demon Slayer books!

  • 2. Angie Fox  |  September 10, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    No problem – thanks for inviting me!

  • 3. Teresa Bodwell  |  September 10, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I’ve updated Angie’s intro above. I forgot to mention earlier that Angie is a UYS participant and team leader of the MORWA team. (Go, team, go!)) I’ve included a link for those who might want to show their solidarity with all writing moms by sponsoring Angie with a donation to CFF.

    Thanks again, Angie for all you do with those little guys in tow!

  • 4. Sally MacKenzie  |  September 10, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Hey, Angie, good to see you here!

  • 5. Kristina Cook  |  September 10, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Hi, Angie, and thanks for joining us here at UYS today! What a great blog–and so much of it sounds way too familiar. I wrote my first book basically while my kids (both pretty much babies at the time) took afternoon naps, and after they went to sleep at night. I’m pretty sure I wrote a fair amount while actually breastfeeding kid #2. Now, six years later, they’re both in school full-time, so you’d *think* I’d be SO much more productive–but I never learned to put myself on a writing schedule. I was just so used to grabbing some writing time whenever I could find it. My biggest challenge now as a writer is to get myself into the zone while they’re at school, and write like a demon during those hours.

    • 6. Teresa Bodwell  |  September 10, 2009 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Kristi–

      Having met your very energetic, chatty and creative children–I’m sure finding quiet time around the house is still tricky!

  • 7. Angie Fox  |  September 10, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    That’s great, Kristina. Yes, I have friends who use afternoon nap time to clean the house. No thanks. Writing is way more fun.

  • 8. Sharon Ezell  |  September 10, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Angie,
    You’re hysterical and yet what incredibly amazing advice! I’m a mom of four kids, editing my novel Cracked, about a suburban mom who cracks… and just about cracking in the process! Not really. I adore the writing, and the rug rats. But it’s hard and chaotic and if my teenage daughter says to me one more time “Why can’t you? You aren’t doing anything important. It’s not like you work!” I’m going to … well I don’t know what. But it’s going to be bad. I will be saving your article to read over and over and remind myself that writing my novel is important and can be done… even in the midst of raising four wonderful ( and once in a while obnoxious) kids.

    Thanks for sharing. And by the way, your book sounds fabulous and hysterical, just like you!

    Sharon Ezell

  • 9. Angie Fox  |  September 10, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Thanks, Sharon! And don’t worry – they’ll never think you have a real job. I used to think, “as soon as my book is published, my family will take me seriously.” Nope. “As soon as I’m a New York Times bestselling author, then they’ll see…” Nope. My kids still use my laptop cord as a jump rope while I email my editor (and cook dinner at the same time). Although I do think my daughter is one of the only five-year-olds who calls her “editor” on her Disney princess fairy phone.

  • 10. Teresa Bodwell  |  September 11, 2009 at 12:38 am

    As everyone rushes off to tuck their little ones into bed and enjoy the silence of the house for five minutes before collapsing in exhaustion–I’d like to thank Angie one more time for sharing with us.

    It was fun, Angie–thanks so much for all you do. May you reach all your goals this month and in the future.

    Good night everyone!

  • 11. Angie Fox  |  September 11, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Thanks, Terry – glad to be here!

  • 12. Debbie Haupt  |  September 15, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Hi Angie, It’s me your great fan from your home town. Wow this is a great cause and it’s great to see you here. Unfortunately I’m on an opposing team with Michelle. But I can still root for you.
    Take care and see you soon.
    Deb

  • 13. Teresa Bodwell  |  September 15, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Hey, Deb! I’m rooting for all the teams to kick ^&%$ this year. 🙂


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