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.