I seldom do anything halfheartedly. I throw myself headlong into work and play and friendships. On the flip side, it takes me a long time to commit. Anytime I'm asked to try something new or challenging, my first response is no. My second response is yes, with everything in me. For example, I didn't date in high school, partly because I was too clueless to know guys liked me, partly because I had a couple really great guy friends and partly because I need to be talked into things. So imagine the shock when I was engaged to my now-husband five months after we met. When I make a decision, I make it one hundred percent.
I think this has been the hardest part of writing for me. I want to throw myself into my world, completely and with abandon. It worked great when I was a teenager and I could disappear into my room for days on end, reappearing only for meals. Now I'm approaching 30, I have a husband, a home, a baby, a real job. There are dozens of things vying for my attention at any given moment.
I am also the kind of person who attracts guilt like white pants attract dirt. I want to be able to be fully present in all aspects of my life and I feel like a failure when I'm not. I want to be the best wife, housekeeper, mother, employee and writer I can be, all at the same time. And that's just not possible.
Balance sounds so easy. I feel like I should be able to keep up on laundry and dishes while crafting the next great novel. I mean, the little guy does nap occasionally. There are 24 hours in a day. Surely I should be able to split that between my husband and my writing. So why is it so hard?
Perhaps the hardest part is actually how much I love writing. I can spend hours writing without feeling like I'm working. I've spent two and a half years working on Guardian and it still doesn't feel like work. It's much easier to tell my family that I need to go to the office and spend a few hours on data entry. That's work. Don't get me wrong - I love what I do. I love the company I work for and I love even the boring things, like data entry. Researching and writing grants can be really rewarding. But I wouldn't do it for free. I could write fiction for the rest of my life, even if I never make a dime from it.
Oh, hi, guilt. There you are, old friend. How can I want to leave my family for something fun?!
Now, I have to mention that this is all self-inflicted. My husband is so supportive of my writing. He's patiently listened to me brainstorming while we walk around our neighborhood. He's put up with countless nights left to his own devises while I wander the streets of my imaginary town.
The little guy on the other hand is not so forgiving. He will smash the keyboard of my computer to get my attention or try to stick the cord in his mouth. For a 14-month-old, he is very aware of any time Mama's attention wavers. And high energy doesn't even begin to describe him. He is up in the morning, runs until nap time, sleeps for an hour and is running until bedtime. Literally running.
I can't begin to describe how much I love my family. I just wish I didn't feel conflicted all the time. I wish I knew how to balance the various elements of my life. I want to be able to turn off and on part of my brain at will, instead of thinking of my family when I have time to write or working out plot twists while rocking the little guy to sleep at night.
And can I have a house that cleans itself while we're at it?