Monday, January 19, 2015

Writer's Guilt

By: Maegan Beaumont

Well, it's that time of year again. Time to start another novel.

I start getting the itch around November. Ideas start to niggle. Characters start to whisper. By December they are no longer niggling and whispering. They are pulling and yelling. I have to shove them aside while I'm basting the Thanksgiving turkey. I have to mentally shout back, I can't play with you right now--my kids are opening Christmas presents.

January, I promise them. I'll start in January.

January is the right month to start, right? In with the new and all that... right? The people in my life will get it. That this is not only my passion but also my job. That it's important to me. That I have to do this on about a hundred different levels.

They love me and want me to be happy. They get that if I don't write I'll end up like Jack Nicholson in The Shining and that's never a good look on anyone.  

They'll be understanding and supportive... right? 

I've come to realize that it just doesn't matter. No matter when I decide to start my novel, I still run into trouble. Kids still want dinner (EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!!). Husbands still want clean socks (my kingdom for a maid... honestly, I'd settle for a chimpanzee I can train to fold towels and match socks). Friends still get weird when you don't pay attention to them. 

I try to juggle it all but I'll never make it in the circus. I suck at juggling. Something's gotta give--historically, it's my novel... which explains why I haven't made a deadline since I started this whole crazy business. It's not that the people in my life don't want to understand. It's that they can't understand. 

They just can't. Not unless they understand what it's like to have an entire universe full of people shoved into their brain, talking all at once. They don't what dinner. They don't want clean socks or attention. They want to exist. They are literally fighting for their imaginary lives. A space, out here in the world, where people can see and hear them.

And sometimes, that's pretty hard to ignore. So, yeah. Something's gotta give.

I guess what I'm saying is that I still-- 4. books. later.--haven't figured out how to balance it all. I struggle. I forget to start dinner. I stumble. Socks get recycled and my husband pretends not to notice the dead fish smell emanating from his shoes. I drop balls. Friends feel ignored and I feel like crap... and my novel still suffers. I give in to guilt and start to put writing off. 

I'll write tomorrow becomes my mantra.

But every January, without fail, I make myself a promise: This year, I will put writing first. Well... maybe not first but definitely in the top 3. Top 5? Ahead of the laundry, for sure.

As I'm writing this, I realize that this isn't about putting my novel first--it's about putting myself first. Something I've never been able to do. Something I'm not even sure I know how to do and yet something I've encouraged others to do time and time again.

Put yourself first. It's okay. You deserve it. If they love you, they'll understand.

This year is different. This year, I'm bound and determined to take my own advice. Kids, husbands, friends--I hope you understand, but there's something I've got to do...

Maegan Beaumont is the author of  the Sabrina Vaughn thriller series. A native Phoenician, Maegan’s stories are meant to make you wonder what the guy standing in front of you in the Starbucks line has locked in his basement, and feel a strong desire to sleep with the light on. When she isn’t busy fulfilling her duties as Domestic Goddess for her high school sweetheart turned husband, Joe, and their four children, she is locked in her office with her computer, her coffee pot and her Rhodesian Ridgeback, and one true love, Jade.

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