A Day in the Life of Author Sarah Ballance

posted in: Sarah Ballance | 16

By most writerly-type accounts, I have a dream job.  Or – more specifically – I don’t have a job at all.  Cue the tickertape parade, ya’ll, because I’m a full time author.  A full time author with a bill-paying spouse and absolutely zero income requirements.

Does it get any better than that?


Now, before you go thinking I’ve got it made – or, even more laughable – that I’ve “made it,” I’d like to invite you to be me for a day.  Brace yourself for the glamour, my friends – this is one reality show yet to make prime time.

5:00 a.m. – Alarm goes off a full hour before necessary.  It’s the “writing alarm” – the one you set so you can get up and amass wordage before the kids invade the day.   You are excited.  TODAY is the day you’ll get your characters off the floor where you left them and out of the first chapter.  You can feel it!  Today will be different!

5:01 a.m. – You’re still listening to the alarm.  The bed is warm, you’re comfy, and you know the H will get annoyed and cut off the alarm so you have zero motivation to move.  Your characters will be perfectly fine on the floor for another hour.

6:30 a.m. – The H is late for work – his fault for doing the whole alarm-cutty-offy thing.  He’s not amused when you mumble this from beneath a thick, fluffy pile of blankets while he pulls on layers after layer of long underwear to face a 20 degree morning.

8:00 a.m. – You awake to the distinct odor of a three-year-old wearing a wet pullup sitting on the bed somewhere in the vicinity of your  head.  If you’re lucky, you only smell pee.  He repeats “Good morning, Mommy” – louder each time – until he wakes up the baby.

8:10 a.m. – You’re up, the baby is up, the offender has been banned from your bed for life.  You need coffee or, rather, Sam’s Club brand vanilla cappuccino.  It’s instant, so you put a cup of water in the microwave.

8:11 a.m. – There’s not a whole lot you can get done in the two minutes it takes to heat water in the microwave, so you unload the dishwasher.

8:12 a.m. –  Then you load it.

8:30 a.m. – Feeling accomplished with the dishwashing thing, you open the handy dandy netbook to add more brilliant words to your WIP.  A mere two seconds after you vow not to go online until you’ve written at least a full page, you are so distracted by what you might be missing in your inbox that you decide it’s more prudent to take a quick look than it is to lose writing time to incessant curiosity.

9:30 a.m. – Still online.  ‘Nuff said.

9:35 a.m. – Kids want pancakes or French toast.  You feel guilty knowing you’re going to try to make up that lost writing time later in the day, so as a pre-emptive strike on your conscious you agree to make pancakes or French toast.  (Well, there’s that and there’s the idea of a steamy, buttery stack of stuff covered in syrup.)

11:00 a.m. – You’re still flipping breakfast over a hot stove.  You vow to use the griddle next time, because getting it out can’t possibly be more trouble than making 30 whatevers one at a time for a herd of five ravenous children (plus a baby with only two teeth).

11:30 – You find the forgotten cappuccino water in the microwave.  Reheat.

12:00 – Two of your six children are still asleep.  You’ve yet to find time to eat your cold breakfast, and now the other kids want lunch “because it’s noon.”  The pan is still hot from breakfast.  You threaten them from the kitchen with it.

1:00 p.m. – The kids are working on their home school assignments, no one has questions, and there’s peace on your two acres of Earth.  Time to tackle your manuscript.

1:05 p.m. – A squabble erupts over a pencil (you don’t know why because they each have a set of 24 personalized pencils that promised to put an end to this).  You referee.  The sound of the world ending wakes up the baby.

2:00 p.m. – After almost an hour of howling interrupted-nap-woes, the baby has returned to peaceful slumber.  The other kids are (literally) in their corners, Pencil Gate resolved, accomplishing things.  You experience a twinge of envy.

2:02 p.m. – The computer is open.  You can’t remember the file name of your manuscript.  (Yes, I’m serious.)

2:10 p.m. – The mailman is at the door.  It is at this point you realize you are still wearing pajama pants and have yet to corral the girls with a bra.

2:11 p.m. – Everyone went careening from their work stations to see what package came today, so you go ahead and do the group lessons.  Ancient Assyria, here we come.

3:00 p.m. – Writing time.  And this time you mean it.  Right after you check your email.

