Sunday, August 14, 2011


I'm going to admit two things:

1. This year, and probably last year too, I've been a really crappy writer. I haven't written regularly at all. I've started 3 manuscripts and finished 0. I've had a few spurts of productive writing time, but mostly my focus has been on other things.

2. I don't feel bad about it.

I had a reflective moment the other day as I looked back over the year and some of the struggles we've been through, and overall I feel really good about where I've put my focus. My family needed me and I was there for them.

Sometimes I feel like a lazy bum when I see how much writing some of my friends do. Several of them have written three books in the time it's taken me to write half of one. I have to remind myself that this is not a race.

Writing is important to me, but it's nowhere near family on my list of priorities. I know the day will come when my babies will be all grown up, and I don't want to look back at my life and feel like I wasn't able to enjoy their childhoods because I was so wrapped up in my own pursuits.

Still, I don't think it's impossible to be a good mom and a good writer, (plenty of people do it!), and a shift in our schedule should make it a little easier to get some quiet time. On Monday two of my four kids will be headed back to school. My preschooler will start school the next week. They'll be filling their little brains with knowledge, baby will be napping, and I'll be writing up a storm. Hopefully.

Do your priorities sometimes push your writing to the backseat?


Wen Baragrey said...

Speaking as someone whose children are all grown up now, you most definitely have your priorities straight :) The first few years seem to drag with all the hard work, but then suddenly it's as if the world kicks into high gear and the next thing you know, they're moving out and they're gone.

Those years fly past way, way too quick and when they're gone, there's no getting them back.

Real life might get in the way of writing (and boy, does it ever), but without our real lives, our writing means nothing. You have to live to be a good writer, I think, anyway!

Jenna Blake Morris said...

I think it's great that you've got the "family first" concept in practice. School will probably help, and maybe not getting much time to write in the past will help you get more done when you do get the chance. Good luck with it!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Family certainly comes first. I've only got one little one and she's growing up so fast!

I planned to get my novel ready to query by the end of this month, but I'm no where close. But I played at the park, made Play Doh cakes, and read Harry Potter to my munchkin. So I was productive!

Jolene Perry said...

It always shifts back and forth. I feel like I'll neglect one for the other for a while, and then it'll slowly flip. I've learned to just roll with it, and know that's how I work best.

Jade said...

I honestly don't know how you get anything done! I have no kids and I only work part-time and I still struggle to get everything done. I take my hat off to you.

DL Hammons said...

Absolutely...and I offer the demise of my own blog as an example. But circumstances do change and with a little patience we can still end up where we envision ourselves standing someday. The waiting can be discouraging ( demise), but ultimately rewarding! :)

Lisa Aldin said...

Great post. It's important to keep things balanced. I don't have kids and I often push writing on the back burner just to live my life! After all, that's where inspiration comes from, right? Living!

Giles Hash said...

I'm excited for you! It's hard to find balance in life, but I agree: family is far more important. I'm glad that I don't have kids yet, especially because my day job sucks up so much of my time already. I love spending time with my wife, and if I had a child as well, I'm pretty sure I would get nothing done.

Good luck with your nap time!

VR Barkowski said...

It takes time to achieve balance and once it's achieved it requires constant jockeying to maintain. Prioritizing is the only way to go and family has to be #1. I don't have kids and it's still a struggle. But it's worth it. The writing will always be there.

Writers write about conflict, but like everyone else, we're pretty intolerant of it in our own lives. Funny when you think about it.

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

Natalie there is no excuse! Just kidding...

I applaud you for recognizing that your family needed you at this time. It may "seem" to have taken away from your writing but writing is so often based on experience and sometimes the "sidetracked" events are serious points in a new plot.

Don't ever apologize for living life anyway that your heart and mind see fit.I used to do that and now I realized something... I am proud to know such wonderful writers like yourself who value family/friendships as a priority. In the last year we have added 17 year old to our family where we had no children (except the dog). My priorities shifted without even a conscious effort on my part. Do I regret it? No. In fact, she is the inspiration for an opening scene in my latest MS.

Prioritizing is a part of life, we don't always get it right because we put family too far from #1. Keep them at #1, it is surprising how accepting that can actually open doors to so much more within our work.

I always smile when I see you post, but don't think I ever hold it against you if you don't. You have greatness in you, and we must always find patience with greatness ;o)

Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Susan R. Mills said...

Writing seems to have taken a backseat to just about everything these days. Like you, I've had some bouts of creativity, but they are few and far between. Family has to came first for sure! My kids go back tomorrow, so I'll have more time. Can't wait to catch up with you.

Keisha Martin said...

I have young kids too, and like you have done I have made them and my spouse a priority, however, for me I realize that writing is like another job for me therefore I set time which is normally really late at night. In the summer I am off for two months but my kids have banned me from writing because summer time is their time, so again I write in the wee hours of the night or I sometimes cheat and write if they are catching up on everything relating to Selena Gomez LOL. Our lives are all so different it doesn't determine whether a writer is good or bad, as writers we also put a lot of guilt on ourselves, you will get there Natalie I believe in you and when you are done your novel it will sparkle like...never mind =)

Joanne Fritz said...

Beautifully said, Natalie. You may remember that I started writing picture books 24 years ago when my oldest was born, and by the time my second came along (and I was dealing with a baby AND a toddler who had a severe chronic illness), I realized it wasn't working. I've always admired people who can do it all. I couldn't. The writing got pushed aside and I didn't go back to it for many years.

Am I sorry? No.

For me, family always comes first. Which is why I'm not published (yet - it'll happen eventually). But I've raised two wonderful sons who are productive members of society, and even polite enough to give up a seat on a bus to an elderly person without being asked. Witnessing that sort of thing makes me go all teary and realize why "mom" has always been my most important role.

Now that they're all grown up writing is more of a priority, but family still comes first.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Your priorities are right where they need to be, Natalie. I have not been writing, and seldom blogging, all summer. Life has to come first sometimes.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

You are a phenomenal mom and a brilliant writer. But being a mom should always take top priority. Besides, look at ALL you have been through this year. Jeesh! I don't know how you got ANY writing done. You are an amazing success in my opinion, as a mom, writer, wife, and friend. :)


Reagan Philips said...

What a great perspective.

I am in that phase of getting everything polished and re-polished, and trying to find some anti-fear elixir so I can finally put my ducks in a row and hit the send button on a few querys.

Thus, my writing has taken a front seat. Heck, it's sitting on the steering wheel looking me in the eyes!

I think it's time to tame the monster, be me again, and remember that I love this writing stuff! I make it, it doesn't make me.

Well, I guess there's some reciprocal...but let's not trip over details here, I was trying to make a point. :)

So thanks for the fresh perspective. You are right, it's not a race.

Taryn Tyler said...

Haha. I was going to put a sentament very similar up today. About not getting a lot done lately and not feeling guilty about it. Sometimes other things really are more important.

Elle Strauss said...

Priorities definitely shift, so much depends on your season of life. Enjoy your little ones, because they DO grow up. You'll find you have more time to write as they get older.

Jessica Nelson said...

Oh yes, things def. shift. Our children are more important than our careers, for sure.

Dawn Simon said...

You're right: when you look back, you will never regret the time you spent with your kids. My kids are teens now, but I used to write around naps, preschool, etc. I feel fortunate to have had that time with them. Don't be tough on yourself--you're one human being.

Have a nice weekend. :)

Janna Qualman said...

This post helps me, Natalie. I've been failing as a writer recently, but if I put it in this perspective, realizing my attentions have been needed elsewhere (which is the absolute truth), then I can't feel so horrible about it.

Wishing you the best!