Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

The Things That Matter: And Kicking Ass

TODAY’S BREW: Peppermint mocha! Well, that’s what I wish it was.

By Julie

The other day I wrote a post about how I really thought for the first time, my gig was up. This writing thing was the wrong choice, I can’t give my kids a huge fantastical Christmas, possibly, though if I know us, we will anyway, one way or another.

Today, it dawned on me.

The six year old, Bennett, had a half day yesterday and got out at 1:00. Every time he has a half day, I like to do something special with him. This time, as luck would have it, the Budweiser Clydesdales were in town for the Thanksgiving parade this weekend, and we got to go and visit them! (I am not a horse person, but I frigging LOVE Clydesdales. I also only like huge cats and very small dogs. Or totally giant dogs. I like extremes, apparently.) Then we went to play at this really cool toy store we love, and look at the Christmas decorations at the local craft store. Got McDonald’s. Stuff like that. It was great.

And if I still worked retail, I would have been working a 10 hour day and thinking about it the other 14 hours. How can I maximize my Black Friday sales? I have 5 shifts unfilled, what am I going to do? I would have spent hours making floor plans, figuring out what I needed to sell every 15 minutes ( I kid you not), in order to beat my previous year’s numbers. I just plain wouldn’t have been there with my son, even if I was there.

I’ve realized that before. Physically and mentally, I’m more present and just plain MYSELF since I write full time. And I do write full time. I don’t treat it like a hobby, and rarely take a day off. I give it my all every single time I sit down to it, and carry a notebook with me at all times. There are scraps of paper everywhere with ideas written on them, and dialogue, edits….

What was different about this time that I got to spend time with my boy was that it was a little celebration. Earlier this week I got a phone call from his teacher.

OH NO, WHAT DO YOU WANT, WOMAN? WHAT DID HE DO? WHAT DID SOMEONE DO TO HIM?

No, none of that. She called to tell me that not all kids do, but Bennett works hard at everything he does, all day long. He tries and succeeds at everything he does. And he’s a role model every day.

Of course, I gushed and teared up, and bought prizes and made special lunchbox notes and all that stuff. Because we make sure we support our kids’ efforts. And it’s even better when those efforts pay off.

But another thing she said was,”I’m sure this isn’t a surprise to you.”

And you know what? It wasn’t. Not just because he’s a great kid, but because I help make him a great kid. Not just because we say we support him, we’re there to do it. We pick him up at school, I’m home with him every afternoon. I make his breakfast every day, I read to him every day, I do his homework with him every night, and I let him vegge out for as long as he needs to. I know what he’s eating, I know what friends he plays with, I put him to bed every night and get to ask him what he’s thankful for, and you know what he says?

Me. He’s thankful for me.

Here come the waterworks.

I know that if I spent an hour and  a half every night of the 3 hours I would get to see him bitching to my husband (if we weren’t working opposite shifts) about my goddamn job and how I didn’t even get to pee that day (actual thing that happened to me every day), that Bennett would probably not be as glad to have me. My children know that they are the most important part of our lives. They know because we show them. Tim works his tail off, and manages to spend really special time with them every single day. He picks Ben up at school, and is lucky enough to work a job where he can leave at the drop of a hat and drive the 5 minutes home if we want him. Or if he wants us.

But the other thing that makes me remember that being home with my kids is the most important thing in the world is that Bennett loves to see me writing. He draws pictures of me at his computer, and knows more about writing than a lot of grownups. And just like I said, we celebrate his efforts, and love when they’re successful, it applies to me.

Writing and publishing and making book sales is effort. Sometimes it’s successful. I’ve been very successful in a lot of ways. Not selling as much as I want to is not a failure, it’s a smaller success. The outpouring of reviews and welcoming arms RUNNING HOME has received warms my heart in a way nothing ever has before. The friends who support me, even in just my last blog post and in twitter comments, make me feel like a queen. And no matter what, I FUCKING DID IT. I fucking published the book I started 6 years ago and poured my self-worth into. And people love it. What difference does it make if the money won’t ever support us? It’s only money. We’ll always need more. What’s important is right here, in this house. In our pajamas, with coffee and cartoons, and kisses, and movies, and wedding photos that offer all the promise in the world and deliver it. And what matters is that we know it fucking matters.

Success is never one dimensional, and you know what? If efforts don’t pay off, the effort itself is a success. If it’s true for my kids, it’s true for me. It’s true for our family. Something tells me it’s true for you guys, too.

I love writing, and I love what it’s doing for my family. And I love every goddamn one of you out there who encourages me, and who busts their asses to make their work something that matters. I love you guys for being great parents and siblings and friends, and great inspirations, and for fucking up and for telling us about it. I love you for being flawed, and yourselves, strong, and vulnerable, and imperfectly beautiful. I love you for speaking your mind, and for disagreeing, and agreeing, and trying to understand things. And I love my kids and my husband for a lot of these things, too.

When I didn’t commit myself to writing, these things weren’t always the most important things in my day. Now they are. And I have people like all of you to thank for it. Keep plugging at all of the things that matter to you.

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7 thoughts on “The Things That Matter: And Kicking Ass

  1. Well, thanks. Now I’m sitting at the computer at work, blubbering real tears like a baby. ❤

  2. Awwwww, I love you so much. I’m so happy to be part of a family with you. 🙂

  3. Such a wonderful post. *hugs* You reminded me of some things I forgot. Thank you. PS- you’re amazing.

  4. This, my friend, is an excellent blog post. I am not able to write full time yet (I mean, without doing something else for money), but boy do I get the feeling of weighing your ability to be present. At least my serving job mostly allows me to do that. It’s not perfect money or intellectually stimulating, but when I was teaching special ed, I was working 24/7 even when I was at home. I couldn’t turn my brain off or focus my energies at anything but teaching. In some ways, the car accident that made me quit teaching was the best thing that ever happened to me.

  5. YES. There is no point to staying in a soul-sucking job, if you have a choice available to do something else — because then you still have a soul to share with those you love most. And writing, though not “lucrative” can be one of the most soul-enriching callings out there. Your experience sounds awesome and rings very true! I say that as someone who can take on too many time-sucking projects (which I am trying to avoid doing these days) — because you can never get times like these back. That visit with the Clydesdales and the many ways you’re there for him will stick with him for the rest of his life.

  6. It’s all about your priorities. And a day with the kiddo and the Clydesdales makes sure yours are in the right place. Great post Julie.

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