Friday, July 22, 2022

Mea Culpa, or, Finding That Balance

Back at the beginning of the year, I volunteered to write a post for this blog for the third Friday of every month. I’ve failed at that. I’ve written a few, but the months I’ve missed outweigh those I didn’t by a considerable margin.

There is, of course, a reason for that, or more properly, an excuse. Here’s my situation.

Over the past 18 months I’ve written six novels (or will have, if I make my August 1 deadline for the sixth, which I intend to do), a novella, and a handful of short stories. If I were writing full time, or if I were super-powered like our own James Reasoner and some others I know, that wouldn’t be a problem. But I’m not. Also, I have a demanding day job—I’m the managing editor for a company that makes online and print study aids for law student and lawyers, where I manage a team of nine editors as well as handling my own editorial workload and running the entire print program.

On top of that, there’s the home situation. My wife and I have five kids, of which three are still living at home. Only one of those can drive yet. My wife’s partially disabled from a collision a few years ago, and she can’t drive or work a full-time job. I do the vast majority of the household driving and many of the more physically demanding household chores. She is also a writer, so since losing her lucrative job after being run into, she’s been selling short stories, poems, and novels right and left, which definitely helps with the household income.

But none of that can create more hours in the day or more days in the week. I have to prioritize, and focus on the things that a) are crucial to the household, and b) earn money.

What I’m getting to is the lesson learned—one has to find the right balance in life. The conflicting demands of a novel deadline every three months and the day job have caused a lot of unnecessary and unhelpful stress. It’s cut into family time and reading time and relaxing time. It’s also cut into the time available to promote the books, which is an important part of any writer’s job these days. And it cuts into the time available for extracurricular writing, like these blog posts.

I’m still trying to find that balance. I’m grateful to Wolfpack Publishing and Rough Edges Press for taking a chance on my work, but if I sign another contract with them it’ll have to have more time built in for the books. I have artists waiting to work with me on graphic novel projects, other publishers wanting some of my time, and projects in mind that don’t fit into the series mold.

Or I need to make enough money writing to quit the day job, which will leave me significantly more writing time. Writing’s my first love—the day job has always been to keep the family housed and fed while I do it. Anybody have some spare Mega Millions tickets lying around?

Every writer needs to find the right balance in his or her own life. It can be hard for some of us, easier for others. My advice is, figure out what you can accomplish without stressing yourself out too much. Despite the myth of the starving writer in a garret pounding away on a used Underwood, a happy, fed, and rested writer is probably a more productive writer, and a better one.


  1. And on top of all the things you mention, there's the stress of living in a world in turmoil that threatens time and attention. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break.

    It's easy for me to say because I'm not under deadlines. We have to push ourselves to produce, but by the same token, if we push so hard it's no longer fun---well no one wants that. No magic wands, but you do keep seeking to find that balance, and something has to give in order to keep us sane. It's a constant juggling act.

    1. Thanks, BK. It's true that any writer, even one without deadlines, faces the same choice. And also true that the world is a stressful place to be right now. Probably better than the other planets, because oxygen, but still...

  2. We make choices, evaluate, then choose again. It is an almost daily occurance. Like you, I work. Unlike you, I don't have a contract. I know your talent will win out. Breathe and don't be too hard on yourself. Doris