Five Year Itches
Five years into homeschooling our boys many years ago, I hit burnout. Actually, the first year I had several points of frustration, which is normal when all of your boys suddenly come home to school. I remember a conversation with my mom one day, crying and not sure what to do. I realized that in all of my efforts to teach my children, I was not doing anything for myself. I had stopped writing and even reading fiction in favor of reading school books to my kids, making curriculum plans, grading papers, etc. My mom had some wise advice and told me I needed to read books for fun. She had a stash of fiction she brought over to me, and I started working on my first draft of Abigail. Though I didn't try to publish during the next five years, I did realize that if I didn't write or read, I would get crabby. Crabby moms do not a happy household make. :)
At the five year mark, I did try to market Abigail, and I also made some homeschooling changes to help with that burnout I was facing. We homeschooled another seven years after that, which might not have happened if we hadn't made those changes.
Five years ago, I sold my first book series. We were in Israel about this time, and I looked forward to Michal's release in 2009. My dad fell that year (2008) and ended up in a nursing home, changing the course of my schedule until he went to heaven in 2011. In the meantime, I went from a three-book contract to fifteen contracted novels or novellas (combined). And five years into this new adventure, I realized I've hit a new kind of burnout. Kind of like I did with homeschooling.
With homeschooling I didn't want to quit, just as with writing novels, I have no desire to stop. But sometimes the way we do things needs to change. When I wrote in the past, it was in a houseful of guys. They might not have always been home, but they were sure to show up at one time or another. Now I'm writing too often with only the cats for company, and that gets really lonely. Even on weeks when I have lots of errands to run or plans for coffee with friends, I realized that perhaps it is time to relocate. Maybe instead of an office in the house, I need to frequent my local coffee shops just to be around people.
I've never minded being alone, but there is a difference in a few hours alone and many, many hours alone. We were made for community, and I don't get enough of that. I've been looking into a few other interests that won't interfere with writing but allow me to do more for others, and I hope that works out. But in the meantime, I need a break from these four walls, even if it's just a few minutes outside for coffee or tea.
Life is ever changing, and even things we love to do need a fresh look sometimes. This year we are going to learn what it means to be empty-nesters, another change I'm not sure how I will handle, and yet one I'm excited to embrace, just because I love my son and future daughter-in-law! I can't wait to see what God has in store for each of our futures.
And that's the true point for me. God is ever working in our lives to help us grow to be more like Him. Sometimes that means embracing change. People talk about the seven-year itch in marriage. We didn't have such a thing in ours - at least nothing that I can recall. (We're married 36 years in May.) But I have had these five-year itches where I need something to change. Something in me. So the next day I plan to be here all day, I think I will go out for another hazelnut macchiato. Or something tasty, and work inspiring!