Making the Time

I had a brilliantly entertaining blog post planned for today, one which would have elicited laughter from all, and spread my fame as a blogger throughout the Internet.  And then real life intervened.  My daughter had a slumber party this weekend.  The day job went crazy.  I volunteered for a SFWA committee to discuss copyright issues (thus proving that I too went crazy.)

I’m not saying this to elicit sympathy.  The truth is, most writers deal with similar issues every day.  A few of us are able to survive full-time from our fiction, but they’re the exception to the rule.  For the rest of us, the demands of a steady income, not to mention health benefits (at least here in the U.S.) require a day job.  Add a family, and suddenly you’re squeezing in your guest blog post while your kids finish eating their chicken and rice.

Writing takes time.  And I’m finding that the more successful you become, the more time it requires.  I can manage my one hour of writing every day during my lunch break, but suddenly I’m doing interviews and maintaining a blog that people actually read?!! and doing guest posts and writing author bios and e-mailing the German publisher with the final manuscript on the third book and talking to my agent about publicity and–

Not that I’m complaining.  I love the fact that I have to deal with these demands.  Most of the time, at least.

But there’s always a choice.  A night spent doing a booksigning is a missed soccer game, because the signing was arranged long before the district scheduled its games.  Hours spent communicating with bookstores are hours when my wife entertains the children while I’m here on my own.  A late night trying to meet a deadline is a night my wife is asleep by the time I make it to bed.

In some ways, the best months of my writing career were when I had moved back to Michigan from Nevada — I was unemployed, had no social life, and was living with my parents.  All I had to do was write and send out resumes.

I want to be a writer.  I also want to be a father and a husband.  I’m not too thrilled about being a state employee, but I want to keep my house, so I guess I want that, too.

It’s all about choice.  What’s most important?  What’s worth fighting for?  And what I’m starting to learn is that it’s not a choice we make once.  It’s one we make every day.  Which is why I chose to scarf my dinner so I could finish this blog, because I love the SFNovelists community.

It’s also why I’m choosing not to proofread this post.  So if you find typos and problems, it’s because I chose to leave ‘em there so I could go play with my kids.

What choices do you make?  How do you prioritize your writing, and how do you balance it with the rest of your life?  Me, I’m still learning, so advice is always welcome :-)

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  1. 1. Marie Brennan

    I had to solemnly promise my fiance that if it came down to a question of doing my revisions early like my editor requested, or finishing the wedding arrangements, I would choose the wedding. <g>

    You’ve hit on part of the reason, though, that I am making a habit of composing my SF Novelists posts some time in advance of my actual day. Not only does it mean I get my ideas down while they’re fresh; this way, I don’t have to worry about finding the time on the sixteenth day of every month.

  2. 2. Jim C. Hines

    That’s probably a wise choice :)

    Usually I’m fairly good at managing deadlines, but this time … well, not so much. Though I did get the blog posted on the 24th, so it’s all good, right?

  3. 3. Steve Buchheit

    Oh yeah, time management is a big thing. With three jobs before the writing (day job + overtime, council, freelance design), it’s the last one that usually get the shaft. It totally sucks, but I’m still abe to get words down and finish short stories. We’ll see how well it works for a novel soon. But all four jobs and the personally life all come down to priorities. Sometimes you can ignore home for work, one job for another, eventually you have to give top priority to each one.

Author Information

Jim C. Hines

Jim C. Hines' latest book is THE SNOW QUEEN'S SHADOW, the fourth of his fantasy adventures that retell the old fairy tales with a Charlie's Angels twist. He's also the author of the humorous GOBLIN QUEST trilogy. Jim's short fiction has appeared in more than 40 magazines and anthologies, including Realms of Fantasy, Turn the Other Chick, and Sword & Sorceress XXI. Jim lives in Michigan with his wife and two children. He's currently hard at work on LIBRIOMANCER, the first book in a new fantasy series. Visit site.



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