Over the years, my reading tastes have run the gamut from bodice rippers to serious literary works. I’ve devoured spy novels and biographies alike; lapped up women’s fiction and mysteries of all kinds. As a rule, if a story can elicit strong emotion, I’m all over it. Although lately, all I want to do is laugh.
The last ten years of my life have brought both the greatest trials and most wondrous rewards. My ability to feel has increased tenfold; as though my existence was strictly black and white before. As a result, when I read of someone else’s tribulations, I absorb them as my own. I can’t do that anymore. I won’t survive if I do that. My tribulation jar is full.
In the last decade, my husband and I have endured four miscarriages, two godawful years of postpartum depression (one following each live birth), the death of a parent, fire that threatened our home, a major move, stage-four cancer, and new careers. Holy crap, you say? Pretty much, and that’s just what I’m sharing. There’s so much more.
On the positive side, we’ve added two beautiful and amazing daughters to our lives. The first arrived just before our eighteenth wedding anniversary, the second, just before our twentieth. These littles have totally and completely knocked us off our axis. Life as we know it changed forever. Creating new people was the hardest and most rewarding thing we’ve ever done, as well as being the most exhausting.
I started my writing career during this chaotic time. I could have written tomes that would make you want to jump off the highest building or run in front of the fattest train. Instead I tried my hand at humor. Escaping into the lives of my romantic comedy heroines became my saving grace. It was the vacation I so desperately needed from my own reality.
So far I have three romantic comedies, two middle reader fiction stories, and one children’s book under my belt. I’ve won awards and lovely acclaim for my tales. I’ve not only grown as an author, but as a human being, as well.
As I was settling in to write my fourth romantic comedy, I was met by a very resistant muse. She did not want to compose what I asked her to. She dug her heels in and made me crazy with her stubborn refusal to do as she was bid. We were near to breaking up when she sat me down and laid her cards on the table. “I’ve got another book I want to write.” She exclaimed, “I’ve written everything you’ve asked me to, and I’ve done a good job, but now it’s my turn.”
I’d be lying to say I wasn’t curious what she had in mind. I couldn’t imagine venturing outside my norm, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t intrigued. What was next? Science fiction? Cozy mysteries? Nope. It turns out she wanted to tell my story. She wanted to share the journey surrounding my littles, and I didn’t want her to. I didn’t want to hang my dirty laundry out for all to see. I didn’t want to share the pain and fear, the anxiety and frustration.
My muse protested, “Why? Why don’t you want to share? Do you think you’re special? Do you think you’re the only one who’s lost a child? What makes your pain so different from everyone else’s?”
I replied, “It’s different because it’s mine! I lived and I endured it; I own it! It’s mine to share or not to share and I say, no sharing!”
“Fine,” she retorted. “Don’t share, but I’m done jumping through your hoops until you let me write this book.” Then, true to her word, she kicked up her heels and abandoned ship.
We started a game of reverse chicken. Instead of running toward each other, wondering who would chicken out and move first, we stood still like mountains, both refusing to budge. I went to the computer with the intention of writing without her. I opened a new document, slammed back a fresh pot of coffee, and proceeded to create the most horrific drivel you can imagine. It turns out I’m not funny without my muse. Dammit.
Surprisingly, she didn’t laugh at my failure. She remained silent and unmoving. So I took the day off and went to Marshalls to try on shoes. The next day I sat down to write, and still, nothing. So I turned on Netflix. The next day I cleaned like a woman possessed. The next I went to Costco. By the fifth day, when I was considering an online shopping marathon, I decided to give her book a shot; but not without stipulations. “It has to be funny.” I demanded. “And you can’t tell all of my secrets . . .”
“Psh . . .” She replied. And away we went. Like all of my previous books, I wasn’t aware what was coming out until the words left my fingertips. The muse was in charge. She wrote things I never had any intention of sharing with another human being. She disclosed private joys and embarrassing secrets, personal struggles and transcendental emotions. She just spewed out private information like she was being chased by gun-wielding hit man.
When she was done, she instructed, “Now read it. Read it like it never happened to you. Read it like the person who wrote it is a stranger.” So I did. And you know what? She’s right. While there’s now more me out there than I’m truly comfortable with, I’ve discovered I’m not that special. My story is no different than anyone else’s. We’re all just plodding though life, embracing or fending off whatever gets thrown as us; taking our lumps and bumps, rewards and laughs, as they find us. And truth be told, I’m just so darn glad to still be alive to tell my tale that I’m pretty sure I can live with the embarrassment of having it out there.
About Motherhood Martyrdom & Costco Runs
Join bestselling romantic comedy author, Whitney Dineen, as she discovers the three Es of parenting:
• Exhilarating—when you first discover you’re pregnant.
• Exhausting—when you realize you’ll most likely never sleep again–like EVER.
• Explosive—OMG these kids spew from both ends!
And that’s just the beginning. Whitney shares the ridiculous highs and excruciating lows of her catapult into motherhood. Enjoy the ride as this new mom vows to give up profanity while falling in love with… you guessed it, Costco. Be careful, because if you’re anything like Whitney, you may just pee a little.
Motherhood Martyrdom & Costco Runs takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotions as Whitney plummets into postpartum depression, desperately tries to get her kids to stop yodeling in public restrooms, and comes to terms with the fact she’ll never quite be queen of her own kingdom. Get ready to laugh, cry, cheer, and pat yourself on the back for the sake of mommies everywhere. And while you’re at it, stop by Costco for a case of toilet paper and a Very Berry Sundae. You won’t regret it!
Buy the book!
Whitney is an award-winning and bestselling author of romantic comedies and middle reader fiction. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Jimmy, where they’re raising two daughters, organic vegetables, and free-range chickens; all named after Barbie princesses. Her new release, Motherhood Martyrdom & Costco Runs, is about her hilarious journey into middle-aged motherhood.
Category: On Writing