I’m a mom by day, writer by night. But not just any writer. A writer of suspense and danger, epic events, uncommon characters and…romance. You think someone who writes about things like that would have a suspenseful, dangerous, uncommon life. That’s not the case. (Although I do have an amazing husband who assists with the romance department!)
It’s strange living in these two worlds. There’s the “ship sinking, love confessing, truth revealing world” and there’s the “macaroni and cheese, kids’ TV, and diaper changing world.” Of course sometimes they happen at the same time. I confess to writing one of the most dramatic scenes in my novel to strains of Dora the Explorer. “I’m a map, I’m a map, I’m a map, I’m a map!”
The truth is that my 2-year-old has no idea her mommy writes books. I read books, yes. Farmyard Tales and nursery rhymes are her favorite. I color in books with her, and I try to keep her from coloring in MY books…but to Alyssa I’m just Mom. I’m also “just mom” to my three older kids too. They think it’s cool when I get a new book published, but it’s the same coolness factor as getting chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner.
My secret is I feel the two things actually benefit each other. First, being a mom helps me be a productive author. When I sit down at the computer I only have a few hours to write at a time—so I have to get things done.
Second, being a mom makes me experience life—and I use the emotions I feel in my books. I’ve had lost children—and felt the panic of that. I’ve stayed up late worrying when I knew my teen was driving over icy roads. I’ve rushed to the emergency room with kids who needed casts and stitches. Those events don’t make it into my novels, but the emotions do. I’m not sure what well I’d pull from if I spend eight hours in a boring office with just me and my computer screen.
Also, being a writer benefits me as a mom. My kids have traveled to amazing places on vacation/research trips. They’ve met extraordinary people (authors, musicians, and WWII veterans I’ve interviewed). But the books have also changed me inside. After hearing and understanding the hardships people face, I’m more compassionate. When I wrote about the Holocaust it made me realize even more what was really important in life—family and faith. When I recently wrote about the Titanic, I hugged my toddler tighter before I put her to bed.
When I first thought about following my dreams to be a novelist, I had three kids and I’d just started homeschooling. I thought I’d heard God wrong. Surely He didn’t choose me. Surely there wasn’t enough time to write the stories He was placing on my heart AND care for my kids.
I’m thankful I was wrong. I’m thankful God chose me to be a Mommy and a writer. I’m thankful that I live in two amazing worlds, even if it takes a lot of work.
The truth is, God is my co-writer in the story of my life and the stories on my page. And, well, that makes it downright epic.