It’s Tuesday, and another round of Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing. I loved learning more about Lesley Miller through this interview and I know you will too.
Check out more Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing post on the PMW archives page!
Why do you write/blog?
Writing brings me a lot of joy, and it has since I was a young girl. My parents had to encourage me to go outside and play because my nose was always in a book. When I discovered I could write my own stories a whole new world opened up. Had they not threatened me to leave the house, I’d probably still be stuck in my bean bag chair penning teen romance novels.
Writing still brings me a lot of joy as an adult. It also provides me a way to process and rest. I’m an introvert so I love the (rare) moments when the only noise in my house is the clicking of my keyboard.
How long have you been writing/blogging?
I’ve been writing almost my whole life, but during my high school and college years I decided I wasn’t very good at the craft. I filled journals with my prayers, and I wrote term papers that didn’t always receive very good grades. I think, because of the way our education system works, that because I didn’t feel validated or encouraged by teachers then, perhaps, I wasn’t very good at writing. As a kid I wanted to be an author but by 19 years old I decided to pursue other things instead. I graduated with a communication studies degree and decided to try marketing.
I began blogging in 2006 on a trip to China, and then I quickly started my current blog, Barefoot on 45th, to keep our long distance family informed about our life. At first, blogging was a way to simply share factual information about the day-to-day.
In fall 2006 I took an evening writing course at our community college. It was called “Writing for Publication.” My instructor was the first person (besides my parents) to say, “You’re good at this!” In fact, I remember him writing on my last paper of the year: “You have talent. Please find a way to continue writing as you build your family.” At the time, children weren’t even on my radar. I thought his comment was nice, but also a little odd.
How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?
We had Anna in 2011 and the first year of her life was extremely difficult. I thought I’d “work from home” as a freelance writer and marketing consultant, but when my husband was diagnosed with cancer that same year, I put everything on hold. My sweet newborn wasn’t sleeping much, and my husband needed me too. Being tired and stressed makes it hard to stay creative. During that year I began to learn that our lives as moms have seasons. Some seasons are much busier and more stressful than others. During my stressful season, writing was an outlet I didn’t want to make public. I blogged less and went to my journal instead.
When my daughter turned one, I spent the next year working on a book proposal and publishing articles around the web. A friend and I swapped babysitting once a week and I also hired a babysitter one morning a week. Between these times and her naps, I had enough time to pursue regular writing. It felt amazing to pursue dreams I’d put on hold for awhile.
In 2013 we welcomed another baby, who rocked the next 8 months of my life. He is a high maintenance little guy and my writing took a big hit. Here’s a funny story. I remember going to a writer’s event one night when Owen was about 6 months old. I was catching up with another woman who didn’t have children and I told her that I wasn’t writing much because I didn’t have any time. She said, essentially, if you want to be a writer then you need to get rid of all your excuses. “I get up at 5:30am and write for an hour every morning before I go to work,” she said. I tried not to snap back, “Oh yeah? Well I’m up from about 4:00am to 5:00am with a fussy baby, so that hour of the morning doesn’t work for me.”
Needless to say, I’m blogging much less than I used to because I simply don’t have the time I once did. I’m also stalled on the book project I’m pursuing, because I’m just not sure where to find time in my day.
How has this season of life changed your writing habits?
My writing habits have changed because it’s become harder and harder for me to justify writing for “free.” While I’d love to grow my blog, write a book and publish on various Christian websites, it’s hard to fit these projects into our current life.
I got really lucky earlier this year when I was pursued for a paid position as Editor of Kidaround Magazine, a regional bi-monthly publication in Sacramento, CA. I am now working 10 hours a week doing all sorts of fun things I never thought I’d get to do. Because I’m being paid, I’m able to hire a babysitter to watch the kids about 8 hours a week, with the other few hours done at nap time or evenings. By the time I pay a babysitter I don’t make much money, but it’s working for us and I feel very thankful.
What is your writing/blogging battle cry?
While I write about a lot of different topics (from the mundane “this is what we did today” posts to essays on cancer) my hope is that people feel encouraged after they read something I write. My main audience is women and I truly do write to inspire their hearts, build up their spirits and show them the love of Jesus.
While I don’t always think it’s appropriate to share every facet of my life, I also try to be vulnerable, honest and open with my readers. I don’t want my life to appear perfect, because it’s not, and I find that many women can easily make assumptions about another person’s life and then feel they aren’t doing enough or being enough because they’ve played the comparison game. By being honest about my own failings, I can remind people that we’re all just doing our best and Jesus can take care of the rest.
How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?
For a long time, my professor’s charge to pursue writing felt like a curse more than a blessing. In the years leading up to my first pregnancy I struggled deeply with the word “calling.” I felt that motherhood might prevent me from pursing my dreams to write, and I put unnecessary pressure on myself to figure out how I could be a mom and a writer at the same time. (Should I stay at home with my kids full time? Did I even want to stay at home with my kids? Could I afford to pursue writing?)
After a lot of prayer, reading and talking to wise women in my life, I’ve come to the conclusion that my calling is not to write, but to encourage other women wherever they’re at in their faith and/or motherhood journeys. Writing is a BIG way that I choose to encourage others, but it’s not the only way. I can also do so during play dates, at my MOPS table, over coffee with friends, and through speaking.
Motherhood is a wonderfully taxing, stretching and amazing job. I will always be a mom but my children won’t always need me in the abundant ways they do right now. I believe that God will have me write more in the future, but in the meantime I choose to be satisfied with the small bits and pieces I have. It’s important I continue to practice and pursue my craft, but I’m also learning that my children are only young once. Everyday I have to remind myself that my job is to raise my children to know Jesus, to love my husband well, to encourage the women God places around me, and to write when He gives me opportunities.
Lesley Miller is a wife to Jonathan, and mama to Anna (3) and Owen (1). They live in Santa Barbara, California in a little house with a huge avocado tree. Lesley is a slow runner, a fast eater, and a big fan of morning walks on the beach, and she believes that even busy mamas should make time to read and pursue friendships with other women.