Friday, February 25, 2011

On Emergency Rooms, Revisions, and Balance

In the last two months, my nearest-and-dearest have visited various emergency rooms (or the equivalent) 10 times:
  1. My 9-year-old son lacerated and compression-fractured his toe, requiring stitches and a walking boot.
  2. My 3-year old nephew broke his arm, requiring a cast.
  3. The same nephew broke the same arm again, this time in the growth plate, requiring surgery.
  4. The same nephew's brother fell during Nephew 1's doctor's appointment and broke his face, possibly requiring surgery on his nose.
  5. My husband's father's mother had heart issues and spent the night in the hospital, prompting family-wide panic.
  6. Same grandma back in hospital a few days later after putting too much energy into putting her affairs in order and not enough into resting.
  7. My mother-in-law tore her knee up skiing--ligaments traumatized.
  8. Nephew 1&2's mother tore her knee up, tearing ligaments.
  9. My sister had an ectopic pregnancy, requiring surgery.
  10. Same sister now has pneumonia, requiring an overnight hospital stay.
Apparently, bad things don't just come in threes.

Meanwhile, my own life seems charmed--I personally keep dodging disaster. (Yeah, got me some nice wood to knock on right here....) I did a 180 on the freeway in Salt Lake on my way home, ended up stopped in the fast lane, pointing the wrong way, and drove away moments later, completely unscathed. All the cars behind me managed to miss me--even the truck with the snow plow on the front. I got to moderate at LTUE, talk to more authors for Authors' Advisory, and I spend all my free time quite seflishly pounding away at my book, reading the books of those I'll interview soon, and getting to know the other wonderful writers of the World Wide Web.

And I feel guilty. My 9-year-old had to hang out with the DVD player at the ski lodge last weekend because mommy was at a conference while everyone else was skiing. When my MIL busted her knee on that trip, another driver would have been awfully handy. My husband and sons visited his grandma the same weekend... without me. When we got news of my sister, Jerry asked if we needed to head down to be with her. I looked up from the computer and assured him all would be well, no reason to fuss. I sent her a few texts and spoke to her husband on the phone. I've let my husband handle the health updates on his own family. I'm a total slacker, family-wise.

You'd think, with all I'm ignoring to revise this monster, that I'd be farther along. Instead, I didn't revise at all last week (traveling will do that, I hear) and I've spent all this week working on ONE CHAPTER! It's a mildly important chapter, sure, but really? One? I finally laid it to rest last night and I'm moving on tonight, but if next month goes at all like this month has, revision-wise, I still won't have my second draft done by the end of March.

Which is really depressing.

So anyone have advice? How long does your family tolerate your absence while you hide in your writer's cave? How do you balance the duties of a wife, mother, sister, daughter, and granddaughter while still making forward progress on your writing career? Those of you who, like me, have a day-job as well--how do you balance the precious time you have left after you get home? How often does your bathroom get cleaned? (If you don't answer that, I won't either, deal?)

While writing the last paragraph above, my sons brought me their Shrek doll, which, untill recently, was stuffed with tiny white plastic beads. They want him fixed. I think I might take an hour to watch some TV, fix the doll before he completely bleeds out... and maybe even fold some laundry.

Then I'll feel guilty about not writing, instead. *sigh*


  1. Yikes! you did a 180 on the freeway. Someone likes you, girl! That's too scary.

    To answer your question. Sleep. What else is there to give up when you've got all those other things on your platter?

    And guilt. We women do guilt so well. It's like one of our closest companions. Since you're going to have it regardless of what decision you make, I would suggest choosing a something that means the most to you.

    Our children are only children once. People don't say on their deathbeds that they wished they'd spent more time at the office. Yet you must fill your own vessel if you're going to have anything to give your family.

    Nice quandry, huh? So, you're right that balance is the key. Good luck finding yours.

  2. Donna--believe me, I've tried to give up sleep. I haven't taken a nap in over 5 years. Sadly, I'm useless when I'm tired. I talk incessantly. Can't shut me up. I just keep going and going and going and going....

    And I can't help but wonder--if my deathbed regrets come before I publish a book, won't that be in the list? Children, books--all an act of creation that live beyond you when you're gone. *sigh* I think I need a longer balance pole for this highwire act.

  3. An you're so much younger than I am! But I can understand your concern about not living long enough to be published. Egads.

  4. Sadly, normal lifespan has little to do with it. I could easily have pulled that 180 with a convoy of 18-wheelers behind me.

  5. 180? You're crazy! I'm glad you're still alive, even if everyone else in your family is falling apart. Sheesh. Take care of you, will ya?

  6. LOL--I got over it very quickly, considering. One of the cars behind me did the whole point-and-laugh as they drove by. I smiled and waved. Nothing more calming than living a miracle. My MIL, when she heard of it, asked Jerry if I needed someone to meet me and drive me the rest of the way home. Ah, no. I was fine. :)

    Also, by ignoring my kids today, I've cobbled together four more chapters so far. I'm doing great. :)

  7. The way I am approaching my writing, work, and family life is to do what I can, but not to beat myself up if I don't reach my goal. My original goal last year was to be done with my first draft by the end of 2010. But, as it was, I only made it 1/2 way. But I did not get discourage because I realized that not setting the goal would have resulted in me not starting in the first place.

    So do what you can, and put in the time you can. But Donna is right, you can't drive yourself raged. Find the right balance for you, and everything will work out great. Everyone's balance is different so only you can find your balance. And once you do (if you are not there already) things will work out as they do and as God wills it to happen.

  8. Oh my gosh! Your poor, unlucky family.
    And wasn't the drive horrendous??? I ended up not making it home. I crashed my grandparents house. It took me 14 hours to make a 2.5 hour drive.

    As far as finding time to write--don't kill yourself. If you don't have time because everyone around you if trying to kill themselves, take a little break. No harm done.

  9. Sadly, waiting it out wasn't an option. I actually ended up leaving my parents house in Sandy earlier than planned so that my husband could take his mother home after she tore up her knee. After I got out of the SLC area, though, it was mostly okay.

    Also, I met my goal. :) (Which basically means I can ignore other people's injuries pretty handily.)