Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waiting for my real life to begin …

By Julie

How many times have you heard someone use the word "When …" right before stating a goal? I've heard it more times than I can count, especially in the context of writing.

"When I'm finished with (task, event, season of life), I plan to write a book."

"When my kids are (grown, in school, out of school, out of diapers, out of debt, out of trouble out of my freaking hair!), I plan to finish the book."

"When I finally figure out (what life is all about, what I want to say, why the world is round), I plan to start my memoir."

This blog post is going to sound harsh to some of you. It's not meant to sound that way. Not much anyway.

I've just learned that waiting for your real life to begin means you probably are going to be living your fake life for a long, long time.

I totally understand the demands of life and how hard it is, when it's all you can do simply to exist from day to day, to put time into something that seems ...




In the last decade, I spent several years as a single-again mom, getting an infant out of diapers and into school, living paycheck to paycheck, wondering how I was going to ever get enough sleep, much less get ahead. Then I spent a few more years as a newlywed, going back to school full-time to get my master's degree while working full-time and still trying to fit raising three kids in there somewhere. Then I spent some years working many hours per week doing freelance work simply to contribute to my household's income.

Somewhere in there, in the midst of all that activity, I finally realized it was time for my real life to begin.

So I started writing a book. Eventually, I finished one. Then another. And I'm still going.

And guess what? I decided I like my real life, and I'm glad I stopped waiting for it to begin.

I've been fortunate enough in the process to have the opportunity to begin writing full-time (but not until we went through our budget and decided what we really, honestly could live without in order for me to do it). I know that one day I may have to return to some kind of job to bring in money if I don't start earning money as a writer and if our circumstances call for it.

I have to be honest. Some days, I think about my other real lives:

  • The one where I live in a walkable city – one with great public transportation, great music performed live frequently, great theater, great restaurants, great weather . . . you get the picture. But last weekend, my husband and I decided it was time to stop complaining and start doing our research. We plan to take some of our upcoming vacations in places we believe might come close to that dream so that when it's time, we'll be ready.
  • The one where I'm skinny again and exercise almost every day and still eat dessert on Friday nights. Several months ago, I started heading that way and have lost about 15 pounds, but I still catch myself dreaming about the ultimate goal instead of being thankful that I am already a little bit healthier and that I can fit back into things I couldn't wear last year and knowing I might meet my goal if I keep on keeping on.
  • And the one where I already have an agent and a publishing deal and I'm going crazy trying to write one book, revise another, and market another. But hey, at least I'm finishing books and sending out queries (okay, Joan, probably not as often as I should be these days, but I have a master plan, you see).
And baby steps do count, I think.

What about you? What does your real life look like? Are you still waiting for it to begin?

I love this song by Colin Hay (yes, formerly of Men at Work!), and this scene from Scrubs brings the point home even more with a little bit of humor and a good dose of goosebumps at the end. The first time I found the song online, I played it over and over again and some kind of light bulb lit up in my mind. It was about then that I got serious about my writing and started living my real life.

Don't be that girl.

Photo credit: anna qutermuth's Flickr photostream / by Creative Commons License


  1. Julie, thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Awesome post, Julie. I had never heard that song and it's so applicable on many levels. Thanks!

  3. Loved the song and the message. I've got faith in your plan--and mine needs a bit of tweaking, so there you go!

  4. Lost too many friends to not live in the "now."
    Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Thanks for reading, ladies.

    Joan ... :)

  6. Such a moving post and message. The song fits perfectly. My real life is full of fascinating twists and turns here and many places overseas. The older I get the more I live in the now.

  7. Thanks, Deborah. Looking forward to seeing you again in the near future while you're home from Italy!

  8. I absolutely agree. I'm ten months away from graduating college, so in reality I am waiting for the rest of my life to being. However, that does not mean I cannot be accomplishing goals now. That does not mean I cannot write until I have a degree in it. It does not mean I cannot enjoy the voyage.

    <>< Katie

  9. Katie, so glad you visited our blog today. Wow, you are at such an exciting time of life! I do wish I'd started writing fiction much earlier. I did dabble in creative writing all through school, but nothing from then until the last five years or so, and that was a lot of years!

    No matter when you start, you will find the experiences you've had will inform your writing and serve you well, but I know some young writers who blow me right out of the water!

    I read a bit of your blog just now. Coincidentally, several of the characters in my last manuscript were deaf, including one of the point of view characters. What an enlightening journey it was to write that story. Good luck with your studies and best wishes on your journey!

  10. It's an exciting and terrifying point in life. It's humorous how often those two go hand in hand.

    Thanks for visiting my site. That's awesome that several of your characters were deaf. I have entertained that idea in my own work but have never been confident enough in my knowledge of Deaf culture to do it justice.

    <>< Katie

  11. Janet Skeslien Charles29 July, 2010

    I really enjoyed your blog post. So many of us do wait and wait... and wait, when it would be much simpler just to begin. Thank you for the inspiration!
    Janet Skeslien Charles

  12. My pleasure, Janet. And thanks for stopping by What Women Write!

  13. Well said, Julie! Thank you!


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