Hi, my name is Heather D. Nelson and I am a writer.
My ‘uniform in life’ is a much shabbier picture for a more noble cause. 95% of the time I can be found wearing the most comfortable clothing I can find. This usually translates into yoga pants or jeans and tennis shoes and t-shirts. My pants may have paint stains on them, my tennis shoes are purely for comfort and not actually for exercise and my t-shirts are without a doubt stretched out and stained from the constant barrage of chaos, mayhem, and destruction that I endure on a daily basis. Is being a writer that perilous, you ask? No. But my day-job is. I am a mother to three of the world’s most adorable little red-headed boys you have ever seen. They are my higher calling, my truer purpose in this world. My children, my home, and my husband, are the anchor and compass that guides my day-to-day. So when people see me in my stretched thin attire, laden down with one chatty four year old and twin wiggly two year olds, they stop and stare and see only my outer self. They likely thank their stars that it is not THEM in my shoes too but I digress. I usually travel pack-mule-style with three backpacks, and three little lunch bags, trying desperately to shuffle a mob of little boys in the desired direction and praying silently to God that they NEVER figure out that I am outnumbered….and they can outrun me.
My days are filled with dirt and noise and giggles and tantrums and all the wonderful things you would
envision that life with little boys would be like. I love being a mother. I love being THEIR mother. I relish seeing them learn and grow. I could bask forever in the radiance of their smiles and belly laughs. I contently neglect my own sleep to comfort a nightmare, and I quickly drop EVERYTHING to sharpen my claws on anyone seen threatening my cubs. And my role as wife is equally as enjoyable to me. My husband makes that part easy. He works hard and provides for our family. My role to partner with him in the day to day of our household is one I love as well. And raising our sons to not only respect their father, but also seeing them emulate him is one of my greatest joys. I am utterly in love with my life surrounded by the four men I love the most in this world and I could not be happier to sit where I am each and every day. But then, when my sons are in bed and my time is briefly my own, I shake off my alter ego and once again I am a writer.
Writing is the most natural form of self-healing I have ever known. Even before I was a mother, my ability to put pen to paper helped save my sanity during trials in life that I felt sure would bring me to my knees. It began simply enough as a prompting by someone who loved me and wanted to see me heal from a great tragedy. I wrote a letter. It was not polished or professional. It was emotional and disheveled at best, but it was powerful. The words on paper somehow pulled the venom from my pain so as to begin healing me from the inside out. My ability to type gave my heartbreak a tangible presence where my inability to speak left me stunted. Writing allowed me to cope. I could see the shifting tides of my emotions better once they were outside of my head….I could laugh at my own humor and see the glimmer of hope in every blessed moment I was given. I could emote free from judgment or unwanted feedback and I cherished the privacy of my selfish little audience of one. It was so cathartic that I could not wait to duck behind my monitor and pour out my soul into my computer.
I, eventually, branched outside of myself and took advantage of a small, private, online community that had a journal feature. As I wrote, I began to notice a following. People, like me, walking the same path I was on, were reading my stuff. I would write my own journal but would RELISH the reading of their responses. I shifted my focus at times and would write, sometimes as much for them as for myself. I fed off of their feedback. I loved hearing that I was not alone in my feelings, and I found that I loved even more learning that I was helping them. My writing changed as I changed and as time went by soon I was channeling my love of composing into a therapeutic outlet to others. I would blog, diary, journal, rant, vent, and wane poetic at times about whatever my life situation found me in with the hopes that someone out there was reading my words and finding comfort of their own.
