Category Archives: feminism

Deep Work and Flow and Motherhood

My husband bought Deep Work a while back. I was flipping through our Kindle library and saw it. I started to read it.

Interesting book. I’d agree that it’s hard to focus on deep work, that undistracted focus on something. It’s akin to Flow, getting so into what you’re doing you just lose track of everything and slide into that blissful work.

So, I’ve been reading this book today and at one point, the author, Cal Newport, was humblebragging that he didn’t have a smartphone.

I didn’t own my first smartphone until 2012 (when my pregnant wife gave me an ultimatum—”you have to have a phone that works before our son is born.”

Like, holy shit. Not being reachable to his pregnant wife wasn’t enough of a motivator to have a phone that worked? She had to tell him to get a phone.

So, as I pondered this, I ran into this HuffPo article on the Mental Load. (Heh, yeah, I haven’t been doing much deep work today 😂)  You Should’ve Asked is another good one.

And, as I’ve been pondering on this, I’ve been thinking about the privilege to just be the dad. To not worry about the kids so much. To not be carrying the load of the kid’s schedule, their next doctor visit, and oh yeah, the dog needs his rabies shot. And of course, not all moms are the primary caregiver, etc etc. However, I think the vast majority of stay at home mothers would fall under the primary caregiver category.

Honestly, I can’t even imagine what that would be like. My little yellow to-to book is full of house stuff and my writing stuff and our calendars and menu planning and a million little things to keep track of. I would be lost without my little planner. But to not even need it? Seriously, that blows my mind.

In college, I had a serious, passionate fling with physics. Then Calculus 2 happened. And happened again. And I tapped out. BUT during that very steamy year or two, I was in a lecture with … I don’t even remember her name. I wonder if I could even find it now. Anyway. It was about being a woman in the field. Another woman stood and said someone else (a man, of course) had said the best time to have a kid was in grad school. The speaker said she was super duper lucky because her employer was so amazing to her when she had her kids. The whole topic of children seemed like a minefield at the time.

And, it still is.

I wondered if writing this down would help me to tease any of it out, but I don’t think it did. It all comes down to being a woman in our society. Where we are so pro-life! HOORAY!! but then snarl about food stamps. Where there are so many hungry kids. When women who have chosen to be childless get badgered about when they’re having kids. There is no right answer. And I know I’ve fallen into so many of these same traps. I need to be beautiful. I need to be skinny. All this bullshit and privilege.

Anyway. Them’s my thoughts. I still have no idea how to work through it. I never got around to reading Lean In, but:

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 2.07.23 PM

And yes, I named my old Kindle “magic book holder.” I’m curious to see if this is enlightening. AND I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Courage

I’m not brave. I mean, it’s pretty obvious. I was that weird, quiet girl hiding behind a book growing up and I’m still that weird, quiet woman. Nothing has really changed. Maybe I’m better at hiding my inner weirdo, but she’s still totally there.

Anyway, there’s this popular little bit of self-help/stoic advice. What’s the worst that could happen and how bad could it really be? For a lot of men, the answer is, I lose my business and things are hard and weird for a while. But for women, the answer is: some man kills me or stalks me or sends me rape and death threats.

And it’s not like this is clear out of left field. It’s not like this is something that hasn’t happened. Women are killed and raped by men all the time.

And the last thing I’d like to do is bring this sort of craziness down on my family.

I know this is very unlikely. But this is one more stumbling block in my way. I can’t not think about this. But I can think about it and work through it and have some contingency plans.

Anyway, this is the thought I’ve been playing with lately. I’m working through my feelings about it and how to deal with it. And I think once I’ve either decided the risk is low enough, I’ll move forward.

I wonder how many of these stumbling blocks are of my own creation? I suppose I’ll find out as I cross them off.

Time for some towel chucking

Well, I’ve finally accepted I’m not going to write 60k words this month. Which is way sucky because that means my word goal for October is going to be nearly 71k.

