My Other Writing (Life)

old fashioned lady with computer

Those of you who know me primarily through this blog know that I like to write (this can be deduced from my often long winded and meandering posts). You also know that my daughter Bunky has celiac, I like to bake, planning dinner is akin to torture, my family is picky as hell, and though we live in Brooklyn, New York, we are fortunate enough to have a country house where we can escape rotting garbage smells (summer) and yellow snow (winter).

You may or may not know that I started this blog as a direct result, a knee jerk reaction, if you will, after Bunky’s celiac diagnosis. Writing is how I cope, among other things. So, it was second nature to write about celiac in order to survive it. Recipes came later, and a complete surprise since I am in no way a food blogger or recipe developer. When you’re eating gluten free, you end up making a LOT of stuff from scratch after you nail the whole box/mix thing. And we ALL know how very sad my food photography is. That’s because I’m a WRITER.

paper and pen

But reading this blog only gives you a small slice of my writerliness. Here are some things you may NOT know:

  • I’ve wanted to a be a writer pretty much forever.
  • I’m a pathological reader. Which is a good writerly quality, or so I’m told.

book stack

  • I have been known to read while eating, brushing my teeth, attending Monkey’s concerts, in movie theaters.
  • I have an MFA that I finished mostly before Bunky was born, but I did present my thesis while she screamed in the background.
  • Days before I gave birth to Bunky, I printed out 268 pages of what was the first draft of the first novel I ever wrote.
  • Then I put it in a drawer and didn’t look at it for 5 and a half years. Which was around last week.

It’s understandable (I suppose) that I haven’t done much creative writing since Bunky was born. I’ve pretty much been going non stop since she roared out of my body in 2008. Having a baby is no joke. Especially a colicky one. Then a celiac-y one. Then having ANOTHER one. It’s full time work. Exhausting, mind blowing, brain numbing. Takes a toll, let me tell you.

But now that Little Guy is two (!) and Bunky is in kindergarten, I am pulling my head out of my proverbial butt and trying to reengage my writer brain. It’s not easy, but I’m feeling strangely motivated. Two things have jump started me (besides the whole time is a ticking thing):

1. An awesome writer’s conference I attended in November

2. Reading Dani Shapiro’s new book, Still Writing, which I highly, highly recommend.

still writing

Since the conference I dusted off my novel and read the whole thing straight through during two Little Guy naps. I survived my worst fear (and part of the reason I left it moldering in a safe for 5+ years) which was the fear that it would suck. And hey, guess what, it did suck! But crazy as it sounds, I am okay with that. If the first draft of my first novel didn’t suck, I’d be some kind of crazy genius, and let’s not mince words here, genius I’m not (that sounds very Yoda, doesn’t it?). Luckily you don’t have to be a genius to edit a novel. You have to WORK hard. You have to persevere.

computer hands

I never thought of myself as persistent, until the other day when I was on a call with my life coach (yeah, I’m totally doing that and it’s pretty cool despite my misgivings/cynicism) and she asked me to tell her one true thing about myself. I pretty much HATE describing myself because get all anxious about picking the wrong word(s). But somehow I came up with persistent. And despite how odd it seemed at first, the more I think about it, the more I realize it’s kind of true.

I’ve wanted to be a writer my ENTIRE life, basically. Yet, I’ve suffered the usual self confidence woes while mastering some Olympic gold procrastination techniques (including having babies, a foolproof way NOT to write). And yet, yet, I always come back to the written (or typed) word. I have never stopped writing. Fiction is where my heart is, but when I can’t get there, I write other stuff, like this blog. I write essays, including one just published in a book (!) called The HerStories Project: Women Explore the Joy, Pain, and Power of Female Friendship.

herstories

The amazing ladies who made this book a reality just sent me a hard copy of the book and it felt great to see my words in print.

So why am I writing this post? Besides sharing this other side of myself with you, I want to offer reassurance that while I won’t let this blog fall by the wayside, it may occasionally take me longer to update. Know that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, or the blogosphere. I’m just writing elsewhere.

Wow, remember these things?

Wow, remember these things?

I promise to keep you posted (ha!) if I manage to publish something. You’ll be one of the first to know.

Thanks for the love and support, guys. Recipes, rants, and all.

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19 thoughts on “My Other Writing (Life)

  1. Interesting how mums define themselves… mother of coeliac kid or mum of 4 sons or always a mum….. and then our focus changes and we find a little part of ourselves that has been dormant for a while. Great to see that the writer within has resurfaced and you are getting more time for your writing. My passion is family history. I love putting together the pieces to explore the truth in family stories and finding out a little more about the social and historical context of past family members.

    • Always a mum, indeed! My life pre-mum days is so distant. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I love the idea of exploring family history. In a way, that’s kind of what my fiction writing does. I sometimes take snippets of my own family history and write about it 🙂

  2. Hi Dana,
    I have loved reading your blog over the last year and I am so happy for you that you’re following your passion to write! As for having a life coach, I’ve been re-thinking my career choice over the last few months, and I’ve been considering working with one. Knowing that you have one makes me feel much more comfortable about the possibility.
    I look forward to reading your non-celiac-related writings and essays including the one that was just published. Congratulations!
    I hope that you and your family have a wonderful holiday season and happy new year!
    Jess

    • Oh, thanks so much Jess! And right back at you 🙂 Your blog is so fascinating, I love keeping up with the new celiac info that you explore.

      I was VERY on the fence about life coaches/coaching, but I have friends who do the work and I respect them so much, so I figured I’d give it a try. So far it’s been great. But I think it’s very important (on both sides) to find a coach that is a good fit. Look specifically for a coach with a focus on careers, for example, if that’s what you’re aiming to change. And if you don’t “feel” the fit is right, keep looking. Trust your instincts. Coaching is not cheap, ha, so you don’t want to fool around.

      Hope you had – and have! – a wonderful holiday season too 🙂

  3. Dana, you are an amazing writer. I often wish I could write half as well as you but my strength is definitely not putting my words on paper. I am so happy that you have found something for yourself. As a mom myself I think we often lose ourselves a little in all that we have going on around us. While that is not always bad (in fact what’s going on around us is often what we’ve all wished for) I think its important to have something that is just for you. So know that I will always be one of your biggest fans and will read anything that you put out there. Oh and lastly I ran into Stephanie at school yesterday and we talked a bit about the book…..love that you are involved!

    Talk soon….jenny

    • Jenny! I have been meaning to write back to you in email, but here first 🙂 Thanks so much for your very kind and wise comment. It’s really hard to balance mom-ness and our pre-mom selves. I was a writer before, but once I had Bunky, my time disappeared and so did part of my brain, ha. But I’m starting to figure out how to do both, because writing makes me happier which makes me a better mom. Win win for everyone!

      And how cool that you get to run into Stephanie! She is pretty amazing. Thanks so much for introducing me to her and her blog!

      And last but not least, I love your recipes! And your writing is always great, too 🙂

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  5. Holy-Moly! This is wonderful, Dana! Congratulations on having your essay published!! I love that you haven’t given up on your dream. And I’m stealing this from you ” Writing is how I cope.” For I have come to realize writing is how I also cope.
    God luck to you!

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