My little diversion in life took on a higher calling as I penned my first full-length book. God Had Other Plans – keeping faith thru pregnancy loss and infertility. As the sub-title clearly states, the book is about struggles to build a family. The book was the culmination of a two and a half year journey wrenched in pain and heartbreak. My path to motherhood was not an easy one but it did bring about some beautiful things for me. I was driven, called, to share my story and try to use my writing to help change the world. I wanted other couples still struggling to find comfort in knowing they were not alone. I wanted the rest of the world, the “fertile world” as I call it, to have a snippet more understanding of what infertility is like. I finished my first book and submitted it to a publisher and it was instantly scooped up by the first person who saw it. INSTANTLY my ego was puffed up thinking I could be the next Best Selling Author. Let’s be real here, who doesn’t want to have their name so renowned that it is recognized on the streets for its sole creative value?! I was so proud of my work and it further fueled my dreams to see my love of writing channeled into a global power for good. I wanted to bring about education and change. I still do. My passion for growing awareness to the infertility community has not waned as my own family grew to include not one, not two, but THREE beautiful boys. If anything I saw my success as a mother as an opportunity to inspire others to fight the good fight! And perhaps, yes selfishly because at my core I am a hedonistic human being just like anyone else, I dreamed my book would make it so big that I could be on The View. Interviewed by Barbara Walters and crew and using my small 15 minutes of fame as the ultimate opportunity to showcase my talents and my desire to help others. I was going to change the world!
But as before, my writing changed as I changed.
Now, my once therapeutic hobby turned self-satisfying fantasy career has been sidelined to the day to day grind that is my life. While I long to plunge daily into my monitor and pour out my guts in an attempt to change the world, I must first scramble the eggs and change the diapers. My desire to become a world renowned author has been put quickly into check as the chief referee in the daily toddler brawls. And rightfully so, my ego has been deflated and brought back down to earth. I will never rival the great Stephen King. My book will never make the Oprah’s Book Club nor will I be a New York Times bestseller. I am an excellent bedtime story-teller. I stretch my skills of entertaining daily as I find ways to answer the endless barrage of questions that my inquisitive 4 year old comes up with. My editing skills now are rivaled only by my ability to write quickly and within a timeframe shoved in between naptimes and dinner.
I am a writer and mother both. I am a Write-At-Home-Mom.
It’s not all that novel of a term, but we Write-At-Home-Moms, or WAHMs, are a breed apart. Unlike the glamorous visions of an intellectual sequestered to a distant log cabin to pen out their wares in the privacy of nature, we WAHM’s shuffle our verbiage out much like the rest of our thought processes. As a multitasking mother and writer, we must work quickly, succinctly, and while under constant barrage of interruptions and on very little sleep. We function primarily on large quantities of coffee and sometimes our best one-liners are provided by the half-naked child dancing in the middle of our dining room table that we have transformed into an office. No longer are we shoved into traditional publisher deadlines of yester-year, we now work using whatever fast, free, cheap, and easy tools we can find that work within our quickened pace. The internet has no shortage of outlets for our voice, and it has broadened our reach to span the entirety of the linked-in world.
The flip side of this new abbreviated craft however is that also unlike the great Stephanie Meyer, our work will likely never spawn an international movie phenomenon. And with that reality, our work likely doesn’t REALLY pay the bills. There are some WAHMs mind you who have successful blogs and writing careers and are able to make a viable income, but it is a hard road to hoe. There is often the paid gigs you DO NOT put on your portfolio because frankly, they are the tedium that keeps the lights on and not the passion that drives your craft. Is that work needed yes, are we glad to have it, YES. But is it our driving passion…our fervor for purpose? I cannot answer for everyone for me I can firmly say, No. For me, writing is my voice. As a Write-At-Home-Mom, my craft gives my personal feelings wings. I must for the sake of my family, entertain the most basics of concepts on a daily basis and my intellect and own desires gets joyfully shelved for the ongoing instruction of potty training, manners, choo-choo trains, and snack times. But when I open my laptop and begin to type, my day of battling the common sense of a two year old suddenly attains a loftier purpose. I can share my struggles and instantly I am validated. My own stresses and troubles are understood by people who are living in the same trenches as me. And the beautiful thing about this is that once again, my writing begins to shift away from the selfish ranting that it began as, and back into the core of where I began. I just want to help others.
