In the coming weeks, I’ll have a series of interviews with other artists who are also entrepreneurs, many of whom are also parents. Just to get the ball rolling, you know, so you know what to expect, I’ll interview myself first!
Tell me about yourself.
My name is R. M. Webb … well that’s not my name name … just the name I like to be called around the internet. Some call me R, others, RM, others call me that crazy woman who interviews herself on her own blog. 😉
I spent many years training to become a professional ballerina, sacrificing social time, cream in my coffee, and sleep all in the hopes of living the dream. I did get to live the dream – for nine short months. I then proceeded to rupture my Achilles tendon, undergo reconstructive ankle surgery, and then, after three months of not being allowed to put weight on my left leg, learn how to walk again. My orthopedist said I’d be lucky to ever walk without a limp, let alone dance.
If my time in the world of professional ballet taught me one thing, it taught me that anything could be done if you put your head down and worked towards it day by day, little by little. Long story short, I don’t limp and I have danced and danced and danced since earning myself that ugly scar on my left ankle. (If you’ve read Facade, you’re probably getting a little light bulb in your head right now!)
As I healed, I taught dance to little kids at my mom’s dance studio – something I said I’d never do. Guess what. Not only did I do it, but I fell in love with it. I poured my heart into those kids and my spare time into learning how to be a better teacher. Little by little, day after day, I learned more and more about the psychology of teaching children, the art of structuring a class, and the delicacy or raising young artists.
During this time, I became a mother.
Just now, I’ve written sentence after sentence on what my life as a mother means to me only to delete them as they don’t do this part of my life justice. Motherhood isn’t something you do, it’s something you become. Or at least that’s how I approach it. My status as a mother defines me and colors every choice I make.
For years, my kids got off the school bus at exactly the time I had to go to work to teach. Monday – Friday, I kissed them as they walked in the door, told them goodnight, and kissed their sleeping heads again when I came home. I even worked Saturdays and came home too exhausted to do anything more than sit on the couch and stare blearily at the TV.
Remember how I told you motherhood defines me and colors every choice I make? Thanks to the AMAZING support of the love of my life, Mr. Wonderful, I was able to hang up my teaching hat, be home in the evenings and on the weekends, and actively participate in raising my children.
But wait, wait, wait, you say. I thought you were a writer!
I am. I was. I always have been. It’s something I’ve done in the cracks, on the side-lines, asking what if and following the paths my mind wandered down. I’d never seen it as something I could do, not with how busy I was…
Enter Mr. Wonderful.
“Write,” he says. “Stay home and write while the kids are at school,” he says. “Self publish,” he says. “I believe in you,” he says.
I don’t have the words to describe how I love him.
Why do you create?
It’s tacky, it’s cliche, but the answer is simply because that’s what I do. I always have, I always will.
Quick! Chocolate or chips?
Chocolate covered chips!
What caused you to want to market your art?
I’m going to answer this question about writing as that’s what I do now. First, it was Mr. Wonderful’s support. Now it’s still Mr. Wonderful’s support, but it’s also the joy I get knowing someone is reading my work. It’s really cool hearing from readers, getting feedback about the story, hearing the parts they enjoyed as well as the parts they didn’t enjoy, and then going off on little conversational tangents about gardening or new jobs.
Where/when does inspiration strike?
EVERYWHERE! If I could just record all the ideas in my brain, just get all the stories and characters and questions out on paper RIGHT NOW I’d probably sigh a monstrous sigh of relief just before another slew of plots and characters and questions started jangling around in there begging for attention.
How do you react to negative feedback?
First, I sweat and fight tears. Then I take a step back and see if there’s anything I can glean from the feedback that will help me grow as a writer and/or storyteller. If there is, I make note of it and make sure to work on that weakness from that point forward. If it’s just negative, non-constructive feedback, I let it slide off my back like water off a duck’s butt. (Or try to anyway.)
What’s your greatest obstacle as an artist?
Myself. My perfectionism. My fear of failure. My desire to succeed and the way I constantly raise the bar on what I consider as success.
Who’s your biggest champion?
