Monday, January 14, 2019

What's Holding You Back?

by Peter Leavell @peterleavell

Your initial decision to be a writer creates new voices in your head.

Singling out the voices and listing them here would take a lifetime and consume more data than the Google server can hold, which is, according to Google, is 15 exabytes, or 15,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes—sigh. That means absolutely nothing to me other than that’s a lot of 0’s. And by the time we got to the second voice, the first voice would change anyway, so let’s talk about one.

I’ve other responsibilities that come before writing.

At times, indeed, I put writing before my family. I hauled them around to conferences, made them sit in libraries, wandered around battlefields and national monuments. I sat and wrote and they had nothing to do but grab a book and read while I worked.

I asked my wife and kids what they thought of the writer’s life. Here’s what they said:

Plot twists happen in real life. Imagine my wife, sitting down for breakfast at a cafĂ©, and hearing from her successful manager husband, “I think I’m going to get up at 4AM every morning to write a novel.” And then three years later, “I think we should move to the big city so I can go to university and get my BA in history.”

This happens often. My family wakes up one morning, and by that afternoon, we’re scrambling to adjust to a new life. A key element here is that the plot twists we chose made our lives better, more fulfilling. Plot twists we didn’t chose, well, God blesses despite the bad.

Note: because I plot twist our family, my wife gets to as well. Both our dreams are equally valuable. Why? Read on to the next point.

Character arcs are a thing. The responsibility of a writer is serious, because people believe us. My family saw the respect accorded to each of us, and we turned into students so that we might learn how best to live, what advice best to give, and when to give it. Education became a priority. All four of us are in school, as well as teaching at university, high school, or tutoring. That’s our character arc. 

Writing will slingshot you and your family on your arc.

At a When Everyone’s Read the Book party, my family is forever asked, ‘What’s it like to be married to a writer,’ or ‘What’s it like to have a dad who writes?’ They were thinking, can we talk about me? Once, my wife decided to be up front and vocalized her frustration. The people quickly apologized, agreed, then asked, ‘Where does he get his ideas?’

I gave my books to our doctor, and they passed them around the office. Now my wife and kids have to remind the nurses and doctors to get back to health instead of chatting about the writer’s life.

My family doesn’t always read my books. Why should they? They’ve been living with the characters for years.

Going to conferences and book signings is fantastic. They love writers. Writers are wonderfully diverse people and part of what is good about humanity. 

My wife and kids have met some amazing people and heard the most incredible philosophies. 

Readers are just as fascinating. When the kids hear from a reader, ‘My mother was reading your book just before she died, thank you for giving her a sense of pleasure, of deep thought, before she passed,’ those words do something to your children. They see more purpose, more meaning to life, which has created in them both love for their fellow man and in helping others.

Our lives are fuller and richer by quieting the voices and embracing the writing life. What voices are holding you back? Embrace the writer's life!


Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and currently enrolled in the University's English Lit Graduate program, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. A novelist, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at


  1. Good morning, Peter. Very interesting. I've been guilty of never considering how the writeing life affected those close to me.

    You've given me something to think about today.

  2. I enjoy hearing how your family has embraced education, yours and theirs.


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