Now that I have returned to working full-time as a nurse, I’m tempted to quit writing.
First thing in the morning, I head to my little office, AKA the spare bedroom. I turn on Pandora – which station depends on which novel I’m working on – and I start to write, to lose myself in the tale I’m trying to weave. A few minutes later, I hear the words that signal the end of my writing time: “Mommy…”
It’s my six-year-old son, calling me to come and rescue him from his bed. He’s ready to get up and start his day. It’s not even 6 a.m. But for him, the day cannot wait (Which by the way, is the title of one of my picture books).
So I promise myself, I swear an oath, that I will write after he’s asleep. Later that night, with my early-morning riser tucked in bed, I head for the office. But I’m so tired. Is there a new Stephen Colbert episode to watch? Maybe I’ll just read tonight. Because everybody knows that writers are first and foremost readers. I have a Julia Quinn novel that I’m getting ready to dive into. Did I mention I’m tired?
And so it happens: another day goes by and I have not written a single word.
I know I’m not alone in my desire to throw in the towel. At a SCBWI conference a few years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing a keynote speech by Jay Asher. I didn’t know who he was before this conference. Jay is the author of a young-adult novel, Thirteen Reasons Why. The book spent 65 weeks on the New York Times children’s hardcover bestseller list. There are currently 750,000 copies in print in the US alone.
But success didn’t come easy or early to Jay. At one point in his writing career, Jay told his wife he was quitting. She convinced him to do otherwise.
In April, at this year’s western Washington SCBWI conference, successful authors shared their experiences. The journey to publication is a hard one; it’s not for the faint of heart. All agreed that at one time or another, they wanted to quit.
I’ve got to figure out how to make time to write. Perhaps the answer is to forget any fantasy of a one-hour window of quiet and take my solitary moments in whatever time increments I can get them. Or maybe it’s to ask for help. I live with two other people who could take care of my little guy for an hour. Maybe it’s to move my writing up on the priority list. Or perhaps it’s as Deborah Hopkinson says, “You’ve got to want it more than sleep.”
I don’t know how I’m going to accomplish my goal of 1,000 words a day, but I do know this: writing makes me better. It makes me smarter and funnier. It’s exercise for my soul.
And I have to think that I’m not the only person who needs to hear the voices in my head, the ones that say things like, “Celebrate your life,” (Celebration House), or “You have all of the answers within you” (Bone Girl), or “You are beautiful and deserve to be loved thoroughly” (A Year with Geno). I sincerely believe that others need to hear these voices too. But they won’t if I quit.
Hands and arms inside the cart: Next, music that moves me.