As I dive into the holiday season with the frenzy of a whirling dervish, and as the realization that the year is about to end, I again come to the realization that balance is the key to success.
We all have lives beyond our writing. Some of us have children. I have two dogs, one cat, a job, friends, toilets to clean, tables to dust, a partner (oops, perhaps that one should have gone sooner in the sentence - oh, well), and so many other things to occupy the few spare minutes of time available to me each day . . . as do the rest of you out there as well.
We each (trust me, it happens to everyone) reach a point where we're standing on the edge of a great abyss. One step forward and we'll fall forever. One step back and we can breathe just a bit easier until we suddenly find ourselves at the edge of the abyss once again. One step forward and . . .
If we cannot find balance in our lives, then not only will our writing suffer, but we will suffer as well.
A writing friend commented recently that he/she was taking a break from writing because the writing was interfering in his/her life. I understand completely.
So, my post this morning, is not only about finding balance among all the aspects of our lives, it is also about not denying the gift we have as writers.
No matter the belief out there - not everybody can write. Not everybody can play the piano either, or sing for that matter. We all have different gifts/abilities. Mine happens to be writing . . . and that same gift applies to so many people in the blogsphere, some who I follow openly, and others who I follow in the shadows because there is only so much time in the day and I'm not like Elana who can read 1 million blogs, and comment in 30 seconds. Okay, it takes her 32.5 seconds, but still . . .
Writers have a gift. We have a talent, whether inherent or learned. We do not need to deny this gift, but nurture it carefully, tend to it like an infant, or, perhaps a fire is a better analogy. You see, our gift burns brightly sometimes, and other times it is just the remaining embers, the last vestiges of a brilliant burning that, if tended carefully, if nurtured, can burst back into brilliant flame with some kindling, a piece or two of crumpled paper, and a breath or two of fresh air.
To walk away from the fire totally, doesn't necessarily mean the embers will extinguish . . . but it might make them hard to ignite into flame.
Writing is a part of me, whether I do it every day, or once a month because life is too hectic. There are times when it consumes way too much of me and I feel stretched, thin, and about to take that step over the edge into the endless abyss of nothingness. So, there are times when I must step away from my writing.
But, do I ever really step away from my writing? Of course, not!!! Sometimes, I write solely in my mind while laying on the couch with the dogs. I start a story - a character, a situation, and play out that writing in the depths of my mind while somewhat watching tv or listening to music. I figure out the basics of the story and, often, find great, gaping plotholes that can never be filled. Oh, well, such is life. I start again, perhaps the same character, but a different situation . . .
In the end, the writing solely in my mind is a point of balancing the sometimes chaos of my life. I cannot stop writing. I can't tell myself I'm not going to write for 2 months to get things in order. Why? Because, I'm a writer, and it is as integral to me as breathing.
So, to those at the point of frustration, where the writing is so consuming and obsessive that the rest of your life is falling to the wayside . . . there is a point of balance you must somehow find. It is not an easy task. It is probably one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life. It can be done.
For me, to say I'm not going to write for a period of time, is like saying I'm not going to breathe for 3 months. It's not gonna happen. No matter how hard I try, I'm still going to breathe. No matter how serious I am with my intent not to write . . . I'm still going to write. Writing is a part of me.
Writing is a part of my friend who has decided not to write for a set period of time. So, my words to this friend, to everyone out there who is striving for balance as they near the edge of the abyss . . . do not push your gift aside, but rather, find a sense of balance in your life, be it only 10 minutes a day (or week for that matter) where you nurture your gift. You do not have to give up who you are - family, friends, job, life - to be a writer. Rather, you have to incorporate those aspects of your life into your writing.
We, dear readers, are writers, whether we like it or not. Writing just happened for me one day, as I'm sure it did for you. I mean, seriously, how many people, on career day at school say hey, I want to be a writer. Not many, not many at all.
Life is about balance. Writing is about balance. Gifts - writing, playing the piano, taking photographs, painting, singing, dancing, cooking, whatever - are not meant to consume our lives, but rather enrich our lives. In order to enrich our lives, our gifts must be gently nurtured, so that they, and we, don't burn out in the process.