Tag Archives: Marriage

Sometimes I need to say yes

My wife and I went bike riding on Saturday, down the  Olentangy trail near the Park of Roses. I haven’t ridden a bike in years, and it was a rocky experience at first. Not so much the bike riding (turns out the cliche isn’t too far off about that), but getting the bike rack mounted to the car, replacing a busted tube, and other little prep hiccups.

Our planning for this trip consisted of my wife turning to me a little after she woke up and saying “do you want to go for a bike ride?” And I said yes.

I know I’m going to sound like a bit of curmudgeon saying this, but my instinct in situations like this is to say no. It’s not that I don’t like bike riding (I actually had a fairly good time and would like to do it again soon), it’s just that I tend to have a fairly narrow view of what evenings or weekends should be spent doing.

I justify myself by saying that I’ve had a long week and I want to get some writing done, or just relax and recharge. Or maybe I let the morning’s aches and pains dictate my day. I’ve never been the kind of guy for whom exercise really loosens me up or energizes me (at least that’s what I keep telling myself). Truthfully I was both of those things after the ride, even if I was a little sore down the road.

This is one of the reasons why I need my wife. Left to my own devices I would sit in front of a screen, be it Kindle, TV or computer, and while away all the hours of the weekend until it was time to go back to work and more screens. It’s not that I don’t like doing a variety of activities (going to festivals, farmers markets, walking the dog). I actually think doing these things are part of what makes for a well rounded person. I’m just not so good with the overcoming inertia thing. Sometimes, though, all it takes is being asked, and not going with my gut reaction. I wouldn’t be a very fun husband either if I said no to things all the time. It’s good for me personally, and it’s good for the both of us together.

I think this is a trap some writers can get themselves into. So much of writing is spent inside your own head, whether it’s reading, plotting stories, or crafting scenes. Even writing environments have to be chosen to contain the correct amount of stimuli absent distraction (i.e. The white noise in a coffee shop, but not outside, outside has bugs). It may sound equally cliche to suggest that you need to go out and smell the roses, or actually go out and make your body do something instead of just your mind, but it’s true. And hopefully it helps you live longer and be able to write more books.

So do me a favor and remind me of this when she wants to go riding again tomorrow 🙂

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Filed under Faith + Life, Writing

When to stop

It is my goal to be a professional writer some day. By way of definition, this means that I can support myself and my family solely by writing. It can mean (though it doesn’t have to) that I’ve been published by a traditional publisher. I don’t expect this day to come soon, but it’s what I’m shooting for in the back of my mind with every project.

This is a tough goal and one that requires a lot of discipline, sacrifice, and creative energy. And time.

One question I hear asked is when do I stop? Or, to put it more accurately, at what age do I consider the goal of financially supporting myself with writing unattainable?

I will NEVER stop writing. Not while my brain functions and man can build an interface to it.

But at some point I may have to consider that it won’t be my day job either.

I think at 28 I’m still too young to really consider this question. I certainly have a target for when I hope to achieve this goal, but its fuzzy at best. I can’t really pursue writing with the same zest if I thought failure was an option or a possibility.

And not being able to support myself with writing, but still having enough time to do it well might be just fine. Plenty of authors have day jobs, even ones with bigger followings. This is not failure, but it’s also not what I’m shooting for.

I’m young. I’m arrogant (you have to be a little bit to think that people want to read what you write). And I’m willful (I prefer to say disciplined). Ultimately, one or all of these will have to change before I change my mind.

That said, reading Wil Wheaton’s Just a Geek did get me to thinking about one set of conditions under which I might stop. My family, which right now is just me and the little red haired girl (and a couple of pets), is the most important thing in my life. I’ll do whatever I have to to support us. My wife is a great support to the writing, both in the help she gives, and the sacrifices she’s willing to make.

But, if I ever reach a point of diminishing returns, where the sacrifices are too great and the benefits too small, I might consider stopping trying to write professionally. I only pray that if I ever do reach that point, I’ll have the strength to know it, and be able to change my plans without resentment.

Because marriage is sacrifice, and my marriage is more important than my writing. That’s why I’m lucky I’m with who I’m with.

But for the record, she’s not going to let me stop.

Incidentally, I am encouraged by the community of people in there 30s and 40s on WordPress who are still actively pursuing this dream. I’m okay if this takes a long time, and you guys prove day in and day out that passions are always worth pursuing. Kudos.

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Filed under Writing, Writing Goals