Quick! Red or blue?
ACK! I like all the colors! Although, if you forced me, I’d pick blue.
Do you have kids? If not, do you want to have kids?
I’m raising three children. Lady Chatterbox is 11, Sir Brown Eyes turned 8 in January, and Master Moose is irritated that he has to wait until April to be 8.
If your child showed talent in an artistic endeavor, would you help her pursue a career in that field after having worked in a creative field yourself? Why or why not?
I stumble on this question. Lady Chatterbox was an award winning dancer. Scholarships to study in New York and LA started coming her way when she was 8. As a teacher and former dancer, I’d drool over her physical gifts and at her ability to articulate emotions that should have been out of her reach given her young age. But she didn’t love it. How could I push her into a VERY challenging life, requiring lots of physical, social, and financial sacrifice if she didn’t love what she did?
She asked to quit dance for two years straight. I finally let her last year, just before I quit teaching.
There’s a difference between being supportive and being pushy. I desperately wanted to steer clear of the latter.
How do you structure your day as an artist/entrepreneur/person/parent? How do you get it all done?
I get up at 5:15 and either work out or write. I cook a real breakfast for the kids and have it on the table by 7. While they’re getting ready, I pack lunches, and if I have time, squeeze in my shower. They’re all on the bus by 8. I write until noon at which time I start housework and prepping dinner. The entire family gets home between 3:30 and 4 unless Mr. Wonderful stays late at the office. I’m in serious multi-tasking mode at that point, finishing dinner, helping with homework, and chatting with the family. After dinner, I sit with Mr. Wonderful. I love spending time with him. Our relationship is precious to me. We go to bed early as he wakes up even earlier than I do.
Describe yourself as a parent.
I’m exacting. I see the latent potential in the kids and I want to help them develop it. I’m quick to praise a job well done, but just as quick to hand back work that isn’t well done. My kids are kind, they’re sweet, they’re hardworking. I hug them tight each day and help them find more ways to be kind, better ways to be sweet, and to show them how well hard work pays off.
What’s the best thing about raising kids?
Oh the joy! The laughter! The great big hugs!
What’s the hardest thing about raising kids?
They are constantly changing and evolving. What works today, didn’t work yesterday. Who got along well today won’t get along well tomorrow.
I’m equal parts afraid I’m doing it all wrong and certain I’m doing just fine.
But the hardest hardest thing? Knowing I’m raising them to be strong enough to leave me. If I do my job right, they’ll hug me tight and go off to become their own person, doing their own thing, and I won’t get to see each and every day anymore. They are of me, but they are not mine; they are their own person.
What advice would you give someone dreaming of making it in your field?
Learn and learn and learn. And be prepared to work for what you want. It won’t just land in your lap, it’s necessary to actively pursue the things you want.
If you could pass one thing on to the next generation in general, what would it be?
Be kind. Be strong. Reject fear.
What’s the best thing about your life?
I love my life. Each and every minute of it.
Quick! Eat out or cook at home?
What’s the hardest thing about your craft?
As a dancer and later as a teacher and choreographer, I got a lot of feedback on my work quite frequently through the creative process. I learned to value my efforts through the lens of how others saw me. As a writer, that feedback is few and far between. I’m learning to value my work for how I see it rather than how others see it.
What’s the best thing about your craft?
I make up people, and put them in disastrous circumstances, and guide them to safety and a deeper level of understanding of themselves and their world. In other words, I get to play with my imaginary friends all day!
What’s the hardest thing about the business side of your craft?
Oof. Not knowing how to make myself visible. Balancing the line between profitability and discoverability. Oh, and patience. I need more of that.
What’s the best thing about the business side of your craft?
Getting to learn another set of skills. I love learning.
Quick! Your peanut butter’s on your banana. What do you do?
Cheer! And then eat it!
Ok, shameless self promotion time:
Want to scope out my book? (I’m so close to having book two out on the shelves. I can’t wait to add that ‘s’ to ‘book’!) Click here!
Anything else you’d like to know about R. M. Webb? Shoot me a question in the comment section!