Sitting in the mud

This is what happens when you get bucked off the darn horse. You sit in the mud, or dust, or dirt, or poop–if you happen to be having a really unlucky day.

You sit there for a while until you have sufficiently reviewed your options: 1) go home and put a heating pad on your back side, or 2) get back on the damn horse and try again.

This has been a week of sitting in the mud, nursing my wounded pride, and measuring the horse up. Just how ornery does the beast look? This week I just haven’t done it: gotten back up on the horse yet. This morning I was going to, but…then we had another miserable night. I was in bed shortly after 8 pm (my new goal) and lay there for a loooooonnnnnnggggg time. Like, an hour. About 9:30 I decided that I needed to do something to get myself tired so I left the bedroom and did some sit-ups and push-ups and side-crunches. Then I went back to bed and lay there for another half an hour. Finally, as I was beginning to drift off to sleep the baby broke out in a racking fit of painful coughing and continued coughing and screaming and crying and sobbing for a half hour.

Sometime around midnight we finally all went to sleep. I should also mention that yesterday morning, when my wife and I awoke, we both felt ill. Groggy, pounding heads; stuffed-up sinuses; sneezing…all the symptoms we observed in baby on the downswing into complete illness. In short, it looks like we’re on our way down the slippery slope to being *really* sick. So after a really rough night last night, when the alarm went off at 5 am I thought some variation of: I don’t want to wake the baby–she needs her sleep to help her recover; hell, I need my sleep if I’m going to fight this thing; and geez, I have to go to work and actually try to keep it together and get my typical mountain of work done. It wasn’t hard to stay in bed.

Still, part of me realizes that things aren’t going to get easier. We have kids. Kids get sick. And we have another one on the way. *We* get sick. Work must be done. If I turn tail and run every time that I don’t get a decent night’s sleep or feel ill or the kids are sick…it will significantly deter progress on my plan to become an indie writer who makes enough to quit my day job. This is an ambitious goal, but very doable if I treat it like a job (a job I enjoy and find meaningful…i.e., I work as hard at it as I would at an actual “job.”) and show up every day rain or shine. I suppose that’s it, isn’t it?

Would I not show up to work after a hard night of little or no sleep? Would I stay home in bed with the sniffles? Of course not. I’m balls-to-the-wall. Unless I’m truly laid flat by an illness, I suck it up and keep going. Even when our first daughter was born and there were nights when I got, maybe, four hours of sleep in 30 minute increments, I still went to work the next morning. And yeah, my head hurt like crazy, and I couldn’t think straight, but I did it.

I need to treat writing with the same fierce commitment. Why am I so determined when it comes to work? Two reasons: I have a deep desire and need to pull my own weight; and two, I need to keep putting food on the table, a roof over our heads, pay our bills, and put clothes on our backs. Granted, I do have paid sick days I could take. But I like to keep those for a time when I’m so ill I literally cannot get out of bed.

Writing, for me, is the same thing–something which I intend to do to meet all our material needs, and also feed my soul. If anything, I should approach it with a level of ferocity exceeding the level I apply to my day job.

It’s time to get out of the mud, brush myself off, and show this horse who’s the boss.


Author’s note: It’s early in the game yet, but I’m writing these posts charting my progress from the beginning in hope that it proves inspirational and useful to others who are, or will be, attempting to same path. Hopefully, years from now, when I’m achieving my definition of success (making $80,000+ a year as a full-time writer) and people look at me and assume that, somehow, I just had whatever magical ability they weren’t born with, this blog will help set the story straight. While I have always enjoyed writing, and done a fair bit of it over the last 30-ish years, I did not write my first novel when I was 8–or do anything really remarkable as a writer. I fiddled with writing books and screenplays, but never finished a book, and the 5 full-length screenplays I finished were atrocious (frankly) and never went anywhere. So let the record show that as of today I have written five banal screenplays (I kept some of them just for kicks–but wouldn’t recommend reading any of them), and no books. But I have done well in the English classes I’ve taken. In college, I wrote a piece which the professor (a published author) told me was “publishable.” Hearing that was way better reward than the A+ she gave me on it. Okay, we straight? Good. Let’s roll sound, and….Action!


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