Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Balance, Grasshopper

Balance is a thing that has always been elusive to me, like Tiffany earrings behind the glass case. I could stare at balance, yearn for it even, but never get close to reaching it. And lately, it’s become clear to me that I’m getting closer... entirely by accident.

Recently, after writing one night, I sorta freaked out because I’m not writing with the same fervor (writing forty to sixty hours a week beyond my day job) as I used to. Sure, I write every single day and haven’t taken a day off in almost two years, but I suddenly felt like a total slacker. And panicked. What if I was giving up on my goals, cashing it all in because this is a slow, difficult process? Was I a quitter? A failure? A useless literary toad in a world of butterflies and soaring eagles?

At the height of my panic, I reached for the phone and a trusty friend. She answered, listened as I rambled... and then she laughed.

“What?” I demanded.

“Let me get this straight,” she said. “You work your butt off, write like twelve books in two years, edit some of them, market them, deal with rejection, never take a day off, and you’re worried you’ve become a slacker?”

“Uh huh.”

More laughter and then, “I never thought I would say this to you, but I think you’re becoming a balanced person.”

And then I laughed. “Of all the things I’ve ever been called, balanced is a new one.”

The truth is, my friend is right. I am becoming a more balanced person. I still love to write and count telling stories as the best part of my day, but it isn’t the end all be all of my entire existence. I blogged recently (sort of) about coming up with new epic quests, and that is what I am working on when not obsessing over my writing. I still write daily, because that is when I check in with my happy place, but my writing sessions don’t have time requirements or word count guidelines. I write and experience that familiar rush each and every time. And maybe I treasure it all the more because my writing isn’t all that I am doing.

I’ve set new goals for myself that aren’t written in stone, that don’t involve the rejection inherent in marketing my writing, and that involve me getting off my behind and out into the world. Goals that don’t rely on others to fulfill. That’s the difficult thing about goals like writing. You can work on your craft, edit till the cows come home, market, and there are no guarantees of anything resembling success finding you. It’s almost the perfect form of torture for a control freak like me. And yet, I’m a happier person for that torture than I’ve ever been in my life. So, giving up? Never. Getting new adventures to supplement my writing passion and to make my life a more interesting journey? Definitely.

Hey, I’ve even started turning on the television to watch Professional Bull Riding (Congrats Austin Meier for winning Kansas City) competitions on a regular basis. It freaked the dogs out a little at first, but now they equate bull riding with cuddle time.

I also believe wholeheartedly that the more time we spend in the world, the more adventures we have, and the more people we connect with, the better our storytelling will be. And though I am more balanced in my life, please keep your fingers crossed because my dream agent is looking at some of my work.

Quote for the Day from By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho

“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.”


Allison said...

Quitter...you? Never! Its not in you! You are one of the hardest working persons I've met. I have seen you grow so much since the day you moved here. Balance is a good thing and I think you are getting "it" finally! You have already succeeded in so much. You should be proud of yourself! Your dream is in reach...keep moving forward and you will get there. I believe in you!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Awesome post, J! I LOVE the last quote. It couldn't be more perfect. And, yes, balance is far more important than reaching any one, particular goal.

I'm so inspired by your persistence and passion for the things you love in life. I'm proud and honored to be your friend, and I look forward to standing nearby and watching in awe as little by little all your sweet dreams come true. ;-)

Tawna Fenske said...

Beautiful blog post! Though I used to fantasize about being a full-time, stay-at-home author who seldom left the house, I realized pretty quickly that I wouldn't have anything to write ABOUT if I didn't get out of the house and interact with all sorts of wacky people and places.

Good luck in your writing journey!


Caroline Starr Rose said...

Lovely. From the moment I "met" you, I knew you had an exciting future ahead. Keep plugging away in that balanced fashion of yours, and let's see what happens!

Jemi Fraser said...

I love that your balance includes bull riding! That's so awesome :) Enjoy the balance!

Kasie West said...

Balanced? .....Hmmm, I should try that out sometime. :) No, I'm exactly like you. What used to be a category 5 tornado of writing obsession has now turned into one of those little dirt twisters--equally fun to watch just not at all dangerous. Balance is good.

Jessie Sams said...

I have my fingers crossed for you in your quest for your dream agent!

I can only hope that my writing journey will become as balanced as yours--I feel like a manic depressive writer. One month I write like a fiend and get tons of work done. The next, I do nothing. Absolutely nothing. I am trying to find that delicate balance, and it heartens me to know that fellow writers have found theirs. Mine is out there somewhere...