Friday, February 23, 2007

Virgin Blog

I've been a writer since I could first form letters with my hand. I started a journal at the age of six. In its tattered pages (I have kept virtually everything I have ever written), I wrote about feeding Shadow (the beloved Appaloosa I rode during my weekly horseback riding lessons) “cartits” (translation: carrots). I shared narratives about life as second grader and wrote some pretty funny stuff about a slithering snake named Jake, our family dog Sweetness whom I referred to as “Sheetie” instead of her nickname Sweetie, and the trials and tribulations I faced at a bus stop that I shared with a brood of boys and no other girls.

When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had three answers: horse trainer, actress, and writer. I don’t tame wild equines and although I spend a good chunk of my day as an at-home mom entertaining my toddler with silly histrionics like getting on all fours and barking like a dog, being a writer is the only calling that has stuck with me all of these years.

Before trading in my briefcase for a diaper bag back in November 2004 when my first child was born, I worked as an assistant editor for a regional parenting publication and a contributing editor for a women’s publication. I also have experience in medical and health writing having worked in the marketing department of an academic medical center and serving as a health columnist for a consumer magazine and a radiology trade publication. I have my degree in journalism and have been freelance writing for more than five years. However, nowadays I invest far more time in pretend tea parties, wiping drippy noses, nursing and making finger food than in sending out queries and pursuing new freelance opportunities.

But I still have to write. It’s a part of me. I keep several journals – a faith journal, a personal journal as well as a journal filled with letters to our newest addition who is due for arrival in June. I’ve had people ask me, “Why don’t you start a blog?” While I’ve always tackled my work writing with a keyboard, I journal using a pen and paper. I’ve grown up in the Information Age; yet, something about blogging just didn’t feel right. I like the creative connection that seems to be lost when you drop a pen. I was sure sharing my personal thoughts on the World Wide Web would stifle my honesty and creativity. But above all, I was afraid of sharing my thoughts for anyone and everyone to see. Writing a feature is one thing, but writing about my life, my existence, my beliefs...Well, that was a little terrifying. I'm a born perfectionist and I'm terrified of failure. I don't always take criticism well. My private journals have never seen a red pen. They are not judged (at least not now - someday someone may get their hands on them and wonder about this person who had so much to write only for herself to see). But a blog - well, it's out there for people to enjoy or to berate. Not surprisingly, I resisted the whole blog movement…until now. I realized I can still keep my old-fashioned journals and be as emotionally raw as I want, but I can also still write for an audience on my own terms without having deadlines looming over me. I also need to take this risk. I'm trying to tame my perfectionism. It's an oppressive goal that has haunted me for most of life. Being perfect is impossible and my blog may bore some people to tears. Others may think I have zero talent. But perhaps someone will enjoy what I have to say. Maybe another at-home mom will laugh knowingly when I describe my life as a mom of little ones. Perhaps someone will be able to relate to my all-consuming role as a mom and wife - the Momopoly that has taken over my life for better, not worse.

So here I am writing my virgin blog, a rather boring start, I must say. But what I plan to do in this slot of cyberspace I’ve given myself is to just write. I named my blog Momopoly because being a mom can definitely monopolize your life. (Why else would you wake up at 3 a.m. but because a crying child needs you? Or gladly give up weekly soirees with the girls to snuggle up with your husband and child and watch "Babe" instead? ) Likewise, as moms we have almost exclusive control (except for God’s work in our children’s lives and our husband and/or other important family members' roles in nurturing our kids) over some very precious commodities. I love my new job. I feel at peace with my husband and my decision for me to make raising our kids my primary goal. Although I sometimes admittedly feel lazy (I should be contributing to my family GDP!) or fearful (what if when I stop submitting queries, I’ll never have a chance to write again?) or sadly, insecure (Is being a mom really enough? What will I tell people when they ask me what I do? Will I ever see my byline in a national publication again?). Damn ego!

But then I remind myself that even if I don’t have another byline or never write a Great American Novel, it doesn’t matter. My salary is nil. Society may not appreciate the job title mom. Yet, I am doing the most important job in the world – devoting my life to raising, with God’s grace, caring, compassionate, and happy children.

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