Thursday, June 12, 2008

Have I given up?

Someone kindly told me today that they miss my blog posts. Thank you! I do too. I miss those quiet nap times during Jemima’s mornings at school when I make my coffee, close the door and just write. Someone else asked why I do not write for magazines and newspapers, adding: “Have you given up on the writing?” Her question has been put to me a lot lately, not just by others but also by myself. I have only just I decided that the answer is probably yes. At least in terms of making writing a career, I think I have given up. Here is why.

I do not write to live, I live to write. Well the bit of me that does not live to be a mother does anyhow. This is my main problem. I write about what I feel passionate about, I write to campaign, to challenge minds, to open hearts. I am not interested in writing if what I am writing about does not interest me. Basically I want to be an instant columnist and published author without putting in the hard slog that most respected journalists invest in their careers for many years before they are rewarded their well-earned fame. Instead of writing for local magazines in Cambodia, or small regional newspapers, who are always interested in new ideas, I write to the broadsheets whose in-boxes are flooded with copy every day. And while I sit and wait for the rejections to come in I blog to my heart’s content... hmmm, see what I mean? I definitely do not write to live. I cannot remember the last time I was paid for something I have written.

So I have decided to give it all up. To write about what I love is too hard without being a ‘somebody’. Why would a paper publish an article on motherhood written by me when they could get Deborah Jackson or some other parenting expert? Even when I do get commissions I end up cocking it up by being too ‘opinionated’. One big parenting magazine rejected a co-sleeping article of mine because it came out in favour of the practice. If I had made it entirely neutral I would have got it in. And this is my other problem. Only somebodies get to write opinionated articles.

So instead I wrote to all the mothering magazines which are ‘alternative’, - all those that share my ideals of positive, natural, green, attachment parenting. I waited patiently – most of their websites say they take 3-6 months to get back to you. During which time any serious ‘career’ writer would be busy filing other articles about anything that sells, (especially as these same magazines often pay you in kind – a few free editions in return for your article.) Me? I blogged. Well at least that way I get some response to my work. Thank you all :-).

One beautiful such magazine (English) actually asked me to hold on to my ideas as they were very interested. We had a great telephone chat and I was completely excited as it really was my dream publication. I did hold on. For nine months. Every so often I sent them polite reminders, left messages, spoke to the assistant editor. Only after some twenty unanswered attempts at feedback did I finally pay myself enough respect to actually, albeit mildly, express my frustrations at their lack of communication. I received a curt email in response saying that they liked my ideas a lot but their time was precious, divided between the magazine and their children, and that if I did not understand this perhaps I was not the right contributor for the magazine.

WHAT? If I can’t understand this division of passions, who the hell can? When I wrote a gentle, but assertive, response pointing out that I have respected their time and their ethos entirely... for nine months no less, but that as a professional writer and full-time mother of two I am sure they would understand that my time was also worth respecting, they could not even find the time to reply. I have been sorely tempted to send them an invitation to a time management workshop. Had they just let me know which ideas they were so interested in I would have written them up and sent them the articles by now.

My self-esteem plummeted of course, but my disappointment still keeps me awake at night. If I can’t even get published in a magazine which comes from the very same place as my blog and my book, i.e. a mother’s frustration with the mainstream parenting literature out there and a desire to put forward another perspective, well, you can see why I am giving up. Their absence of communication on top of the lack of interest in my ideas was the final straw. Gosh reading over this post is depressing. My most inspiring parenting magazine has totally destroyed my confidence as a writer about motherhood? One day I shall have to address this. With the help of therapy perhaps.

Before you start to pity me though please don’t. It has not happened without reason. I am embarking on a new adventure which I find exciting, interesting and challenging. Training to be a yoga teacher was definitely meant to be. It gives me the opportunity to continue to communicate with and support mothers, and children, and babies... unborn and newbies! What better way to encourage positive parenting than through a lovely Kundalini prenatal yoga class? And who knows, after practicing for a while I may even be able to offer up an article about something I am passionate about, this time with some actual expertise to back me up as well!

I will always write, I know this. But the energy and competition it takes to try to get noticed and published is simply not something I enjoy or want to spend my time on. Instead I shall continue to blog and enjoy the feedback from the faithful readers I do have. It is true that this yoga takes up most of my spare time, but I’ll be back. I can’t help myself anyway. Most of this post was written one-eyed (Jemima accidentally stabbed the other one with a glitter pen today and my vision is not quite restored), on my lap top, balanced on my knees, while sitting on the loo seat watching the girls in the bath. (The odd splash can’t do too much harm can it?) You see? I’ve made the right decision. I’m definitely not cut out for professional writing.


Kasia said...

Sorry to hear about your frustration! But hearing your story, I can understand why you would feel this way. Glad to hear you won't give up writing and you never know what will happen one day. I know I have said this to you before, but I loved reading your book and your thoughts. It encouraged me to listen to my body and my instincts and to be directed by love towards my children. I could go on for a long time how that has changed my parenting style but I won't bore you. I do hope you continue encouraging parents for years to come. Your passion is contagious. A thought just popped into my head. What about selling your book on-line? I have seen books on-line where you pay to have access to it. I guess the author just self-publishes – I am not sure how it works but may be worth it until a publisher notices it. I think many would immensely enjoy your book and would also benefit from it.

Georgie said...

Thank you so much, this is so touching. It has really made me smile and even got me to put 'book' back on my to do list! Thank you for taking the time to express such lovely thoughts and enjoy the feeling that you have made someone very happy! :-) I ought to say that I find all your comments about motherhood very useful, interesting, thoughtful and make me think about things more deeply. Gxxx

Tara said...

This is frustrating indeed - for all of us. I remember those early book drafts and reading and commenting on the re-written chapters... it felt like the beginnings of something very important and special and it has been a privilege to have been involved a tiny bit. I also have taken huge comfort from what you have written and it has totally helped shape my approach to child-rearing - plus given me the confidence to share my thoughts / opinions with other parents. It also introduced me to a world of literature - electronic and paper that is amazing and would be sooo complimented by all that you write. So THANK YOU! I have a feeling it is like one of those things - when people really want something - a partner, to conceive, the next plum job, the 4-bed condo etc it is usually when you stop trying so hard that it just happens.... here's hoping. T xxx

Anonymous said...

The blog is great and I love it and I think you should publish your post about NOT WRITING FOR MAGS in a mag! That was the best one of all! A brilliant decision, always, to 'follow your bliss', as Californians say.

Becky said...

Sorry to hear about your disillusionment and frustrations. Your blog has been an inspiration to me and to me, the value of your writing is that it is from the heart! Even if that doesn't bring any monetary reward, surely it brings other benefits to you and to us readers :)

Georgie said...

Oh thank you so much! What a lovely comment :-) yes it definitely brings me rewards! It's cool - better once I realised I did not actually want to sell my writing. Or at least not unless it happens naturally and there is real interest. Thanks so much! Gxx