Monday, August 27, 2012

On Sacrifice

Hi, sweet readers.

Yup, I've been gone from regular posting for a few weeks. I've missed you. Somehow, I always forget how chaotic and stressful back to school is for a campus professional. There are few things I love more than my college students (hi, you guys!) but going back to  work has been stressful and exhausting in ways I somehow forget every year.

You know, people often ask me how I "do it all" - working a (three-quarters time) day job, managing my house, taking care of my kids, writing books, looking halfway decent every day, sleeping enough, and maintaining my sanity.

 I don't like to complain, because I truly am grateful for every aspect of my life that makes me crazy busy. Healthy kids, a job working with people I love, a house to live in, a budding writing career. Also, because I really don't like to assume myself more busy than anyone else. Everyone has responsibilities and stresses that take up their time and leave them suffering from Not Enough Hours in the Day syndrome.

But when people ask me how I "Do it All," I try to be honest and clear - I don't. If I'm spending time on the weekend with my kids, you can well assume that there's a disastrous house or languishing CP on the other end of that equation. If I'm being productive with drafting or revisions, you can bet my elliptical  - and abs - haven't seen any action for weeks. More often than not, I'm running on not enough sleep, and dealing with chronic anxiety and depression to boot. And even with All the Coffee and a supportive spouse, there are only so many writing minutes you can squeeze out of a day before you collapse in a fit of exhausted tears.

I guess what I want to say is that fitting writing into your life isn't easy. Sometimes, it's damn near impossible.

Either way, it takes sacrifice.

I spend less time with my kids than I could, I've all but given up cooking, I do minimal housekeeping. I still have twenty pounds of baby weight to lose and, honestly, I'm not sure it'll come off any time soon. I don't watch TV. I don't do a lot of hanging out with girlfriends, and my kids never go on playdates.

Do I regret any of these things? Heck no. I know I'll never look back on my life and say, "I really wish my kitchen floor would have been cleaner," but I definitely would think, "Damn, it would have been awesome  if I had just made the time for that Mansfield Park redux."

So, I slept less, spent some cash on babysitters, had a dirty house and a couple nervous breakdowns. But I wrote the redux. Sacrifice. 

ed hardy & splash one I
Licensed for use under CC by Thomas (donnga BS) - thank you!

That's not to say there won't be times when I take weeks or months away from writing - I've just taken a couple weeks "off," and I'm not sure exactly how much more time I'll need to get adjusted.

Burt I do know that, now, once again, I have to figure out the new balance of work, self-care, and family to enable me to keep writing in which the sacrifice does not have to be my sanity. 

What about you? When people ask you how you do it all, what do you tell them? What sacrifices do you make for doing the things that you love?

P.S. - Watch this blog over the next several days for exciting news about something new and awesome that I'm lucky enough to be part of! (no, it's not a book deal, or anything like that. But it is awesome. I promise.)


  1. "I know I'll never look back on my life and say, 'I really wish my kitchen floor would have been cleaner,' but I definitely would think, 'Damn, it would have been awesome if I had just made the time for that Mansfield Park redux.'"

    THIS. You couldn't have put it better. Awesome post.

  2. I tell them I don't have a life, which is true! I also cut corners on housekeeping and cooking; do you think those are always the first things to get sacrificed?

    Great post, thanks for sharing. The Mansfield park redux sounds interesting!

  3. I don't think anyone assumes I can do it all. One peek inside my front door, and they KNOW I don't do it all. My family is happy and healthy. I always find time to write. Everything else goes out the window (or into the pile of junk accumulating on the dining room table, or under the coffee table, or onto the couch in the guest room, or into the pile in my closet, etc.)

  4. *Hugs* You're seriously Superwoman. And I'll happily drop ears of corn on anyone who tries to say you're not.

    And yup, totally forgot to pay my bills yesterday because I threw myself into finishing a 3rd manuscript. The scales are never quite balanced, but at the end of the day, we should be proud of everything we manage to get done in spite of it all.

  5. Sacrifice. So true! my house is almost always a mess, I do the minimum needed to keep it afloat. Hanging out with friends? yeah not so much. And oh boy, I'm going back to work, part-time just for a a couple of months to cover for a friend who is having a baby... and I'm panicking, because all I can think about is that it's going to cut into my writing time.

    The only thing I don't sacrifice is sleep, LOL I'm a monster without it, hehe!

