By PD Martin
Ever feel like you’re falling short? Not quite meeting your own expectations or the expectations of others? Last week David talked about his intensive promotional schedule at the moment and, like David, I too feel stretched— but in different ways and for different reasons.
Like most people, I have several ‘roles’ or parts that make up my whole. In my case, it’s mother, wife, author, breadwinner and at the moment I’m also on a bit of a health-kick/diet. Problem is, I feel like I’m falling short in pretty much all of these areas.
Four weekdays, I’m the primary caregiver of our 21-month-old son and our six-year-old daughter. And of course, weekends and mornings/nights it’s shared duty! I’m blessed with two amazing children and I love being a mum. Yet, there are things I’d like to change. I feel so disorganised in the motherhood stakes some times. Every morning, I allow myself just over an hour to get ready and out the door. Yet somehow, I still find myself frazzled and yelling to get my daughter moving. Maybe that’s normal, but it feels so chaotic and stressful and by school drop-off time I feel like I’ve run an emotional marathon. Which is ridiculous! It shouldn’t be that hard to get two kids out the door. I’m clearing doing something wrong…falling short. And I really somehow need to find more patience so I can be a better mum.
I’m an incredibly vague and forgetful person, which is not easy to live with. I’m one of those annoying people who asks a question and then can’t remember if the person answered me or not (let alone what the answer was). Yes, I’m busy and my mind is full, but is that an excuse?
Well, the actual writing process is going amazingly! Even with only having 15 hours a week (eight hours on one day and then the other seven hours are scattered all over the place) I’ve managed to write the first draft of a YA novel (58,000 words) in less than four months. I’ve now moved into the editing stage and so far I’m pretty happy with the novel.
But the problem is, I’m not bringing in enough money from my writing pursuits and my ebooks, which brings me to the next point…
While I’m not the primary breadwinner, we do rely on a fairly decent part-time salary from me to make ends meet. In the past two years, I’ve taken on teaching and freelance work and if I don’t manage to get an advance for this next YA book (and/or my ebook sales remain at their current level) the reality is I’ll need to spend my 15 hours a week on paid freelance work not on MY writing. And that sucks! I’ve probably got until July to make something happen.
My health kick/diet
I’m also currently on a no wheat, no sugar (including fruit) six-week plan. The goal is to see how my body responds to getting rid of these two things in my diet and lose 6kg (13 pounds). I’ve actually been going pretty well with this one. I’ve had a few lapses, but three weeks in I am 3kg lighter. Still, I know I won’t lose this week and I have broken it. So I guess I’ve fallen short on this one this week, too!
So, Rati. Are you falling short anywhere in your life? Everywhere? Lay it on me! And/or what are your thoughts on expectations these days? Do we expect too much of ourselves?
I took so long on my manuscript that I was starting to refer to it as my "perpetual mystery novel." That got old quick, so I took two weeks off and told myself that it was time to quit falling short. I wrote ten pages a day and ended up finishing last week. It still needs revision, but a big thing where I felt I was falling short was dealt with.
Now if I could only begin to think about giving up sugar.:-)
Oh, god, I don't EVEN want to start a list of how I fall short. I'm not juggling half as much as you are, Philippa!
Larry, that's awesome, and you isolated something key, I think. Focus on one doable thing and get that done. Then on to the next. If only I could remember that…
I was unaware that life was anything but a perpetual exercise in falling short. 🙂
Perhaps the hardest thing is accepting that, accepting oneself, while at the same time not succumbing to indolence, self-apology, and sloth. That tricky balance between humility and ambition.
Larry's on to something. "Let me get this next thing done." Organize, set a reasonable goal, commit. Repeat. Do that, you've accomplished more than you know. And congrats on the YA novel — you know that demonstrates how competent you are at getting done what needs to be done.
And I forget what people tell me all the time, Phillipa. I count myself very fortunate that my friends and loved ones forgive me and indulge me.
Congrats, Larry. That's a great achievement. When I teach writing, I always ask students what they think the difference is between me (as a published author) and them. The answer: I've written and completed more books! And it's true…finishing is a large part of the battle and it's great you've got that done.
Alex…come on, just give us a couple of things you're falling short on! 🙂 I am juggling a bit, but these days it seems like everyone is. Maybe I need to go back to the fifties — be a housewife only with Valium and martinis at the ready!
David…loved your opening comment…life as a perpetual exercise in falling short. And you and Larry are right, focusing on one thing is a good idea. But when the other things are part of your being (e.g. motherhood) you can't NOT focus on that for a few days or weeks to finish a novel. Still, I count myself extremely lucky to have two gorgeous children 🙂 As for the forgetting – maybe your friends and family need to word-up my friends and family.
Larry, that is so great. Congratulations!
I can never quite manage it all. I am always falling short, it seems. I've even lost two inches in height, and now I am officially very short. Who can tell, though. From my chair I imagine I look average height. But if I write about this much longer I will have wasted most of my writing time for the day.
Phillipa, you are so, so right about children, family. Loving and caring… the best of life there is. Fitting writing in to that is an art, truly. It's also part of passing along life's gifts to your children and sharing with your life partner. When my parents managed that, I learned. When they came up short, I learned. It's all there, everything they need to get along in the world.
Oh… there is a wonderful article by writer Matthew Dicks, in today's Huffington Post titled Like When do I write? In the cracks between my toddler's poops and my wife's contractions. Have a look-see here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-dicks/when-do-i-write-in-the-cr_b_2775893.html
Oh, this one is just too hard to read, and too close to home.
Oh, goodness, the guilt, the guilt! I used to wake up at 4 a.m. and worry about how I was falling short in several or all areas. Then I was an exhausted mess the next day and falling even shorter. I had reduced to dwarfish dimensions, or even microbian. Then I realised that I could continue worrying and not do anything about any of it, or I could get up at 4 a.m., do a bit of writing or reading, then go back to sleep. It has been the most liberating experience!
Hi Reine. Thanks for the comments about family and thanks for the link. I must admit, writing in "a non-franchised, locally owned coffee shop while sipping organic cappuccino and listening to the soothing sounds of Nora Jones unplugged" does sound kind of nice, but that part did make me laugh 🙂 Mind you, I don't think I would have been impressed with my hubby writing in between contractions if I was his wife!
Stephen, thanks for dropping by and making me feel NOT alone.
And same to you, Marina! I have had those moments of waking up at 4am and stressing, but thankfully not at the moment. The only thing waking me up at that time are children! Still, I'm glad you've found your early morning writing stints liberating!