Monday, February 13, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Stay-At-Home-Writer-Dad

It's 11pm on the dot. I've just finished making myself a tall mug of hot cocoa - chocolate graham flavor - and I've settled into my desk, ready to work for the next hour or two. Even though I have to be up at 6am if I want time to take a shower and eat breakfast before my wife leaves for work and I start my shift with our five-month-old, I am determined to squeeze the midnight hour of all it can give me tonight.

There was a period years ago when I was easily able to stay up till all hours of the night. On top of the many midnight goof-off visits to the local Wal-Mart, early breakfasts at Denny's with friends, or the late-night 'crate surfing', I also remember one particular job that I enjoyed quite a bit - inventory specialist for RGIS inventory services. The job was a breeze - if not a tad tedious. I would help take inventory of a wide variety of stores during their dark hours, and the stores ranged from Victoria's Secret to Super K-Mart to Home Depot. Those were the days of my youth, when a cup of coffee went a long way, and when I didn't have a second thought about how much time I had to sleep.

Nowadays, at 32/married/with child, I find my strength waning by three in the afternoon. Being a stay-at-home-writer-dad, I bounce between changing diapers, to changing character wardrobes; feeding my son, to feeding my muse; keeping my son entertained, to entertaining my readers. The variety of tasks makes for a fairly quick day, but I am worn out most days before the end.

It all inevitably leads up to my wife coming home in the evening, us playing a quick game of Tetris together, eating dinner, and then we're either in for the night - at which point I will get back to work and continue do to so late into the evening - or we'll pour some bottles, pack up the baby, and head to a friend's house, Bible study, or to do a bit of grocery shopping. As soon as the wife and kid are in bed, the darkness is mine to do what I will - I can sit and enter my world away from this world. I can mingle with the characters I tried so hard to mingle with during the day, amidst the distractions, the screaming kid, the noisy neighbors. I can build and construct and design entire continents, governments, and societies. By day I am a dad, by night I am a ruler.

Some days I lose my motivation much easier than I would like to admit. I procrastinate, I fail in the mission to push my novels out there, get the reviews, get the sales, and get the bills paid so my wife can come home and do what she wants to do most - watch our son. Sometimes I skip blogging, I neglect to post blurbs on Facebook, I intentionally shy away from interacting with anything to do with social networking, simply because 'I just don't feel like it'. I'm sure we've all been there, but it's not a place any of us want to be.

Right now though is my time. The darkness shrouds the distractions of the day and lets me do some work on my latest Work in Progress - Black Earth: Dark Masquerade - the third novel in my edgy Christian speculative fiction series. My deadline to get the story to my editor is March 15th. At that point, my editor will work her magic, destroying my darlings, tweaking my grammar faux pas, and polishing that dirty gem into something credible.

There's more to do than just write though. It's funny how when you tell some people you're a writer, they think that's all you do is write. I have a laundry list of additional tasks that need to be done - this blog post, for one, needs some polishing. I have to accomplish my daily goal of submitting my work to at least one book reviewer so I can start making waves in the online markets. There are data inconsistencies with my books on Goodreads that need to be fixed, a chapter that needs to be read of the latest book I want to review, and somewhere in all of that are the daily things such making sure bottles are clean, dishes are loaded, dinner is ready, trash is out, cat is worshiped, sanity is intact.

This is the life of a stay-at-home-writer-dad.

It won't always be this hard. We'll get to the point where my book sales are paying the bills to allow for my wife to come home and watch our son during the day so I can write/blog/self-publish/format/critique/social network/read/etc/etc/etc/etc/etc.

For now though, I'll just take the next hour and thank God I have it to finish up another scene, to rescue another character, to put another period at the end of another 'award-winning' sentence. And I'll enjoy my steaming mug of hot chocolate all the while.


Tiffany said...

Ah, I love these Day-in-the-life posts! If I'd asked you to guest appear on Reader's Den, this is the type of post I'd love for you to write.

I also have faith that one day you will reach that point of success, and I'm cheering for you all the way!

Unknown said...

Thanks for your support, Tiffany! I know I'll get there too, and it's encouraging to have great people like you rooting for me. :)

And I've been meaning to put up a post like this ever since you mentioned it a while ago. ;)

JR said...

Great post. Totally accurate description of a day in the life of a stay-at-home writer/dad. How are things going a year in?