As 2014 vanishes in the dust, I’m sitting back and reflecting on what has happened in the past year (or not happened, as it were) and what may come in 2015. I’ve spent a lot of time inside my head, wondering what I’m doing, wondering if my family can survive this path to publication I’m on, wondering if I’ll ever escape this yet-to-finish-the-first-book hell. As a result, I find myself at an uncomfortable and confusing crossroads in my writing career.
Should I continue writing?
The answer isn’t easy, or straightforward. My heart says yes. Like many things, though, the heart is overruled by logic, reason, or logistics. Usually all three.
I won’t talk about the feelings of chaos, unworthiness, or general craziness I’ve experienced the last few months, but the Ladies can vouch for some of the air-headedness that’s resulted from it. I sometimes feel writing is taking over me, but not in a good, can’t-stop-creating-my-story way. More like now-what-am-I-trying-to-do?
What I find myself coming back to is why I’m thinking of postponing my writing career. I’ve concluded it comes down to three things:
I have two little kids and a husband who works more than full-time and travels a lot. I’m the “do-er” around the house. Housekeeper, part-time gardener, laundress, cook, butler, footman, valet, maid…you get the idea. It’s how it’s always been, and I don’t see it changing much, but it means that if someone is sick, or needs to go to football practice, or has something after school, I’m the one caring, taking, or doing.
I schedule dedicated writing time on my calendar, but it’s often usurped by that thing called LIFE. Doctor appointments, tae kwon do, carpool, carpet cleanings, volunteering at school, picking up dry cleaning. Heck, you’re likely juggling those things, too!
Lately, though, I’m wondering if there’s too much going on in my family’s life right now for me to be trying to build a career writing. The courageous, driven, you-can-do-anything side of me says that yes, I can do it. The more pragmatic side of me is starting to think that I can do it, sure…but at the expense of my family’s peace and happiness, not to mention my own. That brings me to…
More and more, I feel like life is moving about 1,000 miles per hour and I’m not keeping up. Meanwhile, things whiz by me left and right and I don’t even have enough time to see if they affect me or not. If they do, I don’t have time to address it.
Family contributes to this. So does my participation in my local RWA chapter (I just suggested we have a new contest for romance writers this spring and the board agreed – and it starts now! More things for me to do! What was I thinking?!?).
As with any family/job that has lots of moving parts, my calendar is chock-full of things I have to do, and the resulting chaos means I screw up (like I did with last week’s blog post). I don’t like screwing up, especially if it negatively affects others. It’s one thing for me to not write a post on my own site, but when I forget on Eight Ladies, I’m letting them down. I begin to wonder what the world’s perception of me really is, which leads me to…
I think fear is what’s at the root of all of this, although I’m not quite sure what it is I fear. Success and the work that will inevitably come with it? Failure and the disappointment it brings? The uncertainty of my writing future?
My family has sacrificed a lot for me to write in the form of time and money and attention. If I succeed at writing, will they be forced to sacrifice more? What if I fail? Will all of that been for naught? Will everyone say, “Yeah, didn’t think she’d stick to it?”
So What’s Next?
That’s the $50,000 question. My husband, who is absolutely amazing, has told me that until I finish this first book, I have to keep on course. The analogies he’s used are hilarious:
- “You’re at the 1 yard line!”
- “You’re almost over the hill!”
- “You’re at the 25-mile mark!” (can you tell he used to run marathons?)
He’s right, of course. He’s reassured me that yes, it’s been hard on the whole family sometimes, but good things often are. The kids, he says, aren’t delinquents and don’t have to see therapists because they’re being neglected. He thinks it’s important that the kids see me as a mom, but also as an independent woman with her own interests and goals. After all, he married me because I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom AND a career woman (preferably one after the other).
Therefore, I have to see this book through. I have to shop it around and try to sell it. Perhaps even self-publish. I have to finish the cycle, he says. If, after doing that, it seems that writing is taking over my life and ruining our family, then I should revisit my career goals.
Until then, keep writing.
So that’s what I’m going to do. Finish the book. Try to get it traditionally published. And figure out if writing is sustainable right now, or if it needs to be put on temporary hold. Time will tell, I suppose.
Have you found yourself at a writing crossroads? What did you do?