We fly out Thursday morning. That’s ohmygodohmygodohmygod less than 36 hours. I signed up for a plotting workshop. And a writing contest. You guys wanna read a hella depressing story? Here you go. And then that moment where you look at what you entered into a contest and go, “Wow, that’s really quite rubbish.” Anyway. Impostor Syndrome? Or just cold stark reality going, WTF YOU THOUGHT THIS WAS GOOD ENOUGH TO ENTER INTO A CONTEST?!

14322538_10100591737979431_1513431989361099003_nMy friend told me I had to let one thing slide. Well, I’m letting my word goal slide. I printed out my Defiant Canary manuscript. Of all my mss, I think Defiant Canary is going to be the easiest to edit and revise and get out there. Maybe that’s me just being lazy. But, maybe it’s just the nudge I need to get things rolling again. If I can get another book out and under my belt, then all the rest of the things that need finishing (I hear you manuscript pile! stfu!) can get finished too. Here’s the first chapter to The Defiant Canary. It’s… a weird story. I definitely write for myself. It’s paranormal romance with a touch of Lovecraft horror. Anyway. It’s rad and fun and sexy and has some fun characters doing some rad stuff. 😀

So, I have a little dose of failure-itis, not going to hit my goal, but… I still have October and I have November. And I have a rad book lined up for NaNoWriMo this year. I hit 85k last NaNoWriMo and I should be able to do that again.

Oh, one last discovery. I don’t value revision as highly as I value writing. A piece of me is delving into invisible work territory. Just like women’s work is undervalued because it’s invisible, maybe revision does the same? I have a blog post banging around about invisible work in my head that has been meaning to come out and I just haven’t done it yet. Anyway. I need a way to quantify my revision work. Or at least to see that it’s making a difference. Or… something.

This is probably my last post from US shores. And I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting from Okinawa. I’ll definitely be on Insta, so follow along there for sure.

And, I’ll be looking for test readers for the Defiant Canary when I get home in October. So, if you’re interested in that, email me at tremblingtrimble at gmail . com with BETA in the subject line and how you’d like your version, either pdf or for Kindle.

The Persistent Man

A mighty, mighty migraine hit Thursday morning with zero warning. I am finally eating and not barfing again, but my brain likes to go on little adventures when I’m not quite using it.

This morning, as I was laying in bed, trying to let my brain calm down and trying to recover from an arduous nail appointment (usually one of my most favorite me time adventures in the world), I started thinking about Persistent Men.

Jerry Mulligan creepering Lise into going on a date with him. From the LA Times

He follows her to work. He badgers her into spending time with him and in the end, she goes with him. Although, the other guy, Henri, had a weird power imbalance with her too. Taking her in during the war when she was still “a child” then falling in love with her? Hrm.

Anyway. This idea that if a man is persistent enough, he will wear her down just creeps me out so much. In An American in Paris, he wins her over through his persistence. Offhand, I can’t think of more (migraine brain, did I mention?) but I know I’ve seen it.

And regardless of what the woman says. Regardless how she initially feels, if she just gives him a fair shake, she’ll discover that he’s actually a nice guy. The man of her dreams in fact!

Where is her agency? She tries to maintain her boundaries, she tries to do what she can to keep herself safe, but instead, it’s all, “Oh, well, she never really knew her mind to begin with, so once he was able to talk some sense into her, she went with him.”

Yuck. Just yuck.

I mean, sure, romance, ripped bodices, whatever. I can understand the appeal, I suppose, of being wanted so much. To be washed away on the tides of pleasure and have it not be ~your fault~. To be able to maintain  virginal purity while still being able to explore passion. But this goes right back into the discussion about consent. And it also assumes that rape isn’t about maintaining power structures.

But, back to the Persistent Man. Suppose she does finally go out with him. How many times does she have to go out with him before she can say, “Ok, that’s enough?” Now does she “owe him” for him magnanimity of taking her out to dinner? Does she owe him kisses? Sex? Blow jobs? What? And if she says no, then she becomes a cocktease and led him on. And then the cry, “Well, if she didn’t want to go out with him, she should have just said so!”

In any case, this idea of the Persistent Man started playing around in my head and I wanted to explore it a little. I’m sure I’ll expand on it at a later time. My poor brain is so tired from just starting to plot this all out. And I’ll start keeping track of the Persistent Man now as I find them in media.