I’ve had a number of well-meaning friends come up to me recently and ask me about my writing. When’s the next book coming out, they ask. Are you writing? How far along are you?
I give them the same answer I always give when asked about my writing: I’m working on a couple of projects right now, and I’ll let you know as soon as the books are finished.
The assumption by many non-writers (and some authors themselves) is that once an author produces a book, or two (or four, in my case), the writer will continue to produce books at the same pace. While this concept might be true for many writers, not all of us follow the same path. For some authors (myself included), writing is a soul-filling (and sometimes soul-draining) process, but it’s not the only creative occupation that fulfills us.
I’ve dedicated over ten years of my life to writing books. I also, at the same time, helped raise two kids, worked two jobs, and supported my family and friends when they needed me. The writing was a lot of work, and it required a lot of time away from my husband and children. I didn’t mind the sacrifice then because, at that time in my life, the writing fed my soul in an important way.
But since the release of my last book in 2016, my family situation has changed. My children graduated from college and are now living and working on their own. And my husband and I have found ourselves at the age where we need to make decisions about retirement, our long-term life and healthcare goals, and how we’re going to do some of the travel that we’ve always had on our bucket lists.
I’ve also discovered in recent years that I yearned to explore some new ways to feed my soul. In the past three years, I’ve learned to bake my own bread, spent time exploring glass painting, and my husband Dan and I have created a successful monarch butterfly sanctuary in our yard (Follow me on Twitter to hear more about this). I’ve reconnected with old friends and family members, and Dan and I have started to do some serious travel to other countries.
I’m also still working part-time, teaching college business classes and doing some work for publicity clients.
Does all of this non-writing activity mean I’ll never write again? Of course not – I have a memoir outlined and have begun the sequel to one of my earlier novels, Favorite Daughter. But is writing the primary activity filling my soul right now? No. And that doesn’t mean the end of my writing career; it just means that I will write again when my soul calls for it.
I know there are some career writers out there who scoff at the notion that writing is only for those who do it every day without fail for years on end. But for many of us, writing is only one of many ways that we find creative expression. It fills a special part of our lives, but it may not be the only occupation that does that. And that’s okay with me, and my soul, for now.