Making Time


People sometimes ask me why I bother. Writing is hard. Authors spend hours upon hours upon hours of their time working on stories that people . . . might not love. But, if you want to succeed, you have to work hard. It’s something that’s becoming more apparent the older I get.

fcb12d570308966fad02806598a14f75Yes, spending time with family is important. If you have children, they’re only going to be young once, and no one can ever get that time back. But, that doesn’t mean you have to stop being you. It doesn’t mean that your needs are no longer important.

I started my family when I was fairly young. Having children young comes with many pros and cons. Even though my hellions are growing older, running farther, and playing harder, it’s still easy for me to find the energy to keep up. And, while many of my friends are dealing with diapers and night feedings, these days I sleep pretty well. My husband and I are enjoying some great years right now: the years between babyhood and the teenage terrors, the years when our kids still want to play with us.

FB-Meme-Inspire-DreamBut, when our first hellion came along, like most new mommacitas, I was completely unprepared. I became a stay-at-home parent. I went from being an incredibly social, outgoing 22-year-old to becoming an introvert at 23. For a long time I obsessed over being perfect. I (stupidly) thought I could fix the “mistakes” of my own upbringing by getting everything right.

A funny thing began to happen as my kids grew older. I matured, too. My outlook changed completely. I realized that my parents never made mistakes with me, not really. Because parents are people. Most of us are just trying to do the best we can. When I realized that, I felt like I could breathe again. I didn’t have to be perfect. I just had to do the best I could.

I have two kind, smart, incredible stepdaughters and three funny, witty, intelligent kids, who need help with homework, who need to be loved, who need my attention. But, on the flip side of that coin, a parent should never become so wrapped up in their children that they lose sight of their own dreams and aspirations. It’s not healthy for the parent, and it’s not healthy for the child. One day, my kids are going to move out. I want to lead them by example. I want them to know that I worked hard on my dream so that they’ll work hard on theirs.

hard-work-beats-talentSo, I woke up at 4am to write this morning. I tried to get my five hundred words in . . . but ended up hitting that delete key more times than I care to admit. Tonight, I’ll have to try again. Some people think of that as torture. But, I’m going to do my best to become my best. No one is going to write my book for me. No one is going to make sure I get the time I need to write but ME. Unlike the characters in my book, we only get one life, and I would hate to look back on mine one day and think, “If only I’d tried just a little bit harder . . . .”

13 thoughts on “Making Time

  1. I was lucky.

    People always told me I was a good writer. I was an eight year old kid making cartoons that my much older brother loved. He got all the jokes and laughed in all the right places. Talk about encouragement.

    I was good, so I didn’t practice. It just came to me.

    I wasn’t a nerd but I liked to write stories, and as a thirteen year old I absolutely believed each one I wrote was brilliant. In high school I naturally ascended to become co-editor of the high school paper. My reports at work were particularly insightful, and I got a piece of advice that changed my writing: write it as though a disinterested third party is picking it up. In other words, get your audience up to speed.

    I wrote a little here and there over the years and one day the stork final decided a bouncing baby girl would be on the way to our house. Well, we didn’t know she would be a girl until a few ultrasounds (looking at the ultra-images now, I still can’t tell). As we found out about having a kid relatively late in life, I naturally shared my joy with friends – which meant Facebook. Because most of them lived far away. Most of them also had babies in their lives, but as grandchildren. Yeaaaah…

    But joy and fear have a way of working themselves into your life, so it goes out onto the interwebs and to your friends, which is to say MY friends, who had a great time re-living their younger moments through my Facebook posts. We remodeled the house about two weeks before the due date. Still don’t know why. We – well, I – also painted the spare bedroom pink.

    Pink.

    Cos we were having a girl. Pay attention.

    And she was a cute little sucker! not at first, because all newborns look like a round road map, but a few days later. And from then on. So says about 10,000 pictures I’ve taken in 5 years.

