Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nicole Baart on Balancing Life and Writing

From Nicole Baart

I recently celebrated my fifteenth wedding anniversary by editing my seventh book in a hospital room. My six-year-old daughter was undergoing her tenth medical procedure to correct a grave esophageal injury. Two of my sons were safely tucked away at school, and our three-year-old was enjoying an extended play date at a friend’s house. As for my husband, the man with whom I spent the last fifteen years in varying stages of marital bliss, well, he was over sixty miles away--drowning in end-of-the-year meetings at the college where he is the Dean of Chapel and a Fellow in the Andreas Center. (Don’t ask me what that means.) But don’t worry. In spite of how insane that all sounds, Aaron and I are still very happily married. (As evidenced by the fact that when I left the house at six in the morning I gave him a kiss on the forehead and said, “Happy Anniversary.” It doesn’t get any more romantic than that, people.)

Yikes. That fab introductory paragraph makes my life sound like a bad after-school special. But on the upside, if you were paying attention, you now know a lot about me. I’m no longer twenty-something (fifteen years is a long time--and I wasn’t a child bride). I have four children (boys ages 10, 8, and 4, and a daughter who’s 7). My husband is a reverend, professor, dean, fellow, and so very much more (I’ll let you imagine the possibilities). And, obviously, I have a lot going on in my life. Marriage, kids, weekly medical appointments, writing career... Did I mention my husband and I are the co-founders of a rapidly growing non-profit organization, regular speakers at conferences and events, avid gardeners, outdoor enthusiasts, world travelers, and cripplingly addicted to Sherlock, good books, and craft beer? Okay, we’re not addicted to beer. I believe they call that alcoholism. But you get my drift.

Sometimes when I’m making my weekly to-do list (yes, I’m a list-maker), I’m boggled that there are enough hours in the day for me to accomplish all my mandatory tasks (showering, eating, looking my kids square in the eye) never mind the frivolous stuff (exercising, enjoying a moment of silence, breathing). I lament that I need more balance in my life. I need to cut things out, tame my schedule, learn to say no. My life is a roller coaster, a whirlwind, a cliche on fast-forward. I can’t go to the bathroom without an audience, have no idea what’s current on TV, and often lay in bed at night with my mind spinning, spinning, spinning.

But to say that I would change all of this is a lie. A bold-faced, ugly lie that I refuse to utter anymore. I love this tilt-a-whirl life and all that comes with it. And I’m starting to realize that the crazy-loving chromosome that makes me clamor for more life, more excitement, more heaping platefuls of everything I can get my hands on is the same gene that makes the whole writing gig work for me. Because like it or not, friends, if you want to make a go of a writing career you have to be ready to embrace chaos.

If you write, you already know that it’s a heart-wrenching, life-giving, soul-searching endeavor that requires more patience, persistence, and gravitas than almost anything else you’ve ever encountered. But to then publish that writing, that book baby you’ve given life to, well, that’s a different beast altogether. True, it’s a ton of fun. But it’s also really, really hard. Time consuming, exhausting, tricky-sticky, no way around it hard work. Maybe there are still authors who languidly handwrite books while downing wine by the bottle on some forgotten beach in the south of France, but I haven’t met them. The authors I do know are much like me: regular people with full, beautiful lives who work hard to balance their day-to-day with their literary dreams.

My posts at Pub Hub are going to deal a lot with finding balance in the midst of this chaos. I don’t have it all figured out, but since my first book was published in 2007, I’ve definitely grown in wisdom. I’ve been given great advice and I’ve learned some things the hard way... I’d love to share my experiences with you.

Thanks so much for welcoming a new blogger at Pub Hub! I’m so excited to be on this journey with you.



  1. Welcome, Nicole!! Love "embracing the chaos." Well said!