Juggling real life and writing deadlines can be tricky, and we don’t always make our best decisions in the heat of the moment.
I haven’t written a word since December. Maybe even November. I’ve tried, but I couldn’t squeeze any words out of this brain. There was a lot going on in those last few months, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise.
Since new year, I’ve been trying to write a story for a submission call. I really wanted to submit a story, but between having guests (including my newborn niece) and never ending virus infections (my kids have been coughing their infections back and forth, all the more easily for sharing their room since before Christmas to make room for our guests), the words have been coming slow. I started a few stories and discarded them after only a few words. Same with blog posts.
The deadline for this call came closer and I ran dry on words. My desperation became so intense that, in a crazy spur of the moment decision that I already regret, I went back to waiting tables. It’s not that I have anything against earning money. I already have a list of things to do with all the money I haven’t yet earned, so long that I have to wait tables for five years to make it to the end of that list. I really need new glasses. I want to renovate my little one’s room. And the bedroom. I want to save up for a trip to Mexico. I want to buy fabric (so much fabric) to sew all the things. And so much more.
One day after I started my new side job, the deadline for the submission call ended, and all I had was one half baked story. But better try and fail than not try at all is my motto, so I put together my submission. Reading the guidelines one last time to make sure I get everything correctly, I realized that I could send in two stories.
With the deadline only a few hours away and one story short (hah), it’s like someone pulled out the stopper. I had nothing to lose, so I sat down, wrote till three in the morning, and sent the second story off to my beta (hallelujah for living in different time zones).
“You need more deadlines,“ my guest tells me, watching as my fingers hit the keyboard feverishly. She’s not wrong, but since the lack of sleep had me finally succumbing to the same virus infection my kids had been fostering for three weeks, I’m not sure it would be healthy in the long run. Because now, I’m really having a fever, and this one sadly is no metaphor.
But I also have tapped back into my writing well and discovered new inspiration. So now I’m thinking I might finally tackle some longer projects. Because one thing going back to waiting tables does is taking some of the pressure off. It allows me to give myself more time to let a story flourish.
Since going professional (sort of), I’ve always felt the pressure of having to publish frequently to generate views and an income, however small. I’ve failed spectacularly at this; I resorted to writing shorter stories in order to publish more frequently, but it took me almost as long as a longer story to write a short story in the end. Now my stories and my writing career have time to grow without the daunting shadow of existential dread looming over me.
I still hate waiting tables, but I do love it when the pressure comes off. And I’ve heard it’s sometimes even helpful to leave the house once in a while to refill the well of inspiration.