Balancing life and writing from Marianna Shek – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Marianna Shek will be awarding 1 Choose Your Own Death book mark and 4 postcards by the illustrator Tara Brown (can be sent internationally) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Balancing life and writing

I read a wonderful article a few months ago from Salon titled ‘Sponsored by my husband’ by Amy Bauer. The article recounted Amy’s struggle to get her first novel published. Finally, after fifteen years she managed to do this because she had a loving partner with a stable income able to support their family while she wrote full time. Yet so many writers and artists downplay the road to success, specifically to financial independence. Sure, writers acknowledge the hard work involved but they don’t talk about the part time jobs, sleeping in their cars, the amount of instant noodles consumed, the years of financial insecurity. It’s as if we’re all in a romantic conspiracy to keep alive the myth of the genius of the artist. I’m particularly passionate about professional arts practice as this is what I teach to emerging artists at Art College. I try to dispel these myths and make creative arts about business.

As to how I manage to balance writing with life, I am one of the lucky ones. I had a stable career in pharmacy for a decade before I retrained at art college. After graduating, I could have returned to pharmacy part time but my husband decided that I should spend a couple of years focusing on my writing to give myself the best chance of succeeding. After about six months, it was obvious that I wasn’t able to stay home and write full time. I was consumed by guilt. I felt like I wasn’t contributing to the household so I tried to compensate by spending a lot of time cooking and cleaning. My writing lost its flair and I procrastinated endlessly.

These days I balance my writing with part-time work. I always try to take one day off on the weekend to spend with my family and Friday nights are always reserved for my friends. I recently met a writer who told me she’d just published her first novel and she had four kids. When I asked her how she managed, she told me that old writer’s advice ‘Write every day, even if it’s just fifteen minutes.’ But then she added, ‘When you’re young, you don’t think about time as minutes, but when you’re stretched to maximum capacity, you will find reserves to make your writing the best you’ve done in the little time you have.’

Sage advice! If anyone’s interested here is the link to Amy Bauer’s wonderful article on eating options as a writer.

Goultown. The sort of place where kids could walk down the street in the middle of the night. Or accept sweets from strangers because strangers were just friends you hadn’t met yet. A place where grown-ups got tattoos of smiley faces and if kids graffitied, they were sure to do smiley faces too.

That was before the murders began. After Sally Ellerson drowns at the chocolate factory, you know there’s something weird going on. It’s time to take charge.

Choose Your Own Death is a path-picking adventure where every wrong turn unleashes an eldritch evil. If you don’t solve the mystery soon, the next death could be yours.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Jessica draws back with a look of hurt in her eyes. You feel bad but instead of apologising, you slide open the drawer. Something leaps onto your face. Your cheeks are burning. You reach up and touch something smooth and hard as a nut.

One look at Jessica’s horrified expression and you start screaming, ‘Get it off! Get it off!’

You pinch at the nut-shaped creature and hurl it across the room with all your strength. Wisps of spun glass tangle in your hands. Angry welts appear where the fine threads touch your skin.

Thud. Shluuuuurrrrp.

It hits the wall and slides to the floor leaving a black smear on the paisley wallpaper. It looks like a prehistoric beetle, with golden pincers and bronze plates down the length of its body. For a moment, you think it’s over. You’ve killed it. Then, its spiny body rolls over and scuttles towards you. The others scream and leap out of the way. There’s no time for bug spray. You grab the scissors from the sewing kit and run towards the creature with a battle cry. There’s a loose nail in the floorboard.


You hold out your hands to break your fall. The scissors drive up into your stomach. As you lie there wheezing and gasping your last breath, you hear a reproachful voice.

‘Mummy doesn’t like it when you run with the good scissors.’

Marianna Shek is a writer, reader and ideal eater. She took a ridiculously arduous route to get there, dabbling in pharmacy before switching to animation and finally settling down as a writer. She has a wonderful day job as a researcher and producer. You can follow some of her crazy art and film projects at: She rambles specifically about books and creative writing at:

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  1. Thanks for hosting!

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