I often tell people I hold down two full-time jobs. I work a 40-hour-per-week day job and fit my writing career in around this. I easily put 40 hours per week “writing” (which includes all that goes with it—drafting new material, editing, promotion, networking, and a million other things). I spend at least two to four hours every evening and as many as twelve to sixteen hours on the weekends writing. I do take days off and there are weeks where I barely write anything, but when I’m under deadline, in the middle of a promotional push for a new release, or the story is flowing then I’m not spending time with my family.
In the early days, when my kids were little they would sit in the den where our only desktop computer was and watch Disney movies. If they needed me, I’d stop working to take care of them, then I’d go back to writing when they were settled. My husband wasn’t as understanding. He’d often get mad at me for spending so much time “playing” on the computer rather than watching whatever TV show he wanted to see.
But never did my family suffer or lack my attention. I was there when the kids wanted or needed me. My husband had my attention when he really needed it—like when we had to talk something over or just for snuggle time. We ate (and still do) every supper together—at the dinner table, with no distractions. There’s never been a time we ate in front of the TV. We use this hour to talk about our days and to laugh together. I’m a neat freak, so the house has been and still is cleaned every week. The laundry is done and put away. I’ve gotten good at multi-tasking. I use this time while doing housework for plotting and planning.
Now, my kids are grown, or nearly so—my son is in his second year of college and my daughter is a very active high school junior. She and I spend a lot of time shopping and talking. We can talk about anything and everything. She’s easily my best friend (or rather will be when she’s all grown up). She likes to tell me stories that she’s come up with. My hope is someday she’ll become a writer, but for now she’s content with keeping her stories in her head. What’s funny is this is exactly what I did as a teenager… So, who knows.
My husband has since accepted my writing career. He’s gotten over my late nights and not watching TV with him. He’s gotten used to eating frozen pizza when I’m on a deadline. He’s even started cooking some himself. I think that now he believes all that “playing” on the computer has paid off. He likes my royalty checks as much as I do. In fact, not too long ago, he asked me when I’ll be publishing my next book.
Being a full-time writer with a full-time day job and a family is a tremendous joggling act. Sometimes all the balls are in the air like we want them to be, and other times they all come falling down on us… The key is to be able to pick them back up and get them all in the air again with the least amount of hardship.
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