Writing in Theory & Practice: For Me It’s Family First


“It’s late nights like these away from the fam
that I wish writing was my day job.”

— Greg Mitchell

It’s one of the biggest struggles for any writer — time. Especially for those of us hammering out stories while holding down a day job. And that’s most of us. It all comes down to the dirtiest two words in the English language — time management.

Greg’s words really hit close to home for me. It’s something I’ve put a lot of thought into, over the past nine years or so in particular. Writers write. That’s what they say. Hell, I say it. But we all have to find our center and work with what we have… and be true to what really makes us tick.

It all comes down to sacrifice, doesn’t it? What we’re willing to give up and what we cling to, come hell or high water.

For me, family has always come first. And that means that I do not write during family time and family time is whenever I’m not at work. So when the hell do I write? Well, back when I first started out I was out of work and wrote while my wife was off slaving away at Waldenbooks (sniff… RIP, Borders). That’s how Shadows Over Somerset happened. I spent the next few years writing short stories and comics, snatching time here and there when I could, then, once Shadows sold and there was a demand for a sequel I was confronted by a new dilemma.

I was working at my current job full time, had my lovely wife, a two year old kid, and a pre-teen sister-in-law at home to contend with, and a fledgling writing career that had all sorts of demands upon me. I had to get my ass in the chair and write, but not at the expense of time spent with family. Just not going to happen. So I wrote while they slept. That meant I got, at best, three hours of sleep a night. It was rough going, but I was young and I made it work and both Keepers of the Dead and Descendant were written under those conditions.

These days I just can’t punish myself like that. I snatch six hours of sleep every night and I’m better for it, believe me. I’m fortunate enough that my day job affords me the opportunity to write bits and pieces here and there. Novels are pretty much out of the question — I require greater chunks of the elusive clock to keep a story glued together — but short stories are tailor-made for where I’m at right now.

I love to write. Storytelling is as much a part of me as my very flesh and blood. It is who I am. But I’m a father and husband first. A lot of writers don’t see it that way, and I respect their decision. I just can’t do it. The guilt would eat me alive. I love my wife and kid with every fibre of my being and if that means I don’t write as much as “I should”, then so be it. It doesn’t make me any less of a writer, but it does make me a helluva lot better patriarch.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a 5000 word story to kick out by Friday and tonight I plan on playing Pathfinder with my kid then curling up on the couch with my valentine and watching Survivor and Modern Family. And who knows, maybe after mother and child have gone to sleep I’ll pull an all-nighter for old time’s sake and kick this story out like back in the day.


3 Responses to “Writing in Theory & Practice: For Me It’s Family First”

  1. Great post, Bob.

    Man, that Greg Mitchell is a real jerk :p

  2. Gary Graham Says:

    I’m sure your family is proud of you, and you should be too. Just keep writing.

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