Guest Post from Alexis Lantgen

Guest Post from Alexis Lantgen

I’m so grateful Alexis for sharing her thoughts on writing with young children around, for purely selfish reasons of course as I balance the attention that my children and my writing demand!!

Writing With Kids Around…

I started writing my first (unpublished) novel a few months before I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I had started writing seriously while I was teaching at a very rough, difficult school, and I’d been writing short plays for my students to read in class. In fact, my first novel was inspired by one of my students!

I had hoped to complete my first draft before my daughter was born, but didn’t quite make it. No worries, I thought, I should be able to finish it after I have my baby. I can write during naptime! Babies sleep a lot, don’t they? I’ll just write then! Yes, I know. Many other mothers read that last part and started laughing. I’m laughing now, too.

Becoming a mother is a beautiful but difficult transition. You’re so exhausted, so overwhelmed, that it’s hard to find the mental energy for the complex thinking required to write well. I did eventually finish that first novel around the time my daughter turned one. But getting those last few pages, then trying to go back to edit and revise the whole thing, felt exponentially more difficult than it had before. But, I found a workable solution!

Other writers may feel differently, but I find writing a novel is a bit like a marathon. It takes a huge time commitment, tons of energy, and lots of focus, all of which are hard to come by as a new mother. But short works–short stories, poems, even haiku–those I could write much easier. So instead of diving back into another novel, I started writing short stories instead. They had a much quicker turnaround for both writing and editing, and I found tons of magazines where I could submit them. What’s more, the submission process for short stories felt more direct and more honest than the process of submitting novels for traditional publishing.

By the time my daughter turned five, I had written over twenty short stories. I took a couple months off of writing when her little brother came along, but luckily he does nap very well, so I have managed to come back to writing. I’m also lucky that my husband and I give each other some time during the week for our interests. He meets friends on Sunday, and I go to a writing group one evening a week. Having even one regular evening to write makes a huge difference! I might not be able to write everyday, but I do have other people encouraging me to keep going.

Recently, I collected some of my science fiction short stories into my first published book, Sapience. I also started writing a novel again, and I’m editing a second collection of my fantasy short stories. Sometimes I don’t have time to write or edit the way I want to, but I love my family. And honestly, if being a mother sometimes makes it more difficult to find the time or energy to write, my children can also be a huge inspiration.

At a Viking Reenactment

So if you’re a writer and mother, forgive yourself if you can’t always write a thousand words a day or burn the midnight oil. Get some sleep, snuggle your loves, and remember that writing will be there tomorrow, or in a few months, or even in a year. And yes, it counts as writing even if all you can manage is a very short story on Twitter or a haiku about your baby!

Alexis Lantgen is a writer, teacher, and classical musician. She loves Renaissance Faires and all things science fiction and fantasy. Her first book, Sapience: A Collection of Science Fiction Short Stories, is available on Amazon in paperback and ebook. Her short stories have appeared in the Gallery of Curiosities, Phantaxis, Red Sun Magazine, and Swords and Sorcery Magazine. Her nonfiction articles have appeared in Renaissance Magazine. She lives with her husband, her spirited five-year-old daughter, her toddler son, and two very patient cats in Texas. 

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What kind of life will we find in the depths of Europa’s oceans? What kind of life will we allow an AI with human level intelligence? The ten stories in Sapience: A Collection of Science Fiction Short Stories explore these questions and many more.

In the near future, humanity builds a colony on Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. They tunnel into the ice to explore the dark oceans beneath the moon’s surface, searching for signs of extraterrestrial life. What they find will change them forever, setting humanity on a path to the stars. But the old conflicts and hatreds of Earth are not so easily escaped. Will human colonists on distant planets and moons create a paradise or a terrifying dystopia?

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