FableCroft welcomes author Rabia Gale to the blog! I discovered Rabia’s amazing writing via a recommendation from Joanne Anderton, and have since devoured as much of her work as I can get my hands on. Rabia breaks fairy tales and fuses fantasy and science fiction. She loves to write about flawed heroes who never give up, transformation and redemption, and things from outer space. Rabia grew up in Karachi, Pakistan and now lives in Northern Virginia. Visit her online at http://www.rabiagale.com. See the end of the post for a teaser from Rabia’s latest work, Rainbird, (which I’ll be reviewing soon!).
Today, Rabia shares her thoughts on balancing family with writing, something which resonates with me strongly.
Balancing Act: On Raising Both a Family and a Writing Career
Juggling parenting, homeschooling, writing, and publishing is a tricky act—and one that often involves dropped balls, shattered plates, and knives falling all over the place. I can’t claim to be an expert at this, and it doesn’t help that as soon as I have one stage figured out, I’m confronted by something new and unexpected. (I can see the parents out there nodding their heads!)
However, a few attitude adjustments have made it possible for me to fit writing and family life together.
Everything comes in seasons.
I might actually be able to have it all–only not at the same time. Raising my children is my top priority at this season of life. However, in fourteen years they’ll all be adults. I’ll be able channel more of my time and energy into writing and publishing then. Right now, I’m content to fit it into an hour or two a day.
There are also cycles in the shorter-term. There are weeks that I’m going to be busy with family activities, and weeks when I have to put more hours into my writing to meet deadlines. There are days I have to devote to housecleaning, and days that I set aside to deal with administrivia. Understanding these cycles keeps me from getting agitated or down on myself for not being productive in all areas every single day.
My routines are flexible
I always get a lot more writing done during the school year than in the summer because we have a routine. I know when we’re doing math and when we’re studying history, when the kids have gymnastics or taekwondo, what we’re having for dinner, and when I can write. Routines prepare my brain for each activity as it comes up, and free me from having to constantly make decisions about what I’m going to do next.
But we all know that Life Happens. So routines have to be flexible. As I write this, Hurricane Sandy is barreling up the east coast of the United States. Today I took stock of the pantry, filled up bottles (and bathtub) with water, did laundry, and mentally prepared myself for the storm.
I haven’t done a lick of fiction writing. But that’s okay. I know I’ll come back to it.
I’m going for the slow build
I want writing fiction to be my fulltime career when my children leave home.
But I’m laying the groundwork for that now.
Earlier this year, I self-published a collection of short stories. I followed that up with another collection, a short story, and a novella. I plan to release more work at a steady rate that fits my current lifestyle. I’m also submitting short stories to anthologies and ’zines.
I don’t expect to make a living wage from writing anytime soon. Instead, I’m working on developing good habits, learning from my mistakes, improving my craft, creating relationships with other people in the industry, and building my readership and my backlist.
I’m focusing on shorter formats
Before this year, I would have told you that I was a novelist to the core. Short stories were only flings; novels were my serious passion. As my life has gotten busier, shorter fiction has become more appealing to me as a reader. This has made me more receptive to writing it.
I’ve especially come to love the novella form. In a print-based world, novellas didn’t make much sense — too slim to stand alone on a bookstore shelf, too long to be part of an anthology (unless written by a Big Name). Now, because of digital publishing, we’re seeing a resurgence of the novella form, which is great for me.
Novellas allow me to develop my characters, setting, and plot while writing fewer words in less time. Much as I’d love to write an epic urban gothic science fantasy with wide-ranging scope, multiple points-of-views and encompassing several volumes, that’s my Someday Project. Considering my limited time right now, short stories, novellas, and short novels make more sense for me.
Thanks, Tehani, for having me as your guest!
She’s a halfbreed in hiding.
Rainbird never belonged. To one race, she’s chattel. To the other, she’s an abomination that should never have existed.
She lives on the sunway.
High above the ground, Rainbird is safe, as long as she does her job, keeps her head down, and never ever draws attention to herself.
But one act of sabotage is about to change everything.
For Rainbird. And for her world.
Rainbird is a fantasy novella of about 31,000 words.