Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Walking the Line

By Martha Reed

I’ve been pretty busy lately, and although it’s all good things, I haven’t been able to get any new writing done. I’ve been at this gig long enough to know that if I don’t get sufficient writing time in I get cranky, and that can quickly mushroom into a full-blown hissy fit resulting in out-of-control sorties for iced lemon biscotti, dark chocolate, hot vanilla lattes, and a pack or two of Marlboro Lights. I struggle to maintain a schedule that lets me put in about 15 hours per week of writing time and if my output falls below that line, reality can turn ugly.

“It’s alright to let yourself go, as long as you can get yourself back.” – Mick Jagger

I’ve finished the first third of my second novel, and had to take a pause to focus on my day job for a couple of weeks. Balancing my life, my profession, and my creative work takes discipline, and flexibility, but any less of an effort is not an option. I keep thinking of those skittle boards we had as kids, the ones where you stood a board on top of a big roller and then tried to keep from flying off and busting an arm. The trick was in coming as close as you could to the edge and then saving yourself just in time without swaying too far over in the opposite direction. Lately, this has seemed a fitting metaphor for my life.

Q: What is your favorite journey?
A: The years during which I am writing a new novel. I am wandering through a private and secret territory, nobody knows what I am doing, and I feel happy. -- Umberto Eco, Vanity Fair, July 2005

Luckily, I know myself well enough to know when to say ‘no’ to more new projects and when to pull back and regroup. This wisdom was learned late in life through hard experience and I admit, was a long time in coming. But dammit, Lafayette, I am here, and 2008 is a big number birthday for me. I certainly know where I'm going because I know where I've been.

Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead! - Admiral David Farragut

Still, I dream of the day I discover that I’m just too busy with my creative projects to find the time to go to work. The hurdle, so far, seems to be that my projects don’t cover my mortgage payment.

I'm working on that one, too.


Annette said...

I love that Mick Jagger quote. I think it's the theme of life.

I was balancing nicely for a while there, but have come crashing to the ground again. Hopefully I'll pull myself up and dust myself off and get back to work on the writing stuff SOON.

Hang in there, Martha!

Working Stiffs said...

Another great quote is 'It doesn't matter if you fall, as long as you fall forward."

Not to hard on a day like this, with all the ice on the streets!

Anonymous said...

"If you want something done, find a busy person."

In theory, I like this quote, but somehow it never quite works for me!

Annette said...

Agh! Nancy, everytime someone says that quote, they tend to be looking at me and preparing to pile one more thing on my plate. Seems I am the "busy person" the quote is referring to!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that balance is hard to find, and I'm getting really tired of selling my life off by the hour. It's hard to find the energy to spend the free time doing fun things, creative things, instead of veg-ing on the sofa.

Joyce Tremel said...

I'm perpetually looking for that balance. Some days it seems like an impossible task!

Anonymous said...

Nancy's right about finding a busy person - that's my goal - but how do I train myself to be one?


Clea Simon said...

Martha, if I had a dime for the number of times writer friends and I had bitched about our "money" work taking time and energy from our creative work, well, I wouldn't need the other gigs at all.

For what it's worth, I tend to believe that the creative will out - even if it is because you haven't had time to write so you wake up one night at 3:30 a.m. and HAVE to get something on paper.

Good luck!