Friday, May 30, 2008

A Fine Balance

I'm a person of extremes. I love winter's fierce cold, and summer's fierce heat, shunning the middling temperance of spring and fall. When I'm excited, or happy, very little can bring me down. But when I am down, I am deep blue, and want nothing more than to crawl under the covers and watch SEX AND THE CITY reruns (and yes, I'm seeing the movie tonight! Opening night of other extreme will do...). I love passionately and wildly, and I can be unforgiving in anger. If I'm exercising, I'm going to the gym every night. If I'm not, then it's pizza and ice cream and lazy naps. Sigh.

The thing is this: I don't think extremes are healthy. Moderation, balance, even-ness is the key to a sane, calm life. But then do you risk losing some of the passion? I've been thinking about this more than ever now as I'm working on my new novel, SEA CHANGE. For all the whole time I've been a published writer, I have also worked a full-time job as an editor. This balancing act has always been tricky--trying to get enough sleep for the workday, trying to leave work early so that I'll have the energy to write in the evenings. But lately this juggling act has been ever harder to achieve. Maybe it's because people grow-- my career has advanced, and my expectations of my writing have advanced, and both demand more of me. I feel stretched thin, and exhausted most of the time. But I don't want to let go of either. I love my day job, and I love writing, and they are both inextricable pieces of my identity.

And of course there isn't just work, but there is life. There is my lovely boyfriend, and my wonderful friends, and my family. There is my darling nephew with whom I would gladly spend a lifetime playing, and there are sun-soaked days that beg to spent in parks and on beaches. There is food to be sampled, and TV shows to enjoy, and books to be read for pleasure. And though all this "life," when I am in the writing trenches, feels like distractions, like trivialities, it is in fact what is most important, most dear--and without it, there would be nothing to write at all.

So how does one do it? I know every writer has her or her own method, own "trick" for making the right sacrifices, achieving the right balance. I guess as I continue to grow, I'll hit upon mine. In the meantime, I'll be living and writing and working, and most of all, trying to get more sleep.





Great post, Aimee. I think it must be in the blood of writers to live in extremes. As I was reading I was thinking -- this sounds just like me! My house is either immacualte or a total disaster. I love either stormy pouring rain or dry blazing heat -- I can't stand the somewhere in the middle weather. And I so understand the juggling act, though my juggling act is motherhood and writing, and I hate the feeling that either is being put on the back burner. Doesn't writing always seem like a blast until you have a deadline?

Kelly McClymer said...

Aimee -- you mean there *is* a trick to finding balance?!? I want to know it. I've been looking for years, and all I've found is that I need to hang on tight most of the time and let go every so often. Of course, judging those times correctly is still hit and miss for me.

Enjoy the hunt for balance -- and the dizzy whirl of unbalance, too.


Micol Ostow said...

My favorite "advice" came to me from extremist writer Judy Goldschmidt, who found me slumped over my desk one morning while I was still double-life-ing it as an editor/writer. When I told her how overwhelmed I felt--and how I suspected I was doing everything halfway, she said, "You're doing the best you can." It was a really good reminder that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. And in fact, it rarely is. And that if you step back and look at what you're doing with real objectivity, you'll appreciate how much you actually *are* balancing. :)