New PHS columnist, Susan Meier, is starting a new column about how to balance the time constraints of being an author, with having a life outside of writing...
In 2012, my husband retired. I remember the first day he was on the sofa, instead of at his job. I could hear the TV behind me, constantly breaking my concentration, and my head fell to my keyboard. This, I thought, was not going to work.
Then spring came, the golf course opened and he was gone for eight hours a day. I jokingly say he golfs like it’s his job (packed lunch and all) but really that’s how the time worked out. Just as he had been gone eight hours a day for work, he is now gone for 8 hours at the golf course. It seems I don’t care where he goes for the eight hours I needed to write. He just needed to go. LOL
Then one day on the golf course, he ran into Stan, a guy he knew from middle school. They had been inseparable as kids. Not just my husband and Stan, but also Stan’s wife. The three of them had been part of a pack, lost touch for thirty years and now they were back together as if the thirty years hadn’t happened. Best buds.
I thought the story was great and probably deserved a place in a book, until one day my husband said he wanted me to meet Stan and his wife. He’d arranged for us to play golf with them.
Anybody who’s ever seen me golf knows that wasn’t a good idea. But I love my husband and this was important to him, so off I went. My score for 9 holes was over 120 – 36 is par – but I sort of liked his friends. More than that, though, I liked being outside. Fresh air. Trees. Flowers. A big yellow ball in the sky called the sun.
It was fabulous. We made another golf date and over the course of that summer my golfing improved. (Thank God.)
But other strange things happened. I started going golfing with Di without our husbands. We joined Di and Stan’s bowling league. We went out to dinner together. Di and I shopped. Suddenly I wasn’t just a writer. I was back to being a person.
And what a joy that was. Sure. Sure. I love to write. I love creating new worlds. I love making up people and situations, and tormenting everybody. I can even kill people without going to jail.
But one thing a lot of writers lose when they decide on this profession is a real life.
I thought about that awhile and realized that years ago, when I was working full-time, eight-hour days that can easily turn into 10, I’d pretty much done the same thing. Full-time writers aren’t the only people who watch their personal lives become something like a game show where we see how fast we can feed kids, shower, give the house a lick and a promise because we don’t have time to really clean, and make touch-base calls rather than have real conversations with our friends, moms and cousins. Everybody seems to be caught on hamster wheel.
And nobody’s having any fun.
So for the next couple of months, I’m going to be talking about having a real life. Not just balance. (Aren’t we all sick of that word?) But figuring out who you are. Looking around at what you have. Deciding how you want to spend your time.
Susan's latest book, A Mistletoe Kiss with the Boss, is out now. For more information about her and her writing, check out her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.