Book Birthdays, Sick Kids, and Selling the House

Thursday, March 20, 2014
If you don't want to listen to a writer who is completely overwhelmed go on and on about being completely overwhelmed, then stop reading now. Don't read one more word. But if you want to read and find out why this really nice writer is feeling stressed out and why she posted on Facebook, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade or use them to squeeze into your vodka tonic," then please keep reading.

Full disclosure: I am a very lucky girl. I know this with all my heart. But sometimes, sometimes, life is so overwhelming.

On with the story. . .within one week, actually within four days, these events did and/or will occur:

  1. My 3-year-old has the stomach flu.
  2. The young adult novel I worked on for 7  years is finally born into the world. (Title is Caught Between Two Curses, and you can check it out here:
  3. The closing date of the house we have been trying to sell for 3+ years is finally going to occur, and we are thankful we didn't lose "too much money."
  4. A book launch party 
 Here's the deal. I'm just going to admit it. I have a hard time with balance anyway. Being a writer and editor and a stay-at-home mom are all full-time jobs. I have help from my husband and grandparents, but it's still difficult to balance and keep the guilt in check. When I have a thousand things to do this week with the closing of our house and the book launch party--both happening at 4:00 on Friday!--I am well. . .feeling a little crazy.

What can I do?

Here's the part of this post where I am supposed to come up with some words of wisdom for you. Something like: take care of my family first, ask for help with the closing and book launch party, do as much as I can and focus more on book markeing next week, etc. This is good advice, right? This is what I am telling myself; but really, did you come to this blog post to get advice from me? OR would you like the opportunity to give advice? How often do you really get asked for your two cents?

I am asking you for your two cents! What do you do when you are feeling overwhelmed with your writing career and your personal life? How do you manage? Please share with me. I will be forever grateful. I will try your advice! I bet others will benefit from your advice, but they are just too scared to ask.

And if you want to check out Caught Between Two Curses--well, that would just make my day. It's a young adult novel for ages 14 and up. It's about:

Seventeen-year-old Julie Nigelson is cursed. So is her entire family. And it’s not just any-old-regular curse, either—it’s strangely connected to the famous “Curse of the Billy Goat” on the Chicago Cubs.

Julie must figure out this mystery while her uncle lies in a coma and her entire love life is in ruins: her boyfriend Gus is pressuring her to have sex, while her best friend Matt is growing more attractive to her all the time.

Somehow, Julie must figure out how to save her uncle, her family’s future, and her own love life—and time is running out!

I'll owe you one! 


Sioux Roslawski said...


Take an evening (perhaps tonight?) to decompress. If possible, go out to dinner with your husband, and (laughingly) talk about what kind of horrors MIGHT happen in the soon-to-happen events (like the book launch). Perhaps during the book launch, a crazy girl storms in like the cartoon Tasmanian Devil, and she's insisting she IS Julie, and demands all the profits you're going to get from the book.

Maybe during the book launch you are served some legal papers. It appears that the Cubs are suing you. All the time that you've been working on the book has added to their "curse"--they just can't succeed--and (from their perspective) it's all your fault.

Over your laughter and each of you trying to top each other with the most ridiculous tale, you realize this most recent whirlwind is almost over, and it probably won't end in any disasters.

Or if dinner is not an option, take some time to read a funny book or watch a funny movie to slow down things. (I love the original version of "The Out-of-Towners" with Jack Lemmon, but it might be too dark of humor for you right now.)

Then there's always my go-to as far as stress reliever: some chocolate, a glass of port, and a nap. (Oh, that's right. You're the mom of a little one. You've haven't had a nap in years...;)

Good luck, and congratulations. Your recent string of successes is something to celebrate--when you are finished recuperating from this whirlwind.

Margo Dill said...

When I was writing this post last night, (which I will admit at first I tried to write a post about where our inspiration comes from when we write a book, but poor KB kept coughing in her bed, and this post is what came out instead), I thought to myself, SIOUX WILL GIVE ME GOOD ADVICE. I really, really did. And look you did.

Dinner is not an option because my husband works nights, but. . .KB has Little Gym tonight, where all I have to do is SIT and watch her with my parents and then afterwards we go get a pretzel from Auntie Anne's. So, I am making a vow now not to talk about any of this stuff at Little Gym or at Auntie Anne's, but just think of my funny, wonderful family.

(BTW, I know people don't realize how glamorous the life of a writer really is. .. they are imagining the week of our book launch full of champagne and lobster. But really Auntie Anne's pretzels are just as good!) Love you, Sioux!

Marcia Peterson said...

((hugs)) Honesty is always refreshing, as we've all had our versions of these times and it's really hard. Hang in there and know we are all on your side! Congratulations on your book!

Unknown said...

Margo, three years ago I quit my job to write, after my kids were college and high school age. For a few months, the long stretches of silence while my daughter was in school were bliss. I felt calm and in control. Well, ha-- that didn't last. When my son graduated from college, as I think I've mentioned to you before, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and my world was turned into a mess of juggling doctor appointments, medicines, bills, chemo appointments.

