About nine months ago, I got the great idea to quit my job and stay home to write full-time. It wasn’t like I had a great career or a huge salary I was giving up but it was a job that paid so there was at least somewhat, a loss. My spouse supported me 100% because my employer at the time had made a big deal about me having a blog and writing in general, even though I never did it at work. They pretty much backed me into a corner, keep my “job” and give up a possible “career”. We decided I should try to have a career.
There I was, at home, novel outline sitting next to me, ready to write the next great thing (at least in my mind) and hitting a brick wall. The first few months, I was on fire. The words were flowing to the point where I couldn’t type fast enough to keep up. Then on a random day, I sat down at the keyboard and couldn’t think of a single thing to write. I went back to my training at Yale for when you hit writer’s block and it still didn’t help. Then, I got depressed. For weeks, I sat and stared at the screen unable to write, literally paralyzed with the fear that I was going to let everyone down, especially D.
I second guessed every choice I made. I felt like I was the most selfish person on the planet for even daring to pursue a dream after having a family. I had responsibilities to them and I wasn’t holding up my end at all. I figured that by staying home, I could write during the day and from the time the kids and D got home, I could turn it off and spend the rest of my time with them. But it never turned off. On the days where the writing flowed freely, I could enjoy my family but on the other nights, I just couldn’t escape the feeling that I was a failure long enough to enjoy them.
During the months when the words wouldn’t come, I constantly snapped at D whenever he would ask for an update on my writing. In hindsight, I could see that he was just excited for me but back then I felt like he was monitoring me to make sure I was doing what I set out to do. In my mind, whenever he asked, “What did you write today?” I heard, “You’re at home all day, the house is a mess and you still wrote nothing.” It’s amazing sometimes how much what we internalize can become part of the conversation.
I found every excuse in the world not to write. I volunteered to help out at the kids’ school. The house was the cleanest and most organized it had ever been. Yet, I felt like I was letting myself down. My family was happy and I was depressed. It seemed like I couldn’t find the balance that so many of my fellow writers seemed to possess. I was at the point of giving up and returning to the 9 to 5 world when I sat down and wrote something silly just for fun. I never had any intention of including it in my novel but that chapter helped me get over my writer’s block and discover something that I never really believed until then, that I am a writer.
I would love to lie to you and tell that I’ve figured out the secret to juggling being a spouse and mother while trying to forge a path to living your dream but I can’t. At least now, I’ve learned how to cut myself some slack for all the times I know I’ll drop the ball somewhere. Everything has a learning curve, even your dreams.