Last year I decided to follow my long-held dreams of becoming a novelist. It was scary. I feared rejection so badly I didn't even want to try. What if I put myself out there and found out I had no hope of ever reaching that dream? What if I had to lay that dream down and get a new one? Would I even know how to after all these years? For a long time, I didn't even try because of those fears. It was safer to hold onto my dream, keep it close where I could pet and admire it-- not send it off into the world to be trampled and crushed.
Well you know the rest of the story... or maybe you don't, depending on how long you've been reading this blog. I met this girl who started turning the screws on me to pursue this dream, to take it out of the greenhouse and expose it to the elements. She wouldn't let up to the point that I finally just did it. It wasn't that I stopped being fearful, it was that she just wore me down. And she might have helped me believe just a little bit that it was possible.
So, I submitted this novel that she talked me into writing, even though a lot of the time the writing of the whole novel felt like a big fat waste. But then this publishing company that I really loved offered me a contract for not one but two novels. And then the publishing company shocked me when they moved the first book up a year, which meant a tight time deadline for getting the book out in time.
Which brings me to the price of dreams. Make no mistake: I am living my dreams. It is amazing. I am finally becoming a published novelist. It's everything-- and nothing-- I imagined when I was a little girl and teen and young woman who dreamed of such things. It is surreal, yet very real. Because dreams, I am learning, come with a price.
Suddenly the calmness that lent itself to me being able to write a whole novel on my own terms last year looks positively lovely. Moving up the novel condensed everything from cover design to editing schedule to endorsement requests to... you get the point. I am not complaining, I think this was the best way for me to go through this-- a quick gulp and it's done. But I would be dishonest if I didn't admit to you guys who are moms and wives balancing family and demands that pursuing-- and living-- your dreams comes with a price.
And sometimes your family pays that price.
You all probably know that my husband is out of work. That in itself is hard. But it's especially hard for me to be busy and him to have not a lot going on. Our roles have been reversed and it feels unnatural. He is used to charging out of the house in the mornings with a purpose and a destination. But lately he has been the one staying home while I run out of the house. The balance of our home is off and neither one of us can do anything about it. We have to just do what's in front of us, and hope that we can learn from this tough time the same as we have learned from other ones. (God gave me some insight about that that I will share tomorrow.)
It's also affected my mothering. My son had to write an essay about me and he had trouble coming up with things I do with him. You must know that broke my heart. I went from homeschooling him last year-- cooking with him, taking him everywhere I went, eating every meal with him, doing crafts, reading aloud, etc.-- to him struggling to come up with a few things to include in his paragraph because I am gone a lot more now, trying to keep up with deadlines. I am not the same mom I was before I pursued my dreams. I want to be, but time does not allow. Right now I can not change that. I can only take comfort in the fact that, when I am gone, he is with his dad. And yet, I miss the mom I used to be.
So what do I do about it? I put my nose to the grindstone and finish all my to-do's, with my eye on the prize of turning in my second novel and my first one coming out this summer. I keep on speaking and running She Reads and try not to think about the amount of work I have on me. Because I know that I am not different from any other busy woman, I am just not used to it. Instead, I look forward to lazy days at the pool with my kids, to a week at the beach, to T-I-M-E I do not have now. I pray that God gives us all enough grace to cover this time and try to focus on the fact that God is sovereign. We are surprised at the timing of how all this has shaken out, but He is not.
Still, I am not the mom or wife I want to be right now and that will continue to bug me. I feel I need to say that-- so you all don't think I am balancing it all perfectly and life has rocked along unhindered by the extra things I have taken on this past year. We are walking it out, but with a limp. I love what I am doing, but I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that there has been a pricetag attached to this dream. I am so, so grateful for the opportunities I have been given. So please don't hear ungratefulness in this post. But I am also struggling to persevere and my heart keeps looking backwards to times when I could just be a mom without other things interfering. Motherhood is, I am learning, my true passion, my best dream.
I will figure all of this out. I will make my peace with it, find the balance that has been eluding me. I will slow down my writing pace, say no to other things, and get back to what's important. I have discovered more about my limits through this experience. I do not share this here to whine, but to offer a glimpse of my reality. I am glad I pursued my dreams and I would not change anything that's happened. But I am dropping balls; I am not perfect and neither is my family. In the interest of keeping this blog of mine gut-level honest, I just needed to say that. Just in case you had the wrong idea and thought all of this is wonderful and easy. I know I present the wonderful side a lot. But there is a dark side. To not give you a glimpse of that every so often would be wrong and would do you all a disservice. I would be inventing some impossible standard that you all could kill yourselves trying to keep, but it would be an unobtainable illusion.
In short, I recommend following your dreams. But I also recommend you do it with the knowledge that nothing in life is free. Not even dreams.