Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Finding Balance

People who know me well have always told me I never do anything halfway, and that’s true. Unfortunately, my tendency toward compulsive behavior is rarely mentioned as a positive trait and I can understand that. I’ve never been very good at maintaining balance in my life. Whether it’s been a job or a hobby or one of my many interests, I generally jump in with both feet to the detriment of everything else. I think everyone has something he or she is preoccupied with to a degree. Sometimes it’s self-destructive, like substance abuse or participating in unhealthy relationships. For others it’s pursuing a successful career, raising kids, keeping a gorgeous house, making money, saving money, having a baby, dieting, working out, bike riding, curing cancer or a million other things. This is probably a good thing. There are a lot of great books that never would have been written, art that never would have been made, science and technology that wouldn’t have been developed and social changes that wouldn’t have happened if not for the unrelenting drive behind most worthwhile creations.

I want to write and I want to do it well. Balancing my priorities and my obligations and learning to accept the limitation that I can’t just quit my job and focus all my energy on writing is the challenge. My job requires a lot of time, I have a husband and extended family, and the day to day chores we all have. As long as I stay with my current job, I can continue to buy more freedom by paying down our mortgage and saving, but it will continue to take a lot of focus and time from other areas of my life. I can do that. What I can’t be sure of is whether or not that leaves me enough time to dedicate to reading, writing and learning more about the writing craft to satisfy my desire to do it and to get a realistic sense for whether or not I can do it successfully. My idea of success as a writer is to be able to, at some point, work less than a forty hour week and still live a reasonably comfortable life. Am I procrastinating and trying to have my cake and eat it too if making major financial sacrifices isn’t part of my plan? Will consistently writing a couple of hours a night and on weekends be enough? Can a person really be disciplined enough to find a satisfying balance between family, job and writing? I haven’t even mentioned the elephant in the room. I know I can become technically proficient, do all I don’t have what it takes. It’s far too early to guess, but I can live with that. I don’t think I could live with it if I didn’t try.

I would love to hear from writers who’ve managed balance work, family and writing.

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Literary Quote

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.

Virginia Woolf