Five years ago I was a very prolific novelist. One of my favorite memories is from the Christmas of 2008 (the month before I officially met my husband). I had gone home to spend Christmas with my parents (only an hour drive) but went back to my apartment earlier than I had planned because I had an idea for a book and I wanted to get it on paper (or my computer). For the next ten days I spent almost every minute of every day hidden in my room with my laptop typing as fast as I could. It was perfect because all my roommates had were gone and there were absolutely no distractions other than being dragged to a new-years dance — after which I went home and continued writing until the wee hours of the morning.
It was a writers heaven! and in just short of ten days I had churned out around 50,000 words.
For that week and a half I had lived my story — I had been absorbed in it! For the next few months I was averaging a full first draft every month. On the side I worked as a massage therapist and being self-employed I set just enough appointments to keep a roof over my head and food in the fridge — the rest of the time I wrote.
That fall I began dating the man I would marry …
and I never wrote another novel again …
Until now, that is.
The truth is, my husband was very supportive of my writing and the possibilities of being published were looking good (Dec. 2009 I was told by a publishing house that they would like to publish one of my books and would likely get to it autumn 2010 — unfortunately, they closed their doors that next year.) The problem with writing more books was getting into the stories — allowing myself to become lost in my imagination when I was enjoying my reality too much!
We had a baby the next year (and another, two year later) and being a mother — something I had always looked forward to — now occupied my time and mind. I could edit and even rewrite the manuscripts I already had, but creating something new seemed impossible. (Though really, I had just created a little human, so I think that year was still pretty productive!)
Now that I am writing again (my next post is dedicated to how I was able to get back into it), I face a problem I never had before: balance. To write a novel length manuscript I must become consumed with the story — to let it play out in my mind even when I’m not writing, and to find the time to bring it to life on the page. But my life has changed so much! To raise a preschooler and toddler I must be present and attentive, meeting all their needs and many of their wants. My relationship with my husband takes time as well — and focus. I can no longer hide in my room for ten days straight while I write a book. Most times, ten minutes seems like I’m asking too much!
And so I’m learning to dance. I’m learning when to set the lap-top down pick the child up. I’m learning how to use those wonderful moments when the kids are entertaining each other to their fullest. At least one evening a week — no matter how much I want to write — is dedicated to my spouse.
Even still, there are some things that are going to suffer — there is no way I’m spending my baby’s nap or children’s bed-time cleaning up the house and getting other randomness done. That’s when I write! If something didn’t get finished while the kids were awake, it gets to wait. I also spend less time out in the community and less time keeping up with old friends (sorry about that). While I’m trying to get this story out of my head and onto my computer, some things have to give — like epic post on my blogs for example.
I look forward to the day when the story is finished its first draft (I’m at 34,000 words!) so I can set it down do something a little less intense — like a rewrite that novel I wrote the Christmas of 08.
Here are a few signs that you might be “consumed” by your story:
- You can play the same song over several dozen times and not be tired of it, because you aren’t really listening — it’s helping create mood … even when your not writing. (My poor husband!)
- When your spouse comes home (or you are talking to that person that you always talk to), and instead of telling them about what’s new with family and friends, you fill them in on everything that’s been going on with your characters.
- When sitting in church (I am a Christian writer) instead of applying the thoughts of the day to your own life, you find yourself picking out what your characters need.
- You love creating music videos in your head — what your story would look like if surmised in a song. (If you haven’t tried it and you are a writer, you should!)
- Where ever you go, whatever you’re doing, your “people” are never far from your thoughts.