On Time, Sacrifices, and Difficult Choices in the Writing Life

Hi, Irene Latham here. Happy February! The shortest month seems like as good a time as any to talk time, sacrifices, and difficult choices.

The truth is, anything that requires as much time as writing is going to mean sacrifices. 

I'm not a big fan of that word “sacrifice,” though, and prefer to think of it as making a choice. It's a decision.

Anytime we choose to do anything, we are choosing NOT to do something else. So, occasionally (okay, maybe more than occasionally) I've had to make difficult choices. 

Like giving up SLEEP. When I first started writing to get published, our children were very young, and the only extended more-than-15-minute-snatch of time I could guarantee myself was in the early morning hours before the kids were awake. I have spent many a dark-everyone-still-sleeping hour writing! 

Another daily sacrifice is TV. Paul and I love to watch TV together, but I can't give my whole evening to it. I usually cut out early, so I can get in another hour or so of writing/reading time. 

But the most difficult choices have been the ones that mean I can't be in two places at once. One of the most fulfilling parts of being an author is sharing the experience with others via school visits, book festival, conferences, retreats, and travel. Some of the best moments in my life have come from participating in such events! And yes, I need the community, and I owe it to my books to promote them, but DANG. I hate missing any time with the people I love best. Family events, occasions, every day fun... you can't get those moments back, you know? (Most recently I missed taking our son to the airport before a 3 week stint in India, because I had a book event the same day. I made up for it by being there to pick him up the night he returned...WAY past my bedtime. :)

Last month I carved out 2 whole
weeks with no book events/ school visits
for a trip to the FL Keys!

Which is why these days I am hyperaware of TIME as our most valuable resource.
Our kids are grown, and I can write uninterrupted during the daylight hours. I am committed to not overdoing, overbooking, over anything. I take social media breaks and do my best to prioritize family time and vacations over book events. This takes effort and planning! Sometimes despite my best efforts, I still can't be in two places at once. But I don't beat myself up about it nearly as much as I used to.

I see this evolution as sort of the life cycle of a creative. Of course when we start out, we're much more willing to do All the Things. Now that I'm more established, I understand how little control I actually have over any of my books' success. I've enjoyed many wonderful, meaningful experiences. I can now, with much less angst, “sacrifice” some of the author-life opportunities and choose family, quiet, peace of mind. 

What I can't live without, what I choose over and over again, is the actual writing. Every day, here I am, tapping away at my computer. Paul and the rest of my family support me 100%. They let me be me, and they always welcome me when I come out of the cave. I'm so grateful. 💗

Comments

  1. Praise to all those in our lives who give us time to write.

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  2. So much wisdom here. Writing takes SUCH devotion.

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  3. I love this, Irene, and you've inspired me to consider the possibility of moving to virtual author visits only. I just got home from several days on the road with a sore back, exhausted, and thinking that I loved connecting with the kids, but was this the only way to do it? THank you for making me more thoughtful. Also, I loved your forgiveness poem. Couldn't comment on it for some reason, but I really like how sometimes we get the gift of forgiveness unexpectedly. Such a great moment :>)

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  4. I am in awe of how much my husband supports and encourages me in my writing time. I agree - the choices are difficult to miss out on some things; but oh, the writing time...

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  5. Great post, Irene! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

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  6. Finding time is at the crux of so much, isn't it? (Or maybe it's making time?) I really like that you've framed your decisions as choices rather than sacrifices. The power of a well-chosen word resonates again.

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  7. Irene, thank you for sharing your writerly life/family life thoughts. I am so glad that you have time to just be in the writing zone. We all benefit from your efforts.

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