It all started out innocently enough. Of course, don’t all things start out that way? We never mean to do the harm we eventually end up doing, right? We never actively pursue the quest to hurt a friend or family member. Sometimes we see it coming, but that’s after we’ve started. And yet, sometimes we don’t see it until it hits us in the face.
Which is what happened to me.
When I started writing seven years ago, I went back and forth with deadlines. While I didn’t have any coming from an agent or publisher, I had my own personal ones. I knew by reading time and time again first novels can take anywhere from three to five years, but I had hoped that wouldn’t be the case with mine.
Back to my point, I wrote when I had the time. I’d get up at 4am in the morning and write until I had to get ready to go to work at 6am. I’d take my computer and write during my lunch hour, eating many of brown paper bagged sandwiches at the comforts of my desk. I’d take a Saturday or a Sunday here and there, spending a few hours at my favorite writing retreat spots while my husband took care of the kids.
Fast forward to today, and with five novels on the market, you can see I haven’t let up on my writing time. And that’s where in lies the problem.
Now that I’m a stay at home mom, I don’t have to stop writing at 6am. I could write all day if I wanted–even with my kids at home, even if I have a sink full of dishes, even if I have the equivalent of Mt. Everest of laundry in a pile. While for the most part, I don’t neglect my duties, I can’t deny that there have been days (especially when I had deadlines imposed by my publisher) that I’ve turned on kids movies, laid out an array of food for them, and completely turned a blind eye to the dishes and laundry so I could sit in front of my computer and write all day.
Of course, I’ve never thought that I’ve done this often, but when my oldest frowned one afternoon and asked me if I was going to write all day long again, I knew I had to take a step back and evaluate what I was doing.
Surely, this is my career. Surely, this was my passion. But I couldn’t help but wonder if my passion was slowly turning into my vice.
Not only was I ignoring my real job and responsibility in life being a mom, but I have to admit that there were times when I couldn’t get what I wanted (time, silence, to be left alone . . . ha, alone, what mother is ever alone?) I’d get angry. I’d lash out at anyone in my path, including the kids, which I hated, and immediately apologized for. Point is, though, that I started fighting for me time. Fighting so hard that it was all I focused on . . . or at least I focused on the lack of it.
I would have moments, just mere seconds, of thinking, I didn’t want to be a mom, I just wanted to be an author. Writing was my calling, not raising these two beautiful souls that were entrusted to be by God.
Of course, those moments never lasted and I’d come back to my senses. Whew! But I still thought the thoughts I did, and for those, I will forever feel guilty.
I knew that I needed to make a change. I needed to see my career as an author as less of a priority.
Instead of publishing two books a year, one would completely suffice. I’ve set limits on my writing time to once again early in the mornings while the kids are asleep and to certain weekends that I take a day away from the house. Given that I don’t have a publishers deadlines to adhere to anymore, that relieves that stress. I can, once again, follow my own personal deadlines, which I can tone down immensely.
It’s a daily effort to close off the bad thoughts, but it’s getting easier and easier to focus on the fact that I only have today where my kids will be this old. Tomorrow they will be older. And in a few years, they will have lives of their own. I only have today to live today. So what if I don’t make my 500 word count. I always have tomorrow.