More and more in the past few weeks, I have been reminded of what a balancing act my life has become.
On the one hand, I have my job. I like what I do, though it comes with hassles and frustrations as all jobs do. The 70 mile round-trip commute is not a lot of fun on a good day, and when it snows, it certainly isn’t a good day. The steady paycheck is nice, but the time away from home, from things I’d rather be doing – this is difficult.
On the other hand is my writing. I’d give just about anything to have this be my full-time job. I have no doubt it will be – at some point. That won’t be this week, however. So amid the demands of my family, my job, and my other responsibilities, I squeeze my writing into the nooks and crannies. I stay up late, I get up early, I put in time on the weekends, and I continue to believe in my dream.
Then there is my family. Only two of my three kids live at home now, and they aren’t home all that often. This is both the good news and the bad news. When they are there, I want time with them. I want to talk and find out how things are. Lately, they’ve been home during my writing time. That tends not to work out so well, so I have to compromise. And my wonderful, patient husband occasionally likes to see me and talk to me also. More compromises have to be made to accommodate that as well.
Add to this my writing partner. What started as a little mentoring became a wonderful friendship, and now a collaboration. We need time to work on our story (we are alternating chapters, but they are so intertwined that we practically have to sit on each other’s lap as we are writing). We set Wednesday evenings aside for that, but much of that time gets laughed away, and we need extra time to try and be serious about our work.
Then there is me. I like alone time, down time, time with my friends. I need time to go to the gym and time to get things done around the house. And when I look at all the things I’m juggling, I wonder if I’m not just plain crazy to try and keep it all going.
More than once the thought of giving up on writing has crossed my mind. In fact, more than once I’ve actually given voice to thought. The last time I said it, my writing partner threatened me within an inch of my life, so I’ve backed off of saying that around him anymore. That doesn’t mean the thought doesn’t flit through my head occasionally (sorry J). I allow it to drift in, but what I’ve learned is how to throw a net over it, wrestle it to the ground, sedate it, and haul it off somewhere. I’ve already given up once. I lost four years when I could have been having books published, and it became like starting over.
One of the most helpful things to keep me motivated is watching my writing partner. He wants this dream so bad it makes him almost crazy. That kind of desire is contagious, and it rekindles in me the feelings I had so many years ago when I started on this path. I remember the first time a box filled with my books arrived on my doorstep. I remember the sheer joy, the absolute sense of accomplishment that arrived in that box, and I want that sensation again. And again. And so on until I fall over dead at my keyboard, nose on the H key.
But in order to have that, I have to keep balancing things, and keep them in balance until it is safe to make a change. I give up a little time for me to sneak in an hour of writing. The laundry doesn’t get done on Saturday because I opted to spend time with my family. I quit writing a little early to spend time with my husband. I put off seeing friends because I need to meet with my writing partner. It isn’t easy. The choices are not fun. But the dream I have, the thing that pulls at my heart – my writing – makes it worthwhile in the end. Just don’t toss a chainsaw up here – thanks.