Guys, I need a hug. Preferably one filled with done to-do lists, lucrative freelance work, and novel wordcount.
The past year and a half has been filled with wonderful things. Becoming a father to two amazing little human beings. Getting an awesome agent. Selling a trilogy to my #1 most-hoped-for publisher. Award nominations. Short story sales. Translations and podcasts of my work. Fun conventions. You've heard me blabber about these things here, and, form a distance, it might seem to be all roses and rainbow-farting unicorns.
But it's also been a brutal year and a half on several fronts. The pregnancy was a complicated one. The kids had various non-major but still tough health problems. Even on the best days, caring for them is viciously exhausting. Dayjob-ish work has been scarce. We made a massively stressful move halfway across the country to a place where teaching work is even scarcer. There have been tax and student debt headaches that I won't even get into. I've had to turn down awesome anthology invites, and even had to flake on one I'd accepted.
We put the twins in daycare part-time when we got to Michigan, and just last week moved them to full-time, at least theoretically. But daycare has brought with it gobs of other-kid germs, and Malcolm and Naima have spent a good part of the last two months sick. My wife is the chief breadwinner, which makes me the first line of childcare. I've thus been in a state of perpetually dropping everything else in order to take care of the kids.
So now Book II is massively behind (though I'm still hoping to keep it on schedule enough that we'll hit the planned pub dates of a new book each February). I can't even find the time to get my finances in order, or to properly *look* for part-time teaching or freelance work, much less *do* said work. One of my freelance jobs is still waaaaaay behind on paying me, and I desperately need the loot for con travel season. And our new home is a bit of a shambles because neither my wife nor I have any time or energy to get the place in order. And of course, all of this kid & money & house stress isn't exactly doing wonders for our marriage...
Ok. End whinewhinewhine transmission. There are lots of folks in way worse straits than I am, of course. Mostly, I just needed to let it all out. I guess it's been officially letted...
Sounds rough dude, but I have every confidence you can find your way through. All that stuff, piled together, is massively stressful, but the daycare germ incubation thing tapers off sooner than later, and the kids will likely get less care-intensive even on sick days as they get older. Even the difference between 12 and 18 months can be a big change there...
Having been sick a lot this past year, I know the way that illness (your own or a dependant's) can just suck away All The Time and leave you behind on deadlines, despairing, and exhausted. It's the pits! I hope the viral onslaught ebbs soon. Whine all you want, & hang in there.
I've been where you are, only with one child instead of two, and I don't know how you managed to crawl to the computer to write this entry. I found it was possible to do two things at once -- take care of the kid and write my dissertation, for instance. But three would have been beyond me-- take care of kids, write a novel, and work, for instance. So IMHO, you're in superman territory now.
All I can say is, it gets easier.
I once heard Cory Doctorow say he writes first thing in the morning and his goal is one page. He thinks about it at other times, of course, and if he gets more than one done, that's fine. But one is enough to make progress if he does it every day. I thought that was eminently sane.
I taught at Detroit College of Business (now called something else I don't remember and a crappy place to work) and GMI (now called Kettering in Flint--a good place to work but a long haul). And I TA'd at Wayne State, which is also ok. I'm good friends with the person who supervises the comp program at Eastern. Is that useful? Email me if so.
I was going to say something similar. I tell my students to set manageable goals, a goal that can *always* be reached. Then you always have a moment of satisfaction and that encourages one to continue. Failing at goals leads to losing heart.
It's hard, but you'll get through. I've just been making plans for the Romance Writers of America conference and am reminded that the vast majority of the writers there are stay-at-home parents who managed to write and sell books while taking care of kids and spouses. It is doable, and you can do it.
Much, much, much sympathy. Writing is hard enough. Writing while taking care of kids, let alone twins, is even harder (I knows whereof I speaks.) Writing to deadlines, while trying to juggle kids, a big move and freelance jobs, just sounds like going to hell in one of those pink nylon 70's handbaskets people attached to girls' bikes. :(
I wish I was around to offer babysitting and sympathy... but for what it's worth, on the other side of the world, it DOES get better.
