Balancing 3 lives (aka: How do I do it all? Answer: I don’t!)
I am a wife, mother, Marine, pilot, writer, marathoner, costumer, all around geek, and more. One of the questions I often get asked is “How do you do it all?”
The truth is, I don’t.
There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Seriously, if I could find a way to survive without sleeping and gain another 8 hours a day I would be a very happy camper. Actually, I hate camping, so I’d be a very happy wife/mother/Marine/pilot/author/marathoner/costumer/all around geek. That is not to say I’m not happy now, just that I finish out each day thinking: “man, I didn’t get half as much done today as I wanted to!”
I suspect that even with an additional 8 hours a day I’d just find more hobbies/things to get involved with and would lament that our earth days weren’t actually 30 hours long instead of 24.
So, how do I accomplish half of what I’d like to do? Well, let’s not discuss the condition of my home (hurricane central!), nor my inability to cook or bake anything outside of tacos or banana bread. But one thing I do well is prioritize my time.
Would I love a spotless house? Yes, but I love to spend quality time with my family more.
Would I love to write two novels a year? Yes, but I need to maintain my mental and physical health, hence my running/training.
Would I love to attend every single book signing and Sci-Fi and Fantasy convention I get invited to? Obviously!
But the Marine Corps comes first, and I go where I’m needed, so I can’t always make it to events I’d like to.
The important thing is to find balance in your life. For me, I have to balance 3 lives, and I do look at them as 3 distinct lives.
1-First and foremost I’ve got Family Me. I’m a wife and mother, and my duty to my family is more important than any others, and I will always put them first. That said I don’t fill up my life with all things family – I try to maintain balance. I know that I won’t make it to every family event, but I try to make it to many of them and I if I have to miss one, I make sure my family understands why I won’t be there (ie, I am deploying or had already committed to a convention). Are they disappointed I won’t be there? Yes, but they also understand because we keep those lines of communication open and transparent. We talk to each other!
Also, we have a set night every week (Monday night) where we have “family night.” Here we go over everyone’s schedule to make sure everyone has rides and that we are all aware of where we all need to be (and whose turn it is to cook or do dishes), and it really eliminates a lot of the confusion. In addition to a lesson that we all take turns giving, we also have some fun together time where we play games or go out for ice cream. The important thing is we are together. Sometimes this is the only time during the week that we are all in one place!
2-Next, I’ve got Marine Me.
I’m a Major in the United States Marine Corps and my duty to my Corps and Country is something I take quite seriously and will take precedence over my writing career at least until I retire from the Corps. But that isn’t to say the two are mutually exclusive. As a KC-130 pilot, I’ve logged a lot of flight hours and in my current job working as a Marine Liaison Officer at the House of Representatives I travel a lot. This gives me plenty of time to work out plot snarls, sort through my different plot bunnies, and, if I’m a passenger instead of the pilot, do some actual writing.
As for my running, aside from it providing me much needed mental rest and alone time, I also get loads of physical benefits, not the least of which is as a Marine I need to be great shape (running is definitely part of my job). Plus races are addictive, lots of fun, and finisher medals are cool!
3-Lastly, I’ve got Writer Me. Since I have to prioritize my time, this is the lowest priority “me,” because it is, I feel, the most selfish one. I started writing for ME. Because I liked it. Because I needed it. Because I wanted to.
Because of this when I do write, I try to do it on “my own time.” ie, when my family has gone to bed, or as mentioned above on down time on work trips, at night at conventions, etc.
That said, my daughter is a big supporter of my writing. In fact she’s one of my biggest fans and is constantly hounding me to finish my next book so she can read it. My husband is a great support too, so more and more I’m able to encroach into “family time” and write with their full encouragement (when I do this I try to write in the same room they are in so that I’m still around them even while I’m “working”).
In addition to that, I used to attend conventions and signings on my own. Now, not only am I generally too busy to be a one man show at these events any more (a good problem to have, I’m not complaining!) but my family accompanies me, so we still get some family time as we all geek out together.
As for everything else (costumes, knitting, various fandoms, etc)? I fit it in when I can.
So if you email me and don’t hear back from me for 2 months? Now you know why – it’s not that I don’t like you, or I’m ignoring you, I just haven’t found the time to properly answer you yet.
As I said at the beginning, I don’t do it all – but doubt I’ll ever stop trying!
Need a copy of one of my books? As it happens you can buy them here.