SXSW Monthly Collaboration: Life, pain and the pursuit of writing.



I am horribly happy to be collaborating once again with the fabulous Valerie Day-Sanchez. Last month was a real doozy for both of us and funny enough it has inspired this month’s column on life as a writer with all the many outside interferences we face on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. We all have several different hats we wear and sometimes our passions can get pushed to the side for the mundane or for circumstances that are not entirely our doing.

I have been laid up with a pinched nerve in my neck for a whole month now. It has literally kicked me in the ass and my recovery has been decidedly slow and painful. I can’t even begin to describe the agony of pain but I can try to offer some insight into the horrific realization that I could not write.

Now, I am perfectly aware that my injury occurred because of my tenaciousness and let’s face it, downright stupid resolute goal, which led me to sit at my desk for hours on end and write out a book in three and a half weeks. I have only myself to blame and even though I have accepted my fault in this incident I was still faced with something remarkable.

You see, I never realized how much I would miss writing until it was taken away from me.

If you are a parent, a professional, or both, then you know how hard it is to carve out time for your work and artistic expression each and every day. When the opportunity is ripped from your life though, it is rather like losing something extremely precious. So how do we authors do it? How do we deal with our lives and incorporate writing without hurting ourselves or pissing off our family and friends?

I’m not sure if I have the answer but I do know that not being able to work on my book or other writing projects was like a blow to my heart and soul. I realized that my long desired and new found occupation as an author was what kept me fulfilled on previously unknown levels as of late. I had to do something or else I was going to go mad.

I decided to take control and went back to the doctor, was ordered physical therapy and I also purchased a laptop. I have always been pro desktop but I have caved into the pressures of modern technology. I sit now in mild pain but my heart is happy and light as I type.

I figured out that it is not so much as making time for my writing that has given me pleasure it is simply the fact that I am writing again. I realized that as an artist, you don’t make the time; you create the time for your passions. It’s not about punching a clock. It’s about ignoring the tick tock of that clock and listening to the beating of your heart.

We all have busy lives to lead. Each and every one of us has demands and obligations to fulfill every day. As a writer though, we need to feed our souls with our work otherwise what’s the point of this so-called life if we can’t make the effort to live our dream.

Besides, we’re writers. Sleep is of no consequence for us nor is pain. The only real torture is not being able to pour our heart and soul onto paper with our words. In the words of Anais Nin:

~If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing , then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.~

 Valerie’s Take:


It’s funny that this month, fellow fantasy author, Shannon Barczak and I decided to write about the trouble of juggling all of the rigmarole of life along with our passions because I swear this month has been a whirlwind.  Remember my piece will appear in orange, while Shannon’s will be white.

I honestly don’t know how I find time to write, Although I do find myself doing it EVERYDAY.  Like Shannon said, we all wear many hats, but I noticed that no matter if I’m wearing the “mom hat,” the “wife hat,” the “home-school teacher hat,” or my new, Realtor hat, I have to express myself with the written word at some point of the day.  

So no, I don’t always have time to crank out a novel, or to edit one of my projects- maybe I’m just writing a cover letter for a job, or commenting on my student’s assignments, but, I have to write.  I know some of you “novel purists” are thinking, ‘hey that’s cheating, that’s not really writing,’ but I disagree.  

One of the most spoken tips for authors from authors is to write everyday and if we interpret that as, we have to write a short story, or begin a bestseller everyday, we will feel like failures.  

I define writing as, getting my ideas coherently on paper.  I strive for my ideas to be as similar to what I envisioned in my mind as possible.  It doesn’t matter if it’s nonfiction, if it’s for work or personal use.  So when I define it that way, I’m ecstatic that I was allowed the opportunity to write outside my genre. It keeps me fresh and it allows me to force my mind to work in a different direction than it would naturally go.  This has led to the development of characters that I may have never stumbled upon had I not had to write a nonfiction piece for work.  It makes me extend my vocabulary which I’m sure my readers appreciate.

Life happens, no matter what, and while Shannon discusses having the gift of writing taking away, I have to admit that I too have felt that way when life (kids, husband, dog, work) didn’t allow me to work on my trilogy, or complete my SciFi novel, but the truth is, that is just the way it is.

Sometimes it seems as though, when you have uninterrupted hours on end to write we don’t have an idea, and when we have an idea, everybody wants a piece of us.  So being an author is all about adaptability and knowing ourselves.  I know that if I get an idea I have to hurry and jot it down before it’s lost in between diaper changes and showing houses.  And then when I get a free minute I can fully utilize it as opposed to dicking around on Facebook.


Writing is less about the time, or slowing life down, it’s about recognizing what you love and going for it, even if it means you have to do it five minutes at a time.


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