And I am reminded, writing is the most natural form of self-healing I have ever known. Once my writing was used to heal my hurts from a great loss and struggle. Now, my words are focused on a new aspiration. My oldest son has Type 1 Diabetes. When he was first diagnosed I remember vividly being told that I could one day write a book about this new chapter in our lives. I was angry then and did not want to be told that my son’s condition could ever become something good. But here I sit, not even 2 years later and my words are again becoming a tool for education and hopefully change. It is not a book yet, so far it is just a blog under my own name, Heather D. Nelson. It is also, occasionally, a column for Houston Style Magazine as well. I am not changing the world yet, but I am trying. I am channeling my emotions and my talents into a new direction in the hopes that one day, somewhere, some poor mother out there whose baby is laying in a hospital bed can find some comfort in knowing she is not alone.
Do I hope one day to make it big and be rich and famous, SURE! DON’T YOU??!! Heck at this point I would be lying if I said I would settle for just having a steady paying INCOME from my writing so as to offset the insurmountable cost of my son’s condition. But to be completely honest with myself as I must be; In the end, I write because I must. I write because I have been unable to find any other way to channel my experience into something tangibly capable of helping others. If I strip away the stress that follows my life, and slough off the ego I wear on the outside, all I have ever wanted to do is help others. Share my struggles, share what I have learned, share my faith and try to use all that I am to bring hope to others. And if I cannot help others with the gifts I have, then what good is my life? It is the unspoken engine driving my choice to push on and write each and every day. The world has such a limited view of what it means to be a writer, as I once did. Before my words began pouring out onto paper, I too thought of writers as this elite group of famous brainiacs striving for fame and glory. And there are those out there to be sure. But in truth, I believe the WAHMs of the world are like any other mom’s but in written form.
We believe are all just trying to make an impact on this world in whatever way we know how. The fiction author is just looking to create a respite from the mundane world of reality. The biography writer is looking to share the life of someone amazing to help further their impact on our world. And for me, the non-fiction writer who struggles to share some piece of my life in an attempt to alter the world I live in; I seek to make the world my children grow up in a little bit better….wiser….brighter. If even one person out there can gain something purposeful from my work, then my time as been well spent and I can rest well at night. Sure, in my weak moments when the bills rush in and my writer’s block is in full force I doubt that what I am doing has value. I struggle, constantly, to find the balance in reaching outside myself to the world, and reaching inside myself for my family. In that way, I am both writer, and mother. Much like working mom’s, writing mom’s, stay-at-home moms, and any other kind of mother who is raising the next generation of people who will one day determine our care as we age into a nursing home, I just hope I’m doing it well. And if one day my ability to multi-task fails me, and my spell check misses the fact that I slipped in one too many toddler tantrum analogies into my blog about juvenile diabetes, I just hope that the reader withholds the judgment and sees the greater purpose I’m hoping for.
Much like I hope the people I come across in my life on a daily basis temper their judgment when they see me coming. Much like a human pack-mule, I shuffle my brood around town attempting to just control the chaos as much as I can. Sure, my ‘uniform in life’ is a much shabbier mix of jeans and tennis shoes than I would like. Being a writer is not a glamorous high paying gig. My pants most definitely will have coffee stains on them, my tennis shoes will see very little exercise and my t-shirts are without a doubt stretched out and stained from the constant barrage of my children that I am blessed to spend my every waking moment with. But make no mistake, there is more to me than that and I plan to make my impact on this world, one article at a time.
Hi, my name is Heather D. Nelson and I am a WAHM.
This article originally posted in the October 2013 edition of Novel Reads by Nick Wale. Novel Reads is an eZine that holds a collection of the most cutting edge interviews from the Independent literary world of today. A copy of The October 2013 publication can be purchased on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Novel-Reads-Ideas-October-2013-ebook/dp/B00FNX378Q/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1