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I have a problem with balance. It’s inevitable that, just when I start succeeding in one area of my life, another starts to collapse.

When I was a journalist, it was all about my career, dating, friends, and kickboxing. I didn’t write a word of fiction for years. When I first started out in communications, my personal writing flourished but my work life suffered. I let my current job take over my life in the beginning, then didn’t give it enough consideration (to my great detriment), and now it’s asserting its position in my life again. What frustrates the hell out of me is that now, when I’m finally working on a new novel consistently for the first time in years, and still carving out time to get back into shape, other parts of my life are suffering.

The Boy feels neglected. My cats (especially that ultimate lovesuck, Chloe) are getting a little destructive from lack of attention. (She’s sitting on my lap as I write this.) I rarely see my friends (although I did have a cherished date night with one of my best girls yesterday), and the house is a disaster half the time. And laundry? Don’t even talk to me about laundry! The pile I’ve accumulated could have its own zip code. Most of all, I miss having time to myself, time when there are no demands or obligations. Spare time seems like an impossible dream right now. If I do get a day off, I have a list of tasks as long as my arm, and I’m either getting them done or feeling guilty about not getting them done. It’s a lose-lose situation, and it’s only going to get worse when I return to the dojo next month.

I have no idea how parents manage to do anything beyond work to pay the bills and raise their kids. I can barely get myself up and ready on time, let alone manage an unruly toddler.

I’m hoping my readers might have some suggestions for me. How do you keep your life in balance? Or do I have to accept that a few areas of my life are always going to suffer? I’ve lost friends due to my crazy schedule (although that was before I was writing fiction). I’ve lost sleep. I’ve made stupid mistakes at work, and I’ve definitely pissed off my fair share of significant others.

I know that when I achieve my goal of writing full-time, and I no longer have to juggle writing with a full-time job and a freelance business, this will all get easier. And all the struggles I’ve had will seem worth it. But in the meantime, if you’ll permit me a little negativity, it really sucks.

Anyone know a laundress for hire, cheap? Bonus if she/he irons!

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  1. Jocé

    Perhaps it is necessary to accept that it will always be a balancing act?

  2. Kim

    It will never get easier something will always suffer. And yes, hire someone to do laundry. But never neglect the Boy… to the best of your ability as sometimes those that matter to us most are the ones we are most likely to neglect as we know they will always forgive.

  3. Jocé

    That is so true. I’ve heard so many writers echo those sentiments — they either relentlessly follow their passion and feel guilty for doing so, or put everything else first and feel guilty for neglecting their life’s calling. It is hard. And Holli, I admire your tenacity, the efforts you make to find ‘writing time’ are truly commendable.
    I think fiction writing is unique in that it takes us to another space. That is both the trouble and the joy of it. I like your rituals, the candle and music, that help switch you to that other reality. And while we’re there creating, time isn’t the same is it? Normal time restraints seem to stop, creative time is on a separate clock. Ha. For me that is where the problem lies. I too often resist the temptation to go there because of all my perceived obligations here in the everyday now. For fiction writing, and poetry (to a lesser extent) I too need to be alone and in the quiet. It is a conundrum.

  4. Story Teller

    @ Kim, I guess the frustration comes in when I don’t feel like I’m being neglectful…when I’m still spending a lot of time with someone, but it isn’t enough. That’s when the pressure starts to really get to me. I think there’s times in a relationship where one person has to be the “understanding” one: an extra busy time at work, a pregnancy, a pressing deadline. I hear you that we often neglect those closest to us, but if anyone should feel neglected by me right now, I suspect it’s my friends (thankfully, they’re very busy, too).

    @ Jocé, that’s why I really hope that I get accepted into the retreat at the Catskills. I’ve never had a week just to work on my writing, without the pressing concerns of work, housework, bf, cats, and everyday life. I think it will be very good for me, if I’m accepted. Have you ever tried a writing retreat?

  5. Jocé

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you. That would be just what you need. I must say I haven’t tried a writing retreat, but in the past I have been on silent retreats (in a spiritual setting) and they were excellent for recharging the batteries, musing time with no commitments. When I was home alone for a year (unemployed) and with the rest of the family out working during the day, that was the next best thing to a retreat, I’d write all morning and leave the chores till the end of the day. 🙂

  6. Story Teller

    Oh, that sounds like absolute heaven! I also envy people who have cottages that they can escape to when they need to “get away from it all”, but from what I hear, most cottagers spend so much time on cottage/yard maintenance that there isn’t much relaxation!

  7. Elspeth Cross

    Geez, there’s supposed to be balance?

    I can do three things well at once; that is my limit. Unfortunately I have about six things that need doing on a regular basis. And right now I’ve got extras. This week it is is 1) my day job, 2) preparing for my move, and 3) trying to keep in contact with everyone. Next week 3) becomes cleaning.

    I think it’s safe to assume that there will always be more than you can handle (unless you are taking a week’s vacation at an all-inclusive resort). My definition of balance isn’t trying to keep everything in the air at once so much as replacing the balls every once in a while.

    I’m glad you applied to the retreat. You should hear back at the begining of June, right?
    What’s ironing?

  8. Story Teller

    Hi Elspeth,

    I think you’re right. I often feel I just try to take on too much. Owning a home has definitely been a challenge, especially when I lived by myself. It’s the biggest place I’ve lived in, and sadly, the one time when I haven’t had cleaning help.

    I can’t imagine the summer without gardening, but that takes a lot of time, too. However, the only time I really begrudge is that spent doing laundry, ironing, and cleaning. The second I’m out of debt, I’ll look into hiring someone to help! But finding a stranger who you can trust to be at your home when you’re not there is not easy.

    Good luck with your move!


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