Finding Balance in an Unbalanced World.
(Photo taken back when we were both a little "round")
I've always loved writing. So when I first decided to take the leap and become an author I threw myself into the process with a single minded focus reserved for Olympic athletes and new religious converts.
There was writing, revising, editing, marketing, networking, writer's group, and social media to keep up with. There were classes to improve my craft, and (because I'm not independently wealthy) there was the full time job and the farm to take care of. I was determined to set myself up to eventually be able to support myself as an author.
There are only so many hours of daylight at a person's disposal. I got up early to write. I wrote before bed. I wrote on my lunch break and finally, by some sort of miracle (not really, it was mostly hard work), I published my first novel.
I gave myself a week off to recover and then I started on the second one. Never mind that the dishes were piling up, my other half was eating a diet of fast-food, the dog took to looking at me reproachfully and my horse saw me only at feeding time. Never mind that my waist line was expanding as I sat in front of the computer all day. I was doing what I loved and that's all that mattered.
The turning point came when the vet gave our family some bad news. My sweet old horse, a guy I'd had since he was a bratty four year old, had developed Cushings; a degenerative condition with a variety of unpleasant symptoms. It could be managed but not cured. He'd need medication, a special diet and and a strict exercise regime. Most of all he needed to lose a ton of weight.
"I know you're busy. Maybe you could find a teenager to take him on," the vet said, "someone who loves to ride and has the time to care for him."
That was my eye-opening moment. I loved my horse. My dream for the future was to be able to support myself with writing so I could spend more time doing what I loved, and that included spending time with him. I'd been so focused on the end goal that I'd stopped taking the time to savor and enjoy my day to day life.
After that, I made a writing commitment of just 1000 words a day. My marketing and social media updates were limited to just a half an hour daily. I made sure to book lots of quality time with my family, with friends, and with my pets, and I'm proud to say that I now own a slim and healthy horse whose condition is well managed (and my waist line benefited from all the extra activity too).
What I lost in productivity I gained in quality of life. My writing became all the better for the change too. I had more time to appreciate the subtle nuances in the world around me, to observe people and animals and nature without worrying about deadlines.
In the end, finding my balance made me a better person and a better writer. My dream of being a best-selling author is still strong; it might just take me a little longer. But in the meantime I'm going to enjoy the ride.