Some are born behind – like my Husband. As the last of nine kids with twenty-five plus years from the oldest and him eight years younger than the former baby of the family, he has spent much of his life just trying to catch up. He started looking for his wife in Kindergarten. By the time we tied up together and got married, most of his siblings had five or more kids. Now they all have atleast six (except one who opted out of family) and one sibling has ten kids. Not to mention job, homes etc. He’s been better about it but it’s a hard habit to battle.

Then you have people like me. I was so far out of step from people around me that I didn’t even see the point. I am a middle child of a much smaller family and felt no rush, not to drive, date, get a job or even graduate from college after nearly five years of attending. I managed a generic associates and was just too busy exploring classes and majors. My personality type tends to value the process far more than the completion and I was rarely provoked to competition. So I’m usually content to simply be “making progress” in my own, unmeasurable way. It drives my Husband nuts.

Then I befriended a bunch of writers. It’s nothing like fellow students in a college writing class where you see a couple short stories perfected across a semester and never hear from the person again who may or may not ever draft another word (or revise one) after leaving the class. You just didn’t usually have announcements like “I finished my novel!” or “I’m almost done with the sequel,” or “So what publishers are you submitting to?” let alone “My book is being published!”. I certainly didn’t hear those things. Someone might get a short story published…most often in the school magazine.

Now, I networking with the survivors – the die-hards who are set on doing whatever it takes to get their books published and who simply can’t give up writing. And out here, those sort of successes happen often… To someone. They come from all different age groups, walks of life, health situations. Some got hooked on writing when they were older, but most seem to start young, like I did.

At first, it wasn’t that bad. I was a novice in the professional arena and I knew it. It wasn’t until after I got married that I started meeting these people really, that I started looking for them and connecting. Five years ago I thought I was close to publication. I had a cleaned up manuscript in Forger and started submitting. Then I shelved it and started over. I think that’s when I really started feeling behind.

I watched and cheered fellow writers as they seemed to grasp success or move to the “next level”. Human nature nagged me about my blind wanderings and whenever I voiced them, those writers assured me that it was only a matter of time.

However, as a homeschooling Mother of four, life is pretty busy. Between morning sickness and feeling too sick to write anything of value and trying to keep up with the un-ending housework, progress often seemed to crawl. I confess that there are moments when the thought of sending my kids to public school and “finally getting something done” is really tempting. But I know that this choice is inspired for me and my family so I will stick with it.

The last few months have been the worst. I’ve invested unusual amounts of time to art and yet I’m still not done and have a deadline looming. I have a short story that I really should revise and resubmit … Surely then it will find a home. Plus if I could just manage the submission package – blurb, synopsis etc for Hall I want to submit it to another publisher before I lose the nerve.

“What? You mean you don’t have that stuff for Hall?”

Well, technically, I do… but I’m currently displeased with my former versions and determined that I must do better. Meanwhile I’m too stressed out about it and about hate every new attempt, too.

And so in the end, really the only actual writing I’ve been doing has been the Renegade Project. True, that forces me to write some every week… but it won’t get Hall published or finish these other half-done projects. I’m not working on a novel, unless you count outlining, and it’s really making me edgy.

Meanwhile, I see such progress among others and feel so left behind. Part of me is just itching to dive into the sequel to Hall, but yet if I’m just avoiding the other projects I do myself no favor. I’m excited about the story and ideas, but yet my Husband has appreciated more of my focus on “real life”. To him, “I’m thinking about starting another book” is a legit threat – and I can’t blame him.

In “rational moments” I know better. The logical path proclaims itself as focus and close out the “easy wins”. This emotional conflict is the sort of stuff that I help my Husband work out all the time. It’s an illusion and my progress has nothing to do with others … but yet here I sit.

I guess that’s why FlyLady puts it on the end of every e-mail, “You’re not behind. Jump in where you are.” Even when I should know better, it’s important for me to hear. Some times, that is the biggest thing I get from her. And there are hundreds of motivational and inspiring people that repeat similar assurance. Repetition is vital for us humans. Don’t believe me, look at the Bible. That thing would be a whole lot shorter if God could trust us to get it the first time.

So what of you? What makes you feel behind? And what do you do about it? Or do you just ignore it and press on?

About Ren Black

Part-time novelist. Weekend artist. Full-time Mother. Ex-poet. Perfectionist by training. Compulsive researcher sporadically. Prone to fits of linguistic commentary Unorthodox Renegade occasionally. Sarcastic by habit... Dreamer Always... Consider Yourself Warned

13 comments on “Behind

  1. You are not alone, m’dear. I knew I was behind when I started, but this Turtle feels like she’s losing ground by the second (doesn’t help when some days she isn’t sure she wants to cross that finish line to publication. It only starts another, harder race, you know). Here’s some things I keep in mind while I’m eating that bag of chocolate and musing bleakly about the future.

