Taking myself seriously as a writer and work at home mom

fate of dragons cover jpg versionAll my life, my writing has been something I did on the side, when I had time, when I felt like it, or when I got up early or stayed up late to do it. I always dreamed that I could someday call it my career and focus my daytime hours and my routine solely on that.

Oh, the books I’d be able to read, the research and notes I’d be able to take. The cups of coffee I would leisurely consume at my desk while my pen scratched on my paper. I would take my writing seriously, and so would everybody else.

Of course, I abandoned that dream after hearing “writers need to have day jobs” for so many years. And when I quit my day job, it wasn’t because I had started to earn enough money from my writing. It was with the intent to find a less time-consuming day job that would require me to work only the hours I was being paid for so that I could spend time with my daughter. Then on a whim I applied at my favorite yarn shop, and in addition, my books started to unexpectedly make dayjob-level money. I’ve been lucky these last few months.

So I work part time at something I love to ensure at least some predictable income, and on the days I’m not there, I write whenever I can. On so many days I’ve stopped and just felt a wave of gratitude sweep over me that I get to do this. Yes, it’s not predictable, and if I stop working, the money will stop eventually. It’s all on me. There’s nobody making me get up and go to work, and nobody handing me a check paying me for the exact number of hours I’ve worked. It’s up to me to work harder, learn, and write. There’s great opportunity for writers right now, and I only need to keep going and keep improving. As long as I take my career seriously, even if it stops being as easy, I know that I’ll get to keep doing it. It can’t be at the sidelines anymore, because it’s my career, and that’s how I’m going to have to treat it.

But it turns out, it’s really hard to shake that habit, that mindset, that my writing is just a little “extra” thing that I can do when I happen to find the time. It’s hard to take it seriously after years of not speaking about it to people for fear that they’d think I was silly for imagining that I could do this for a living. I still have trouble telling people that this is what I do, have trouble disabusing them of the notion that I need to “keep myself occupied” being home with my baby all day (I feel for ya, stay at home moms!). It just doesn’t seem real, and I think it’s because I still haven’t totally shaken the hobby mindset.

I do prioritize my writing whenever Astrid naps, when it’s so so tempting to knit. But I still don’t know if I take it seriously enough. It’s time to start treating it like a day job, and reserving that time to write. Nobody else will take it seriously unless I take it seriously first. I’m still thinking about what that’s going to mean, practically, for me, but things have got to change. I worked hard to get here, and there’s also been a fair amount of luck, but I’m not going to just give up when it gets a little harder.

So. Book Three of the Dragons of Arethia series will be out by the end of the summer, hopefully sooner. I made the cover in a fit of determination. I hope you like it. I thought the title for the third book would be “The Mages of Yennar Lei,” but it’s becoming clear that it’s not right for it. So it’s now “Fate of Dragons.”

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