Being an author is not an easy road. Creativity is often messy, so when you try to combine that with doing business and marketing and #allthethings, lines get drawn in the sand. Add kids on top of it. Add dogs. Add making dinner every weeknight (and kids want to eat on the weekends too).
Then add a deployment.
Look, this is not me playing the I-have-it-harder-than-you game. Because I don’t. Playing that game isn’t helpful and doesn’t work. We all have it harder than each other on different levels, so why quantify?
But there was a time when I desperately sought out information on how to be a parent, an author, and a military spouse. So here is my experience.
Please share it with anyone who may need a little reality.
What They Didn’t Tell Me About the Military Life
Being a military spouse is a sort of undefined line. Some of it’s black. Some of it’s white.
But most of it is gray.
Some spouses love it, some hate it. Some are really involved, others couldn’t care less about FRG and support systems. They just want to be notified if something’s going on.
I was somewhere in between.
I loved how much of the country we were able to experience (although I struggled with living in the South. #hellohumidity). We didn’t have LM when we were be-bopping around the South, so we’d travel all the time. Husband always got paid—except for when Congress couldn’t make up their minds—and we have great health benefits.
I went into marriage in the military with wide eyes. I knew what Husband’s job would entail. I knew I’d be alone for holidays and birthdays and anniversaries. I knew that I’d feel more like the mistress than the spouse sometimes. Like my girl Megan, I had girl power. I waved it all off. I was raised by a single Mom and worked as an RN while traveling the world.
“I got this.”
What no one told me—and I wrote a featured article about this once on SpouseBuzz—is that it would totally affect my career.
We’ve moved six times in six years. For the first 2 years, we moved three times. For two stations, we were only there 6 months. It’s really hard to get a job as a nurse (at least the ones I wanted) for 6 months. Also, licenses don’t transfer the way I want them to all the time, and pickings were sometimes scarce. For a girl that defined herself by getting her RN at twenty and rocking that job for 5 years, it was a major, major blow. I floundered for several months.
Eventually I shifted back to what I did for a hobby. Writing.
That was a really good plan and I didn’t even know it.
The Truth About Military Deployments as a Writer Without Kids
But the truth is, there’s a cycle to them. And they get better.
Whenever Husband deployed, I’d be off for at least a week. Sleep was different. I’d kind of wander the house. I’d eat cereal or something easy for most meals. It was just a weird, transitory time. When it came to writing, it was a time of lacking focus. And I gave myself grace. It’d come back.
It always did.
Sometimes I’d go 1-2 weeks without hearing from Husband while he settled in, but typically by the time I had some contact with him, I was settling back into single life. Sleep was easier. Writing was a good distraction instead of an obligation. I found my friends and people and got out of the house.
By the time 1-2 months passed, I’d be in a routine. I’d maximize my work time. Figure out how to do one-person meals. Worry about him when we’d go several days, sometimes weeks, without talking. That kind of thing. Usually, at that point, my writing soared. There’s a lot of time when you don’t have a husband to reconnect with at night or make dinner for or plan your weekend around.
Writing, at that point, was a great support.
The Truth About Military Deployments as a Writer With a Kid
But the truth is, there’s a cycle to them. And they get better.
And everything that can go wrong typically does.
To be honest, having a child and a deployed husband can get intense (especially when your child has colic and cries for 5 hours every. single. day. Trust me on this.) But it’s actually not as bad as I had expected. Although I may have totally prepped myself for the absolute worse, which is, I find, a pretty good game plan.
Having a kid helped me adjust faster because LM forced me into a schedule and kept me busy. There wasn’t as much wandering. The schedule and taking care of LM meant the days didn’t drag quite so much. Sleep was easier because I desperately wanted it. Writing, however, was a lot, lot less. Simply because I didn’t have the time I had before, and there are just emotionally exhausting days you can’t work around.
That being said—setting your own schedule and routine is pretty awesome. I controlled the house, didn’t have to fix dinner, and had evenings and naptime all to myself. I could dedicate nights and nap times solely to writing. So I still got a crap ton of writing done on those deployments because I still had more time, and I did everything I possibly could while the baby was awake.
The intensity of deployments with kids came into the constant emotional demands. When there’s no one else to wake up with that baby at 3 am, there’s no one else. I had great friends and family members that would help out and give me a break, which was so appreciated. The emotional intensity of Husband being gone was also way different because LM was achieving so many things without his Dad to see it.
Writing, at that point, was a great support. It gave me something outside of Mom to focus on.
Military Life as an Author
Having a husband in the military adds challenges. Husband’s schedule is sometimes really demanding. There are times he works 16-18 hour days. There are random days he gets off that I want to spend with him.
Being an author that works from home is awesome.
I have flexibility and the power to pivot in a way that being a nurse never gave me. Also, 12 hour shifts that are really 13-14 hours are really difficult to deal with when your spouse is deployed and you have kids, right? I don’t worry about that as much now.
Sometimes the stress and high demands on my husband’s time and energy make it hard for me to write because it’s distracting and there are more things at home I have to do then. It’s difficult to stay motivated when I feel like the weight of the house is resting on my shoulders because he’s gone, the car has broken down, the baby has a fever, and I haven’t slept in a few years.
But I’m really grateful for these challenges.
I’m not sure I ever would have approached writing as a career if I hadn’t had it forced upon me in this way. I would have never lived in all these places, met all these people, or found out what I really am made of. SO many Milspouses say the same thing, and the truth is that Milspouses are tough. We learn to be independent and take charge.
Entrepreneurial jobs are ideal for that.
The military challenges all the people that are part of it, but I feel like it creates a really good environment for people like me to thrive if I (or we) choose to do so.
Is working as an author and being a military spouse possible? Definitely.
If you’re a milspouse and thinking about being an author, let me know! I definitely want to meet you and hear about how you’re doing.
What unique challenges do you face based on your family situation?
Are you an Indie Author launching a book and need some help? Or do you simply need someone to be accountable to every month and check in with? Because I can do both of those things and more! Just check out my Work With Me page and let’s get started finding your place in publishing.