I've been through the small-children-no-money-writing thing, not in precisely the same way, but boy do I know what you mean about send them to childcare and then pay the price in germs. It's not in the disclosure manual about kids. And caring for little people is draining in ways that are hard to even grasp.
I think it's very reasonable to be feeling overwrought, and I hope you will reach out for support wherever and whenever you can get it. On the writing, I don't know what to say except that you have much empathy from me. It is tough, it is hard, but if you can just keep picking yourself up and doing what you can do, you'll get there. I hope your publisher and agent will be supportive, because your career is just getting started and you are an investment. If they are, that's half the battle. OK, at least 25% of the battle *g*
You will get through this. I'm telling you, because I did, so you can and you will (I also have a daughter 2 years older than our preemie twins--I was writing the third book of a trilogy on deadline when the twins were born).
I want to emphasize that you are not imagining things, nor are you failing at anything. It is unbelievably overwhelming and exhausting.
They will get older; it will get better (and, although I don't mean this in a prescriptive way, the care you are giving them now will pay off in so many ways in the future). The move (OMG, huge and disruptive) is over. And IT'S OKAY that your home is a bit of a shambles.
I only have one piece of advice:
Be forgiving of yourself.
You will get through this. You will finish your trilogy and write more and the kids will get older and you will have more energy and time -- really, you will.
I post from the viewpoint of an observer, but it occurs to me that the only difference between being the parent of very young infants and a intensive care nurse is that in the latter case you get paid, and spelled after your shift is done.
Just remember that it could be worse, they could be adolescents.
I can totally relate to the stresses of not having enough time to write and the difficulties in settling into a new home/city/life while working under a deadline and hemorrhaging money. I know you'll manage, because you have to, but it's really important that H understand what you're going through--though I know she's dealing with a lot too. You two are an awesome couple, and as long as you communicate and keep working together, things will be okay. Just take it a day at a time.
Anytime you want to talk, to commiserate or talk through plot or whatever, feel free to call or Skype. We can each open a beer and pretend we're sitting in a bar somewhere...
I just realized I have known you for 24 years. Reflecting back on 12 year old You, the thing that jumps out the hardest is that you were already a writer then.
Just imagine that for a moment. The essential story telling nature of Saladin was already in place. You were a Writer (yes, capital) even then.
And then I knew you again when we were teenagers, smoking in basements and watching Eric do Herbert monologues with that piano playing frog. You drank pop from a 2 liter. We had no idea what would happen to any of us in the next five or ten years. It was kind of magical in a weird Thank God I Have Some Direction Now kinda way.
And then we lost touch, and suddenly, by the power of Facebook, there you are, a writer, a teacher, a married man. And with total delight I looked at pictures of you all smiley with your beautiful wife and I cheered a sincere Right On. I was happy to see you had grown into your own self, had found your calling, had done the work and had already gotten to the public speaking stage of things.
And then, when you announced upcoming twins I kind of giggled into my hand a little. How delightful! But also, oh man, twins! And I cheered you on while you posted about the gestation and arrival plans. I read a delightful blog post from your wife about your safety skills and protectiveness near the end of her pregnancy (I think you linked it somewhere, you must have, I swear I am not THAT stalky), but it illustrated a side of you I found kind of sweet and adorable. It also showed your wife was spunky and would always take your hand but never your shit. It showed that those babies would be born to two very sincere and capable parents, who already loved them and would keep doing that in whatever way they could, ever hour, every moment, even when both babies were crapping at the exact same time. Not bad Mr. Anarchy Pants.
Somehow I forgot to tell you all that, so here it is now. I send you hugs. Write on Dadio.
FWIW, reconnecting and seeing you blazing the trail as a diy-er of various sorts and awesome mom has been pretty impressive too.
For some bizarre reason, I had a memory flash over dinner the other day of our little geek squad at some 8th grade Lowrey dance, convulsing collectively to "Rock Lobster." It's weird the shit that's floating around in one's brain-soup, just waiting to resurface...
As I said, the idea now is that they're in daycare fulltime, though that has yet to happen b/c of illness. But yeah, I think the first week they're really gone all week, I'm gonna miss them something terrible.
"P.S. 1 1/2 years til mine starts school YEEEEE HAR"