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Marisa Mackle: Sacrifice

If I had the time I would write a book. If I lived in a little country cottage I would write it, and if I didn't have to go to work I would be able to devote all my time to my literary endeavours. If I didn't have kids, and if people didn't disturb me, not only could I write a book, but it would probably be a bestseller. If only there wasn't so much to do.

If I've heard one excuse I've heard them all. If only I had a euro for the amount of people who have told me they'd love to write a book if they had time. Well, everyone has a book in them. So they say anyway. But for most people, that book stays in them.

Many start books but give up half way through and never finish it. They are more in love with the idea of being a writer then actually sitting down and writing a book. The profession conjures up images of sitting at a desk by a window with a cat on your lap waiting for the muse to strike. But anybody who ever sat around waiting for the muse to strike never made a living. I am in the middle of writing book number 17. Am I enjoying it? No. Would I rather be in town shopping? Yes. Would I rather have spent the summer playing with my baby during the day and meeting friends in the evening, instead of being virtually chained to my desk? Absolutely.

Somebody asked me the other day if I'd had a nice summer holiday? Summer? What's that? I spent all of it indoors writing about people that don't exist, doing things that never happened. It's a strange way of making a living but I have been doing it for so long now I couldn't imagine doing anything else. The last time I took a fortnight's holiday was when I was 19.

There is lots of time to write, but at the sacrifice of many other things. It is hard to have a love life, a social life and really any life at all if you are a full-time writer. TV is banned in my home, the last time I met somebody for a drink was at least six months ago, and going into town for a few hours to get my clothes dry-cleaned actually feels like a treat these days.

Then there are the panic attacks. These usually happen after 20,000 words when I realise that there are at least another 60,000 left to write. Then I usually start thinking this writing lark isn't for me after all. It's mentally draining. I told my mother recently that writing for a living is like doing the Leaving Cert every year for your whole life.

Everyone has a book in them. Release it at your peril!