Liars Club

What Relationships?

by Jon McGoran on August 18, 2010

in Advice for Writers,The Writing Life

Jon McGoranBurning Question: Writing and Relationships?

As an exceedingly unlikable person, I am largely encumbered by the distraction of personal relationships. This explains my great success as a writer. Otherwise, I’d be screwed.

Seriously, though, the balancing of personal relationships with the compulsion to write can be a difficult challenge. When my son was born, I made a solemn vow that my writing would never take away from my time with him. And I kept that vow. At least, I kept it until I was faced with my first manuscript deadline from a major publisher. Sorry kid, a deadline’s a deadline.

When I got that first book deal, I approached a friend of mine, a successful filmmaker and the father of three, and I asked him how he did it, how he balanced a successful and demanding creative career and his family life.

“Be prepared to have your family angry at you most of the time,” he told me.

Yes, he was being facetious, but there is more than a little truth to it. And if your family hasn’t bought into your writing career, isn’t supporting you in this ridiculous endeavor, and isn’t willing to share in some of the sacrifices you are making to pursue it, fuggetaboutit.

Of course, much of the problem isn’t with writing itself, it’s about the fact that so few writers have the luxury to just write. I am a pretty compulsive writer, and when I am in the thick of a project, I begrudge any time spent away from it, so yes, my personal relationships suffer from that. But a lot of the difficulty has less to do with writing, and more to do with a lack of hours in the day.

Another way of asking the question might be, “Does having a day job affect your relationships.” The answer is, “Yes, it does. Very much.”

Having a day job forces me to write during the time I would spend with my family and friends. Or during the time when I would sleep (which explains why I am always cheerful, bright-eyed and even tempered), which doesn’t help with the personal relationships, either.

Still, being a writer can have a very concrete and positive affect on relationships as well. If you want proof, just look at how many people I have killed in my books, versus how many I have killed in real life.

Jon McGoran writes gritty and humorous thrillers under the pen name of D.H. Dublin.  His titles include Freezer Burn, Body Trace and Blood Poison, all published by Berkley. Jon’s post is part of an ongoing series where Liars each chime in on a Burning Question about publishing. For other responses, visit previous posts or click on the For Writer’s page.

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