11/15/2010 08:20 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Making of a Novel: Real Life Gets in the Way

I had a big block of time set aside today to write, and had been looking forward to it -- but, alas, my 9th grader got sick in the middle of the night. She woke me up at 2 a.m., and stayed home from school for most of the day -- although she needed to dash in to take an English test and talk to one teacher, so I was on call to drive her and pick her up, and I also had to stop to get her favorite tea, which we ran out of. So my big writing day? Didn't happen. It's 5 o'clock and I'm still trying to get client work done, and then there's dinner, and did I mention that I was up at 2 a.m. last night? I'm going to sleep early.

I share all this not to whine about my day, but to demonstrate that real life happens. So many of my writing students imagine that being a "real" writer or a "full time" writer or a "professional" writer means that you have endless peace and quiet, long swaths of uninterrupted time, none of the pressures of regular life. It's patently untrue.

I will salvage this writing day by working for perhaps thirty minutes on the scene I left undone, and at bedtime I will continue reading and annotating a book that I'm using for research, and most important of all? I will forgive myself for being human, and I will give thanks that I was able to be there for my girl last night and today.

For a beautiful piece on writing and forgiveness, see Elizabeth Gilbert's website.