Monday, September 4, 2017

What Losing Control Taught Me About Life and Writing

By Maureen L. Bonatch

Happy Labor Day! Enjoy your celebration of the American worker and the unofficial end of summer with a hot dog or two. Or perhaps rebelliously declare your intention of wearing white long past the season. Sixteen years ago, this holiday took on a different meaning for me and changed my mindset despite my resistance. 

I gained two babies, and lost all my control.

In 2001 I was pregnant with twins. (The first hint of my loss of control was when my pregnancy turned out to be a BOGO.) In my obsessive Virgo control-freak mind, I decided the girls would be born on Labor Day. It made perfect sense with the play on the word “labor”. Also I would be 36-weeks pregnant that day and the girls lungs should be adequately developed.

Imagine my surprise when my water broke a week prior to Labor Day.

This Wasn’t the Plan

I’ve always liked to be in control when it comes to planning my life. My writing? Not so much, I’m what you call one of those who write by the seat of my pants. (Panster)

In order to survive twin babies I became more organized than ever. (Have you ever used a feeding and poop chart? Believe me, if you don’t, and you’re only getting a few hours of sleep then one of those munchkins isn’t going to eat while the other one eats twice!) Having the twins was only the beginning of my loss of control.

I wished for a parenting book with all the answers laid out so I knew if I was doing the right thing. That outlined how to regain the upper hand when you were outnumbered by two little munchkins who had more sleep in one day than you had in the last month.

I stressed myself out as I struggled to dress them in cute little outfits (that they immediately vomited on) and to take them out to show them off (with a entire van full of supplies for a one-hour outing) or to fit back in my pre-pregnancy clothes (Twin pregnancy=yeah right). I often felt like I was failing, until I stopped resisting.

Go With the Flow

I stopped trying to regain control and went with the flow. I stopped trying to be the perfect mom because perfection isn’t real. Despite writing fantasy and paranormal I’ve always strived to create honest, real, ordinary characters in an extraordinary world. Because when I tried to write a story without paranormal or fantasy, it felt unnatural. Once I embraced my true writing self and stopped trying to write like everyone else, my stories got better. I did the same with my girls.

I started being honest with myself about being a Mom, and with everyone else. Other moms bragged about how their kids slept all night or that they were already potty-trained. I told them the brutal truth about my struggles—and saw the change in their expression. Many were only saying what they thought people wanted to hear. They wanted to assure everyone that they were in control—when they were not. Being a good Mom takes practice, patience and admitting mistakes. I apply a similar formula when I'm writing a story.

Enjoying the Ride

My girls are 16 now and I’m proud to say that they follow the beat of their own drum and don’t try to follow the crowd. I let them have control over their life and follow their heart just like I do my characters.

Raising twin babies was hard, really hard. And writing novels is hard. Neither come with instructions, and both only become magnificent on their own when you relinquish control.

Have You Ever Had to Give Up Control? Or Do You Always Go With the Flow?

Feast your eyes on my newest 'baby', Evil Speaks Softly now available for Pre-order

Everyone has a story to tell. Even the dead.

They were never supposed to meet. Fame came easy for Liv by following in the footsteps of the female writers in her family. The cycle repeated for decades…until Liv changed the story. Her villain
doesn’t like the revision—and he isn’t a fictional character. In his story, the bad guy always wins.

They were never supposed to find love. Liv never questioned her demanding nocturnal muse, or the strange incidents in her old, family home until she met Gage. His job was to watch her from afar, not reveal the truth about the curse and the stories of the dead.

They’ve broken all the rules. Together they unravel secrets as they strive to stop the cycle. Liv’s ability to find love, and protect her loved ones, hangs on the fickle whims of the dead—and they’ve got nothing to lose.

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four
seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter


CJ Burright said...

I can't even imagine the struggles of raising twins! I had one daughter, which was enough to turn me into a zombie for about four years...until she finally decided regular sleep was a good thing. I never thought I was a control freak, but it was hard giving up complete control of my life for a squalling little thing. But so worth it!! She's 22 now, and one of my favorite people in the world. Kids make you realize that control is just a delusion. :) Fun post, Maureen!

Maureen said...

Thanks so much for visiting CJ! I love your comment that "kids make you realize that control is just a delusion"- so true!

Francesca Quarto said...

Loved this Maureen! I am a twin, but my twin sports a mustache! My mom had two sets of twins, poor woman and multiple pregnancies are sprinkled around my family.
You captured very nicely the frustration of birthing a premature novel. Thinking its mewling and gurgling were all you could scrape together in one book, only to find after rewriting numerous times, they can truly grow and mature.
Your babies are beautiful! I've always wanted a twin sister, though I wore all the clothes of the four that still claim me as related!

Maureen said...

Thank you Francesca! I've heard of many people who had two sets of twins- wow!

Diane Burton said...

Control? What's that? My 2 kids are 13 months apart. Might as well have been twins. Only every stage last 2x as long. My DIL is expecting twin boys in Nov.--probably October. She had practice with a delightful, charming, good-natured girl (2.5 yrs old when the boys come). I'm almost sure the boys will be different, or at least one of them will be. It will be interesting to see how all 3 turn out. Back to your original question: if I didn't go with the flow, I'd be a basket case--not just with my writing but my home life, too. I do like your idea of eating & pooping charts for the twins. "Mommy brain" isn't that reliable. LOL

Maureen said...

Congrats to your DIL Diane! We used the chart for the first few weeks until we got comfortable with our system because my Mommy brain was pretty foggy from lack of sleep, lol. Thanks for visiting!