Years ago, when I first began exploring online writers' forums, I kept seeing members declare, "Writing is my life!" Some would go on to brag about how all-consuming their writing was, about how they had no friends, no time for other activities. At times, especially when I saw one of them making strides toward publication, I wondered if they were right. Would only those who poured everything into their writing succeed? If that was true, there was no hope for me.
See, as a young adult, I'd already learned the painful lesson that writing was not my life and never could be. It's sometimes tempting to let myself disappear into a world of my own creation, to completely give in to my drive to write and to succeed as an author. But I married and had children young, and they needed me to be more than a writer. Just being a member of my newly created family made it clear to me that there was more I had to be. Was I doomed to failure as a writer, then? Did successful writers shut out their families and the world?
Soon enough, I noticed that veteran writers didn't throw around that phrase. They managed to finish books and publish them without being swallowed up by their desire to write. What a relief! But this realization was more than a relief, because not only is there more I have to be, but there's more I have the privilege of being.
Now I'm so grateful to be able to say, "Writing is NOT my life." And when I hear people say, "Writing is my life," I cringe. Because what happens when writing doesn't seem to be going anywhere? When the dream seems to come crashing down around us? When all the work appears to be for nothing? Every writer has those moments. I've certainly had my share. And during those times, the people who loved and needed me, and the other purposes I had, were what kept me going.
Living a full life has done more than help me through the tough times in my writing life; it's enriched my writing in ways I never expected. Though there are many other aspects of my life that impact my writing, the clearest example of this is how the time I've spent practicing and coaching judo has fueled my Venture series. From the real personalities that help me to shape realistic characters, to the struggles I've observed and shared on that mat, which shape the story's themes, to the technical knowledge that helps me write about fighters, this series would not be what it is if I hadn't peeled my rear end off of my chair and gone to judo practice.
Though I love judo, I used to worry that my commitments were getting in the way of my writing goals. But the very hours I thought I was sacrificing, taking away from writing time to spend all evening at practice or all weekend at a tournament, turned out to be a great investment not only in people, but in my writing. The more I take time away from writing to just live, the more my writing comes alive.