Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Letting The Balls Fall

I have to apologize. I have not been getting out and commenting on other blogs as much as I would like. I have been focused on writing and the things that come with that, and have slacked off a bit in the blogosphere. I have been reading all your blogs, in snatches of time, but not spending the time to formulate thoughts and leave comments. So, I apologize. Know that I'm supportively lurking. When I have more time on my hands, I'll leave you a thoughtful comment.

That's why my post today is about balance.


I have three children, and for each of them, balance means something different. My older son feels balanced when things go as he expects that they should. If something goes differently than he imagined, he feels very unsettled. My middle child requires a varied sensory diet to feel balanced. If he isn't touching, hearing and tasting enough interesting things, he feels out of sorts. My little girl needs postitive input. She feels unbalanced if I raise my voice, or give only negative feedback. Balancing all their different temperaments feels like juggling.

In many ways, this writing journey feels the same. My first child, my manuscript, needs constant attention for growth. And, it expects growth. Constantly. My second child, my blogging life, needs small bursts of attention and much input from all my senses. It needs me to be varied, imaginative and in touch at all times. My third writing child, my writing friendships, needs focus and feedback. Thoughtful, supportive feedback.

It's a juggling act, but not one that requires me to always have all balls in the air. It requires me to set supportive boundaries. If I need to focus on writing and friends, then I do, and respectfully let the blogging ball bounce by itself for a while. I don't, and shouldn't, have all those balls flying in the air at the same height at every moment. I would lose them all. And, sometimes, when my real children need more of me to keep them balanced, I let all those writing balls bounce for a while. Balance isn't keeping all the balls in the air. It's knowing when it's time to let them fall, and then letting them fall. That's balance.

What balls do you have in the air? What do you do when you're not writing? What's your day job, that you balance with your writing life? Do you feel compelled to keep juggling all the balls, all at once?

And, I would like to invite you all back on Friday, for a fantastic Friday Feature with the amazing Jon Arntson. He is a supremely excellent juggler. He gracefully juggles all the balls that he has up in the air, and is one of the most supportive and respectful people I've come to know in this blogosphere. Come read more about his journey toward publication and beyond. Plus, he always has something up his sleeve. It should be a rowdy time! And, if you've missed any of the past friday interviews, there is some lovely reading for you over on the right hand side of this blog.

30 comments:

  1. Great analogy. There is a time and a season for everything. Family has to come first. But, especially, as aspiring writers, our writing has to come before social networking. It has to. :)

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  2. I love your analogy! And you're absolutely right that it's impossible to keep all those parts of your life at the same levels all the time. For me it's a balance between teaching and writing; while teaching helps me with my own writing and I love doing it, it can be hard to find time for everything. Since this semester started, the amount of reading I've been doing has gone way down, but hopefully I'll be able to balance that out sometime soon.

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  3. "supportively lurking" ... haha, I love that. I supportively lurk, too! :)

    Great post... I'm in the same boat as I struggle to balance raising my young daughters, running the household, working from home (as an illustrator), and blogging (definitely like another child for me). It is definitely a juggling act - luckily it is an enjoyable one!

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  4. Wow, Heather. Very well thought out analogy and post! The reason we have a writing/blogging community is because we all are writers, so we all understand when the blogging ball falls. I used to blog 3-4 times a week, but it kept me from my actual writing, so I did have to cut back to 2-3 a week.
    And regarding three kids, it just amazes me sometimes how three kids with similar genes and similar upbringing can be so different! I have three also, and they react so differently to various situations!

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  5. Oh! And I'm looking forward to your interview with Jonathan on Friday! I know it will be a hoot and a holler!

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  6. Laura--I agree. Although, I sometimes think that it is hard to let go of the social networking piece because it is the one thing that gives me instant gratification in the long, quiet life of writing.

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  7. Anna--I hope you find the time to read! That is a ball I drop too--mostly because I read before bed, and recently I have been falling asleep with book in hand. Balance is tough!

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  8. Marisa--I do lurk very supportively! You have a lot of balls in the air! I'm glad you find it enjoyable--that's the 'filling up self' ball.

    I forgot to mention how frequently I drop the 'running the household' ball. I figure that's the easiest one to pick up off the floor, along with all the toys. :-)

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  9. I supportively lurk as well. And in terms of balls in the air I have the 3 writing projects, my blog, and then life. Oh and the 9-5 thing.

    And since I'm slightly ADD today, I apologize for the terribly short entry.

