Sunday, March 11, 2018

You Can't Put Everything First.

Another one of my writing friends has a finished manuscript. It's amazing, and she's ready to get signed. I've kind of watched over the last year as all the women in my circle of writers have found homes in publishing houses or magazine positions and it has been astounding. 

I'm so proud of them. And I'm proud to know them. These are the people you want in your corner in the barfight we call life, and I'm so lucky. 

I'm also a little sad. Not in their direction, though. 

I had to pull my first novel out of a bad publishing deal and some ugly formatting. Totally my fault, but I learned from it so I guess that was something. But that manuscript has sat, as I continue to whittle it away, in silence. And it will for a long time, I think, along with its half-dead sequel that calls my name louder each day. I ignore most of those calls, and sometimes I'm too tired to even think about answering them with the work it will take to finish my second book. 

But you can't put everything in your life first without falling on your face. 

I found it easier to write with small babies in the house, babies that need naps and snacks versus older kids who need to go to the skate park and help with homework. Adding in a toddler has made everything shakey because that's what they are good at. 

The days where I could get an hour break are long gone. They won't be seen again until all three of my children are at school. In America, we don't have early childcare that is universal-or even universal preschool. This makes it hard for most of us to work the hours we need to without it if we don't have the cash for daycare, so our family dynamics make up the difference. I hope that changes when my children are adults. 

But, you know what?

If I'd of had to give up writing forever in order to have my children, if the trade would have been to never scribble another word to have them, I'd of done it. Without even thinking about it. 

And I'd make that choice over and over again. 

And thinking about it like that makes me feel okay that I'm not in the ranks of the women around me. They made and are making different decisions-to have one child, to have none, to have two, to put the choice away for the moment, to have dogs instead. Those are all awesome. 

Part of making a good choice is understanding what the consequences will be. And I'm more than happy with what I chose. 

A bigger family means I'm moving slower. Those stories are going to have to gather dust in the desk. They'll probably be better stories than they otherwise would have been because of it. 

Sometimes there aren't fast answers to bring productive when you are a parent.

Sometimes things, like novels, have to wait. 

I'm thinking about my own line of demotivational posters. No?
Yeah, no. 
If you were wondering, that doesn't make you any less of a writer. Just do what you can for right now. That's it. It might be short poems, flash fiction, whatever. Study your craft when you can by listening to podcasts, reading books on writing, and even taking a course if you can find one that is doable for you. Writing short stories for a blog and for magazines is an easier task when you have just a few minutes to yourself (about thirty in my house before a kid starts asking you when their turn on the technology you're holding is) and it doesn't require the deep, dark diving writing a novel pushes you into. 

A writing routine when you have to cook, clean, care and shop for smaller humans is kind of a joke unless you have some kind of killer support system (spoiler-we don't, and my husband works a high-stress job) and I still think the jerks telling everyone to get up at 4AM to work before their family does are crazy, but I tend to fall asleep at half-past 8 even when I didn't have to get up until 7AM. 

Kids really only need you this much for a short season. Right now, we're still at the stage where all of them want to gently catch and hold a crane fly in the Spring evenings. I'm aware that these days are numbered. 

This is the choice I made, and other than marrying my husband, I have never made a better one. 

My novels will be there when my children are older. When I am older, and when things slow down. And one day I will be where my writing sisters are and I'll have them to ask about the new experiences waiting for me. 

Be proud of your choices, and just keep working (when possible) and growing as a writer. 

**unsplash-logoSindre Aalberg** Credit to the photographer for the background of the illustration.

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