When I first started writing seriously, I had three very young kids. Only one of them went to school, and the other two were home with me all day. I had quit working full time because my hubby and I realized that all the money I made was going to cover the cost of daycare. In essence, I worked so that other people could raise my kids.
I was lucky – I didn’t have to work. So I stayed home and raised kids and tried to learn to be a writer.
Yes – I had that same “I’ve always loved to write and I used to be pretty good when I was in school” kind of ambition. I made all the beginner mistakes that there are to make. It was a slow, often difficult learning process. I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning so that I could spend more than 15 minutes at a time working on a story. I would read articles, books, message boards (yeah – it predates the blog thing), and I would write my guts out until I was nodding off with my fingers poised on the keyboard.
I would sneak writing time in when my little ones were napping, while I parked in front of the elementary school waiting to pick up my oldest, and – I confess – while I sat in the back pew in church. Anytime was writing time as far as I was concerned.
I picked up a part-time job working for a ceramic studio and managed to save enough money to go to a writing retreat one summer. I met one of my best writing friends there – Jan Czech. We would talk about all the ways we tried to make writing a part of our day. I would tell her how hard it was to write with little kids, and she would tell me how hard it was to write with a full-time job, and we would laugh and drink wine, and then we’d head to bed. Of course, we’d both stay up late into the night – writing.
I had several years where I did get to write full-time, and I have reaped many rewards from that. My writing grew stronger, my books and articles got published, and I got a taste of the type of success I had wanted for so long.
But things have changed. I’m back to sneaking my writing in late at night, on the weekends, when I can get away with it at my full-time job. I have to be careful or I will find myself getting only a few hours of sleep at night. The circumstances are what they are – I can be angry, I can be frustrated, or I can accept that this is my reality and move on. The question with any dream is: What’s it worth to you?
It’s worth not getting enough sleep.
It’s worth not getting the laundry done, the house cleaned, or being productive at work.
It’s worth spending the money on a laptop that I can smuggle in my purse.
It’s worth understanding that – for the short-term at least – I have to take a step back from other things I’d like to do because my spare time is limited and I want to spend all of it writing.
I was lucky enough to take four giant steps forward at one point, and now I’ve had to take a small step back. Patience is indeed a virtue.