You would think that a person whose astrological sign is Libra would have balance in her life. Not so. The scales are always tipping one way then the other for me. Now, I have no problem seeing both sides of an argument. Finding the pros and cons of an idea or project comes fairly easy. Some might call that fence sitting. I call it exploring all options. It’s balancing life itself that’s difficult.
Last week, I wrote about the dedication and perseverance Olympic athletes must have to compete with the world’s best. Dedication to the exclusion of everything else. When asked what he’s going to do now that he’s retired from Olympic competition, Michael Phelps said he’s going to try to have a normal life. So, what’s a normal life?
Balance between family, career, health, interests, play.
Writers can easily lose themselves in their story. Literally hours can go by without notice. That’s when the Muse is behaving, of course. Creating a story is not a pick-up/put-down job. It’s not something you can do for half an hour before moving on to another job. For most people, that is. I’ve heard of authors who can write anywhere, anytime, in short bursts. Most writers can’t turn on and off the creative juices like a faucet. How I wish it were that easy. When I start my writing day, I need to reread what I’ve written last to get back into the story before I can move forward. Not all of what was previously written, of course, just the last scene or chapter, maybe. Only then can I pick up where I left off. When the story is going well, I don’t want to stop.
Anyone who read my post last January about setting goals knows my photos are in boxes. I had great plans this year to organize them and put them into albums. I even worked out a plan of action. The photos are still in boxes. Finishing Switched, Too took precedence. Then, marketing the book after it was published. In the meantime, writing the next book in the series. Then . . . It’s so easy—make that too easy—to keep going once started. Writers who have full time jobs and families don’t have that luxury. They sacrifice more than hobbies to carve out time to write. Like sleep.
I’ve mentioned before that Hubs “drags” me to the fitness club almost every morning. If he didn’t, I’m sure I wouldn’t get any exercise. I know I need it to stay healthy. But when I’m in the middle of a project . . .
For several years, my life revolved around my children and their activities. Now that they’re grown and gone, it’s just Hubs and I. When the children and grandchildren visit, I can set everything else aside. No problem. But in the day-to-day routine, Hubs gets the short end of the stick. My contemporaries will agree that retirement is an adjustment. For both parties. I’m fortunate that he has activities he enjoys (read, keeps him busy). He enjoys working in the yard. My flower beds have never looked better and we’re enjoying his tomatoes, cukes and beans. He enjoys woodworking, making furniture and toys for the grandkiddies. But that’s not enough. He actually wants me to do things with him—which, after nearly forty years, is rather nice. Fortunately, we both like movies. Since retirement, we have seen more first-run movies than in all the previous years we’ve been together combined. He likes to go for drives—with company. Leaving my story at a critical juncture is difficult. Yet, turning down the invitation seems, well, unkind. “Sorry, guy, but my characters are more important.” Not.
What I need is a schedule. Make writing an eight-hour a day job, including all the email and social media aspects. Make time for hobbies I once enjoyed (like photography, gardening and quilting). Make time for exercise. Take time to play. More importantly, make time for the man who is still the love of my life.
How do you find balance?
On Wednesday (8/22), I'll be over at Nancy Jardine's blog, She said, he said. I hope you'll stop by. Then, on Thursday (8/23), come on back here and meet my guest Oklahoma author Alicia Dean.