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  10. Thanks, Kelly. I'm glad that everyone understands, but I still like to say something.

    And, it is crazy how different each child is. Crazy wonderful!

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  11. Kelly--PS--is it awful that I find your child's outtake so funny?

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  12. Alicia--Sounds like good balls that you have up in the air. And, I like how your job was tacked on at the end. An afterthought.

    I think ADD might be a side-effect of blogging and blog hopping, and no need to apologize for shortness of comment, since I'm apologizing for largely not commenting.

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  13. Heather, I love your analogy, and the supportive-lurker comment cracked me up.

    I post once, maybe twice a week, on my blog. I'm continually impressed by people who can do more.

    For me, the less balls in the air the better. If I toss one up there, I've got to pay attention to it, kind of like a dog watching a squirrel in a tree.

    When I was the lead teacher in a school for troubled kids, I had to pay attention to a lot of things. On my good days, I paid attention to each thing individually, whether it was a student who brought pot to school, or a social worker who wanted to discuss a case, or a parent who smelled of alcohol, or the chapter of a novel I was reading to my class. Some days, the balls just hit me in the face.

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  14. You do this all so amazingly well. On a post a while back you were Super Mom and while I believed it then, I know it now. We would all be so lucky as to suffer from a little 'benign neglect' from you. Thanks for juggling us along with everything else!

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  15. Oh and Paul, I loved how visual your teaching story was, including those balls hitting you in the face!

    And I can't wait for Jonathon!

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  16. Balance is the most important thing in a MOM's life. It's hard to do all of that, work (possibly), and write. Believe me, I know. There are always a lot of balls up in the air. I have many. Many.

    So do whatever you need to. The blogosphere is always here.

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  17. Paul--your comment got me laughing, and absolutely stuck with the mental image of you treeing a squirrel (with ball in its mouth).
    I like that you know this about yourself--that you don't try to fit a multi-tasking mold. That you focus.

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  18. Tina--Thanks so much--you're sweet. You being such a support is one of the reasons why the other balls are so high in the air! Thanks!

    I'm looking forward to friday as well!

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  19. Elana--I saw your post of how you get it all done--so impressive. You've got mad ball skills!

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  20. My blogcation was vital to my continued good health and the health of my manuscripts. I highly recommend unplugging for a bit to readjust.

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  21. Sarah--That was a smart thing to do--a blogcation. It's always good to remember that the writing, generally, is top priority!

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  22. H - Just so you know, I've been "supportively lurking" here all day today and yesterday. Thanks for your compliment, but it's so not true. If you say me try and juggle...well, you'd be laughing. A lot. In regards to the analogy, you'd just take pity on me. Well, you do. But not the 'poor thing' pity, the 'let's get you published' pity. When you emailed me that line things clicked, like never before. Inspiration runs deep in your veins.

    I am excited for tomorrow too!

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  23. I am juggling too many balls. My first draft is stumping me and I'm at the very end. I can't wait to get my alone time to concentrate on it. I think that is why my blog life took over. My kids are in constant need of me and oh yea my hubby too. I also work as an interior designer part time so that is usually my top priority because it produces cash. The rollercoaster of life keeps traveling faster and faster.:)

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  24. Jon--I could totally feel you lurking back there, in that supremely supportive manner.

    I always want to be supportive. I'm not sure about the inspirational piece, but I am so glad that some of my words spoke to you. Because I'm serious about it. And, there's no pity here!

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  25. Christine--I find too, that it's easier to find snatches of time to blog. I'm trying to see if I can use those snatches of time to work on my revision, and it's a challenge. Good luck finding your balance! It sounds like you are keeping a lot of balls in the air. Successfully.

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  26. I don't mind pity, but you're right, none here.

    Just plain old-fashioned support!

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  27. I love your analogy too, so beautifully written! Great post! Balance is something I think about a lot, but I often find myself doing too much or not enough :)

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  28. Charlie--Thanks. And, many times I do too. In order to keep this writing thing a sustainable part of my life, I need to not go overboard and burn out. But, I sometimes enjoy doing something to an extreme!

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  29. Heather, you are the consummate juggler who can drink a glass of water in the middle of her act and do a flip or two. So it's 11:39PM Pacific time & it's a gift to know that when I awake your interview with Jon Arnston will be here.

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  30. Thanks Robert! I'm still getting used to our time differences. It's a scant 3 1/2 hours after you left that message, and my day is starting in the middle of your night.

    I can juggle what I can because I have friends holding ME up! Thanks!

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