Arguments and Resolutions

Explosion

I contemplated writing this post and then talked myself out of it, then back in to it, and then out of it once again. So I’ve just decided to write it and then I will decide whether to post it or not after the fact.

Today I had another argument with my husband. Now, let me state for the record that he is usually very supportive and, not only that, but excited about my writing and my dream of making a career out of writing novels. But today it all became too much. And this isn’t the first time this has happened. Many times over the past 10 months, since I quit my job and dropped out of school to focus on my writing, we have had this conversation; this argument. I’m sure some other writers experience this as well.

The fact is, when I started this full-time writing journey, we decided that it wouldn’t really be full-time. It would be my responsibility to keep the house clean and usable, and to put dinner on the table (or TV tray :P). That would be my priority since my husband would be the only one working (and by working, I mean bringing in the dough). I think this is fair. We can’t really afford for me to not be working (for money), so this is a good compromise for me to have the opportunity that I have. We also got a puppy in July, so she takes up quite a bit of my time as well.

Now, my writing is going well. I may have nothing really to show for it yet, but I feel like I am working toward my goal, and my husband agrees. I have about seven started manuscripts but I have yet to finish a first draft. I have tried editing as I go and I have tried locking away my inner-editor. I have tried project hopping and I have tried focusing on one thing at a time. I have discovered a lot about myself as a writer — about how and when I write best and about what motivates me and what does the opposite. But in the end, I have nothing to show for it. I have nothing published. I don’t even have a first draft completed. And I can’t even keep up on the chores.

I go in spurts. The apartment will be clean and up kept for, let’s say, a month, and then it will fall apart and become a disaster and I’ll become depressed and unmotivated and I mentally won’t be able to clean and I’ll fall behind on my writing and my husband will be irritated that I am not holding up my end of the bargain. (Holy run on sentence Batman!) But then I will slowly pick myself back up and get this place cleaned up and get back into my writing and my mood will improve and my husband’s mood will improve and we will have another month of good times.

The last couple of weeks haven’t been good. The kitchen counters are stacked with dirty dishes, the floors need to be vacuumed, every surface is cluttered, and the bathrooms need a good scrub. I haven’t written much for the past week. And to top it all off, my arm has been hurting like hell and I’ve had to start popping Ibuprofen and wearing a wrist brace.

Today, it all blew up.

I was doing the dishes and my husband was starting to make lunch when he made an irritated remark about the state of the kitchen. I retorted with the fact that I was doing the best I can… And well, it escalated from there. Next thing I knew, it was 6pm and we had argued most of the day away.

In the end, nothing is really going to change. I’ll keep trying and he’ll keep working and we will make it work. But I think that we both feel better now that we have let out the truth of how each of us have felt over the past 10 months. It may not have changed anything physically, but mentally today has made a world of difference.

Now, I am going to let this Ibuprofen kick in and then I’m going to get in the kitchen and scrub some pots and pans. And once that’s over with, maybe I’ll actually finish one of those first drafts. 😛

 

***UPDATE***

My husband wrote a blog post a couple days ago that touches on this subject and broadens the scope of what we have been dealing with this past year of writing mayhem. Please check it out!

About the author

Leetah Begallie

Leetah is a writer and graphic designer who lives on Vancouver Island in Beautiful British Columbia. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with her husband (Matt), her dog (Isla), and her three pet rats (Avi, Lily, and River).

She writes mostly fantasy but enjoys tying in other genres to her stories.

12 Comments

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  • Ack, housework! It interferes with writing. In my case, I resist writing by doing housework instead.

    Try this…set certain hours for your writing. That’s your “job.” Do the housework after hours. That way the Muse will know when to show up, and your hubby will be happy.

    Balance is important in life. We writers need to know when to step away from the keyboard (or paper) and be mere mortals again. As Buddhist monk Jack Kornfield says…after the ecstasy, the laundry.

  • Oh, I’ve been there, and it’s such a tough situation.

    Actually, I wasn’t able to work as an RN about three years ago because of where the Army moved us, so that’s when I decided to do the housewife/writer gig and see how it went. I feel you! Somedays it’s so hard to explain why, even though I’ve been home all day, the dishes aren’t done or the floors aren’t swept. For me, environment is a big key to my productivity. But there are seriously some days I just can’t get the mojo going!

    I’m really glad you guys vented that out! Energy like that (as stupid as this may sound) can really get in the way of your creative writing. Plus, living under that angst is so tough.

    Also, I had no idea that you’d taken this time off to dedicate to writing. Good for you! It certainly makes you accountable, doesn’t it?!

    You’re going to be great. I’ve always known that.

  • Set hours. I cannot stress it enough.
    If your taxes are anything like ours in the US, you may be called upon to provide proof that you are self-employed before deducting job expenses. For example, I deduct a lot of expenses as a writer, but because I have a marketing plan and a time-sheet, if the IRS asks for either, I have it (and they can ask for it to prove that yes, I really am a writer).