3:45 p.m. – You’ve just finished telling every friend, message board, and social network you know about the stellar review or awesome reader e-mail you just found in the inbox you were not supposed to be anywhere near.

4:30 p.m. – … and now you’ve squealed in turn over their great news, fab reviews, and left comments at their blogs.  You know you haven’t made adequate rounds, but it’s past time to start the bread dough for dinner.

7:00 p.m. – The meal rivaled anything Paula Deen might put on the table to acquiesce the guilt you’re about to feel about shutting the bedroom door so you can work on your manuscript.  After piles of homemade mashed potatoes, fresh baked bread, home-grown veggies, and a roast worthy of Sunday dinner, you realize you didn’t exercise today.

7:10 p.m. – Your readers and peeps have left emails and messages in response to your emails and messages.  You reply.

8:00 p.m. – You remember you have a blog / guest blog / interview to finish.  Yesterday.

9:00 p.m. – One of your delightful offspring is asking for the 10th time in two hours if you’d like anything to drink.  You  give up on “no thanks” and ask for cappuccino, at which point you remember the cup of water in the microwave.  You hope the kid is smart enough to reheat the water.

9:05 p.m. – Cappuccino comes, and with it word spreads that the barrier of the closed door has been successfully breached with no fatalities.  Bringer-of-cappuccino demands a quarter for his services.  You decide you like his business acumen and glare until he goes away, quarterless.

9:06 p.m. – Having seen a sibling return from your territory unharmed, ten-year-old boy comes in to discuss the garden.  (The one that’s a good three months from going into the ground.)  You close the computer and give him your full attention because (a) your kid is beyond excited about gardening and doesn’t care a lick about video games and (b) not only is he still speaking to you in these tween years, but he clearly values your opinion.  This is way better than fiction.

9:34 p.m. – You really don’t care this much about the garden.

11:00 p.m. – The other writing stuff is done.  Rather than opening your manuscript at this late hour, you set the alarm for 5:00 a.m. and vow you’ll get up early to write.  You don’t have to go to work, so you’ll have all day to get those characters off the floor and out of chapter one.  And you’re almost too excited to sleep.

Tomorrow will be different.

I have a confession: I first wrote this in 2011. I’m posting it here today because (a) I’m packing to go on vacation and (b) now you’ll totally understand why. My youngest is now four so I get to sleep a bit later now, but the rest of it is pretty spot on, right down to the two hours for fixing breakfast and the endlessly lost pencils. Life is good. 🙂

About Sarah Ballance

Sarah Ballance is a multi-published author of contemporary, historical, and supernatural romance and romantic suspense. She’s been married to her own romantic hero for what he calls a “long, long time” (and no, he’ll never hear the end of saying that). Together they have six children … and clearly too much time on their hands. She currently writes for Entangled and has upcoming releases from both Entangled and Samhain Publishing.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

16 Responses

  1. Barbara Monajem

    Believe it or not, reading this was sort of nostalgic for me–or at least the bit about the pancakes was. I used to make my kids pancakes shaped like animals–teddy bears for sure and probably others, although I don’t remember which. Spiders, maybe. Fun stuff!

    • sarahballance

      OMG, I do the easy ones. Snowmen and Mickey Mouse. And not very well. LOL. I hadn’t thought of spiders! Must try this. 🙂

  2. eileendandashi

    Yep, you authors have such a plush life! Seriously, I was tired just reading how difficult it is to actually get to the point of writing! Hang in there Sarah!

    • sarahballance

      LOL. Fortunately it’s gotten much easier since I wrote this. My youngest is now four, so no more world-revolves-around-the-baby stuff going on. I look back with a little bit of wistfulness, but I’m not so far removed that I don’t remember how crazy it was. I really enjoy being able to sleep in now, lol!

  3. jessicajefferson

    I’m in total awe right now! I have two kids and I still have to get a sitter for the 3 year old in order to get writing time. Seriously – your next book should be about how you manage to write with all that going on.

    • sarahballance

      That just might be a best seller, Jessica! LOL. I think the homeschooling helps a lot. If they don’t respect my writing time, we just do extra lessons. Might as well accomplish SOMETHING, right? LOL. I keep them fun so it’s not a punishment, but it still proves as a deterrent. 🙂