Missing Your Appointment To Write

Clickety-click clickety-click clickety-click…

“Honey!”

“I’m working, what is it?”

“The doctor just called with the scan results.”

Oh hell, some good news would be a nice change of pace…

The Comptroller

As some of you may have noticed, I have been absent for the last several months. It was not my intention nor was it my desire to miss my monthly deadlines. However, sometimes we find life must get in the way, and we must miss our Appointment to Write. This was just such a case.

I have avoided writing about my personal life other than the humorous tongue-in-cheek excerpts I have at the beginning of each blog. The reason is I like to keep my private life private. But alas, sometimes our personal world interferes with our professional one, and we must mix the two, or speak about it to help with the situation.

Because of this, I have chosen to dedicate this blog to waxing philosophical on when it is okay to miss your Appointment to Write. This will be the only one, I hope, and I will return to helping you pursue your publishing dreams next month. But for now, I want to discuss that balancing act we all practice with our personal and professional lives.

First, my Appointment to Write is typically on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and occasionally on Sunday. That is a great deal of time devoted to writing, but writing is something I am very devoted to. Thankfully, I have a day job that allows this time as well as a family that is very understanding.

Up until eighteen months ago, this was a very workable schedule, albeit demanding when balancing my other job and the typical family activities. But eighteen months ago, my wife was diagnosed with a squamous cell carcinoma on her tongue, leading to a battle for her life over the subsequent months. Needless to say, this upset the balanced schedule.

Few of us are lucky enough to find our soul-mates, and after almost twenty years, the thought of losing her is nearly unbearable. Besides the minutiae related to battling the disease with doctor appointments, scans, surgeries, etc., there is a deep emotional toll that affects you every single day. It is enough to drown you in self pity.

All right, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that writing, being such a great catharsis, would surely help excise the demons hounding my family, and you would be right. But at some point, you have to give something up because the physical and emotional demands are simply too great over such a long period of time.

To that end, I gave up writing for a time and spent my Appointment to Write doing family things. Most of the time, it was watching my children while my mother in law and wife went to so many appointments for tests and treatments. To date, she has undergone two surgeries, two rounds of radiation, and one and a half rounds of chemo therapy. Throughout, she has kept such a positive attitude, that if the treatments don’t cure her, it won’t be for her lack of willpower.

We all strive to balance our personal and professional lives. I have battled that all my working years. In the Army, it was being ready for duty after a night chasing girls. In college, it was balancing that big project or test with a desire to socialize with friends. In high-tech, it was balancing the many hours coding or traveling with the need to help around the house and spend time with my spouse. Now, it is family versus my passion for writing.

But family trumps all. If you were told you had little time remaining, you probably would not spend those precious hours alone in front of a computer. You would want to get out, spend time with family and friends, travel and see places. You would want to have some fun, not that writing isn’t.

The problem is writing is a solitary activity. In many ways, it is the ultimate selfishness–an escape from reality as you dive into fictional worlds with fictional people. And this is a great escape, a necessary escape, a healthy escape. But not at the cost of your real family and friends.

When a crisis such as mine arises in your life, give yourself the permission to take a break. Use it as a chance to reconnect with the important people in your life. The real people! It will reinvigorate you and may bring forth fresh ideas for future writing projects. Or in my case, it might just confuse you as to what to write next. I am waffling over three different novels at the moment but will figure it out soon.

Now, I am not saying to abandon your Appointment to Write every time a crisis arises, but sometimes the crises are such that you must step aside and put family first, or you first. Never let your health or that of your family come after your passions. That is a sure path to destruction, and then where would your writing be?

On this note, let me impart a little advice. You can do it all, but you must be committed and understanding of those around you. Smell the roses, help your daughter learn to read, take the dog for a walk, spend romantic hours with your significant other. These are the memories that will mean the most to you in your old age, not the dusty books lining your shelves.

I hope to live a long and happy life, but I need my partner to be there with me. Without her, the words will turn bitter and sharp, my self pity and self loathing coming through my stories. Wait, I already have that! Anyway, I want to make sure whatever time I have left with my wife is spent in meaningful, fun ways. To that end, my passion for writing will always take a back seat to the love of my family.

Never do anything to the exclusion of everything else. you don’t have to work harder, only smarter, and I have demonstrable ways to help you in this blog and my book. Everything in moderation, and you will find the balance you seek. I will never give up my passion, but I am willing to set it aside when family needs me.

I want to leave you with something positive, so I’ll update you on my wife’s progress. Her most recent CAT scan showed a marked improvement of the lesions in her lungs. This means they will continue the chemo before considering other alternatives to remove the last of the cancer from her body. She is not out of the woods, but for the first time in eighteen months, there is reason to hope.

Continue to make your appointments as long as it isn’t at the cost of your family life. I am back on track, for now, but could experience another setback, keeping me from pursuing my passion regularly. I’ll cross my fingers, knock on wood, and sacrifice a goat to the god’s of misfortune who have been dogging our heels mercilessly. I pray you and your family will continue in good health. If not, take a break and get healthy!

I will post another blog next month with details on how I edit my manuscripts as I go along and after I have finished writing. Stay tuned for this important, albeit less satisfying part of your writing experience. A good story goes a long way, but a well written good story is priceless!

“Okay, honey, I think this news calls for a cautiously optimistic celebration. How about a rootbeer float?”

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