Oh, that guilty feeling.

When I first started professionally writing I felt guilty for not spending time with family.  At the time I was a full-time student so if I was writing I also felt guilty for not studying harder. I’d felt guilty for being forgetful. There were phone calls to family members and e-mails to friends that I’d meant to return right-a-way but characters can be such a distraction. Working through the guilt and balancing my different hats was a circle.

In the beginning of my writing journey I had very little support outside of those interested in the writing industry. In fact, my ex-husband went out of his way to keep me away from the computer. I was sole chauffeur to my four children. When you’re married and have kids you tend to do everything for them, and little for yourself. I also drove my mom where she needed or wanted to go. Then when my dad was diagnosed with cancer I became his nurse. No one had ever warned me of the time when I’d be caring for both my children and my parents. So countless nights I’d compose stories into the wee hours of the morning. Any and all “me” time I used to write. 

I had no sympathy. No one in my life understood that writing made me happy, that it fulfilled me in ways I couldn’t explain. Yes, I was writing to get published, but I was also writing because it’s a part of me, and a part I had been missing for years. It wasn’t until I finaled in a contest that my ex-husband took notice of my “hobby.” And it wasn’t until I published my parents and sister admitted I might be onto something… I really felt like I’d been “waiting” for something. Perhaps it was permission to pursue my own dreams.

Oddly enough, it took me quite some time to admit guilt is also procrastination. If I felt guilty, and did the stuff my family wanted me to do -and on their time table- then I did’t have to work on my WIP. Who knew procrastination is oh-so-sneaky?

Nowadays I’m a taskmaster and those that know and love me realize writing stories is far more than a hobby– it’s a career I love. But occasionally even today if I miss something special I’ll feel a tiny twinge of guilt. I’ve missed my youngest daughter’s birthday twice already because I’ve committed to attend the RT conference. When the niggling of guilt gets to me I remind myself that I’m spending time doing something that truly fulfills me. Mothers tend to serve everyone else in their family, why not ourselves? I’ve made huge sacrifices to write when they’ve slept, or spent weekends doing fun stuff. I like to think my perseverance is also teaching my peeps that when you really want something, you have to work hard for it.

Melissa Lopez
JOURNEYS OF LOVE every woman needs to take.

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