Adjusting to a Brand New Life

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by Travis Richardson

On May 6 I became a father. It is a mind-boggling experience. I am doing things that I’ve never done before like changing diapers and swaddling. I used to be too scared to pick up an infant, afraid to be the uncle/friend who broke an infant. Now I pick up my daughter without hesitation.

Since her birth, things have been wonderful and exhausting. It’s been a month and half, and I am trying to balance my paternal duties with writing when I can. It’s been tough so far. After throwing up on the second night home from anxiety and exhaustion, I’ve managed to lower my stress, deal with the lack of sleep, and become a diaper-changing expert. What has been affected is my usually reliable creative brain. It has stalled (except for silly songs I seem to be able to make up on the spot). I’ve had some creative spurts, but nothing consistent that I often need to finish projects. I know this is an adjustment period, and I hope to hit a sweet spot again.

This works 50% of the time.

This works 50% of the time.

I had been an evening writer for most of my life, but I changed five years ago to morning typing and the results have been tremendous. I’m not sure how things will be in the future. Friend and father, S.W. Lauden, gave me the advice to write whenever you can with children around. He keeps a laptop within reach around the house. He recommended stockpiling stories. Fortunately I have some 20+ unpublished works that need some TLC (or major overhauling), but could be polished and sent out while I adjust to our lovely precious fuss bucket. (I’m writing this after an open-air accident and meltdown.)

Francis Ford Coppola once said: “My advice to aspiring filmmakers is to get married and have a family. It’s motivation and inspiration.” http://www.andrewroeauthor.com/coppola-quote/ It’s interesting that the original article with the quote is no longer available, but I remember reading it years ago. It should also be noted that he declared bankruptcy three times including sinking all his money into the 1980s stinker, One From The Heart.  I’m not sure I’d ever put my family in that much peril over a concept.

Stephen King is known to have raised a family and held a teaching job while writing short stories and novels before things took for him. Writer Eric Beetner is insanely prolific with two children, a full time job, co-hosting duties at LA’s Noir at the Bar and a side gig designing book covers.

It would be easy to say that I can’t do writing under the circumstances, but others have done it so I have no excuse. I need to bear down, reorient my brain and make it happen.

In other news, I’m excited to be nominated for a Macavity short story award along with Art Taylor, Barb Goffman, Craig Faustus Buck, and Paul D. Marks. You can find all of our nominated stories here: http://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/2015/06/read-all-macavity-short-story.html

Have you had any major changes in your life that caused you to reconfigure your writing life? Would love to hear about it.

Travis Richardson is fortunate to have been nominated for both the Anthony and Macavity short story awards for “Incident on the 405,” featured in MALFEASANCE OCCASIONAL: GIRL TROUBLE. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in several online zines and anthologies. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime LA newsletter, reviews Chekhov shorts at www.chekhovshorts.com and sometimes shoots a short movie. His latest novella is KEEPING THE RECORD. Find out more at: www.tsrichardson.com

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23 Responses to Adjusting to a Brand New Life

  1. Congratulations!!!! I am sure your little one is beautiful.

    Advice; Enjoy her now, keep writing, kiss her often, tell her you love her every few minutes. The writing will come. She will give you much to write about.

    Get ready for the roller coaster ride of your life. :o)

    Experience? Yes, I have three grown children, and four grand children, I will be 72 next week and am still writing. I am still shooting for the Big One. :o)

    Best of luck to you…..

    Like

  2. Joe Stephens says:

    My big change would be moving in with my parents after my marriage fell apart. They’ve been quite supportive, but the change in routine really threw me off. We all had to adjust to the change in lifestyle. Even little things, like not being used to having other people around early in the morning, which is my quietest but most creative time, have been difficult. But with a few little changes, like getting a writing space in my room so I don’t have to be in the general population, so to speak, have really helped me.

    It’s nothing like the joyous disruption of a baby; sadly, I never got to experience that. But any change requires adjustment. And most of us find a way to do that. I’m sure you will too.

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    • Travis says:

      Thank you Joe. Sorry to hear about marriage. I went through a divorce in what I call another lifetime ago. It shattered me, but I was able to rebuild with scars, a stronger, more focused and ultimately better life. But it took time, but it was all for the best.

