Do you remember these lyrics from a perfume commercial in the 70s? “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and never, never let you forget you’re a man.” Women were supposed to believe they could do it all and be well dressed, beautifully coiffed and perfumed at the same time. Well, as any woman who has tried to do everything for her family and succeed in her career knows, that’s poppycock. No woman, or man, can do everything, at least not at the same time. Something has to give.
You may be wondering what all of that has to do with writing. The answer is: everything. As writers, the thing we want to do more than anything else, is to write but there are times when other responsibilities must take precedence. For example, when we have a new book coming out, we need to devote a good portion of our time to promoting it. And, like everyone else, we writers have families who sometimes need us and, as important as our writing is to us, the people we love are more important.
In September of 2012, my mother fell and broke her hip. She was making a speedy recovery until, six weeks later, when she fell again and shattered everything the surgeon had fixed. Although I’m happy to report that she’s doing very well, she’s since been diagnosed with another medical condition that limits what she can do. As her only caregiver, there have been times when I’ve felt overwhelmed, frustrated and exhausted. I'm fortunate to have friends who support and encourage me and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to be there for Mom because she's always been there for me. This whole experience has taught me a few things as I’ve tried to juggle writing, promoting and caring for my mother.
· I’ve learned to prioritize. Each morning, I make decisions as to what the most important things are for me to do that day. What has to be done? What should be done? And, what I’d like to get done if I have the time and the energy. I schedule my day and I make lots of lists.
· I’ve learned not to feel guilty when I don’t accomplish everything I’ve set out to do that day and not to let anyone else make me feel guilty either. I can’t please all of the people all of the time; all I can do is what I can do!
· I’ve learned not to “bite off more than I can chew.” In other words, I try not to commit to more than I know (or think) I can handle. Sometimes, this results in missed opportunities to promote my books but I’d rather say “No” to an invitation than have to back out on something I’ve committed to.
· I’ve learned to take some time each day for me. After all, we are human beings, not human doings. A little time to myself soaking in a warm tub, reading a good book or sprawled out on the sofa watching TV can be just what I need to recharge my batteries. And, I've come to realize, "down time," when I'm not even thinking about writing, is often when I get some of my best ideas.