Ashley Franklin

On being a mommy writer

Time is never on my side. Kids always need something. That’s what they do. That’s their job. Students always need something. That’s what they do. That’s my job. House duties never end. It’s not like I can afford a maid, so that’s my job too. Hubby helps out a great deal. Bless his heart, but there are still some days I wish I could shut out the real world and dive into the worlds I’ve created—just live the words, be with my characters as I continue to write life into them.
Times when I can solely spend dedicated to writing (that’s not in the wee hours of the morning) comes few and far between. I can’t express the joy I have when my husband announces that he’s packing up the kids so I can have a writing weekend.
But what do I do in between those writing weekends? Do I just not write? Do I look longingly at my notebooks, wishing that I could run away with them? Nope! Well…not all the time.
I use my cell phone. I’ve downloaded Google docs to my phone and I use it to continue working on manuscripts during time sucks–car line, doctor’s office, waiting for pots to boil, etc.
For bursts of ideas, I use the notes app. Finish a draft while on the go? I email it to my printer so it’s waiting for me when I get home. See something inspirational while I’m out? I snap a pic and email it to myself. Of course, I still carry around a composition book if I know I’ll be sitting somewhere for a while (like my kid’s taekwondo lesson) and I’m in the early stages of drafting. I have a big purse for that.
As writers, many of us have different obligations. We may not always have the time we want to write, but we should always try to best use and manage the time that we have.
 
 

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"But what if the other kids bully me?"

This is the reasoning my 5yo gave me as to why he doesn’t want to tell the kids at his new school that he is Muslim. I’m torn between a wth and an ugly cry. I was prepared for his other questions:

  • Will I make friends?
  • What if I don’t make friends?
  • What if I can’t make the other kids like me?

I was equipped with my standard answers. You can’t control how people treat you. You can only control how you treat people. You try to be the best you that you can be. Know who will always be your friends (Mommy, Daddy, your brother ).
I was bullied in school. I’ve always struggled with my weight. (We have a love/hate relationship, but this post ain’t about us right now.) But that didn’t come until like 3rd grade or so, and it was minor compared to what kids go through today. I, however, do not recall being worried about being bullied because of my religion at the age of 5.
What is happening? Why is this the new normal?

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The other storyteller

You may recall me saying that my kids prefer my husband’s stories since they’re predominantly action-driven. Well, it looks like I’ve been one-upped again, this time by my mother-in-law.
I was in the middle of reading a story when my 5yo interrupted,”Where’s grandmother?”
“Ummm…in the kitchen doing grandmotherly things.”
“Grandmother was telling me stories of Mama Frizz last night. Do you know any?”
“Nope, so I’ll see if Grandmother is available.”
Of course she made herself available. That’s what grandmothers do. She set the mood and told stories of Mama Frizz. She told stories of being in the country as a little, city girl.
She gave him a bit of family history for story time. It was wonderful. As she left the room, she said something that I couldn’t help agree with.
She said, “For stories, I think that sometimes the real thing is best.”
 

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Slightly below halfway decent mom status

“Seriously?!” I actually lost count of how many times I said it between last night and this morning. Upon telling my 5yo he had to go to bed because he had school the next day, he cried ferociously, asking “Why does it keep happening?!”
(I’ll admit that I did laugh at that when I was out of earshot.)
Just to keep things interesting, someone unleashed a stomach bug later in the evening that chose its victims as random. They shall remain anonymous to protect their privacy, lol.
My 2yo son was an absolute gem this morning! He ate his breakfast yogurt, brushed his teeth, and got dressed without any fuss. All he asked was that I turn on “Kate and Mim Mim” in the background. Thanks Netflix!
After pleading that they move at any speed faster than the one he was moving in, my 5yo finally got it together. We left 5 minutes later than what I’d wanted, but the goal was in sight. I unlocked the car, and my 5yo climbed in. My 2yo ran in circles around the car laughing and screaming “NO SCHOOL FOR ME!” I’m not sure how long I chased this child around a delightfully dull parking lot in the overcast morning, but I”m sure his arms must have been tired from him pumping them in the air in glee.
If this is Monday, what on Earth will the rest of my week be like? I’m pretty sure that I”m definitely slightly below halfway decent mom status today, and it’s still early.
 

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I can't do it all, and I'm finally okay with that.

Next week, both of my boys will be in pre-school/ daycare. I know that this may not seem like that big of a deal to many, but it’s huge for me. I teach online for a couple of colleges. I write. I occasionally tutor. My boys have been home with me since they day they were released from the hospital. There have been date nights sprinkled in, but they are few and far between.
I am not complaining. I am stating facts. It has been wonderful being home with my kids. I’ve not missed any milestones. I’ve had a chance to be there for them, and we are very close. I wouldn’t trade my time with them for the world.
Yet, I have to be realistic. I can no longer live off of less than 6 hours of sleep. I’m not as young as I used to be. My sleepless shake-back is no longer at college level. Why don’t I sleep much? Like many SAHMs, finishing up the daily cleanup tends not to happen until the kids have gone to bed. (There’s no greater satisfaction than knowing that you’ve picked up Legos for the final time during a 24-hour period.)  Once I’ve done than, I start working and breakfast is right around the corner.
I am fulfilled, but I am also tired. I’m extremely tired. Initially, I felt guilty, like I was abandoning my kids by putting them into preschool/ daycare. But, I realized that I can’t shortchange them or myself any longer. I’m entitled to be well-rested, and they’re entitled to a mom who isn’t too tired to enjoy their endless energy. To be perfectly honest, you want to know what helped me as well? I stopped looking at daycare as another expense. Instead, thanks to my husband’s prompting, I’m looking at it as an investment in myself and our family. (Yeah, there that guy goes with another gem, huh?)
I wear many hats, but starting next week, the next hat I wear is likely to be a hair bonnet while I catch up on some sleep.

