Excuses, Excuses or Life Gets in the Way of Writing…Again

June 2, 2011

Years ago, when my non-fiction writing was the soul financial support for my family, I dabbled in writing children’s fiction. (As the mother of two young children, it made sense.) I joined a critique group, and I submitted my first completed picture book in between diaper changes and non-fiction deadlines. There was always something delaying my edits or my next critique and submission to the group. One day, a group member sent an email to chastise the couple members (me!) who weren’t participating regularly. My response reeked of defensiveness. Come on! How was I supposed to worry about editing and writing fresh children’s verse when I had a husband following his dream, a dream that paid peanuts at that level and caused a lot of stress? And what about my two kids under four? And what about my job, a job that put food on the table and kept a rented roof over our head?  Obviously these other women didn’t have the same stress and obligations I did.


One of the women replied to my reply, letting me know she wrote with terminal cancer. All these years later, I can’t remember the other issues plaguing her, but there were more. Her parting shot was—and I quote, because these words are tattooed on my heart—life will always get in the way.

Smack! It was the biggest slap to the ego I’ve ever taken. I quit the critique group, because frankly I couldn’t “face” those women again. I also quit writing children’s books, because frankly my heart wasn’t in it enough to battle back when life got in the way.

Fast forward more than a decade and I’ve discovered something. Life does get in the way, but when I’m writing what I’m meant to be writing, it’s not easy—or acceptable—to roll over and submit.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I have out-of-town guests, and it’s easy for me to say, “No writing for the next 10 days while I play hostess.” The details of why this mentality works best are many, and yet, I sitting at the computer this morning, writing this blog post, thankful for the flow of words, craving more, craving a moment alone with my current manuscript, plotting my own escape for an hour or two. The coffee shop? The front porch? The bathroom floor? Anywhere. Anything. Just so I can write.

Life isn’t going to get in the way this time. I’m going to get in the way of life.

How about you? Do you find certain circumstances are a recipe for writing disaster? Do particular life events take you away from the computer for more than a couple days?



3 Responses to “Excuses, Excuses or Life Gets in the Way of Writing…Again”

  1. Tari Says:

    Oh, this is true! I’ve used the same excuse too many times. Life and guilt gets in the way for me. As I’ve said, I’ve finally got my guys taking my writing seriously (for the most part) and I do think it’s because I am taking it seriously. I have no time to waste. Life is too short, and I don’t want to die without doing everything in my power to fulfill my dreams!

    Slip out to the coffee shop, or hide in the bathroom for awhile, do what you have to do….but follow your heart! I already know you are……

  2. […] years I’ve had other character’s fill my head and borrow my pen, but with all of the excuses (Elley wrote about yesterday) that life can throw at you, I’ve never allowed them free reign […]

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