FaithWriters member Sarah Heywood has placed in the Weekly Writing Challenge multiple times. She homeschools her four sons and still manages to find time to write. Join me as I chat with Sarah about her writing, her goals, and what a typical day looks like in her busy household.
LYNDA: Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
SARAH: Well, there’s nothing too extraordinary about my life. I’m 40 years old. I live in the middle of Iowa in a town that nobody has ever heard of (but I am a city council member – that makes me somebody, right?!). Like most moms, I’ve got way too much on my plate and I am perpetually running behind. I’ve been married to my husband, Paul, for 18 years. We live in a house that was built in 1850 which means we’ve been remodeling non-stop since we bought it (hey – it was cheap!). I have told my husband that I will die in this house before I will consent to buying another fixer-upper because I am NEVER remodeling again. He just laughs – I don’t like the sound of that! Oh, and along the way, we’ve managed to produced 4 sons, which means that I no longer know what the word “quiet” means.
LYNDA: You’re a homeschooling mom. Give us a typical rundown of your day (if there is any such thing as typical)
SARAH: It’s not as chaotic as one might think (although, as I write this, I do hear screams coming from the vicinity of my living room). This school year has actually been one my easiest, ever. Our second son has some disabilities and we made the decision to enroll him in public school last fall when it became obvious that he needed more of a regulated day. He is thriving there and no longer homeschooling him lifted a big burden from my shoulders. So, I start my days by rousing that boy and getting him off to school. Once the others have been pulled out of their beds, I remind them for the billioneth time about doing their chores. Then, I give them a list of their schoolwork for the day and I’m around if they have questions, but I haven’t had to do any actual teaching this year, which has been really nice! Of course, that will change in a couple of years when my 3 year old starts kindergarten. If I’m not stuck in my mini-van, providing transportation for the boys and their activities, I’m at home alternating between laundry and the computer, and then there’s more laundry. And then I have to cook (do you know how much food 4 growing boys eat? Holy cow! I’m starting to re-think my whole anti-gardening stance). I fall into bed exhausted every night and then my husband decides that right then is when he’d like to have an in-depth conversation with me. My mom promises me that someday I will miss these days…
LYNDA: As the mother of four boys (and wife to one big boy), things must be pretty interesting around your house. Do you have a funny “boy” story to share? (If not, just tell us what life is like with all that testosterone).
SARAH: Oh yes, things are definitely interesting, as well as smelly. Our boys are 16, 14, 12, and 3 (suprise!). I never dreamed I’d end up surrounded by this much testosterone – or dirty socks. But while the noise never ends, neither does the fun. And I do like that. I do have plenty of “boy” stories, but some of them might not be fit for mixed company. However, one funny story that pops into my mind involves our second son, Ben. Ok, so we live in Iowa, which is the first in the nation caucus state. We try to be politically aware and as active as we can be. So, we decided that it would be very educational to take the boys to the last caucus. Before we went, I made the point to remind that boys that while we were there supporting a particular candidate, we needed to be respectful of all the cadidates represented. That’s something they really, really emphasize at these caucus gatherings. So we get to this huge church where our caucus was being held and it’s just PACKED. We finally get seats up on the platform, facing everybody else. So, I’m trying to be inconspicuous as possible. The way a caucus works is that people stand up and give brief statements as to why they are supporting a certain candidate for the party’s nomination. This goes on for quite awhile. Finally, out of the corner of my eye, I happen to catch a hand movement from Ben. He is sitting behind me. I turn around, only to discover that the kid is making a large, thumbs-down movement with his hands, in response to what somebody was saying about a candidate we weren’t supporting! Oh, what I wouldn’t have given for the floor to just swallow me up at that point!
LYNDA: Lol…too funny. So when did you start writing?
SARAH: I’ve been writing since early elementary school when a teacher decided I had an aptitude for it and convinced my parents to send me to these special before-school writing classes. I excelled at anything having to do with writing all through my school years and managed to get a few things published during my high school years (although reading them now makes me cringe!). I never had any desire, though, to make a career out of writing. I wanted to be a mom more than anything. It never occurred to me that I could possibly do both. I had my first 3 sons in a 4 year period of time. During those busy years, though, I kept thinking about writing and then feeling guilty that I wasn’t writing. But I didn’t have time to shower, let alone write! My mom finally reminded me that there are seasons of life and what I was doing then was gaining the experiences that I would write about later. A few years ago I met Kristi Peifer, a fellow FaithWriter’s member, in an on-line forum. Seeing my long-winded posts and figuring that I had some writing ability, she suggested that I check out FaithWriters. I did, but it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I got serious about my writing and began to view it as something more than just a hobby.
LYNDA: You have a blog. What is its focus and what do you love about blogging?
SARAH: My blog has probably the longest name of any blog out there. It’s called “Mothering Men to Be, Marriage, and Miscellany. Truthfully, I don’t know why anyone reads it. It’s not that interesting. I just write about my days, funny things the boys have said, my latest frustrations, etc. Every so often I’ll get inspired to write a single subject post, but that doesn’t happen very often. I pretty much just ramble. I figure, if nothing else, I’m keeping a diary of my days. I might appreciate re-reading that someday. However, quite a few people follow it and tell me they enjoy it. I’m not quite sure why, though.
LYNDA: Just goes to show you we really don’t know when or how we’ll touch someone with our writing. Have any of your works been published?
SARAH: I’m just now starting to venture past the FaithWriter’s “safety net.” I’m feeling more and more of a need to do that as I progress in my writing. Recently, I had a piece published by Regular Baptist Press for the Baptist churches in our association. I wrote about ways the church can help meet the needs of families with special needs children. That was quite thrilling for me – and I got paid for it, which about knocked me over. I couldn’t believe that somebody would actually want to PAY me for my thoughts! Also, our mayor asked me this Spring to start putting out a newsletter for our little town. I’m having some fun with that one. So, now I am the official editor of the “Swan Social” – pretty impressive, right? It would be more impressive if they would pay me…
LYNDA: What do you love about FaithWriters?
SARAH: FaithWriters has given me confidence in my writing that I didn’t have before. The Challenges have given me the opportunity to hone my skills and to try different types of writing. Nothing makes my day more than to receive a kind comment in one of those yellow boxes! I’ve been able to grow in my writing in just a short amount of time just through the Challenges. I don’t know that that would have happened without FaithWriters. It’s just a wonderful organization. Oh, and by the way – I just booked my tickets this week for the August conference, which will be my first. I am SO excited!
LYNDA: Yay! You will love, love, love the conference. So what are your writing goals for the future?
SARAH: I want to learn how to be a better writer, which I suppose will come with time and rejection letters. During this next year my goal is to write and submit more pieces for sources other than FaithWriters. Of course, I dream of writing a novel someday (is there a writer that doesn’t?). Lord-willing, that will become a reality. In the meantime, I’ve got some men to finish raising, a house to work on, and a whole lot of cooking left to do. I like to think of Ecclesiastes 3, where we are reminded that there are seasons in life. I look forward to the day when writing can move more to the forefront of my life, rather than being something I poke at on Wednesday nights, trying to beat the Challenge deadline!
LYNDA: Well, you’ve definitely proven you have what it takes to be very successful in your writing (and anything else you do). Thanks for taking the time to chat. I look forward to meeting you at the conference this August!
SARAH’S BLOG, MOTHERING MEN (TO BE), MARRIAGE, AND MISCELLANY