Wait, Wait…don’t tell me…

After reading One Beautiful Dream by Fulwiler, I’ve been contemplating what my beautiful dream truly is. To have a big family, homeschool and stay at home with my kids, and teach college courses online–this is all my dream, praise God for it! But what are my writing goals, exactly? Last week I thought it was to publish my third manuscript, Church Ladies. Why? Because its 62 pages, and good, and done. I’ve got a 4th manuscript I’d like to start working toward, and so I’m a little bored with my old project.

Reading that book though made me reconsider if it is really the best time to publish a book. I would love to see Church Ladies in print because it closes the project, puts a big fat DONE on that file, allows me to move on from it. But what if its just “good” and not great? What if I need to slow down and work a little harder to get the publisher that is absolutely perfect for this odd little niche poetry book?

I turned down a chapbook  publisher a few months ago because they required their authors to do a lot of publicizing and with us moving and a new baby on the way, I didn’t have time for that.

The hard truth is that even if a book deal landed in my lap today, I don’t have time to publicize a book properly–no time for readings, travels, conferences. No time for social media really. My family life is demanding right now, at a fever pitch of demanding, and even though I think continuing to work on my writing is Vitally important, publishing a manuscript needs to wait.

I’ve decided to wait until our last baby is 1 year old before I send out any manuscripts again. 

Typing that sentence goes against every bone in my firstborndaughterambitious body but at the same time I know it is what I need to do, it is right for my work, right for me, and right for my family.

We are on baby #5, so the end of baby years is in the not too distant horizon, but I suspect this means I’ve got probably 2 – 4 years before I’ll be able to send out my manuscripts, depending on if we decide to stop at 5 babies or go for one more (or just one more). We are really, really Presbyterian.

As hard as it is to think about shelving my book(s) for that long, I know it will be so much better for them in the long run. I’ll have a longer time to sit with the poems, work on them, really make the manuscript shine. I’ll have time to write more poems to add to it. Time to send those poems out to magazines.

This won’t be time where I’m not writing at all–I plan to write more than ever--and that I won’t publish at all–literary magazines, I’m coming for you–but it will be time where I step back from putting any big projects out into the world.

I’ve got 4 (soon to be 5) pretty big projects at home that need more attention right now and will outlast anything I put in a poetry book.

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dreaming big dreams

Have you ever read the right book at precisely the right time? One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler is about a religious mom of 6 kids (under age 8) navigating the season of having babies while also pursuing her dream to write. So we have a little in common! And so often I have felt like my dreams conflict–my husband and I want a large family so obviously I have to set writing down, to quit. I’ve tried to quit so many times, but I find myself there again, writing a poem, a book of poems, sending them to publishers. Here’s the question Jennifer poses:

“What if all our desires to create–both with children and with work–are, in fact, all pointed in the same direction? What if both are different but complementary ways of getting in touch with the ultimate Source of creativity? What if following your God-given passion is not just okay to do during the baby years, but actually something that has potential to enhance your whole family’s life?” – Jennifer Fulwiler, One Beautiful Dream

So often I just see the immediate conflict–the baby interrupting writing time, writing distracting me from the toddler throwing tupperware all over the floor, the tugging on my time–but maybe a “literary mama” is what is best for them because God gave these kids to me. Maybe they need a mom that is writing poems, and, as much as I naturally crave time alone, I need to be surrounded by babies, babies everywhere.

Jennifer talks about the resistance to making art– the lies that creep in to discourage. The ones she lists here could have come out of my own mind–

You can’t follow that call to have more children–you’r already failing so miserably
Why bother writing this book when so many other people are so much better at this than you are?

I desperately wish I were a better writer. I desperately wish I were a better mother. But the answer to being better at both isn’t necessarily for me to give up on either one. God gave me a unique calling that is made up of some different moving parts but it is all going in the same direction. Something about writing is important and I need to keep doing it. Welcoming all these little baby-strangers into my life, one at a time, is also part of that calling, and I don’t fully understand how it is all going to work out together in the end.

This book helped me though. It made me feel like although my big family dream and my poetry dream are both crazy dreams to so many (most!) people, God made me for this, so even if I fail, I  don’t really fail. I feel inspired to keep going. And I don’t think that right now that is going to look like starting a new book or a novel, but it might, if that inspiration comes, and I’m not too afraid to follow it.

Vintage Baby Names from Rosemary Wells books

I’m a poet and my husband is a songwriter, so when I am pregnant, baby name discussions get intense. Meter, rhyme, syllable count, meaning, history, assonance/consonance with sibling names, we analyze baby names like we are reading James Joyce. It is one of my favorite things about being pregnant.

So lately I’ve been reading the girls Rosemary Wells books and noticed she has a lot of good names for her characters–some already in use pretty frequently in the USA, but others still not heard very often. Here are a few of my favorite, in case you are looking for a baby name recommendation from a real-live Poet:

Girls

Doris
Emily
Fiona
Hazel
Janet
Louise
Lily
Nora
Rhoda
Ruby
Stella
Tulip
Yoko

Boys

Benjamin
Charles
Felix
Fred
Harry
Morris
Otto
Stanley
Timothy
Victor

And the author’s name is also pretty great–Rosemary for a girl, Wells for a boy?  Any favorites from this list? We have our fifth baby named and it is none of these, but I’d be happy to name your baby for you.