I’m about 10,000 words into my first full draft. I’m pulling scenes from previous drafts—can you call it a draft if you haven’t completed it yet? I’m roughly on track to finish the first draft by the end of the year. Of this, I am proud. But it’s hard, right? I work a full-time job—one I just started. Roughly, I work around nine hours a day. Nine hours of mostly meetings, mostly sitting in front of this screen at this desk, being on since I’m a manager. I love it; it’s hard and challenging and I know it’s going to make me a better manager and level up my career. But it’s still hard.

I have a girlfriend. Although, girlfriend is a bit of a misnomer. She’s it for me. She’s the one. We live together. We have a dog. We have plans. When I look a decade into the future, when I see that old, frail woman that I just may become, she is in that picture. And I want to spend as much time with her as I possibly can. I’m forty-two—forty-three in a few weeks—and I don’t want to waste any time being away from her, whether that’s because I’m in the office, I’m being a bitch, or because I am too busy.

Then there’s the normal day-to-day living. Make coffee, maybe some breakfast, shower on the days when I feel like it (pandemic life, am I right?), take Chica for a walk, watch a movie, sit out on the porch with a good book, attend the Board of Election poll worker trainer. Wash dishes, vacuum the floor, run a few loads through the wash, pay rent and grab a drink with a dinner at the local brewery on the weekends with the lady. The little stuff. The good stuff. The minutia of a well-live life.

So something has to give, right? It used to be writing. But damn, how I do love writing. I love this act of paragraphs building off sentences building off words. It’s intoxicating. When I was young, I found power in the act of putting words to paper. It was an act of self love. It was an act of rebellion. I was a child that wanted to do right and be accepted, almost painfully so. Words, whether in my journal or the characters in a story, they were my protest flag. Those words spoke for me when I didn’t trust my own voice. They were my bullhorn. When I had something I needed to say, I wrote it down. Writing is my truest form. And I can hit the raw, pulsating root of my core with the words I write.

Choosing to be a writer isn’t a hard choice. It’s making room for the practice. Thankfully, my writing group has helped here. Every Sunday we meet. Some weeks we critique. Some weeks we just write. On Thursdays, it’s the gals (I feel a sense of kinship with them that feels foreign and wonderful to me). And I find these simple acts of keeping these appointments, these simple acts of honoring what it is I want to do, to be soul-fulfilling. They fill me with such joy. Writing itself can be hard—the wild marks on the butcher paper behind me mark the trials of writing a novel. But the practice, the result, the feeling of tugging at that pull of the tiny bits that I keep for myself…there is just nothing like it.