As an indie author, I've read several blogs and countless posts about how you need to "really want" to be a successful author and prove it by writing ten, twelve, or more hours a day. "You really serious about wanting to succeed? Then get busy and write a book a month. Write every waking moment. Write at your kid's soccer game. Write after your spouse has gone to bed. Write early in the morning before anyone else is up. Write, write, write."
It's as if you can't be a success if you don't give up the rest of your life for writing. Sorry. I'm not buying it. Oh, maybe that's true if you want to hit 5 or 6 figure a month success. But, truly, if all you are doing is writing night and day, what are you going to do with that money, anyway? What difference does it make if you buy a huge mansion or expensive sports cars if you sit at your laptop writing? The house is enjoyed by everyone but you, the cars too...or they sit in the garage. Why go on trips if you're going to be writing day and night during your visit to France? Unless you get a kick out of simply looking at a high bank balance, I don't see the point. Are you working so someone else doesn't have to after you die?
See, I have a husband I love. He's not only my best friend, he's my confidante, my strength, and one hell of a good lover. Write after he goes to bed? Um, I don't think so.I have some family I love. I want to be present in their life, not on the sideline typing away while they wonder why they mean next to nothing to me. I have friends I love. They're a LOT of fun. I want to give them my love, my attention, and my time. I have a grandson who will be three next month (we're childless by choice, he is the son of our dear friends next door, and he considers us as much "Grandma" and "Grandpa" as anyone else. In fact, they are more family to us than our families.) This boy won't be small long. Right now parents and grandparents are his world. In a very short time, we won't be. That time will never be gotten back, so there is NO WAY IN HELL I'm passing on any time I can spend with him in order to type on my laptop in the hope of making huge money.
Sure, I believe in hard work. To a point. I believe in finding time to write and time to paint. When doing those things, I believe in applying myself to the best of my ability. But they aren't the sole reason I'm here in this body on this planet. Even though I see my writing and painting as creation, as something I give to the world, to me the real reasons we are here are for education, experience, and enlightenment. None of those are found behind your keyboard. At least, not in sufficient quantities to really grow you.
I also believe you can succeed at writing by working a normal work day. You may not become rich, but you can make a decent living. If by some stroke of luck I become rich, fabulous. But, really, I am aiming for making enough that we keep our house, can go out to dinner when we want, see movies, go to plays and the orchestra. Maybe one trip a year, sometimes far away, sometimes not. Staying in normal places, doing normal things. Stopping to talk to normal people in those places.
So, starting tomorrow Dave and I have two weeks of vacation. We've always taken two weeks in a row, except for one year when I worked for someone who wouldn't let me, which is why I've been self-employed most of my life. I know what I need to be productive. This is one of those things. Two weeks is almost unheard of now in this country. I wonder why we allow ourselves to be slaves to work. Perhaps more marriages would be worth saving if people invested more time into them, both daily and taking long vacations together. Europe does it and they haven't crumbled. I think we can manage to allow ourselves plenty of play time and down time.
In fact, I'm starting a day early. Today I'm going to clean the house (a surprise for my husband, as he usually does half) and, if the neighbors have time, go to Costco. But first I'm going out to breakfast by myself and reading on my kindle. Yeah, I'm behind on my next book. Truly, I think readers will understand. Hopefully they're busy with summer, too. When I come back to the real world in two weeks, I'll be able to finish that book, and I can guarantee it will be a better book for my having this time off.
And you know what? You know that question "What will be important to you on your deathbed?" Well, when I'm dying I won't be thinking about how many stories I wrote or paintings I painted. I'll be thinking about the people who have mattered to me. And you know how I want to be remembered? I don't want to be remembered so much for how deeply I mattered to them.
I want them to remember how deeply they mattered to me.
There's only one way to make sure that happens. I need to spend time with them, real time with them where they are the focus of my attention. THAT is what makes me rich. THAT is what I'm here for.
Caddy Rowland is a novelist and painter. Her social media links follow.
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