Friday, May 27, 2011

Balancing Act

A good writing day happens when I have time to write. Don’t laugh. Some days I don’t. Oh, I want to. I mean to. I need to write. But sometimes life/work/family/travel/the contract that just won’t finish negotiation/the sprinkler system that turns into a geyser/son’s impending wedding/the need to say screw it and watch Bravo – they get in the way. This happens even when I’m on a deadline. Even when I’ve begged for a two week extension of that deadline.

This may get better when I’m no longer teaching full time. Somehow I suspect that it won’t. Life has a way of filling empty space. I think it’s a metaphysical rule. Don’t really know what that means, but it’s been my experience that it’s true. Fits into the same category of how if one appliance breaks, the others hear its siren call of doom and cough their last breaths. Or how you can’t ever say, “My kid would never do that” because before the words are out of your mouth, he’s doing it.

So what does my fantasy writing day look like? Probably a lot like everyone else’s: hours of quiet time in which I am fabulously productive; time to walk and do yoga (in my fantasy I’ve already found a great class and teacher); some green tea, a light and tasty lunch; easy flowing ideas; time to return emails and blog. In my fantasy writing life, Fritos don’t exist and chocolate of any kind is a health food.

In reality, here’s what I aspire to: balance. Not every day. But more frequently than I achieve it now. More days where the obligations of promotion don’t outweigh the writing. Where by evening, I can occasionally do something other than hunker back down to write – unless I want to. (this does not count deadline crunch time. All bets are off the couple weeks before a book is due). The ability to turn it all off occasionally.

While some of that may be achieved when I give up full time teaching, some of it won’t. I need to be better at avoiding the distractions. The internet is a seductive little missy. It is still hard to explain to friends and family that staring into space is actually part of my job. Possibly as hard as it is for me to find a concise and pleasant answer to questions like, “So how are sales doing?” or “Are you still writing?.” I need to learn to say, respectively, “Ok. Thanks for asking” and “Yes. I love it” rather than launching into a long-winded explanation of the publishing marketplace and the vagaries of the Amazon calculus and how BookScan lets you see only about 70 percent of sales.

How do you achieve balance between writing and the rest of your life? Anyone?


  1. Joy, I teach half time and use the other half of my day for writing, but there is still not enough time for both. I am always amazed at how much time writing takes. I can spend my whole block of writing time (which, by the time I drive kids to school and get ready for work is probably about 2 hours max) working on one page or sentence.

  2. Netflix streaming is even more seductive than Bravo! Your "ideal" writing day sounds like heaven. I've never had one like that yet :-)