Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere



I realized something this week. Well, last week. My oldest child is now 18.

Let that sink in for a minute.

My first stories were published while I was pregnant with him. I even got paid real money for one of them, not contributor copies.

I toyed with my writing from that point on, since Real Life demanded more of my attention. I still wrote, but I didn’t (couldn’t?) focus on the goal of getting published again.

Until my mother was in hospice. I realized if I really wanted to get published, that is, publish a novel, I needed to get moving. I’d putzed around with my stories, finished the first iteration of my fantasy novel, written various scenes as they burned to escape my head, but I wasn’t focused on writing. I had two kids, a full-time job, a monster garden, … did I mention the kids?

The summer after my mom passed, now ten years ago, I read an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about a group in the Twin Cities that participated in a novel-writing marathon every year. NaNoWriMo.

I remember the “fire in my belly” when I read through the article. This was it. NaNoWriMo was my ticket, a way to get my shit together and start focusing on my writing again. I had an almost-eight-year-old and a five-year-old, but I needed to write.

I knew I could write passable fiction–hell, I’d been published. I also knew, however, that there was more to writing than I thought. It’s kinda that way with everything, isn’t it? Parenting, working, even the whole being married thing. The whole Real Life thing.

My wonderful hubby (don’t know how I snagged him, and certainly don’t know how he’s put up with me for so many years) gave me time to write. Still gives me time (hell, he makes me go write when I become unbearably aggravated because I’m not writing).

Ten–wait, eleven NaNoWriMos, a stint on a writing critique website (thank you to RedRider, Dawn, Les, Helen, and my other mentors from Fanstory.com), a couple online classes, writing books, Writer’s Digest magazine, a writing conference, and a week-long writing retreat in a Master Novel class later, I’m here.

I try to focus on writing even through the RL time commitments, including a full-time job, a house that doesn’t get the cleaning and organizing attention necessary to prevent embarrassment when visitors show up, and the various parenting oversight an 18-year-old boy needs to prepare for graduation and subsequent college (read: grad pics, scholarship apps, college registration,  job hunting, you get the picture). Add to that a teen-aged daughter (if you’ve ever had one, ‘nuf said), and RL really starts eating into my writing time.

Oh, boy. Did you catch that? Real Life is important, but dammit, so is my writing.

Right now I’m deep into a heavy revision I want–need–to finish by the end of the year. So, where does my time go? Full-time job, check–can’t go without that one. Hubby, check–he picks up my slack on the homefront (and it’s a lot of slack, but he’s a stay-at-home dad/handyman/mechanic/cook/hug-supplier). Kids, check–counting down to the day my daughter leaves for college. Household chores, check–I clean (hate it), it gets dirty again, but there is a limit to the procrastination. Christmas stuff, check–baking, still gotta get the kids’ gifts, etc.

RL or writing? Both would be ideal. But I can’t prioritize writing all the time. To all those writers who have no children (or grown children), have a spouse that works so they can stay home to write, are retired, or have enough resources while devoting time to writing, I envy you.

Real Life has farther-ranging consequences than my writing. Each day is its own, and priorities change day by day. Today, writing. Tomorrow, RL?



Author: Julie Holmes, author

Pen names: J. M. Holmes, J. M. Goebel A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I've been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. In real life, I am a technical writer with a family of two teens, a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, two chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

13 thoughts on “Priorities

  1. So very true. Real life will not be denied.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I suppose I’m one of those writers you envy…kids grown up and I’m “retired.” I didn’t start writing until I turned 50 and my kids were out of the house. It was inconceivable, and I so admire the folks who carve out that time with such busy lives – amazing to me. The interesting thing is that there still isn’t enough time 🙂 Grandchildren enter the picture and volunteering (because now there’s all that free time, right?). The house and garden still call. There’s blogging and marketing, new things to learn all the time, causes to support. The juggling act continues…so prioritize but even more so, enjoy the journey.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh yes, I think about you 😉 There are a lot of writers who work with kids still at home, some not even in school yet, so I know I’m not alone. Still wish there were more hours in the day for writing after the necessaries (job, sleep, workout, eat, family–not necessarily in that order) are done. I’m trying to juggle better, but sometimes, those darn balls just don’t go where you want them to 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmm, maybe I’ll get published when my boys turn 18. I’m certainly not getting any writing done, and my garden’s a mess, so kudos to you for your blogging and revising!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s definitely a balancing/juggling act, all the RL stuff and writing. I even have those days where I seriously consider tossing in the towel on the writing front just because it’s so hard to fit into my day. But then I think of all the work I’ve done, the progress I’ve made and how that would all be for naught. I also think of my wonderful writing friends online (and locally) and know that they can fully relate to the problem. Lately RL has been hitting me really hard and I’ve been thinking about that towel a lot more often, but it still hasn’t gotten the better of me. I hate to admit I can’t do something and it sounds like you do, too. So…back to all that juggling, Julie. One of these days it’s got to get easier! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • We need to hop on the Little Engine That Could! Online and RL writing buddies are great for keeping me going, and I think we all cheer each other on because we can all relate. 😀 RL hitting you, too? Let’s tell RL to back off for a bit so we can get another couple chapters done. Deal? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m for that, Julie. Hopefully, Mr. E. and your muse can tackle it for us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Julie, I believe we all share your pain of time constraints and the frustration of chores and life happening while we’re trying to write.
    But we never give up and keep writing. It’s our passion and cannot be denied.
    Happy Holidays to you and yours

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Frances! You are so right. I’m trying to learn how to use the small bits of time to focus on writing, as opposed to depending on an hour or more of dedicated time.

      Happy Holidays to you as well! May your winter be short (or summer long, if you’re south of the equator 🙂 )!


  7. Pingback: Priorities | wwwpalfitness

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