Author’s guilt – my new hobby

Depositphotos_21902879_mIt’s a bit like the mother’s guilt I get when I take time to do things for me or buy something when I could technically have spent that money on (insert item) for the kids. I get author’s guilt daily because, guess what? I am not really authoring (I know, not a word) and I don’t have a good explanation for why.

Stay with me on this; there are a lot of similarities between the real-life children I have (a boy, six and girl, two) and the books I think of as my babies. To be clear, I love my actual babies more than anything, including writing (goes without saying really but the internet is a dark, weird place, so let’s be really clear).

I have noticed many authors and readers congratulate others on a book birthday; there is a lot to be celebrated in pushing a huge investment of your time, love and creativity out onto the critical bookshelves of this world. I am a huge supporter of marking such occasions and while I think a full birth analogy is too strong, a lot of my parental anxieties manifest in a similar way about any work I choose to share. Have I done this right? Are people judging my decision to do this that way? Is that name controversial? Do I care if I am not perfect at this 100 per cent of the time? I feel so tired I might die, that’s normal, right? See, these questions work for both parents and authors!

The similarities don’t end there though; for example, writing invites an alarmingly similar amount of ‘advice’.

Any parent can tell you the pain in the overwhelming amount of unsolicited advice you get when you have a baby. Often this is merely a thinly disguised personal horror story that the parent can no longer afford the therapy required to deal with their story on a professional therapist’s couch. Authors can relate – ‘oh I knew someone that wrote a book once. He/she put everything they had into it, quit their job for their dream and then their house got repossessed when it only sold 64 copies’ and then there’s the thinly veiled ‘oh that’s an interesting choice’ people say when you finally share your plot after being asked approximately one hundred times. Parents are familiar with the weird, convoluted insults about how much better their kid is, or their brother’s kid…you get the picture.

Writing is hard (ok, before parents get up in arms, it isn’t as hard as creating well-rounded, smaller humans) but you love that work, you invest in it and sometimes you just have really, really tough days with it and those days can turn into months.

Now I am out of the nappy stages with my youngest child and (mostly) back into sleeping through the night, I feel that familiar pull to get my laptop out and write again, but my gosh I am sleepy. So I don’t and then I just don’t some more until I realise there are ideas sitting in my hard drive from three years ago, untouched. The guilt alarm goes off. I am not practising what I have preached to lots of young authors everywhere….if you have a passion, work at it put the effort in, commit.

I guess the whole point of this is when you love something, you have to show up, be present and commit, even when you’re exhausted. So I wrote this with the hope that some of you might just think, “oh my gosh, me too,” but also as a promise – to get back in the saddle and here with my Gliterary Girl team seems like a bloody good place to start!

Let’s all stop procrastinating together and write some books!! Who’s with me?

Amy Keen
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Amy Keen

Columnist at Gliterary Girl
Amy works in PR by day and spends the rest of the time as a mum, wife, fan-girl and YA author. A total, unashamed book freak, she reads and writes as much as possible and has a penchant for anything ‘wordy’. If there is any time left over after all of the above, she can be found chatting at inhuman speeds, consuming absurd amounts of coffee (writer cliché #1) and attempting to diffuse her perpetual state of shopper’s guilt. Her debut novel Embers came out in 2012 and the sequel is imminent.
Amy Keen
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Showing 5 comments
  • Ned

    Sound advice from a relatively sound mind. I only say “relatively sound” because, being a parent with three kids, I know a completely sound mind is out of the question. Really terrific piece, Amy 😉

  • soconnor75

    Ned your “relatively sound mind” wouldn’t be that “sound’ with or without kids. 😉

  • Amy Keen

    Thanks guys. Good to be back!

  • Jonny

    We are right there with you Mrs Keen. Great article :)

  • Gilly B

    I’m so with you Amy…once I’ve settled baby for his nap, then tidied his Bro’s room, then I’ll write. Oh wait – forgot to eat. Now Husband wants a nice chat. Rinse and repeat, daily.

    I suppose you know it’s ‘time’ as you do now, when you don’t feel so tired and frazzled that creativity becomes a dull, frustrating ache. I ain’t there yet. One day it’ll come back I’m sure. In the meantime I’ll excitedly look out for your new work.

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