I don’t usually wonder what life would be like without my zoo of minions, (three boys ages 14, 12 and almost 10, a seven month old puppy, two mature lady cats, two hamsters and a fish tank.) but about once, in every three hundred loads of laundry, it does occur to me that I might get more writing done if it was just me, wearing the same old jeans for the whole week.
Of course, the truth is that I could not live without these wee beasties running me ragged and filling my life with joy. They inspire me and tire me. But because I love you too, I’m going to push through the fatigue and tell you a secret about my writing life…
I’ve never had the luxury of writing without the chaos. There has always been someone or two or three, demanding the bigger part of my attention. Why? Because I didn’t begin writing in earnest until my boys were ages 6, 4 and 2. Insanity, right? I often wonder if there was a toxic gas leak in the house.
As you might imagine, wanting to write and finding time to write are two very different things. And once I made the commitment to being a writer, I would often find myself frustrated with this very dilemma. It didn’t take long for me to negatively compare myself to all the successful writers. You know which ones I’m talking about. They have their butts in their chairs and are pounding out words while I’m chasing a potty-training two-year-old around. It was easy to get discouraged. Then I realized something very important. Even when I didn’t have time to write–I always had time to think.
That’s how I came up with “Mull-it Time.”
Not to be confused with this kind of mullet…
My Mull-it refers to using the “computer” on top of your neck. I finally started to give myself a break. I realized I could think about my story—mull-it over—when I was watching my kids run around the playground or when a feverish child or two or three was glued to me.
It was a light bulb moment. Since then, Mull-it Days have replaced the days that used to make me feel bad about myself. I’ve learned there’s value to writing and plotting and developing characters in my head, while my kids are riding the dog around like a pony or flooding the yard with a hose and a Slip-n-Slide. And I’ve even been pleasantly surprised to learn that often, after mulling things over, the writing comes quicker and easier.
It’s important to push yourself, to put your butt in a chair and write instead of goofing off on Twitter and Facebook, but there is also value in learning what works for you. Balance in life is necessary. And perhaps to write a unique book, you have to be a unique person. You probably also have to have a little practicality and courage thrown in, too. And don’t forget flexibility. Being able to Mull-it over and readjust as needed is a strength not a weakness. Do what you need to do to stay sorta sane, keep the kids alive and continue to write. And in case you’re wondering, be sure to stock up on undergarments. True story–when you “forget” to do the laundry, your boys will wear your socks to school, but not your underwear.
Kimberly Sabatini is a former Special Education Teacher who is now a stay-at-home mom and a part-time dance instructor for 3, 4 and 5 year olds. After her dad passed away in 2005, she used writing as a way to make sense of the experience and discovered that she’s full of questions that need to be answered. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and three boys. Kimberly writes Young Adult fiction and is represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency. She is thrilled to be part of the “Wolf Pack.” TOUCHING THE SURFACE is her debut novel. (Simon Pulse – Simon & Schuster, October 30, 2012)