My guest post for The Blue Stocking Society. I talk about how I juggle family and writing.
Like most aspiring authors, I dream of selling a book to a mainstream publisher, and then writing fulltime. For now, I write whenever I can.
Saturday, 4:30 AM. I’m up and ready to take on the day. Yeah right! After quickly flipping off the alarm so not to wake my wife, I’m at the computer nursing a fishbowl sized mug of coffee. As the PC comes to life, I glance at the stack of books next to me on the floor. Somehow the latest hardcover offering from Michael Connelly has made its way to the top of my TBR (To Be Read) pile, so I spend a half hour with Connelly’s meal ticket, Harry Bosch.
I begin work on my own novel, a police procedural called Dead of Knight. The story is complete; it’s now down to re-writes and polishing. I hear tiny feet on carpet. My five year old son is wandering around the house in the dark half asleep—it’s 5:30. I guide Alex back to bed and snuggle with him until he returns to sleep.
I pause for another cup of coffee and a few minutes of staring at a blank screen. A writer friend has asked me to read his 300-page manuscript. How can I tell him the second and third chapters are just a rehash of the first? I e-mail him a note reminding him to hook the reader early and suggest that perhaps his first 35 pages could be condensed into a strong ten to twelve.
A second after opening my book file, the phone rings—it’s my mom. She launches into a story of how my dad put his back out working in the yard yesterday. I ignore Mom’s subtle invitation to feel guilty about not spending more time with my parents.
The family is awake now and Erin, my wife, is quick to comment about how early I was up to write. She’s worried about how tired I am. Her concern is valid, as constant fatigue is the price I pay for working at such a ridiculous hour. Erin is telling me something about shopping with her mom. She’s irritated that I’m living in my head, as she calls it. She’s right—I’m stuck in my book and can’t get a scene out of my mind.
I pause from the book to open some snail mail. An agent from Toronto regrets to inform me that she is presently unable to take on new clients. Next, I learn a book proposal does not meet the current publishing needs of a small press in Connecticut.
As if on queue, my three year old daughter, Meghan, dances in to relieve the stinging pain of rejection with noisy versions of Do Re Mi and My Boy Lollipop!
I’m re-energized and writing at a nice pace. Erin is increasingly annoyed with my inability to pull myself from my book for even a few seconds. She announces that she is taking the kids to have lunch with her mom.
I decide to write for an hour and then surprise the family by meeting them at the mall. The house is quiet, too quiet. My eyes are closing, and each minute becomes a greater struggle to stay awake. I move to the bed for a short nap and wake three hours later to the sound of loud voices and laughter.
Alex and Meghan find me in bed and I excite them with news about a special day at the park tomorrow. However, the promise does little to diminish the guilt I feel for spending so much time away from my kids for writing.