What calm?

Here's what I think I know: life is full of chapters in life, some of them calm, some of them like hurricanes. I'm not sure there is really a "getting a grip" on it all so much as there is learning to find peace in the midst of it all and knowing no experience ever goes to waste. It's all honing who we are,even (or maybe especially) the tough times. Ethereal advice, I know.

Sioux is right-- self-care is essential, not only for you, but so, like the heart, you can continue to pump out to those who need you.

Trying to "do and have it all" is a myth. Trying to do some of it may even be a myth... maybe just trying and finding joy in life anyway is our best hope!

I hope life calms down for you and offers you a bit of respite soon.

Unknown said...

I'm a huge list maker, especially when I have a lot to do (planning my wedding, preparing for the baby's arrival, huge projects at work, etc.). I will write down every single little thing I need to do, even if it seems trivial, like eat lunch or take meds, etc. When it's a big, long list, it is super easy to become paralyzed by just how much you have to accomplish in X time frame. But, I really try to remind myself to take one thing at a time. Once I start checking things off, it's very satisfying and makes me feel uber productive! I LOVE to see the final list with EVERYTHING crossed off!! :)

I love it that you're just going to enjoy Little Gym today and not think about your "to dos." Relax, have fun, and know I have faith in you to not only get it all done, but to do it well! Gang in there and know we love you!! ;)

Renee Roberson said...

This too shall pass! This post reminds me a lot of how hard it was when I first started freelancing and my kids were still preschool and toddler ages. I'm ashamed to say I blew my top with them way too often back then and cried a lot, because I felt so guilty for wanting to work and not being able to do everything perfectly.

In just a few years Katie will be in elementary school and things will fall into place. Balancing work and family life has gotten so much easier since both of mine started school full time, and I have longer stretches of time to work during the day. By this time next week things will seem a lot better, I promise!

If I lived near you I would insist on dragging you out to go see a fun teen movie like "Divergent" to take your mind of things:) Have fun at your book launch!

MonetteChilson said...

I like to stop and see if all those things that I am feeling that I feel obligated to do are really as necessary as I'm making them out to be. Even if I end up deciding that I do need to attend to all of them, an attitude based on choosing to do them goes a lot farther than my martyred attitude of "having" to do them.

When I'm overwhelmed, I look for the next right action, rather than the be-all-end-all solution. I also check to see if all those "must do items" on my list need to be done by me (can I farm them out?) or need to be done now (can they wait?).

Good luck with your juggling act. Know that you're not alone. We've all been there and lived to tell about it!



Margo Dill said...

Thanks so much to all of you for your support and wisdom. I know that you have helped me and I am sure you are also helping others, too.

@Renee: AH, DIVERGENT! Can't wait! :)

Love and hugs to each one of you.

West Poplar said...

Thank you for writing this. Your bravery and willingness to be vulnerable is a great lesson to me. For me, there is no magic pill, no trade secret that will offset the days when illness comes and the car has a flat and the world heads straight to Hades. No one stops to ask the little writer if today is a good day for the Apocalypse. (Wouldn't that be nice, if we could get a little heads-up before the flu strikes or the engine decides to throw a rod?)

I juggle a staff writer position at a local newspaper, an editor position with a new publishing hybrid, a start-up freelance newsletter writing business of my own, not to mention the grand plan I have to actually get to my own works in progress. (Yes, works with an "s"; that was not a typo.) There are days when I feel as if the universe has me bound and gagged sitting right in the line of fire of one of those automatic pitching machines. I can't dodge all of the baseballs. I do my best ninja moves and I still get his with one or two.

I guess my best strategy is to keep going, keep pushing one day at a time. Never pass up the chance to recharge your batteries; you never know when the hand of fate will bless you with the opportunity again. Accept that the path to where you want to be looks more like the scribblings of a preschooler than the lines on a road map. And to quote the immeasurable Stephen King, "Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work."

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

This topic seperates the extroverts and the introverts. When I read Sioux's "go to dinner," I'm sure you heard my screams. "No, no. Stay home. Have a pajama day!" Yep, I'm an introvert all the way. My husband might offer to take me out, but he also knows to ask if he should bring home takeout. Hang in there and take a deep breath. And, if you must, go hang out with people to recharge. I'll try to be understanding. Sigh.

Holly said...

I know this advice may sound terrible, but take a deep breath and cry. It's not sage advice, but it does release all the steam inside your pressure cooker. It doesn't mean you're not grateful and excited for all the great things. You can even set a timer. "I am going to melt down for ten minutes," or whatever. In a hot minute Katie will be over the flu and your house closing will be off the list and then you can breath again. One of the comments on this post said watch a funny movie or TV show. That is good, too. It's hard with a toddler to run away for a hour or two. Or, if you're really desperate, you can play Candy Crush....

Margo Dill said...

Holly: CRYING IS GREAT ADVICE--and no worries, there was a tear or two shed. :) But as always things work out. It helps that my mom instilled an optimistic attitude in me!

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