More than a place--it's a writer's muse.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"It's a family show!" "How do think families are made?"

The two quotes above are from one of my favorite Renaissance Faire skits from waaay back in the day. I believe they came either from the Trial and Dunke (<--yes, the e is intentional) or the Wench Auction at PARF. Doesn't really matter who said them (Jackie Cupshotten and Sheriff Marshall Law ;-) but the idea actually translates (at least in my mind) to right now.

I've mentioned before that writing often seems like a solitary endeavor. You probably come up with your initial concept alone. You probably write your outline (hiss! ;-) if you write such things, alone. And your rough draft? Probably also written alone. Some of us are lucky and brainstorm with our spouses and some of us subject them to reading what we've written (guilty ;-). When you get your copyedits you'll almost certainly do THAT alone (my DH wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole).

But, like many writers, you probably have a family, too. And here's the rub--you can't be entirely solitary with your career if you're part of a family show (or three-ring circus in my case ;-). You helped make the family, you have to be part of it, too. And let's face it--some of our best material comes from our family (shhh--don't tell the in-laws, right? ;-).

If you're like me you may have a workaholic streak. I was trained into it early on by being a competition shooter (those of you who've read 13 to Life'll start putting pieces together now, probably ;-). There's a near-obsession that's encouraged in certain levels of sport--an addictive quality. That can translate pretty easily into other addictions. Mine's writing (or art when I'm knee-deep in a project) and (if I don't watch) chocolate (the Devil's bean ;-).

When I'm deep in writing a novel, the house could fall down around my ears and I'd probably just mumble at the DH. It does not make me a good spouse or a good mother at those moments. Luckily, my spouse is awesome and takes up the slack (though he shouldn't have to *grumble*). And we're both new enough at this writing thing that we know we're still learning--still looking for the balance.

A writer I greatly admire recently mentioned the struggle she was facing with the obligations of her writing and keeping plugged in when it came to her children, too. Like me, she's a bit obsessive with the writing. And I know there are others of you who have had to recently talk with spouses and family about finding the balance, too.

The fact is, as solitary as writing seems, we're all part of our own family "shows"--the success and failure of which rests on our shoulders as well as those of the other family members. To keep the show running, we all must plug in and do our part. We must make sure our spouses, etc, know when the crazy times are approaching and talk about expectations and needs (everybody gets a say).

It's not always easy, and you may feel like you're having to be everything to everyone, but if you want a career in writing AND a strong and happy family, you have to find the balance. Talk about it. Writers are supposed to be decent communicators--so prove it by making time to communicate with the rest of your family and friends.

On with the show!


Deborah Blake said...

And don't forget our extended "family" obligations. Even those of us without kids or a DH (helpful or un) still have obligations to our jobs, our close friends who depend on us, our pets, our homes, and yes, even to ourselves.

It can be a real struggle to balance the "stuff we have to do" with the "stuff we really want to do"--but if we want it enough, we somehow find a way.

Saranna DeWylde said...

Yes, it's such a struggle to find balance. My spouse creature doesn't read my work, but he supports me in other ways. Like working the two jobs so I can be at home.

I feel so guilty when he comes home and the house is dirty, dishes are in the sink and the laundry is piled in the bathroom and my butt has been in chair for three days. Did I mention I haven't showered? He just asks what progress I've made and hugs me tight, or drags me up the stairs for other wifely duties. As long as I keep up with those, he doesn't get too concerned about the rest.

So, I try to spoil them between projects. Lots of homemade goodies and activities.

I don't feel so solitary now that I've got the Divas. It's been so encouraging creatively and spiritually, if you can believe that, to be part of this group.

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