    And our lives changed forever in the best way possible, more than I could ever imagine.

    Harder, sure, and WAY less sleep. And a LOT more worrying (that’s where the gray hair comes from, I’m convinced. Which I will get one day).

    And my friends loved my funny Facebook posts about life with baby. And since I wasn’t 22, I had the perspective that other new parents did not, which is to relish that time, even on your third month of no sleep. Even at 2am. My brothers and sisters and father and friends all said the same thing. It goes by fast.

    And it does. Five years in the blink of an eye, just like they said.

    But the things I posted about were normal, everyday things – and my friends were tuning in every day to see what little tidbit abut life would be making them smile today.

    They started saying things like, “Your posts are hilarious. You should write a book.”

    I started saying things like NO.

    They were pretty persistent, and seeing as how they had known me most of my life and probably had my best interests at heart, I drew upon that skill I’d always had and penned a little story. My daughter was about two by then, and she was helpful in every aspect of life, so she helped me make cannolis..

    Now why I was crazy enough to ever want to make cannolis is a ridiculous question no one can answer. I think I hated them every time I tried them, which was about three times, because why keep trying something if it sucks? But at a Christmas party I had one – to be polite – and it ROCKED.

    R * O * C * K * E * D

    Suddenly, I loved cannolis. I asked (several times) for the recipe. NOW I KNEW WHAT THE FUSS WAS ABOUT. The hostess finally admitted that she bought them at a place called Mazzarro’s in St Pete. (Free plug for them because it’s totally the best cannolis ever and they deserve it.)

    I went to Mazzarro’s (it’s an hour from our house) and bought cannolis – after I ate about three at that party, and that’s like eating three pieces of cheesecake, it just isn’t done. But I did it, they were that good.

    And I brought the Mazarros’ cannolis home and we ate them and loved them. Even the kid, and at that time she hated everything. (Our daughter subsisted on Spaghettios for eleven straight months.)

    So my wife asked how much I spent on the cannolis.

    Now, ladies, occasionally you just shouldn’t ask what something costs, because when a piece of heavenly deliciousness finds its way on the wings of angels into your mouth, you freaking enjoy the religious experience that it is.

    Anyway, they cost about five bucks.

    Each.

    And I bought like ten of them. (Hey, the store was an hour away!)

    I know, I know… that’s a lot of money for some sugar and cheese wrapped in a pie crust.

    Which is what my wife said, which is how I know what’s in a cannoli.

    And at the risk of never enjoying them again lest I face a divorce, I made what was one of the all-time stupidest suggestions ever.

    “Maybe we can make them ourselves. How hard can it be?”

    There’s a REASON they cost $5 each. They are simple to make bad and impossible to make good. That should have been obvious after the many terrible times I’d tried them.

    Somehow, that thought didn’t connect, and that weekend we bought a bunch of ingredients to make cannolis.

    The wrong ingredients.

    We bought riccotta cheese; it needed mascarpone cheese.
    We bought sugar; it needed confectioner’s sugar.
    We made pie crusts, several times. We looked up recipes online. Those frigging shells just would NOT cooperate. So I bought shells… from Mazzarros’. And after about sixteen attempts, we made AMAZING cannolis. Best you ever had.

    THE. BEST.

    But before that, we made shells, and the Little Helper, of course, helped. Which means while daddy spent all day Saturday rolling out dough and cutting it into circles like tacos, my daughter stood on a stepladder and punched holes in the freaking rolled-out shell dough circles.

    And if you came over to eat, your cannoli had holes in it. Cos she poked holes in them after I fried them, too.

    So I wrote a lengthy explanation as to why that would be the case, which, like this post, evolved into somewhat a thing of its own.

    I posted it. I told people, those of you who want a book, here’s proof I shouldn’t do it. I posted the looooooooong cannoli story, and it’s much briefer three-to-five line cousin, a kind of joke-length blurb that would usually be what I’d post on FB. Posted them side by side, saying THIS is what I’d usually post, and if you think that stuff would make a good book, THIS is what that looks like in book form.

