I wrote Copy Boy, my first of the Jane Benjamin novels, in ten years, dipping in and out of the research and writing and planning and publishing processes in between teaching college writing, running a coaching business, and raising two sons. The book was slow going.

By contrast, one year ago, I retired from teaching and wrote book two in the series, Tomboy, in just about seven months. (It was far too sedentary a time. I’m learning as I go.) That book publishes in June. The whole process this time around has felt like a whirlwind. Now it changes again as I prepare to launch Tomboy while researching and writing book three.

Lately I’ve been wondering if I have it in me to keep all these balls in the air.

But then I settled into my research on the groundbreaking women welders of World War II-era Richmond shipyards, and found a treasure chest of detail that rekindled the proper attitude.

Above, you see a picture taken from a 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine, educating business leaders and managers how to deal with the new experience of relying on women workers since so many of the usual, male crew was away at war.

This little bit was especially rich: “Older women … have a hard time adapting themselves. They are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy.”

Well, that’s insulting. Then again, I have been feeling somewhat cantankerous and fussy lately. There’s a lot to do. So many ways too fail. A person runs out of energy.

I sat with that and decided, you know, I believe women and men of every age who are trying to do hard things may feel at times cantankerous and fussy. I believe I’ve witnessed that in my very own household.

I’m okay with it. If the process of adapting to do something meaningful, something you really care about, makes it hard to be 100% content every darn day, well okay then. I’ll take it.

This morning, thinking of the women welding Liberty Ships in 1943, I stand a little straighter to be cantankerous and fussy. Because it’s hard to make things.

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