Monday, November 30, 2009

Balance . . . Again

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.



Robyn Campbell said...

I hope you're feeling better. I am so sorry about Tasmyn. I emailed you. Hope you got it.

Balance. Hmmm. We all strive to have it. My life denies balance right now. Although I am still writing.

Have to.

No writer wants to burn out. But it DOES happen. Some before they hit their stride. Sad.

If I could not write, if I lost my hands, I would write in my head and remember everything. It's just who I am. And I'm glad.

Elana is my hero. One million blogs at 32.5. WHOA! How KEWL is that?

Great post as always. And don't forget to add that hook in every paragraph. *grin* It's Christmas. Consider that my present to you. :)

Scott said...

Robyn - I never got your email, but knew you were right there with me as I was dealing with everything.

Davin Malasarn said...

Thanks for writing this, Scott. I agree with you whole-heartedly. Yes, some things in life can be more important, but I think it's so important to keep writing if you can. It's self-indulgent, and sometimes that's the thing that can keep you the most sane.

Jody Hedlund said...

Awesome and inspiring post, Scott! It's so easy to think we should shove aside our writing, that it's less important to other responsibilities. But I think we have to get out of that mindframe. If we take our writing seriously, then hopefully the other people in our lives will see it that way too.

ElanaJ said...

32.5 seconds!! LOLOLOLOL!

And I balance. I do my social networking when at work or late at night. I have family time. Job time. Kid time. Lunch time (okay, I don't have lunch time. I eat while reading blogs or something.)

Once I realized I didn't have to write everyday to be a writer, my balance came naturally.

Tess said...

really beautiful thoughts here today, Scott. and so very true.

we do have a gift. not everyone has it. it should be nurtured and valued.

when I was in 2nd grade, we had a choir concert for our parents. (we sang that old song 'one tin soldier'..remember it?) anyway, at the final practice, the choir teacher pulled me aside and asked if I would be willing to mouth the words because - not only was I way off key - but I was throwing those around me off key (her exact words here). *sigh* I'll never be the next Mariah Carey.

Scott said...

Davin - balance is definitely tricky. I understand the reasons to step away, but think that totally stepping away tips the balance rather than maintains it. The trick, at least for me, is finding the time that works best in the chaos of my life . . . even if that time is only 30 minutes.

Jody - I think when the writing gets to the point where we are excluding important aspects of our life, then we need to step back, but not away from our writing. Again, it's all about maintaining balance rather than tipping the balance too far in one direction. I totally understand the obsession of writing, and I also understand that the distance that obsession can create isn't always a good thing. So, as I mentioned in my comment to Davin, I try to find the time that works best in the chaos of my life. : )

Elana - I was just checking to see if you were paying attention! Ha! I'm like you, I read the blogs at work - breaks and lunchtime - and I'm not an every day writer. There are just some days when I can barely hold my head above the water and writing would just pull me down. Balance. Balance. Balance.

I think we all have the dream of being published. How much do we want that dream? How much are we willing to sacrifice of ourselves and our life? How many people are we willing to push away for that dream? How many 'just a few minutes' until we push those who love us away?

Yeah, pretty harsh picture I just painted. We write because we love to write. We must also find that needed balance so that we don't end up alone at the end of the day. : )


Scott said...

Tess - Too Funny! Here's another singing story. My mother can't sing. Off key barely begins to describe her singing. We've always joked with her about her bad singing. Well, one day, we're all grown and on our own, but back home for some reason, in church, and Mom starts to sing. Well, my sister elbows Mom, who looks at her and begins to laugh, as do the rest of us. We had to sit down we were laughing so hard . . . in church! Mom had other talents though, as do you.


Tess said...

I think I would get along fabulously with your mom - we could drive down the road and sing all loud and off key to the music on the radio :0

Cammie said...

Thanks for validating the whole "writing in your head while lying on the couch" thing ... I never looked at that as actual bona fide creative writing before, but I guess it is! If that's the case, I've been a "serious" writer since I was about 3! ;-)-

Scott said...

Cammie - I'm glad I good validate the whole writing in the head thingy!

Tess - as long as you and my Mom keep the windows up and don't break any sound ordinance laws . . . The funny thing about Mom not being able to sing is that a few years ago we were looking through her high school yearbook and found out she was . . . President of the Glee Club! I'm not kidding. Mom's response: there were only 13 of us in my class, somebody had to be President. Too funny.

Michelle McLean said...

wonderful post! I've had to take a little break from writing while I get ready to move, but you are's not something I can just turn off or totally step away from. I'm still writing in my head, preparing for when I have the chance to get it on paper. I couldn't stop that if I tried, and frankly, I can't imagine ever wanting to try.

For right now, life comes before actual writing - but I've got a lot of material waiting to hit the computer once I get a chance :) And, I do jump on the computer to get down notes or do a few minutes of research, so I guess even my "breaks" aren't completely free of writing :)

Carol Anne Strange said...

Wow, Scott! Just caught up on my blog reading and what amazing synchronicity to find that you've written about being on the edge of the abyss. I, too, have just been there and have written about it in my latest blog post. Yes, balance is the way. What a fantastic post, you bright star, crammed full of wisdom. x

Scott said...

Michelle - I sometimes think that many writers think that writing is pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, and that the writing in our heads doesn't count. Well, for me it does. Sometimes it might take me years to get a story from my head into rough draft format, but the story is still there . . . and it's writing. : )

Carol Anne - synchronicity is an amazing thing and it happens quite often with some of the bloggers I follow. I swear, Robyn and Elana can read my mind, and Tess has done it a time or two. : ) I sometimes wonder if I follow the blogs I follow because of some deeper connection. You just never know . . .