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  3. Wranglers says:

    Congratulations on the nomination. That’s a wonderful honor. Being an active Daddy is hard work. It’s so different today where men take such a great part in rearing a child. My great granddaughter is almost the same age as your baby girl. I think my writing life is changing right now. In Florida, there is so much to do that I want to just explore. But, I have some writing obligations that must be fulfilled, and once I sit down to do it, I feel great. Keep us posted on the Writing Life of a New Daddy. Cher’ley

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  4. Doris says:

    Bless you and congratulations yet again. What a wonderful distraction you have. With your talent, writing time will find its sweet spot. In the meantime, do what you can, with what you have from where you are, it will work. (Or so I keep telling myself) Doris

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  5. wyoauthor1 says:

    I, too, offer you my congratulations for both baby and award! I’m sure you will regain your momentum eventually, Travis, it will just take time. When routines change, adjustment is necessary and that can take awhile. I suggest trying Dragon Naturally Speaking — you can walk around with baby in tow and microphone/headset on … or rock baby to sleep while speaking. I have Dragon and though I don’t use it often, I’ve considered using it in the car when I take those long drives to Montana to see my parents — perhaps I’ll do that next week when I go there and will let you know how it goes! Best to you and your precious family! 🙂

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    • Travis says:

      Thank you. I was starting to look into Dragon Speak before she was born. I should look into it again. I tried Apple dictation with her in my hands. It would get one sentence perfect and then totally get the next one wrong. And I had to sit in front of the computer. I like the idea of being mobile. Thanks again!

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  6. When Bill had his strokes, and I cared for him at home, I had to balance writing with caregiving. Now that he’s gone, I have more time to write, and I’m loving it.

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  7. sstamm625 says:

    Congratulations, Travis! Two things to celebrate–a daughter and an award nomination. You’ll get into a rhythm and be writing again. I haven’t had a new child to adjust to, but the new job and relocation threw my writing schedule off completely. I haven’t yet settled back into it. But I’m getting closer.

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  8. Neva Bodin says:

    Congratulations! Nothing like a child to help develop our character while we are trying to develop theirs. I say trying to develop theirs as I eventually realized they come out with their own ideas on what their character should be too. Great sites mentioned too. Aren’t those little ones soft and sweet?

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  9. S. J. Brown says:

    My big change came just over a year ago when Hubby and I moved. The first six months here were a series of nightmares. But things eventually started to fall into place( after a while we ran out of things to repair or replace).

    Your writing routine will go through some changes, but you will get where you need to be. Take the time to enjoy your new little one. She will be grown before you know it. By the way adults need naps also.

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    • Travis says:

      I’ve never been a home owner, but a friend of mine calls it the biggest scam in the US. His weekends are spent fixing up the place. Someday I might and I’m sure that will occupy a lot of time.

      Like

  10. Nancy Jardine says:

    Travis – My best wishes to you on becomoing a father. Having a new baby is a fabulous experience. I almost know what you’re currently experiencing because I’ve had the joy of having my daughter and family live with me this past year and a half, during which my grandson was born (their new house is almost ready to move into). I’ve never been disturbed overnight, since that remit is up to my daughter and her husband, but I’ve had the absolute delights of seeing my granddaughter (almost 4) and my grandson (now 15 months) every day. My writing has definitely suffered since Im constantly interrupted and I’m officially childminding when my daughter is at work, but I know I’ll get back to the keyboard more often when they’re a bit older.

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    • Travis says:

      Being a grandparent has to be the best. You get to spoil them and send the back to their parents to straighten them out. Enjoy them! I loved my grandparents intensely.

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  11. Kathy Waller says:

    Congratulations on being the father of a new baby girl. You are now a VIP, and if she hasn’t managed to let you know that, she will. The one thing I know about parenting comes from my mother: “You’re going to take a nap because Mommy needs one.” Feel free to use that if you ever need it.

    I haven’t been writing for very long, and every change is a major disruption (the reason I know it’s best I don’t have kids). Right now I’m trying to fit three days a week at a new gym into the rest of life. Have finally realized I have to write in the morning and go to the gym in the afternoon. Because after exercising, writing simply does not happen. No way. A nap is more likely to take place.

    Congratulations, too, on your short story nominations, and thanks for providing the link to all the Macavity nominees.

    Like

    • Travis says:

      Thank you Kathy. i’ve found myself anchored by her when she falls asleep on me. I’m not going to move her because of the potential fuss. So I either sleep or read. Someday soon I’ll use that “You’re going to sleep because Daddy needs one.”

      Like

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