Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Burning the Midnight Oil Revisited: A look at how writing parents are still burning that midnight oil

Many years ago, when I was working as a freelance writer, I hit upon an idea: Why not interview other writing parents to see how they manage to balance a writing career with the demands of parenting? I got that idea sometime after my first child was born and I read in an author’s acknowledgments about how he’d spend time working on his novel while his children took naps. Having been in the trenches myself, I got to experience just what it was like to be a writing parent! Gone were the days I could sit at a table and blissfully write for hours without interruption. Meeting my deadlines was starting to get tricky as I battled exhaustion and/or sick days (either me or my baby being sick), and I really had to learn how to manage my time better in order to keep up with my assignments. So I really wanted to know how other writers out there were managing it.

Fortunately, I was able to write – and sell – these interviews to the Write From Home website. I eventually interviewed many other writing parents (including Kim Wilson, who owned Write From Home) and included those interviews in my book, BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: How We Survive as Writing Parents. This book was published by Booklocker – and I even interviewed Angela Hoy (who co-owns Booklocker) for the book!

As I worked on that book, though, I got to see just how many writing parents there are out there. I decided to do a second volume – though my journey there wasn’t an easy one!

Sometime after I started interviewing writing parents for the second book, we had major computer problems. Somehow or another, the entire folder containing ALL of my interviews for Book 2 was lost. I was devastated! I had all of those interviews and had all of the contacts in that folder and it was all gone! Getting that information from the email account I used for this purpose wasn’t possible, either – because that account had been deleted by the email account provider! (I don’t use that email provider anymore. Gmail all the way!)

I was forced to accept this disaster and move on. I wasn’t happy about it, but there was nothing I could do to fix it. My plans to get this second book put together were finished.

Fast forward several months down the road. I was poking around on the computer’s hard drive one day, getting files sorted and everything organized. I came upon a mysterious folder and decided to open it.

Lo and behold, there were all of my interviews for Book 2! Not only this, but I also found my list of contacts for the interviewees, as well. Yay!

I contacted everyone I had not been in touch with for so long (I think it was 2 years, at this point!) and let them know what had happened. Almost all of them were excited about this book being a go again – one of them, however, ended up backing up so I had to remove her from my list. I also contacted some NEW people to include in this book and was excited that they agreed to be in this book, too. Everything was coming together again! Hurray!

I got back to work on this book and, eventually, finished it up.

The next thing I did was work on getting it to a publisher. My publisher Gypsy Shadow was interested in the book and so I sent it to them. They accepted the book – and suggested I give it a title change so that it would not be confused with the first book. So BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: How We survive as Writing Parents, Volume 2, became Burning the Midnight Oil Revisited.

Burning the Midnight Oil Revisited was published at the end of October. I was so thrilled to finally see this book get published! Yay! The book contains interviews with 27 writing parents as well as 9 essays I wrote about being a writing parent that were published in the BTMO Book Zine. There are also resources for writing parents included at the back of the book. 

I was really happy to finally reach the end of that journey and also that all of those people who invested their time to be interviewed by me for this book had not wasted their time for this after all. I was also happy to get the word out about these writers in the book.

Many thanks to the following writing parents for agreeing to be interviewed in Burning the Midnight Oil Revisited:

Maggie Ball
Frank Baron
Bettina Jenkins Bathe
Linda Carlson
Cheryl Dellasega
Michelle Dunn
Shanta Everington
Judith Fitzsimmons
Julie Fletcher
Lee-Ann Graff-Vinson
Jenn Greenleaf
Shanna Groves
Bill Jelen
M.L. John
Marie D. Jones
Mary Potter Kenyon
Tim Leffel
Mysti Linne
Steven Manchester
Dellani Oakes
Cathe Olson
Karen Putz
Mridu Khullar Relph
Gregory J. Rummo
Laya Saul
Kate Tenbeth
Tim Warneka

Thank you also to Denise Bartlett and Charlotte Holley of Gypsy Shadow Publishing.

I am very thrilled about this book being published and learned some good tips from some of the writing parents included in this book. My first child is a teenager now and I also have a young child and so I am still dividing my time between writing and parenting. These days, my writing career has taken a major shift, as I no longer have deadlines hovering over me and I will also soon be more active in publishing books instead of writing them, but I am still writing here and there so I can still relate to trying to find time to write while also being a good parent for my child. I hope this book will help other writing parents out there struggling to find balance, or perhaps they will be inspired to keep going just as these parents interviewed in this book have inspired me.

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