How do I write now, as a mum?

by Kristina Gavran

When you go for a writing workshop, most of them will start with a simple writing exercise – you have 5 minutes and you just have to write without stopping. The only rule is that you cannot move pencil from the paper (or fingers from your keyboard). They also say you should start your writing every day like that, and then move on to the „real writing“. But what happens when you do not have time for „real writing“ and the stream of consciusness becomes the only method of writing?


This is exactly how I feel since becoming a mother. This is how I have been writing lately, this is how this blog post will be written, this is my reality. I spend all morning chasing my baby; I feed him, change nappies, play with him, read, sing….I make so many mental notes during the day. Because I know…around eleven he will get tired and he will sleep for one to one and a half hours. And that is my precious time to write.

I leave him in his bed and I run to the laptop hidden in my wardrobe (he noticed there is something special about the laptop and he loves playing with it, so I can’t even open it in front of him). I turn the laptop on in panic, I open the new word document and I just start, without thinking.

Before, when I was still a student of dramaturgy and playwriting, I would stretch my writing process to infinity. I would make myself a cup of coffee, clean the table, put everything in order (which also helped me clear the mind), then stare at the white screen for some time. I would write the first sentence, think about it for some time, erase it, go and make myself a snack, stare again at the white screen, write again a first sentence…. at the end of the day I would have a couple of pages. I would edit, think about each word, read it out loud just to hear how it sounds, edit again…and again. What luxury!

Now I have only one rule – don’t move your fingers from the keyboard! Write as much as possible in a short time, don’t think, don’t go back, you will edit later. I am writing surrounded by mega bricks, talking puppies, plastic cars and picture books. My table is in mess, I don’t care. My tea is getting cold next to me, I don’t care. I have no time to sip from cup, I can’t move my fingers because it would stop the stream of (un)consciousness. With the corner of my eye I notice I made a typo in the previous sentence, but I don’t care. I have no time to go back. I check the clock in panic….he will wake up. I have to hurry! My battle with time is giving me strength to continue.

At the end of the day I think; is this still art? Is my writing of any quality when it is written like this, in panic? Should I just give up? How can you be a writer and a full-time mum?

But then I conclude; I cannot go without writing. So, if this is the only way at the moment, let it be. Yes, my sentences are not as beautiful and thoughtful as they used to be, but they are „more real“. And if in art history we had Baroque, Classicism, Naturalism and even Dadaism (influenced by baby talk among other things) then why can’t we have „more real mother writing“? I will write a manifesto of this new direction in literature and call it MWIP (Mother Writing in Panic). Let’s start a movement! Wait a minute….my baby just has.


One foot in front of the other 1, 2, 3

Work, Parenthood and #RadicalChildcare

by Tina Hofman


One foot in front of the other 1

We’ve got it! The Arts Council funding!! We got the bloody funding!!!

Spiderman heard the postman and ran to the door to pick up the letters. I try practicing his word recognition by letting him sort the post for us. He gave me my letter.

As soon as I read “Arts Council” at the top, and recognised a brown, large, thickly filled envelope, I knew it.

I got it out and the letters “Offer Letter” just gleamed at me.

Spiderman and Batman were on the sofa, playing gladiators. I started to squeal and then scream. They stopped and looked at their mother. I was on the verge of tears, but also quite hysterical, covering the mouth to mute the volume of shock.

Being aware of their confusion and slight concern I shouted: “I am so happy. Kristina and I finally got the funding for our show!!”. Having seen me disappointed at the previous rejection letters, they understood something went well.

“Will you be doing the Wonderwoman?”, they asked.

I nodded.

Spiderman and Batman were very pleased.

I now needed to pluck the courage to tell them I have to get onto the computer, rather than take them to the park.

One foot in front of the other 2

I have an urge to honour this time of the day. It is 11:17pm. Batman and Spiderman are soundly asleep. The fridge is humming. This is the only sound I hear. Apart from the rain on my windows.

A small glass of red next to my computer. Technology working . (gratitude.) Brain very much awake and working.  (gratitude, but also knowing I will be unable to switch off when I finally lie in bed.)

I sometimes feel strangely powerful, at this time of the day. Just answering a wave of accumulated emails. I am concentrated, focused and fast. I do not procrastinate as my hour of sleep depends on my speed of work.

Dishes are washed and all is ready to welcome the morning.

One foot in front of the other 3

I changed countries the other day. For a temporary job. My two kids are with me. I on my own at the moment, my partner arrives in a week.  We are still busy unpacking our things at our temporary home.  Luckily, they are thrilled with the excitement. Travelling and temporary beds do not phase them. (gratitude.) They actually know Zagreb quite well. My Mum lives here. She is happy to help. (gratitude.)

It was a good day today. It exceeded all expectation. My cast is wonderful, the rehearsal room is well-equipped and my ideas are flowing. I am articulated and seem to know what I am doing. Luckily, I have done my homework in depth.

I am collaborating with a colleague who is also super-organised and reading from the same page.

I am proudly collecting these golden stars. For the days when I might be tired, less focused and not so well articulated.

Having finished a Skype meeting with learning community on #RadicalChildcare, I stayed up late catching up on emails.

In bed I am going over my to-do list.

I packed 2 little rucksacks. 2 snack boxes.2 pairs of slippers for indoors. Waterproofs for outdoors in case it rains. Change of clothes for Batman in case he has an accident. A spare pair of trousers for Spiderman in case he gets. A selected toy by each. Filled out forms with phone numbers for emergency. In case they cry a lot.

Tomorrow we are trying the new kindergarten. Through lost of research I found, what I hope to be a suitable place. The kindergarten is inflexible with hours (9am-1pm, this covering only a part of the day), but flexible with us just staying for several weeks.

I sometimes take them to work with me, but currently I want/need/crave some intense and focused time. I also want them to enjoy their new surroundings. Not to feel punished.

They will be fine.

Momentary guilt creeps in.

I quickly remind myself it was a good day today.