I’m obsessed. My mind won’t quiet.

Thoughts of more pull me out of the present. Dreams that reach magnitude distract me. Questions circle non-stop. How can I make it better? What does this need? Am I really making the best use of my time? Doubt is never far. Anxiety is a circle that feeds itself. Life is one as well. Desire is something all itself. It’s hard to focus when everything seems so constant.

It dawned on me recently that my need to write, to have a successful career is so great it often registers to me as selfish which is partly because it’s hard for me to see around. It’s all I want to do. There are times I look up from hours of plotting and character building and look around. A million things need attention. My family is waiting for my company. I can’t help but ask myself have I lost my mind? Juggling family and work is a difficult balance for everyone. I know that. But there is something unsettling about spending two years writing a book only to have it ready when that particular genre isn’t selling. No word written is wasted. One path leads to another. Every plan won’t pan out.

I am learning so much right now. It’s both exhausting and addicting.

There is a certain triumph when I get a lead or a yes. When a new idea strikes the possibilities seem endless, the sky opens and is filled with stars. That feeling is something I crave. Constantly. But when things don’t seem like they are going anywhere confidence starts to dip even though I shouldn’t let it, dark clouds roll in. My obsession only grows. I dig deep, try to figure what didn’t work, what I could do better. It comes back always that I need to do more. Write more. Improve my descriptions, write more convincing queries. Mostly just write more. So, most of the time I do.

There are whispers. Am I working too much? Are my priorities out of whack?

Occasionally the term workaholic gets to throw in my direction. I instantly dismiss it. “No, I’m not,” I say. “It’s just the phase of career I’m in.” In quiet moments I wonder, do I have a problem? I make excuses for myself: I have to finish this one thing. Weekends off don’t apply to my type of gig. My work is also my hobby.

I can’t help but wonder if all this noise I’m creating hinders me. Are there times I am unrealistic? Probably yes. But what fun is to shoot too low? Then I shut off all access, put my head down, and just write. Write for me, for the sake of the story. Those moments are my favorite. The summer is nearing its end and of course being the over-analyzer I am, I wonder. Did I make the most of it?

Honestly, I don’t know.

Did I work too much?

Yes, definitely.

It’s hard to shut off that part of my mind that plots and plans. But I do absolutely cherish the people in my life and the moments we share together. I’m so thankful for my supportive family and awesome friends. My dogs also rock. Walking away from my desk just doesn’t come easy, but disappearing into my office does. It’s like breathing. I’m hoping being aware of the imbalance is the first step.

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Jayme Beddingfield

Jayme Beddingfield is the host and producer of 'Too Many Words' a comedy interview podcast. She is also the creator of 'Elliot Granger and The Clueless Brigade', which is a weekly serial that follows Elliot Granger as she stumbles through grief and growing up. The series is featured as both a fictional podcast and written story that appears on The Scribbler. Jayme has been crafting stories since her third-grade assignment to write her own fairy tale. She prefers to work from the sofa with her dogs by her feet. Originally from Northern New Jersey, she now lives in Seattle, the city of her dreams. She lives with her husband, two children, and a slew of adopted pets. She is completely post-apocalyptic obsessed and also admits to being an audio enthusiast and recovering supervillain.

  1. I totally relate to this, Jayme. Every question you raise, I’ve raised. And you didn’t ask for my take on any of them, but here’s what I think: the only way any writing can get done is for the writer to write. So when we’re driven to do it, we sort of need to, as long as we’re not *totally* neglecting other responsibilities, and I can tell you’re not doing that. But because of the way we humans are designed, most of us can’t stay obsessed with writing forever, and natural breaks in the process do occur. For example, this summer, I finished a manuscript I’ve been hacking away at for the past three years, and sent it off to an editor. I know it still needs work and that I’ll need to get back to it soon and “bury” myself again. But during the time it’s been with the editor, I’ve taken a big break. And it wasn’t really that hard, once I backed away from the laptop and breathed deeply! So, for the past month or so, I’ve immersed myself in family stuff, and have truly enjoyed that experience. Very little writing has gotten done, but that’s OK. Writing’s a weird type of job, and as you say, for most of us, it’s also our hobby, so it can be really hard to find balance. It happens, though! Sometimes when I feel odd about taking a big break from writing, I think about Hemingway, and all the other things he did in his life besides write. Can you imagine him if he’d just locked himself in a room and written all the time? Everything would’ve suffered, especially his work. Anyway, I’ve gone on far too long here, but that’s how I see it. Happy writing, and when you take breaks, enjoy them!

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