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Storytime showdown

Well, here I am trying to be a professional writer, and my 5yo tells me he’d rather have his dad tell him his bedtime stories. What kind of foolishness is this?! It’s bad enough both of them said dada first. Can I catch a break?
I’m joking, sort of. For real, I did feel some type of way that I wasn’t given the title of supreme storyteller of the Franklin household. Like, that’s supposed to be my thing. I do the writing/ story thing, and hubby does hubby-like things.
Of course I made it my mission to figure out why my kids like my husband’s stories better. The answer:They’re totally action-driven. Apparently, I take too long to get to the good stuff, and they want mostly good stuff.
So, last night, I tried out a story about a frog that gets carried away by a huge storm. It was short, sweet, and full of action. My 5yo said “I really loved this story.”
I’ve said before that I sometimes get inspiration from my kids. It looks like my husband is a good source as well.
Let’s hear it for #TeamFranklin. (smile)
 

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What 2016 did for me

Let’s take a look at what my 2016 writing goals were:
That being said, I have some writing expectations for 2016. I expect to write at least 12 picture book drafts. That is a lofty goal. If it wasn’t there wouldn’t be a 12X12 group. I don’t need cheerleaders like that. I’m sure that works for some folk, but a big, organized group would probably do me more harm than good at this point. Why? I hate when people feel left out, so I always feel obligated to respond or help or lend an “ear.” I’m not going to get much written if I keep letting myself get distracted.
(That’s an excerpt from my old blog, in case you were wondering.) Did I write 12 picture books? I did! I’d also had a goal to write a MG novel. Did I do that? Nope. I started one but didn’t like it. It has been abandoned for now.
What else did 2016 have in store for me? 2 floods, moving twice, and finding out I have carpal tunnel in both arms after busting my butt from trying to recover from the floods. I also landed an agent thanks to a Twitter pitch party.
Clearly, this was a rough year. However, I learned a very important lesson: I am stronger than I thought. We never really know our limitations or the depths of our strength until life really lets us have it.
If I can strive to meet my writing goals after losing nearly everything in a flood and living with my family in a room at my mother-in-law’s house, I will continue to seek that same inner strength as I approach 2017.
So what did 2016 do for me? It taught me that I am as awesome as I strive to be. I surpass awesomesauce. I’m at like awesomeroux level. (smile)
 
 
 

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I'm published, but it wasn't for Kidlit

So how does an aspiring Kidlit author end up with an article published in a magazine? It’s simple: I needed something to do while waiting to hear back from my picture book manuscripts. I’ve said before that there is a lot of waiting is involved, and sometimes that waiting can result in a no. Trust me, if I’d received a solid yes by now, you would have already heard about it.
Beyond trying not to dwell on waiting to hear word back from my picture book manuscripts, I wanted to say something. Everyone has a post-election opinion. I had something to say too. I wanted to say it. It honestly helped me to collect my own thoughts.
I feel lucky. That was my first-ever article pitch, and it was accepted. 2016 has been a rough year for me, but it has definitely had its moments of greatness. I’ll be sure to recap as we come closer to the end of the year.
If you haven’t read it and are curious, here’s my article on why I refuse to fearfully remove my hijab.
 

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Don't be the post-election troll

I am an online instructor, so I know a thing or two about online discussions. Job aside, I also have my own Facebook account. Fortunately, students quickly adjust to the different expectations. I have only had one occasion of someone trolling a discussion board in one of my online courses, and I was able to quickly kill that noise.
Social media trolls, on the other hand, are monsters in a caliber all of their own. We’ve all experienced them before. We recognize their extremely disagreeable nature. We roll our eyes at their name calling. We smack our heads at their inflammatory remarks. We walk away from our computers at the sight of their willingness to spread misinformation if it’s in the name of what they believe. More often than not, it’s best not to engage with a troll. Doing so is not for the faint of heart or short on time.
Here is yet another post-election request that I have:

Please don’t become the troll.

Each of us can easily slip into destructive rhetoric when our passions are high, our souls are weary, and our agreeable temperaments are tested. Feed your soul; don’t be the troll. A troll cannot compromise your character and what you put out into the world unless you become the troll. That’s something to consider.

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What now? Promise to keep pushing!

I’ll get right to it. Many of us are upset or downright distraught over the election results. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We have that right. Here is my only plea:

Let’s not become paralyzed in our fears or frustrations.

Continue to do what it is you always do, but be more mindful. If you’re a writer, write the world you want to see. Write the normal that you wish for and make it the new normal. Strive to get marginalized voices out of the margins.
If you’re a parent, help your kids to recognize the beautiful array of people and cultures and lifestyles that call this country home.
Overall, everyone can show compassion. Show love. Let’s keep it real. If you honestly dislike a group of people, find out why. Could it be that you don’t really know any of them as individuals? Could it be that you fear what you don’t know or understand? Could it be that you fear change?
I find it a good practice to check myself. Maybe that’s something each of us can do. Let’s check ourselves. Check our biases and fears. When we learn and accept more about ourselves, it may be easier to love and accept others.
Keep pushing to be great, and as a collective, we might just achieve that greatness in America that we seek. I promise I will do my part. How about you?
 

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