Legacy

I’m in a very conflicted place as birth of our first baby speedily approaches. On one hand I’m very excited to get this phase of my life started. We’ve been buying baby stuff like crazy while we still have disposable income and it’s always fun. Over the weekend we were at Babies R Us and we got the cutest little dinosaur costume for the baby for Halloween. The nursery is pretty much ready to go and things look good.

But the darker, more selfish part of me wishes time would slow down a bit so I can savor the last bits of the time I’ll have to myself. I think I realize my life is going to change drastically, but I’m not sure even I know how drastically. Like I said, there are some selfish things I’ll miss like going to the movies alone anytime I want and spending lots of times at Borders and things like that. But I’m also very worried about how this is going to affect my writing. I’ve got a nice rhythm going now and I feel really good about this book and I don’t want all of that to come to a screeching halt.

I’m also going to miss all of the time Becky and I get to spend together. I was such a solitary person for so long who really enjoyed being by myself that I still find it hard to believe there is someone out there I like being around this much. In the relatively short amount of time Becky and I have had together we’ve had quite a bit of fun. We’ve traveled to Chicago, Cleveland (twice), Windsor, Toronto, Niagra Falls, Baltimore, Mackinac Island, and the Upper Peninsula. But there is so much more I’d like to do.

People say that with the baby around my priorities will change and he’ll become the center of my world. I’ve even heard stories of writers completely abandoning their careers to focus on their families. I love my family, but I hope that doesn’t happen to me. Does that sound awful? It’s not exactly that my life identity is tied up in my writing, but it’s a big part of who I am and what I want my life to account for in the grand scheme of things. Anybody can leave a kid behind on this earth (as evidenced by numerous viewing of Maury and Jerry) but very few people can leave a body of published writing behind.

Okay, I’m going to stop now before I say anything else that makes me sound like a crass dick.

9 thoughts on “Legacy

  1. Writers who give up their careers for their families do so because they are totally OK with it. If they are healthy and well-adjusted, they know what their own priorities are, they reshuffle and either drop it altogether because they believe parenting is their true mission in life, or drop it temporarily and return to it when the kids are a little more independent.

    I’ve never been able to drop it. I did give up articles for a time because it wasn’t possible to write them given my logistics, but I missed them and am now glad to be back writing them. Meanwhile, my fiction has taken a back seat to some new collaborative projects. I miss that too, but I am fine with the turn of events because it feels like something I need to do right now.

    Pray about it and God will lead you down the right path. And whatever that is will be far better than what you envisioned yourself. That has always been my experience.

  2. “Does that sound awful?”

    Yes, it does. And it would be more understandable if you actually had a career. But you don’t. Not yet. You’re not on deadline, you’re not contractually obliged to do anything. So you spend a great deal of time with your kid and your priorities change – heaven forfend you actually live your life and have something to write ABOUT.

    “Anybody can leave a kid behind on this earth (as evidenced by numerous viewing of Maury and Jerry) but very few people can leave a body of published writing behind.”

    You’re not seriously suggesting that you care more about having a couple of books published than your own child, are you? Because I don’t want to believe you’re that selfish and dumb. Then, I’d have to pay White to smack the shit out of you, and he charges far too much since he’s been lifting weights.

  3. Bryon, like Ray says, you’re not on deadline or under contract. And I can attest to what having a child will do for your priorities.

    I’m now a stepdad, and I have to make time for AJ. Also, in my previous marriage, I was still a solitary person, as was the previous Mrs. Winter. (That might explain why we’re just online pals now instead of spouses.) So I’ve had to, in a very short span, make time for a more engaging wife (who also had to adjust to being with someone after a long time single) and a child I’ve taken responsibility for.

    Granted, AJ is a teenager, but he still needs attention. In fact, he needs male attention after being deprived of it for so long.

    So what has this meant for my writing?

    It’s remotivated me. I’m not just doing it for myself now. I’m doing it for them.

  4. Of course I’m not suggesting I care more about publishing a few books than being a great dad. I want to do both. This is just a very strange and scary time for me and I don’t adapt to massive change well.

    I’ve never been afraid to sound like an ass while working out my problems as long as it means I become a better person in the process. I mean really, I can’t be the only dad who’s ever had these thoughts as the first baby approaches, right?

  5. Everybody who works has to balance that and their home life. Don’t worry, Bryon, you’ll be able to do both. Just remember, you can judge your priorities by what you do. If the writing goes away a little, it wasn’t that important to you. If it is important, it won’t go away.

    I actually have written a lot more since I’ve had kids (still not a huge amount, but that’s just me). Sometimes having less time to accomplish something means you stop procrastinating and get busy.

  6. Bry–

    Chill.

    Dude. Relax.

    No, seriously.

    People have been breeding for thousands of years—and what?

    You have the drop on the ancient razor’s edge of parental panic and sorrow?

    Please.

    I was whigged out before my first, but I have to say, man…just fucking revel in whatever you are feeeling.

    Being a Dad is cool. And creative.

    The world is refreshed in your child’s eyes.

    And —in your perspective….

    Anyway, the night my firdst daughter was born I went and saw “Momento” fucking TWICE. So to recap…

    Chill.

    -Kieran

  7. You’re thinking about this too much.

    When we came home from China with a toddler who couldn’t walk yet and I had four months off work, I couldn’t think about writing a novel. I did, however, write several short stories and sent them out on a rotating basis to literary mags. None got published, but I kept writing, and when Julia was about two, I started SACRED COWS in drips and drabs. It got done. You will find time. At first, though, you’ll have to get used to Baby and find your own rhythm.

    Don’t worry. Be happy. Enjoy this. It all works out.

  8. Dude …. Dude … Dude. … Wow …. That line about anybody being able to leave a child behind, but few can leave a book, really struck me — in a bad way.

    The legacy you can leave behind with a healthy, happy, loved, well-adjusted human being will make any book you write (published or unpublished) pale in comparison. .. Yes, becoming a parent is not rocket science, as evidenced by Maury. It’s what you do as a parent that defines your universal value as an individual, in my book. …. No, I didn’t have your level of angst as I prepared to become a dad 7 years ago. It was a time to think about other things (and people) other than myself and my writing. … Thank God for the fact that life is not all about writing, chasing the book dream. A beautiful child and a loving wife help provide balance and add perspective. … I’m hoping this will be your experience as well. … Yes, kids change everything; but if you’re committed to your dreams (as I know you are) you’ll find a way to continue chasing them.

    Peace,
    G

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