writing

This is what my success looks like nowadays

It's been seven days since I wrote a story, thanks to a last-minute decision to take my kid to the beach for the first time in her life during the holiday. I'm still smiling over the look of utter joy as she pranced in the water, kicking at the waves as they crashed into her small frame. I want to laugh out loud as I think about how she lost not one but two toy shovels, and then subsequently took to throwing her last one into the water just so she (that is, I) could chase it as the water moved it up and down the shore. 

But it's been seven days since I wrote a story, which means it's been seven days since I did "work" to get paid. I guess the short getaway did me good because I'm actually not freaking out too much about that. The work will come.

A writer's life is often lonely. Thank goodness I have a Melissa.

No one tells you how lonely it can get working for yourself. Depending on whether or not I have any phone interviews scheduled, some days I don't speak to an actual adult until 8:30 at night when my guy gets home from work. (I don't count saying "hi" and "bye" to my daughter's daycare teachers.) 

That's why today I want to celebrate my former colleague Melissa Oyler.

How researching Al Gore's past sexual misconduct allegations helped motivate me to do some kick-ass writing this year

To be a freelance writer—to work for yourself and call the shots and figure out how to make enough money to put food on the table and keep your baby diapered up—you’ve got to be a really motivated person. You’ve got to have goals, and you’ve got to want to fight to make them. But this first month of this new, beautiful year, I didn’t have it in me.

How I manage all my freelance assignments and, well, life

The first step to being a successful writer is investing in a solid coffeemaker. Me? I have a Ninja Coffee Bar. I discovered it on a late-night infomercial during the early weeks of momhood, when I was delirious from being forced to join #teamnosleep. 

In recent months, I’ve come to realize how important this coffeemaker is to my writing career. Thanks to this machine, I can write anywhere from four to six stories a week — stories I’m proud of. 

Checking in on my writing goals: I'm petrified to tell my own stories

Recently, I was flipping through an old notebook I use to free-write late at night. Well, at least I used to. It only took flipping a few pages back to find where I'd chronicled the time and minutes between contractions during labor with my daughter. She was born in February — of last year. 

Here we are, about six months into the year, and I've been thinking a lot about my writing goals recently. In addition to maintaining my daily news writing gig at VICE's Broadly, I've broken into a couple of new publications, including Brides.com and the newly unveiled VICE Impact. I've also been blogging regularly over at Creative Loafing Atlanta, which allows me to work with my mentor again, in addition to keeping tabs on what's happening in my home state. 

What I haven't done thus far this year, though, is place a piece that tells one of my own stories. I love narratives for the way you can play with language to paint a vivid scene that draws a reader in. It's my favorite kind of writing to read and do. 

What's holding me back, though, is that lately I haven't been so keen on the kind of self-reflection that yields a great personal narrative. Many writers keep a journal to help them work through stuff: ideas, random thoughts, even memorable conversations. But I haven't written anything for myself in almost a year.

Simply daunting.

Simply daunting.

I could blame my never-ending fight to find the time, between working and mommy-ing, but that feels like a cheap excuse. If I'm being honest with myself, I think I'm a little afraid. I don't know what I'll find once I start digging within myself. Since almost simultaneously starting this mom journey and full-time writer journey, I guess I've been nervous to check in with myself about how it's all going. 

I suppose that's what being a writer is all about: Making yourself uncomfortable for the sake of your work. And I know once I start writing, the good stuff will eventually flow out so easily. It's just a matter of getting those first few words down on paper.

Then I wonder: Do I even have interesting stories to tell? 

What I'm reading: Not a damn thing. Oh, wait, actually, we recently got a subscription to The Atlantic and the digital version of the Washington Post. What's waiting for me to read but I'm too sleepy at the end of the day to dive in? Moms Who Drink and Swear by Nicole Knepper.

On the last day of 2016, writing goals, and my kid

It's the last morning of 2016, and my kid and I are hanging out in my home office. Correction: I'm hanging out in my office; my kid is wreaking havoc. Toys, office supplies and books I've yet to read are scattered everywhere. The play area I've set up for her under the window remains neat and untouched. 

I'm in planning mode, but half-heartedly. What do I want to accomplish next year, professionally and personally? How do I continue to grow my business and manage the never-ending needs of my tiny human? What am I going to do about childcare, now that she's so close to walking and will undoubtedly no longer be content to sit in my office and play while I work? 

Then I look over and see my kid. She's got a marker in one hand and a book in her lap -- the picture of a future liberal arts major. 

Ava DuVernay, Korryn Gaines: One day of writing, two different black women

Today, I published two pieces on Vice's Broadly. The stories they share are very different, but they both focus on a black woman who caught headlines this week. 

The first piece is about Selma director Ava DuVernay, who just became the first woman of color to work on a film with a $100 million budget. Only two other women have reached this feat. With Disney's full confidence, she's bringing us A Wrinkle in Time, due out next year.

Insert that awesome hashtag #BlackWomenDidThat.

A scene in the pediatrician's office waiting room

The pediatrician's office is small with no windows. To liven up the drabness of the waiting room, they've posted colorful pictures of cartoon owls on the walls, and a TV hanging in the corner plays a kid-friendly movie. The last time we were there, they played Benji; today, it's The Waterhorse.

It's Thursday morning, and another family is waiting with an appointment ahead of us. The mother is dressed in too-tight-in-the-ass gray sweatpants, and the two teenage daughters with her have on hoodies. They all look up from their phones to briefly coo at my baby.

I barely get any cell service in this small box of a room, so scrolling Facebook as this family seems to be doing is out of the question for me while I wait. The boyfriend was at work; otherwise, I would have looked over his shoulder as he paged through reddit looking at funny memes. Instead, I alternate between staring at my sleeping baby and looking up at The Waterhorse as I listen to the family's random commentary.