Everything in life requires either payment or sacrifice. Think about it: If you want to drive to work, you buy a car and that requires payments for the car, the gas, the insurance, etc. If you want to go on vacation, you sacrifice time doing other things (like work or being with friends) to have a break. If you want that Baskin Robbins Banana Royale sundae with hot fudge, you sacrifice your diet, and you pay with added time on the treadmill.
Even writing – or sometimes ESPECIALLY writing – has a cost to it. Those costs come in myriad forms and are not always what you might expect. For example, one cost of writing is often sleep. Sometimes, an idea strikes and a writer simply cannot shut his or her eyes until that idea is satisfactorily explored somehow. This might result in a chapter or two being written, a character study being created, or a plot outline being fleshed out. It is not unusual for many writers to find themselves at the keyboard, or sitting with a note pad and pen moving frantically in the wee hours of the morning. My writing partner and I would spend marathon sessions revising and critiquing sections of a book, or sometimes the whole book. We’d find ourselves at Denny’s at 2 a.m. still working out final details and not realizing how much time had gone by since we’d started at 9:00 in the morning.
Other sacrifices include things such as hobbies. I still make time for reading – the majority of the writers I know do as well – because it is really a part of writing. However, I used to be an avid knitter and crocheter, I don’t think I’ve picked up a hook or needles in over a year now because I try to use any of my spare time for writing. That’s how I got one book re-released, another book published, and another book sold and on its way to publication in a year’s time. I love needlework, and it’s something I’m good at.
I made a 3 foot long piece out of this and attached it to the bottom of a sweater. I’ve crocheted my whole life, but I just don’t take the time anymore to do it because I’d rather write. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for something I love just as much, or even more if I’m honest.
Sometimes we make these sacrifices willingly and consciously, and sometimes, we make them without even being aware we have done so.
I started writing my young adult novel, The Deepest Blue, in the fall of 2006. In the story, the main character’s father dies quite early on. In December of that year, my own father died, and it was just too hard for me to work on that story. Without realizing it, I began to sacrifice my writing to my sorrow. I sacrificed it to my self-doubt and to my need to please other people and keep them happy during a very sad time. That set off an avalanche that took me years to recover from. Nearly fours year, actually. When I picked up The Deepest Blue again, it was with the sheer determination to finish it and begin submitting it. At that point, I began paying for all my time away from the story and from writing. I had to relearn who these characters were. I had to spend time recreating the scenes and the plot. It was an exercise in reinventing the wheel out of necessity, but again, it exacted a payment. My relationship with my husband began to suffer because I had become obsessed with finishing the book rather than spending time with him (we had other issues at the time, to be sure, but this certainly didn’t help things). Relationships with friends began to suffer, too, because I just couldn’t pull myself away from my work in order to make time for them. I sacrificed balance in my life, and the cost was heavy indeed.
But the rewards are good as well. Beautiful Monster arrived on scene just over a week ago and is doing quite well already.
My Brother the Dog is being re-released on October 8 with a new cover and a new title (Kiss Kiss Bark).
And the first round of editorial revisions is done on The Deepest Blue which will be released in the fall of 2013.
Are the payments and the sacrifices worth it? For me, absolutely. But I have to caveat that by saying that they are worth it when I have balance in my life. As with anything, that is truly the key. And I am, quite honestly, a better writer when I have tha balance because then I don’t really feel as if I’ve sacrificed or paid too high a price at all.