Writers write. That’s what they do. Fiction writers immerse themselves in worlds created in their own minds and filled with characters that they manipulate and bend to their will. They create stories that, whether loved or hated, become topics of discussion online and in coffee shops and living rooms around the world. I am a writer. It’s what I do. But like a lot of other writers, I struggle to find a way to balance writing with my real-life obligations.
In my fictional world, I write full time. I spend my days weaving my own stories and interacting with other people who write. When I’m not writing, I’m reading. I read romance, mystery, paranormal, police procedural, and forensic fiction, among other genres. Sometimes I delve into non-fiction and learn a new crochet stitch or improve my Photoshop skills. In my fictional world, I am a creator. I make a good living at writing — enough to support my family with a little extra for travel and other luxuries.
My factual world, however, is quite different. The fact is, I am a single mother of three kids, one in college and two in middle school. Their father is not involved in their lives; I’m all they’ve got. I am mother, father, homework helper, chauffeur, referee of squabbles, and shoulder to cry on. Another fact is that in order to provide for my kids, I work a full-time job, one that barely makes ends meet. Worse yet, I work second shift, which presents all sorts of issues, the most challenging of which is a perpetual lack of sleep. The last fact I deal with on a daily basis is elderly parents who live a few miles away and need my assistance with chores and errands, often several times a week.
Yet, within this maelstrom I write. I write because I love it. I’ve been a writer from a young age. I was the student whose teachers had to remind her to please keep to the word limit on essays because I was inclined to keep writing until I ran out of words. I have a small catalog of self-published erotic romance under a pen name that produces modest but consistent sales, but like a lot of other writers my desire is to write novels. Unlike short stories, novels take time. They take planning and outlining. They take writing and rewriting. They take passion and dedication.
One day maybe I’ll live my fictional life and become a self-supporting writer. Maybe it will be next year, or maybe it won’t be until my kids are all grown, but someday it will make it happen. In the meantime, I will use stolen moments late at night when I should be sleeping and weekends between loads of laundry to pound out my soul on a keyboard. I’ll plan chapters and run dialogue in my head while I’m driving the kids to school or sleepovers. Until the day when my two worlds coalesce, I’ll find a way to balance my fiction with my fact, because I’m not willing to live without either one.