    For me, the hardest part as been NOT answering my phone during office hours. My family calls. They think it’s okay to interrupt my work, and it’s not. Learning to say NO to that is tough.

    Between 8-12, I write. 12-1 is my lunch break, though I usually work through it. 1-5 is editing time for a different work (don’t edit as you write–you’ll never finish your first draft). Then from 6-?? (sometimes 7, but sometimes 8), I do all the email/social media/accounting/business stuff for my career as a writer. Sometimes this bleeds over into my lunch break, but I try very hard not to let it bleed into writing/editing time. I’ll even turn off social media during those times if I’m feeling too distracted. That’s M-F.
    On the weekends, I’ll usually put in 3-4 hours of writing as well as 1-2 into social media/promotion.

    Make a schedule and stick to it. Reward yourself for sticking to it!

    • Honestly, I haven’t really looked into how I need to go about things for taxes. I really should look into it and talk to a tax person about it all…

      Working with a schedule is something I have found really hard. Well, sticking with it. I think I need to buy a wall calendar and give myself stickers for writing when I said I was going to 😛 And yes, editing while writing is a big no-no which I learned the hard way… Oh well, I know it now!

      Because I don’t have a set schedule, people talk to me whenever they feel like which distracts me quite a lot. Plus, I do the whole “I should be doing chores… No! I should be writing… No!” guilt trip thing. So not helpful. A schedule would probably help with that as well. Oh, and the back and forth self guilt trip usually ends up with me doing neither and playing around on social media instead 😛

      Time to create a schedule!

      Thanks for the comment! And on my husband’s blog post too. Very helpful stuff 🙂

  • Oh I have been there. Actually, still there. I have not even started a manuscript yet. It’s more blogs and blogging and blogging groups but the same idea. Hang in there. It will be easier soon.

  • Writers are truly undervalued on both sides of the border. As President of WCDR, a large writing group in Ontario, I talk to writers about this all the time, and I am writing full time myself as well.

    Setting a schedule works for some, but what I find really works is setting goals. Deadlines pump adrenaline, and having a list of tasks you need to complete to achieve your goals causes you to confront the steps that will take you toward your dream.

    The Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR} has given workshops on plotting your path to success as a writer, and I can say that I’ve managed to come a long way on that path since identifying the success markers. it also gives me a sense of accomplishment in achieving each one, and something to point at when people laugh at my foolishness at wanting to be a full time writer.

    Start with the end goal: say, ‘publishing my novel’. Make a list of all the things that will contribute to that goal, for instance, getting an agent, writing a synopsis of the novel, attending classes on how to write a submission, go to fantasy conferences and pitch agents/editors on your story idea. Then take each of those things and write all the things you have to do to prepare yourself to achieve each of those steps: read books on craft, find a mentor to help you craft your submission, win a few contests with short stores, poems, etc. so you have some writing credits to impress an editor or agent….do the same with all those things until you work yourself back to your current situation. Then you will know how to move forward.

    It’s hard to stay motivated when you are working alone, and when each day is the same without positive reinforcement to mark your success along your chosen career path. This is as true for writers as anyone. Join a writing group if you haven’t already. Meet as many writers and industry people as you can. Go to book launches, attend literary events and take workshops. Have a set number of hours outside the home each week as part of your business plan. Not only will it motivate you as a fellow writer, it will enhance your craft and teach you about the business of writing. This is an investment. Writers U. You really can’t do it alone!

    Hire an editor or pull in a favour from someone in the field to look at small excerpts of your writing. Learn to interpret and utilize the feedback constructively. Read a lot. All these activities will force you to interact with readers, writers and the spoken word. Sign up to read at literary events if you can, join a book club. Like any business, starting a career as a writer requires a lot more than just cleaning pools or writing a book. It takes business savvy, knowing your industry, knowing the market, understanding your customer, creating a budget.

    If you aren’t doing all these things, then it’s no wonder you are frustrated and stalled as a writer. We’ve all been there. It’s hard. There is little reward for this stage of a writer’s journey. At WCDR, we have found that action, community and networking are the key to advancing a writer’s career. And workshops. Lots of writing workshops and retreats. Not only do you write a lot more, you build a community to support you as a writer and celebrate your writing.

    And whatever you do, don’t stop writing! Even if it’s only an hour a day and basically words on a page, keep doing it, and it will add up to a whole lot of YOU. And that’s what really counts.

    • Thanks for this great comment full of advice! 🙂

      I have both a NaNoWriMo writing group (for the November writing month as well as April and July for Camp NaNo) and I have a critique group year round on Inked Voices. I am not much of a in person people person 😛

      I’ve started focusing on the smaller goals that lead to the big goals (I wrote about it a bit here: http://leetahbegallie.com/form-habits-avoid-procrastination)

      I’m glad to hear that you have helped formed a great community that helps so many writers! That is truly wonderful 🙂

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