Monday, September 10, 2012

On Finding that Elusive Balance

As a mother and a wife, who works full time while also pursuing a writing career—balance is something I struggle with constantly.

Some days I have it. Others, it’s obvious I’m not even close.

And the balance shifts all the time—it’s never constant. Different days call for different hats.

I fully admit to having a Type-A personality. Without it, I’m not sure the balance I want and strive to achieve would even be possible. I have this inner drive that makes me want to excel in all that I do, to give 100%, and I am happiest when there is WAY TOO MUCH on my plate. I know. It’s like I’m an alien inside.

But with that desire, often comes frustration and irritation, because it’s hard to keep all those balls in the air all the time and be good at all of them. Look at my blog, for instance. I’ve been less present the last few months, and that’s been a conscious decision. Though I wanted to be here every day, there just hasn’t been time, so for the most part, I put that time into Twitter, where it’s easier to manage and interact on a more regular basis with less planning. (Also, not going to lie. Confession: I'm a Twitter addict. If you haven’t had the Kool-aid yet, what are you waiting for?!?)

My first writer’s conference over the summer took more concentration and preparation than ever. I wanted to be prepared. My critique partners and I worked hard. The emails were flying daily and my balance before I left for Texas was a well-oiled machine. I got up early to write and edit for an hour before going to work, sometimes worked 9 and 10 hour days, came home, cooked dinner, spent time with my family, and once everyone was in bed, wrote and edited some more. I was in the ZONE. And I think it’s important, when in the midst of a giant project, to dive in like that—to be consumed with your writing and edits. To live it and breathe it, and most importantly, get it done.

My balance flails most in the awkward transition between phases, and this time was no different.

Once the conference was over and my first round of queries had been sent, I was in a strange place. The dreaded query wait everyone talks about had begun, and because I was used to this insane pace, I had WAY TOO MUCH time on my hands. I tried to start new projects. I opened some old ideas and tweaked them, but nothing STUCK.

So what did I do? I checked my email like a maniac and obsessed about whether what I wrote was good enough. I was encouraged by a few full manuscript requests from literary agents I absolutely loved, which only added to my nervousness and extra time. My balance was insanely out of WHACK.

After a few full manuscript rejections and some really helpful agent feedback, I was all too happy to go back to work on revisions. I wrote numerous (as my critique partners and betas can attest) new first chapters before I found THE ONE that I could again be proud of.

So I sent a few more queries out. And this time, received a better ratio of full manuscript requests from agents I honestly ADORE. So, the wait had began again. But unlike the previous time, this time, I was ready to adjust. And to breathe. And to CHILL.

Which brings me to my biggest point—and I swear there is one here somewhere—I hope—for those of you, like myself, that are swimming in the query waters: ENJOY THE MOMENT.

Here’s the thing. I can tell by agent responses to this manuscript that my writing is getting better, that I’m moving forward. Is it enough to get an offer? Maybe. Maybe not.

BUT it’s worth celebrating the fact that I know this manuscript is better than the last I queried, that I’m more proud of it, and that agents that rep some of my favorite YA authors are currently considering it, regardless of what their response will be.

All too often, as writers, we obsess about who has what and forget to step back and be proud of where we are in the process, regardless of outcome. Enjoy the small successes. Take a little time off. (I, for one, am enjoying catching up on my reading.)

Reset yourself. For me, anyway, it’s been a game changer.

And I know all too well that the insanity of editing could be right around the corner. Or maybe even starting a new project. Or book two of the series, which has been percolating in my head. There will be plenty of time for that. Later. When I'm ready. For now, my balance is requiring calm and peace. And it feels good.

What about you? What do you do to find your balance? To juggle life? Does it change constantly?

Wishing you all a happy week and lots of balance!


  1. Oh, good luck, girl!

    Yes, I struggle. Sometimes it's easy and I think I've got it going on and other times I'm a walking disaster. LOL

    1. Thanks, Jennifer!!! (((hugs)))

      Me too, me too. The balance, it likes to FAIL when I think I have it all together. You know, just to mock me. *grin*

  2. I too struggle with balance when it comes to my full time job, writing career and various other obligations. No matter what my time is spent on, I always feel guilty that I'm not spending it doing whatever it is I'm not doing! It's a tough balance, I hope someday I'm able to juggle it all better. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. It's nice to know I'm not alone :)

    1. Totally.Get.That.

      I do it too. Like, whatever I'm not working on is always taunting me. When I'm not in the middle of a writing project (like now), I find other things to do too. Paint the house, bake, craft. It's like I don't know how to RELAX. We must learn to do that sometime.

      Glad to know there are others out there who get it. *fist pump*

  3. I like your point that balance fails during phases-- I completely get that! I think it's the between-times where I fail the worst. I'm really not very good at balance but all we can do is keep working at it, right?

    1. Yes!!! Balance is definitely a work-in-progress that I don't think most of us will ever really master. It feels so good that other people understand and are like that too.

      Thanks for sharing and making me feel more normal. :)

  4. I love your examples of how you've found balance and your advice to live in the moment. I returned to work at week ago, and haven't written since. Between looking for a better-paying job, taking care of my family, and working, I haven't found my groove. I hope to make time to write during lunch when I'm not yet tired. Yes, sometimes blogging has to take a backseat. What's the use of having connections for writing if we can't actually write, right?

    1. Definitely right!

      Thanks for the comment, Theresa, and GOOD LUCK on returing to work. It's so hard to find that balance again when our routine shifts, but it'll happen. The thing about writing is that it finds us wherever we are, whenever we need it. That's the magic. ;)