I've heard writers say that the imaginary people running around in their heads are as real to them as their own family members. I don't expect anyone to understand this because I don't either. But it's true. Stranger still, writer's become very, very fond of these pretend people. They will take a lot of your time if you let them. They are, in a word, high-maintenance. But they are not really real.
When my boys were very small, I wrote only when they took naps, but this soon began to spill over into other parts of our day. I began to notice that I would rather be with my pretend people than the real people God had given me. I wanted to shut my office door (luckily I don't have one) and never change another diaper, clean up a mess, fix more food, read the same storybook again, run another errand, or the like. I began to resent the interruptions.
So I began to ask myself what was really real. I decided that I would rather be a good mom and a bad writer than a good writer and a bad mom. So I put my writing away for five years and didn't touch it. Not one scribble. I now had two little boys under the age of 3 and a schedule that was wide open. Some writers might be able to manage both but I could not. Writing is that consuming for me. Strangely, stopping writing was almost a relief.
During those five years, I believe God helped me make an eternal investment in the lives of my sons. Wyatt is now almost 12 and Paul will soon turn 9. They don't need me as much anymore. They'd rather spend time with their Dad or playing with their friends. They think having a mom who writes books is interesting. We have a wonderful relationship, maybe because the writing stopped for a time when they were small and needed me most.
I've since taken up writing again, as you can see. But I still try to live in light of the question, "What's really real?"