Fantastic Friday: Out of *my* Cave

I’m pleased to announce that a short story I wrote, “The Grip,” will appear in MacKenzie Publishing’s anthology, Out of the Cave, later this year.

This story has special meaning to me for several reasons. Primarily, it was the first story I wrote, submitted, and had accepted post-baby. For me, this is a big deal. They said motherhood was hard, but the first eight weeks really stretched my sanity because of extreme sleep deprivation. Then, going back to work full time presented its own set of challenges (and being a classroom teacher with a strictly-set schedule really compounds things). My Fitbit tells me I average about five hours of sleep per night. (For now, I’ll take it.). But during those first 2 months, I (for the first time ever) missed writing one of my weekly flash fiction stories (each member of my flash fiction group writes only once per month, and yet I couldn’t handle it!)

My mornings, which had for the last several years been quiet, long, and my own, had now mysteriously grown shorter—a mad dash of filling and labeling bottles, producing milk, feeding the dogs, changing the kid, packing lunch, nursing bag, diaper bag, baby milk bag, and trying to make sure I packed everything for work. Sometimes I even remembered to eat breakfast. My long mornings had once been the solace of my writing career—the time I was able to quietly focus before the stresses of work. With Baby, I thought I might never write again.

But a writer—writes.

So I found time, and I found a call for submissions that matched a story idea I’d had in my head for several years. And so, recognizing that I no longer had the luxury of time, I forced myself to write. I wrote in tiny crevices in my schedule, in the calm of the ten-minute nap Baby took after feeding, in the wee hours of the night while wide awake after a midnight feeding. I brainstormed in the car, in the shower, while walking Baby to sleep.

It was a 5,000-word story. Certainly, I’d written longer. It was based on a place I used to hike as a kid. Certainly, I’d written more complicated things. This one required little research. But I forced myself to pound out word after word. I told several people I was writing the tale—just to hold myself accountable. After submitting it several hours before the deadline, I found myself checking my email multiple times a day, looking specifically for feedback on this particular submission. This neurotic behavior is something I thought I’d outgrown in my early years as a writer.

But I had to know. Did I still have it in me? Could I be a mother, a teacher, and a writer? Could I make it all work?

The email finally came, and an acceptance has never been so affirming. Having a baby is life-altering and difficult, but that won’t be an excuse for me. After all, overcoming challenges is an important skill to have as a mother—and one I’m eager to impart to the little one.

And so I write on.

Happy Friday!

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