I think every writer (maybe even every person), as a fair dose of crazy in them. I don’t know if it’s just part of the business or if writers must be more in touch with their crazy in order to write emotional books.
Of course, it’s also true that mothers are all a little crazy too. We’re stressed out. We work hard. Our kids constantly push our buttons. Sometimes, despite our better judgment, the crazy leaks out.
So on one hand, I have the writer crazy to contend with. On the other, I have the mothering crazy. Often these to things are separate, but every once in a while, they meet in the middle for some sort of crazy super storm, like the moment the Ghostbuster cross the streams on their proton packs.
For me, the crazy converges when I let the bad stuff get in my head. This is true of my mothering and my writing. With mothering, it’s the “Am I doing enough?” “Am I doing too much?” “Are they happy?” “Am I happy?” “How does anyone know they are really happy?” “If I’m not happy, should I fake it or does that just create the false impression that life is like a Target ad?” You can see where this is going. It’s a dark and twisted rabbit hole to go down.
For a long time, when I wrote only for Harlequin Desire, the writing part of my crazy was fairly compact. It was stuff like, “Is what I’m doing making the world better?” “Am I any good any good at it, or should I give it up to spend more time with my kids. (And the answer to that is pretty easy. No. I’ve done the 24 hours a day with my kids thing, and my patience wears thin. We drive each other crazy.) “Does my life’s work matter in the universe?”
Then, I started writing post apocalyptic YA. All of sudden the proton pack of mothering-crazy and the proton pack of writer-crazy were both unleashed at the same time. When I wrote The Lair, the second book in the series, the opening action of the book takes place at Base Camp, where the teenagers who are part of the rebellion are living. It’s winter. They’re in the mountains. And all of civilization has collapsed around them. I spent a lot of time worrying about how to feed these two hundred plus imaginary people. It’s a world without grocery stores! A world without fast food! A world without Costco or Chick-fil-a! Where is the food coming from?
The question doesn’t even take up that much of the book. It’s just something I thought about a lot. It got in my head—partly because I was worried about the plotting of this book, but mostly because I was worried about feeding my own kids in the unlikely event of the apocalypse.
I found myself creeping out of bed in the middle of the night to research how to stockpile food. Did you know you can have a year’s worth of food drop shipped to your house? Did you know you can make a candle out of a can of Crisco? Did you know it’s still possible to get scurvy if you don’t get enough vitamin C? This is the kind of information that can really mess with your head.
Then one day, I went to the grocery store and they were completely out of zucchini. I freaked out, sure this was a sign of the coming apocalypse. So … um, yeah. I sort of started stock piling food.
But here’s the thing about book-related insanity: it comes and goes. Now that my Lair-related crazy has passed, my brief foray into prepping has allowed me to make a generous donation to my local food bank. That’s a good thing, right?
Those big parenting questions really stay with me. I will always worry about whether or not I’m setting a good example for my kids. I will always question my parenting and will always try to do better.
I’ve moved on to other forms of writer-crazy, now. Like wondering whether evil monsters will ever invade our world from a parallel universe. And if they do, will grocery stores still operate?
What are your great fears as a parent?
Emily McKay loves to read, shop, and geek out about movies. When she’s not writing, she reads on-line gossip and bakes luscious deserts. She pretends that her weekly yoga practice balances out both of those things. She lives in central Texas with her family and her crazy pets.