Friday, April 24, 2015

Dealing With Negativity

Dealing with Negativity
(From the people whose opinions you actually care about)

I can’t tell you how many book dedications I’ve read where writers thank their family for putting up with them while they were in the throes of writing their book, their kids eating peanut butter sandwiches so mommy can keep writing and so on and so forth.

I think that’s wonderful. I also wonder (with a certain feeling of shame for doubting their veracity) whether their families really were as supportive as all that. 

Because mine is not.

My kids don’t care whether or not I’m trying to squeeze out time to write a book. They want dinner, and help with homework, they want clean plates to eat off and clean clothes to wear. Books be damned, they want mommy dates and snuggle time. My boy wants a chance to work through how some kids at school called him stupid because he has autism and is hyper-focused on Elvis, the king of rock and roll this month, and Elvis is Not Cool. My girl wants a chance to talk over how some little girl was her friend last week and this week hates her and is hanging out with some other little girl.

This is life-shattering stuff for them folks.

Then there’s my husband who thinks its all a waste of time, that I’ll never finish any of it, (except I did) and even if I do, I’ll never make any money off of it (probably true) so why not focus on something that actually brings in a living wage. Of course, I already make a living wage a different way, so then writing in his mind is a hobby. And hobbies shouldn’t take away from snuggle time and eating chips in bed while watching Supernatural with him, from doing “my Fair Share” of paperwork and dealing with crap all adults have to do but never want to like incorrect bills and disputes about who is responsible for replacing the air conditioning system. Hobbies are for doing in free time.

And you know what? They have a point.

Writing is a huge time suck. And my kids deserve all those things they need. My husband shouldn’t have to deal with all the crap of life because I want to—let me rephrase that—I need to write.

I get it. 

But I don’t get “free time.”  I’m not even sure I believe in this mythical thing  people call Free Time.

Any time I have is stolen--I get it by not doing something else I should be doing.

So how do you avoid this kind of negativity from the people whose opinions you actually care about: your close friends and family?  And if you can’t avoid it, how do you deal with it?

The question isn’t rhetorical folks.

I have no idea what the answer is.  I would have liked to quote that biblical verse about how a prophet isn’t respected in their hometown. But lets face it—I’m no prophet. Probably you aren’t either.  And to be fair, these people in our lives have a valid point. So what do we do?

For now, my answer is to try to prioritize. I try to meet my family’s needs as best I can (and buy paper plates so I spend less time doing dishes.) 

(Sorry Earth.) 

I cut writing time out of sleep time and reading time.  I deny myself so that I don’t have to deny them.

It means everything comes so much slower writing wise.

It means I’m tired a lot.

It means sometimes writing feels like a chore, not a joy.

But the words still come.

What do you guys do? Is there a better way?


  1. I think it's easier when your kids are older. Mine are teenagers, and while I definitely need to be around to keep my finger on the pulse of their lives, I'm less likely to be their sole problem-solver and confidant. Finding a balance is tricky, though, and I admire you for doing it.

  2. I'm so glad to hear you say that Liv! I've been promising myself that it'll get easier for some time now, but so far, I have yet to see that happening. :-)

  3. It's a lot easier with teenagers! Although husbands never get easier. lol.

    I will continue to nag you to write, though. Because I'm needy, too! (You know I love you, right? That's why I nag). And when the book's a bestseller, the husbands can just eat crow.

    1. Awww, I love you too. And I need your nagging--it helps me prioritize those MMA guys. :-)

  4. Great post, Merissa!

    I think for me, the key is to keep doing what you love. If mama ain't happy, nobody's happy. If we don't fill our lives with passion, if we just go through the motions (and yes, while we love them, even family life can seem like one giant 'chore' some days, this is not a fault, this is a fact. Responsibility is an energy suck ;) we become shadows of our selves.

    We write because it brings us joy. Yes, it too can feel like a chore, but only because we are relegating it to a hobby-do-list. In other words, we are not making it a priority, we are just putting it an category of something else we are trying to squeeze in. Instead, anything that brings us peace of mind, or a sense of purpose needs to be made a priority.

    Raising children gives us a sense of purpose, giving back in a profession gives us a sense of purpose and identity, but writing, or any other life pursuit that makes us happy is just as important. Passion needs to be given equal footing. Without passion life is devoid of vibrancy, we lack vitality.

    Part of the problem is how we evaluate the word 'hobby.' The word itself conjures up images of a side gig, something that often gets left out for other 'more important things.' Therein lies the problem. If a hobby brings us joy and makes us happy, it's not something we should 'squeeze' into our schedules. It needs to be placed right at the top.

    This is a hard concept for women I think, in general. Doing what we love, taking time for ourselves is nothing to feel guilty about, it's not something we should be parcelling out. It's essential for our health and wellbeing.

    Write because you love to. Write because you need to. It's not a chore. It's a little spark of delight that needs tending and nurturing. In the end, your family will actually thank you for it. Maybe not right away, mind you ... like when they want supper, right now, at this very instant, but one day when they look back and think about how happy you were when you were creating something with your words, or when you finally held that book in your hands (whether self or traditionally published) and you celebrated such a momentous accomplishment, when the saw the pride in your eyes. Then they'll get it.

    Do what you love. Hang in there. :)
    In gratitude,

    1. Marissa,
      I love your comment. Its so so so on point and wise. I'm going to have to reread it every time I feel guilty about writing instead of everything else I need to do and am not doing.
      Thank you.

    2. Wonderful and so true, Marissa.