A friend of mine alerted me to the job posting. I saw the message in my inbox several hours after she sent it. “Hey! Did you apply for that staff writer position?”
I had no idea what she was talking about. The Snow Day voice mail message consumed my thoughts. Both of my kids home with me? ALL DAY? I was torn about it. A part of me was thrilled to have both my daughter AND my son home with me. But I know them. Dreams of cuddling under the covers with cups of hot cocoa and singing kumbaya weren’t going to happen. They’d be tearing up the house and trying to kill each other by noon if I didn’t figure out something for them to do. It was going to be a long day.
“No! I didn’t know about it! How did you hear about it?” I searched for the posting and scanned it. The requirement was 2-3 pieces a week.
My response to her was prompt. “I just saw the announcement. Thank you for letting me know! I don’t think I’ll apply because right now, I won’t be able to write at that pace. Maybe once the kids are in school full time.”
My husband walked into the room to get ready for work. I held out the job posting for him. “What do you think of this?”
He scanned it and nodded his head. “Are you going to apply for it?”
“Oh, no,” I shook my head. “I don’t think so. Why? Do you think I should?”
“Yeah,” he replied easily. There was no hesitation. “You should.”
“But I can’t write at this pace right now,” I protested. “I can barely keep the house clean with the kids as it is. How on earth would I produce 3 articles a week? Plus, she wants 3 links for a submission.” I pointed out the date of the post. “This has been out since yesterday. She wants to make a decision by tomorrow. How will I come up with 3 articles that meet those content requirements by tomorrow?”
“You have three articles you could send,” he replied. “Send those.”
“But they aren’t quite right,” I continued, staring at the job posting. “And it’s so competitive. There are hundreds of people applying for this, and all of them are way more experienced than I am.
I saw it on his face. It was fleeting but present. Disappointment. “Okay. If you don’t want to apply for it, then don’t do it.” He continued to get dressed and then left for work.
When I heard the kids shrieking down the hall, I tried to put that position out of my mind. Arguments why I shouldn’t apply filled my head intermittently for the rest of the day.
I’m too tired to do this.
I can’t produce content at that rate.
I wouldn’t have gotten the job anyway.
The kids are little. Don’t worry about writing now. Enjoy them, because the time passes so quickly.
The timing isn’t right. In another two years, both kids will be in school full time. Then I can write full time.
The list of excuses continued. But they weren’t powerful enough to squash how disappointed in myself I felt. In my twenties, I would have stayed up until I had 3 solid pieces to submit. It didn’t matter how competitive the applicant pool was. I would have at least thrown my hat in the ring.
What the hell happened to me?
Applications for this position are closed now. I didn’t throw my hat in the ring, but it opened my eyes to a difficult truth. Sometimes, we defeat ourselves with our excuses.
If I had been writing every day for the past year, like I said I would in 2016, I would have had plenty of material to choose from. I wouldn’t have had to scramble to come up with material for a submission. But I’ve been making excuses instead of making progress for the past year. And I’ve had it.
I have a lot of writer friends now and I know many of them juggle writing and kids. This past week, I saw one of them post at 10 P.M. how tired she was, but she had a deadline. She was going to stay up until she wrote that piece.
That is the type of dedication required to be a successful writer. So, I need to put up or shut up.