    Waited – but not long. Because Pavlov. They were ready for me to post, so the reports came back in a hurry. They loved it. They understood the difference between a little funny blurb and the meandering story I weaved, because the stories took them places they’d forgotten about.

    And they loved that.

    And since I’d been “practicing” writing jokes and stories for years on Facebook by then, in the form of amusing vignettes about my daughter, I sat down and punched out a whole book of them. And in August, while on vacation at the beach, between making sand castles with my little girl, my loving wife bought me an online course about self publishing. I had conversations with an agent and he was on board, but it would take about two years going the traditional route, and I just couldn’t see why that was necessary. So I fired him and put it out myself.

    I’d love to say it was a success, but that would be a lie. Oh, anyone who read it LOVED it, but nobody red it. My home made cover and lack of editing made a mess, so I retooled and released it again, but not before working with a guy on a cookbook. The cookbook went to #1, so I applied the lessons of that experience to my book, and it went to #1, too. As did its sequel.

    There’s a line in the movie (okay, the terrible movie) Days of Thunder where Tom Cruise’s character says something along the lines of “They said get in the car and drive, and I could drive.” He was a good racer without training, which irritated the people he worked with – the ones who had to WORK at it to be good, and the ones who had to tech him the rules so he could be great.

    That’s what I’m trying to do now.

    Don’t get me wrong. I write good stuff and it comes naturally. Some of it is really good. Some is great. But it’s not consistently great and it’s not where I now know it can go.

    People like Jenny are helping me get it there, and if I can in any way pay that back by being an inspiration or supporter, I’m happy to do it. Her story is that good.

    Few get to the top of the mountain alone, and if they DO get there alone, they are failures at other parts of life.

    So I’ll keep watching that trek of hers and helping here and there, because even if she can’t see where it goes, I can. A few people believed in me along the way, helping at the right times, and that has made all the difference.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow. This comment is a novel in itself 🙂 I’m glad you posted it, Dan, as I’m sometimes asked about my “Top Commenter” from other blog followers. Hopefully, this will help clear things up. Dan is an incredibly helpful bestselling author, who has an incredibly helpful blog, too. I encourage everyone who made it to the comments to click on his name and check it out!

      Like

  2. This one hits home. I raised four kids and started at age 19. My life was not my own for so many years, so when they did start to break away and become independent and finally moved away, I was devastated. During the years my kids were growing up I wrote some, but not nearly as much as I wanted to write. It’s true. We have to keep sight of who we are, our dreams and our purpose outside of being a parent. Otherwise, it takes us a while to find that again when they leave home. That’s what happened to me. I feel guilty now when I don’t write. However, I know I’m only letting my perfectionism keep me from doing what I love to do. Thank you for these inspirational words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so easy to fill our days with everything BUT writing. Life has a way of sneaking in, no matter what stage of the game we’re at. Admittedly, since I made time to write this week I’ve been churning out blog posts, and NOT working on my own WIP. But, being aware of our shortcomings, our perfectionism or procrastination (in my case) is the key to moving forward 🙂
      All the best in your work, Kim!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Making TimeInspirational words about writing for writers. | Kim Deal

    • My brother’s baby is also due in a matter of weeks, too.
      The race is on!
      I understand the need to cut back on blog posts . . . I’ve been going for three days straight, and I feel like I’m about to drop, haha. Enjoy your sleep while you can, Robert.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful, Jenny! “…a parent should never become so wrapped up in their children that they lose sight of their own dreams and aspirations.” I lost sight of my writing aspirations for almost 15 years (hello!) and regained them in 2014 (thank God). I’m so happy to meet fellow writers such as yourself who “get it.” We are all cheerleaders for one another!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Finding Time to Write | J. A. Allen

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