Friday, March 18, 2011

Balancing Act

Posted by: Christine_Price

I love writing. I love creating the characters. Developing the plot. Asking myself what happens next. Scrambling to find the right words to express my ideas. Everything about the craft of authorship appeals to me. But unfortunately, with a relatively recent entry to the professional publishing world, I can’t write one hundred percent of the time. Hence the “other career.”

My “other career” is full time and very demanding. I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty details, but I will say that there have been days where I’ve arrived at work at 9:00am and not gotten home until after 7:30pm. Then, when you take into account my husband/evil genius, two very demanding cats, an overly affectionate 150lb. dog, and a 10-month-old godchild, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for my writing. In fact, most of my writing is done in small snatches of stolen time early in the morning, late in the evening or on lunch/coffee breaks at work. (To be perfectly honest, I’m typing up this blog post while scrounging a fifteen minute lunch).

It’s been difficult. I know my limitations. I’m not one of those people who can get up at 5:00am and get anything resembling coherency written before work. So I’ve found ways to manage my creative energies while not neglecting my other career. Somehow I’ve managed to churn out three published novels, two more which are still in consideration and more ideas than I have time to manage. It’s become a rather precarious balancing act, and I’m not sure how successful I’ve been. I can’t count the number of notes scribbled into the margins of otherwise pristine meeting minutes about so-and-so character or plot point. Entire chapters have been typed (and often humorously autocorrected) on my iPhone while waiting for a presentation to begin.

I can’t vouch for the quality of these hastily scribbled notes or points, of course. More often than not I find myself looping back to them and wondering what the hell I was talking about. Or trying to figure out obscure references that probably made perfect sense to me before. One such note references “the yeti thing.” I cannot for the life of me figure out what “the yeti thing” is, what relevance it had in the grand scheme or things or even what project it was meant for. If it wasn’t memorable, it’s probably not a huge loss. Yet I can’t help but think to myself that someday far in the future, it’s going to strike me. “Oh...that yeti thing.” (It remains to be scene if the thing in question is awesome, merely interesting or unspeakably horrifying).

For the most part, it’s a system that works. With the recent completion of my newest novel, I’ve been bouncing around ideas for what I want to work on next. Do I want to continue my Carina Press Society series, or finally follow through with the high fantasy novel that’s been bouncing around in my head for several years? Or something entirely different.

Interestingly enough, I’ve discovered that I’m actually less productive at work when I don’t have something I’m working on. Maybe because the creative juices that get flowing when I’m working on my writing have a significant impact on my ability to effectively perform my other duties. Maybe I just need those stolen moments and quick snippets to get me through the day. (One thing’s for certain, though, I need to get working on something quick, or people are going to start to notice).

So how about you? Are you struggling with a similar situation? I know that for me there never seem to be enough hours in a day, and eking out even the smallest amount of time can sometimes be the creative equivalent of eating an elaborate ten-course meal with one of those nifty knife-spork combinations. If you have ideas or suggestions, send them my way. Who knows? You might be able to help me find those extra minutes in my day so I have time to elaborate on my notes and avoid future yeti-related phenomenon.


  1. That was hilarious! I do that forgetting thing. I'm so glad to find someone else who does as well! I don't have a demanding job like you do, but I do have a disabled child, plus the fulltime job, plus homeschooling. (My husband teaches most of the subjects. I get the hard ones.) I do my writing in the evening and sometimes, when I wake up before everyone else, at about 5:00 am. (I love waking up early.) It's tough, but I manage. So far.

  2. I'm lucky, in that I work a night shift office gig where I can write at work since there's a lot of down time. Flash drives are my friends. :>) Home is harder to find time to write, since I clean horse stalls when I get home, sleep, then feed and ride horses when I get up and try and find food for me too.

  3. I do the forgetting thing too. I swear I'm losing my mind as I get older.

    I'm lucky enough to be a stay-at-home-mom, but sadly I've discovered over the years that having the kids home means there's more work here than if they are gone (yay for all day school next year). My problem is that I only seem to be able to focus on writing late at night. I can do blogs and other writerly stuff during the day, but words for a work-in-progress? Uh...yesterday in 3 hours I managed about 750 words. At night, that's less than an hour's work. So my balancing act comes in with regard to sleep. I'm still trying to write during the day, but staying up until 1-2am takes its toll after a couple weeks.

  4. I told my doctor I was worried because I'd driven home from the grocer store . . . without the groceries. I'd left them at the pick-up area. He asked me what I had going on in my life, and then he said I was suffering from acute overload, a common affliction in today's society. What a relief.
    I think most writers are in the same tipsy boat, balancing the day job with the writing. Very few writers make a living at writing. Sad. I teach, so I'm lucky enough to have 9 weeks off over the summer months. When my kids were little, and I was just starting out, I always worked over the summer to supplement my income. Now that my children are grown, I can finally afford to have them!

  5. "The yeti thing" will now be my euphemism for the forgetting thing. ;)

    I work from home, which is both a blessing and a curse, since I can write when the muse strikes me if need be, but it works both ways and I end up always "at work." I frequently send work emails at 1 in the morning. My colleagues in Europe and Asia will be amazed that I'm answering them at the beginning of their work day, and then joining them on a conference call at the end of it (7am my time). It's kind of crazy-making.

    I'm also a single mom, and thank goodness my son is now grown, but I wrote my first two novels while working full time (not from home) and going back to school when he was little. It seems I work best under pressure, but it takes its toll.

    Like Barbara, I went to my doctor in concern a couple of years ago after I started forgetting things and mixing up words in both speech and writing, and even forgetting how to spell. Neurologist said it was just stress. Now I can relax and tell myself it's just "the yeti thing." ;)

  6. BTW, Christine, you forgot to put your post title in the title field. I moved it for you. ;)

  7. Isn't Yeti another name for Big Foot?? Or, the arctic equivalent?? The snow monster like creature?

  8. I find a lot of Yeti thing notes shoved in my purse, at the bottom of food shopping lists...most of the time they're just vague and hilarious but every once in awhile I'll go "Ooooh, THAT Yeti thing."

  9. Totally unrelated, or maybe a little related. Let's call this a shirttail relative. I have this box that I toss things into all the time. I cleaned it out today, and I found three slips of paper with passwords on them. What these passwords go to I have no effing clue! But I can't toss them, right? The minute I do, I'll need them. I call the condition we suffer from "sometimers disease."


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