  6. Thank you for this post, Leigh Ann! I love your approach to time management. I always have to remind myself that it's okay for me to let a ball drop once in a while. (And that one of these days I will give myself time for a love life... possibly.)

  7. I honestly think you are one of the most amazing people I know - I have no idea how you keep it so together with so much going on. It seems like learning to be ok with the sacrifices you have to make is half the battle. I know I'm always trying to figure out what's gonna get cut so I can sneak some more writing time in. And yeah, my house hasn't been truly clean in years. I figure when I get that big book deal, I'll just hire a maid :)

    You are my hero, L!

  8. L, you are absolutely AMAZING and GORGEOUS. You will find the right balance and it'll be glorious :)

    I've been thinking about my answer to the balance/sacrifice question forever... And I can't come up with one. In a way, I would say my social life, which is pretty non-existent now that all my best friends live in other parts of the world. But my social life has mostly been online since the start of internet, and I have Wanderlust in my heart.

    Perhaps I do sacrifice my sanity. For me, the biggest challenge has always been balancing life and writing with disability. So balance means pushing the limit as far as I possibly can, and fly as high as I possibly can before I crash. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    I think the right answer is I don't do balance. At all. :)

  9. What a great, inspiring post and how refreshing to hear somebody simply say 'I don't'. I wish you well dealing with your anxiety/depression also.

    I think it's hard to find a balance and also important to find ones own balance. Sometimes I look at others and think, how can they fit such and such in or, I just can't get up any earlier to fit anything else in, but it's finding your own balance and carving your own time out!

    Good post, thank you.

  10. You're one of the busiest but most productive people I know. Seriously, whenever I'm feeling lazy I think of you. I sacrifice cleaning and workouts and sleep for writing, and most of the time I STILL don't feel like I'm doing enough. It's hard, but if writing is a priority, it needs to be treated like a priority.

    Also--you DO do it all. Just not all at the same time :)

  11. "I know I'll never look back on my life and say, "I really wish my kitchen floor would have been cleaner.""

    YES. This. You truly DO do it all, lady--while being a great friend and CP to boot. You just know when and how to prioritize the right things. You are amazing.

  12. My kids are grown, and I still don't clean the kitchen floor as much as I should. LOL Great post! You're aMAZing!

  13. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I'm right there with you, down to the anxiety and depression bit. For me, loosening my grasp on perfectionism has been the key to my sanity. And saying "no" more.

  14. Definitely with you on sacrificing housework. Makes me feel pretty awful that my husband ends up doing all the cleaning, but then again, he also has a far lower tolerance for mess than I do. Also, sleep. Sleep definitely goes. My rule as I near the end of my current WIP is that I cannot go to bed until I write 1K that day. Not ideal but if nothing else it helps me finally get words out instead of sitting around trying to come up with the perfect ones.

    Having a long commute both helps and hurts - it's my designated beta time, since sitting on the subway for an hour with a Kindle gives me a whole lot of uninterrupted reading time. Of course, it means sacrificing giving solid in-line critique, which makes me kind of a lousy beta, but yeah, that's that whole "sacrifice" thing, I guess.... You can only do what you can do while still preserving your own sanity!

  15. What a fantastic post - and much needed as we're moving into the last week of summer, my house is like Clutter Mountain, my kids have eaten junk food all summer, and oh, the baby weight? Same here. The baby starts Kindergarten next week.

    But it's been a great summer for writing as I patched up one manuscript which got a full request and made good progress on another; I've got an awesome critique group and we've got Plans for the Future; and Life is Good. Even with a crappy job, a horribly messy house and a sleep deficit approaching the millions.

    My motto for the school year: Just Say No. I've got enough on my plate with work, writing, and volunteering. I can't do anything else.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  16. And that just about summed it all up! LOL! Yep, I was nodding the whole way through. We don't do it all. If we're doing one thing, something's being neglected. And the guilt over that is relentless. But perhaps, if we're lucky, we'll have something to show for it once it's all over! Hang in there!!! :o) <3

  17. Sooo right there with you. Four part time jobs, three kids, trying to make a career of writing. *sigh* I would LOVE a Time Turner. LOL. Keep on keeping on!

  18. yep, gave up cleaning for lent and it felt so good to have one less thing to stress over that i never went back. actually when things pile up too much and i have too many deadlines creeping up on me, everyone in the family pitches in for a couple of hours and we have a marathon housecleaning party (sounds more fun if you put on music and call it a party, not that i've really got them fooled).


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