    1) Focus on my goals. It doesn’t matter what other people are doing. I have my own swamp to traverse.

    2) Pause and look backwards from time to time. I am making progress, even if it’s slow.

    3) If one and two don’t help, eat another bag of chocolate and go to bed. Things always look better int the morning.

    • Yeah, don’t I know it. Publication isn’t a finish line, it’s just graduating to a tougher level where you have to juggle more things and pick up the pace or else.

      Love chocolate, but if I even dared get a “bag of chocolate” and I’d really be in for it. Husband is allergic to it, and the kids would hound me for their share… lol

      Thanks, Turtle.

  2. Let me start off by saying how proud I am of you, little sister. Yes, that is your new name. Love it or not, I am claiming it and you. I’ve never had a little sister. 😛
    It is very difficult for us moms to balance our lives. We feel a tremendous guilt when we take time, money or effort and put it somewhere that doesn’t serve the whole. But I know from experience that your writing is an extension of who you are. As your children grow, you will share it with them and it will be a way for them to become closer with you. Let’s face it, you write some kickin’ cool stuff that is a clean, good time.
    Chin up, little sister. You are not behind. You are right where He needs you to be.

  3. In any creative endeavour, I think artists do themselves a disservice to judge their productivity based on other artists’ productivity. Creativity is extremely personal, and we each move at our own pace. And I think we all have periods of time when we’re not as productive as we’d like to be. Life gets in the way, and life stresses can dampen the creative spirit for a time. For me, when that happens, I generally ignore it. It is what it is, and I know it won’t last forever. If I have a deadline I must meet, I do so, but for all other writing projects, I don’t try to force the issue.

  4. Too funny. This must be the week for evaluating progress. I just posted on my personal blog something similar–a listing of the things that feel like they are tugging me in multiple directions. I feel for you! But I know you can get things done. And people are probably looking at you and thinking, “Wow, how does she keep up? Look at everything she’s done!” I know *I* think that when I look at your awesome drawings :). You’ve pushed harder in that area than I have and I think you’re doing wonderfully!

    Hang in there! 😀

  5. Morning sickness??? Are you trying to tell us something?

    • Ha! I thought the same thing. 😀

    • lol, you would find that and wonder. No, no. I was just referring to the pattern of pregnancy and taking care of little infants as particularly hard on writing sometimes. During such stages, all my good intentions fall by the wayside and writing progress goes almost to a standstill. Three to four months every other year is a big “slow zone” for work.

      So, no, not pregnant and hoping to get a few more things done before such cycle begins again… so in that I’m definitely not in any rush – rarely am in that issue.

      • I forgot to refresh the page after reading all the comments before replying, otherwise I would have seen that Ren had already replied. So I was correct then. 😉

      • … any more doubts on that score and I’ll exercise editorial rights and scrub this whole thing of any such reference.. that means nixing the reference in the post AND the comments! Believe me, this is not the way I would announce such a thing…

  6. Ren, I remember my dad telling me stories of how when he grew up he was “Little Richard” to all his older sisters (and that was long before the singer came along), so I can in a way understand that part of catching up. He felt they always looked down on him. And I wouldn’t doubt that considering some of the ways I’ve heard them talk regarding other things.

    As far as writing and stuff goes, Ren, you know that I’m not even finished with my own novel, and you got one completed, so you have no reason to feel more behind than I am. From where I stand, you’re ahead of the game. And then I got all that other stuff I’m doing too: Writing a marketing book, trying to find horror, suspense, edgy novels to publish under my publishing end of BTC (I’ve got a name for it too, will announce in a newsletter soon! ), and there are so many novels that I want to read and have promised people I would read and write a review for (and those I’ve actually read that I’ve still not written a review for), so with that alone, I feel very behind. Other things more personal I won’t mention, but I definitely understand feeling behind on things. (Now if I could just win the lottery, maybe some of my stress can ease off so I can focus better? I guess it depends on the amount. Of course, one has to play if one is to win. 😉 ) So don’t feel bad at all if it seems you’re getting behind. You’re not, it’s more like a thing of expecting too much too soon. Just do what you can, and as you finish each thing, then work on the next, and as you’ve got more than one project going at a time, then just work a little here, work a little there, and then before you know it, you’ll be done!

  7. My dearest younger than my youngest daughter,

    It’s only when we stop to ponder on how behind we are that we truly get even farther behind. Forge on and never let it trouble you again. You really don’t have to catch up, in your world, your right on time.

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