On writing & motherhood - Ellie Nova
We've been catching up with our contributors and recently received this lovely note from Ellie Nova (Sending Nudes & Cyber Smut). Ellie talks about writing and motherhood, and how everything changed after she had her son. Really enjoyed reading this and hope you do too. xx guts
1 August 2021
I’m writing this one handed in the notes on my phone. My baby son sleeps in my arms. This is now the only time I write: when River naps, and I have one hand free. Sometimes I push the pram one handed while I type. Sometimes I write walking in the shade of trees on Putney Heath while he sleeps against my chest.
Since I gave birth in November, I have been writing scraps as often as I can about my experiences as a new mother. I have to get the words down as quickly as possible before River wakes. There’s no time for punctuation and correct spelling. Editing anything has been out of the question. 8 months of disrupted sleep has meant I’ve misplaced a big chunk of my vocabulary. Writing this post is hard; the words don’t flow easily with a tiredness that pushes down heavy as a rain cloud on my once electric brain.
I have, since I was a little girl, measured my worth in productivity. In how many A stars I achieve. During lockdown I wrote about being pregnant in a pandemic and was published in The Mechanic’s Institute Review and Quaranzine. I graduated with a distinction and was shortlisted for the Pat Kavanagh Prize. My story ‘Send Nudes’ was published in two of Guts’ anthologies — Cyber Smut and Sending Nudes. That’s a few A stars. That’s enough to prove that I’m not failing, that I’m ok.
As a new mother, productivity as it was before is impossible. The dishes pile up, the laundry basket overflows, the high chair is covered in food. There are an infinite number of tasks each day and night required to keep a little human alive, healthy, happy. And there are no A stars to gain. The world of accolades and acclaim is closed to me for now.
I carry my son on my chest and he smiles at everyone. ‘Look at those big blue eyes!’ they say. The security guard at Coop always does a little dance for him and River giggles in delight. A voice in my head tells me I’m failing. At motherhood; at everything. I had a poem published by the Mum Poem Press that I wrote for River when I was pregnant. I have no idea how to write a poem anymore.
One day soon I hope to sit down and write again. For my brain to light up electric, and the words sparkle and dance. For now I am wondering whether it’s true that my worth depends on my productivity; on my how many A stars I achieve. Perhaps, when I finish writing this, and I am just sitting on the sofa with my son snoozing in my arms, and I gaze out the window, and I do nothing else — perhaps I am still worthy, perhaps I am ok. That could be possible. That might be true.
* * *
Ellie Nova recently completed an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths University. She previously worked in fundraising and communications in the charity sector. Her non-fiction, poetry and short stories have been published in various places online and in print including Goldfish Anthology, Her Stry and Popshot Quarterly – you can find out more at www.alittlefantastic.com. She lives in London and is working on writing her memoir.