For several years I've been coveting a Kindle and now I have my own paper-white version, which I love. It's easy on the eyes and more importantly, many books are only available in an electronic format. Plus, I've downloaded many of the classics for free or a small price. My bookshelves are going to thank me, though as I look around the house, we still have plenty of piles and I doubt I'll ever give up the book. But it's nice for this little device to share some of the load. But I digress ...
I've been reading another wonderful book (on the Kindle but you can just as easily read it on the computer) by Kristi Holl, ICL instructor of many years, author of many MG books, and her helpful Writer's First Aid blog. Over the years, I've applied many of her suggestions to my own writing life and I am very thankful she has given so freely of her expertise. Her newest book, Boundaries for Writers, is a quick read ... but I have a feeling that even if you feel you do not need this, you'll need to return to the advice and encouragement she offers when healthy boundaries collapse, as they are bound to from time to time. We're writers. We're also nice people. And there are always going to be demands on our time and space.
I really could've used this book when I first began writing. Whenever there is a change, there is resistance. It's natural. Even though I tried not to sacrifice time with my family, invariably, some sacrifices had to be made. In retrospect, they were good changes -- my husband spent more time with the children even though they were very attached to me. And my children learned to wait if I was finishing up a thought at the kitchen counter. As my children and writing career grew, we learned to make adjustments so that I would have both the time and space to write.
My husband has been very supportive, but in those early years, it was tough. I wasn't making any money, but was spending plenty on books and classes. The children weren't always cooperative or content, especially when they were cranky and I wasn't available. I asked to have one evening after supper to myself, either to attend class, critique group, or make a trip to the library. I resented the little comments my husband made about being abandoned. And so we argued.
"I don't say that you 'abandon' us when you go to work," I said.
"It's just a joke," he said.
"Do you see me laughing?"
You can imagine the black looks we gave each other. My husband can often make insensitive comments. He's an engineer ... (it's a joke sweetie) but one of our strengths is communication. I think it's been even more important than being-in-love. We are good about listening and quick to make amends when we hurt each other. And we're aware of how easily these lines of communication can break when we're tired or overextended and not had the time to hold hands.
You can see how easily a writer can be made to feel guilty. It's a boundary issue. And even though I have a supportive family, my boundaries are still breached from time to time, usually by non-family members now. But it is easier to recognize them, whether they come from outside or inside.
Kristi tackles the tough areas of life -- living with someone who does not value your writing work, belittles you, or is abusive. I hope none of you are facing such difficulties, but if you are, Kristi lists several resources. She does a great job of giving the necessary tools to rebuild collapsed boundaries, or ones that just need minor repair to guard your writer's heart and dreams. I especially appreciated the section on scriptures that emphasize doing the work you are called to do.
Finally, I am going to add a very good link to discernment. Many of us are caregivers and we are called to serve. But it takes some care and prayer to discern God's will vs. other people's will and our own.
Kristi, thank you for writing such a helpful book.