I’m always inspired by moms who find time to write, edit, and revise an entire book. Meredith Peters Hale accomplished all that as well as having her book published. I asked her to join my blog by answering a few questions. Thank you, Meredith!
What inspired you to write this book?
As I admit in the introduction to Mommy A to Z, this was never the book I envisioned myself writing. In college I always dreamed I’d write some literary masterpiece, along the lines of Milan Kundera or Albert Camus (my idols back in my twenties, when my idea of a good time was staying up all night discussing nihilism, with Dark Side of the Moon humming along in the background). Instead, when I sat down to write this great work of literature, I found myself writing about…sippy cups. And that’s when I realized that my life was no longer about existential crises and psychedelic ‘70s rock. I was living a new reality—one that that involved diapering a baby determined to dive off a changing table. Or farm puzzles that quacked for no reason at 4 a.m. Or laundry that multiplied every time I came within three feet of it. This was my new reality, and I couldn’t imagine writing about anything else. Because, somewhere along the way, I had fallen in love with motherhood, just as I had fallen in love with my daughter—unexpectedly, completely, and with my whole heart and soul.
When did you find time to write?
I don’t believe there is “found time” in motherhood. We’re always sacrificing in order to create time for those things we need or want to do. In this case, I sacrificed a lot of sleep, writing late at night, often into the early morning. I’m also a freelance editor, and I hired a wonderful babysitter to watch my son in the mornings while I worked on my paid projects and squeezed in some extra writing time. And, my parents and husband helped out whenever possible.
How many drafts did you write?
I wrote one initial draft that I did my best not to edit while writing (a difficult task for me, being a professional editor!). After I completed each book entry, I would go through and polish it. When I completed the entire first draft, I then went back and edited the text as a whole, rewriting whole chunks of it where necessary. It was a lengthy process. Revising the first draft took me about a month, and that was after many, many months of writing.
Did you have help editing?
Normally, I would advise any author to seek out an experienced developmental editor, because they contribute so much to helping an author realize and communicate her vision. In my case, given that I am an editor and my budget was limited, I invested instead in a copy editor, to make sure the writing was clean, clear, and flowed as well as possible.
Why did you choose the form of publishing you chose (self versus traditional)?
Before going freelance, I spent about eight years as an acquisitions editor at a publishing house, evaluating book proposals and pitching books to my publisher, the marketing department, sales, etc. As a new blogger, I knew that no matter how good my book was (at least in my humble opinion!), my lack of a “platform” would make it a hard sell. Publishers today want nonfiction authors to have built-in audiences – in part due to limited publicity budgets, and also because so many “celebrities” are writing books nowadays. It’s tough for first-time authors to break in.
Also, with traditional publishing comes compromise, whether it’s the cover, the length of the book, how it’s marketed, etc. I loved the idea of being able to control every step of the process, from the artwork to the distribution. I will say that self-publishing is very difficult, especially if you aren’t familiar with the publishing process. Self-published authors do everything themselves, which can be overwhelming, especially for busy moms. Figuring out the Apple upload process while your toddler is attempting to dunk his sister’s favorite doll in the toilet is not an easy task.
I currently have a couple of traditional publishers considering the Mommy A to Z book proposal. It’s a dream of mine to one day see Mommy A to Z as an illustrated print book, available to give new moms and moms-to-be at baby showers, etc. Stay tuned!
Any advice for other busy parents who write?
Make time for your writing, and don’t feel guilty! Realizing your dream will teach your kids to value commitment and creativity — and it will ultimately make you happier and more fulfilled. Establish a reasonable amount of time, and a consistent time of day, to devote to your writing. That said, remember to sleep. Writing until 3 a.m. may be convenient, but it hurts the next day! Most importantly, don’t give up. Motherhood often feels like five full-time jobs at once, and adding writing to the mix may seem impossible. But seeing your words on paper (or a screen), out there in the world, is a wonderful feeling, and worth all the anxiety, self-doubt, and exhaustion. Kind of like motherhood.
Meredith Peters Hale is the author of Mommy A to Z: An Encyclopedia of the Joys, Wonders, and Absurdities of Motherhood, and the creator of the Mommy A to Z blog. To learn more about Mommy A to Z, visit MommyAtoZ.com or Amazon.
Thanks again, Meredith.
Head over to Meredith’s blog, One post I especially like is The Top Ten Things I Learned About Writing a Book.