Katherine Longshore 6 Tuesday, October 16, 2012
As Donna said yesterday, this week our theme is balancing the day-to-day life with being a writer.  And as Donna said, sometimes this is easier than others.  There are times when the writing takes over.  When you find yourself facing deadlines or overscheduled for events or scrambling for ways to combat the crazy (see our week tackling that theme.)

Then there are times when real life steals our equilibrium and suddenly there is no balance.

I'm currently going through a not-unexpected but thoroughly unwanted personal/family crisis.  This is one of those life-altering events that makes getting up in the morning and breathing difficult.  The kind of thing that makes you cry over Hallmark commercials, but also makes you enormously grateful for the simplest offers of kindness and assistance.  The kind of thing that demands your focus and absorbs all your energy.

But it is also one of those things that once you have lived with it for a while, the body and mind adapt to operate at a higher level of stress until the next stage is reached.  So when my editor asked if I could handle copyedits last week, I said yes.

And they nearly killed me.

Full disclosure - I have trouble with copyedits even at the best of times (I think it has something to do with always wanting to be right, and feeling like a failure when I'm told I'm wrong).  But last week, because my balance was already off, I was thrown into a tailspin.  I flip-flopped between emotional distress and creative distress with unpredictable speed and horrifying regularity.  And when I finished yesterday, I fell apart, not wanting to face deciding what to have for dinner, much less how I am going to write Book 3 or be poised and prepared for presentations for the next few weeks.

This, my friends, is not balance.

A couple of weeks ago, Veronica, Talia and I did a bookstore event with our friend Corrine Jackson, author of IF I LIE and the upcoming TOUCHED.  Corrine talked about a crisis she went through in the summer of 2011, and how in the middle of it she heard the amazing Laurie Halse Anderson speak about finding the balance between writing and life.  One thing that Ms. Anderson said struck a chord with Corrine--during times of personal crisis or grief, give yourself a break.

When I get into super-productivity mode, I think I can do it all.  Copyedits?  Sure!  Finishing a first draft?  I'll have it to you next week.  Guest blog posts?  You name it, you got it.  Parent volunteering? Carpool mom?  Beta reader?  Dinner for twenty?  Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

In the past couple of weeks, I've learned to say no.  I've learned to ask for others to take over (see Cat Winters's eloquent post last week on Corsets and Cutlasses - she filled in for me at the last minute, though you wouldn't know it to read it.)  I've learned to let some of my responsibilities slide (as any of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook probably know).  I've learned to ask for more time.  Obviously, I still haven't found the balance, but I'm working on it.  And today, rather than start right back in with Book 3, I'm going to take a break.  I'm going to spend the afternoon with my kids, linger over dinner, and count my blessings.  Yes, I have a deadline.  But I also have an editor who wants a decent book and a sane author, and I am ever so grateful that she's willing to be a little flexible.  But she also knows that when it comes down to the wire, I will get it done.  Because that, too, is part of the balance.

My personal/family crisis is not yet over.  The balance will tip again - perhaps sooner, perhaps later.  But the two sides of our lives - real life and the writing life - are ever shifting.  And whichever way the balance tips, when I feel unbalanced I will remember Corrine and Laurie Halse Anderson.  And give myself a break.  Because sometimes, we all need one.  And sometimes, we are the only ones who know when to give it.


Love you, Katy! And yay for copyedits being DONE.

What a wonderful post, Katy. Big hugs!

Great advice. Enjoy this break, Katy!

I'm so sorry, Katherine, I feel for you very much because I'm there, too, with a terrible family tragedy that has knocked me to the ground. I keep trying to write and having a terrible time. Thankfully, my agent and both my editors (at Scholastic and Harpercollins) have backed off on deadlines and we're even rescheduling one pub date. I'm so grateful. I know I'll get back to it, but it's really, really hard when you're on the phone with family all day and crying every hour.

Hugs and best wishes to you.

Sending hugs and warm fuzzies your way, Katy.

Thank you, Donna, Susan, Kristen and Beth. Like I said, every little word of kindness helps enormously.

And Kimberly, my heart goes out to you. I'm so glad your agent and editors are behind you and I hope you get back to writing when the time is right. But for now, take care of yourself and your family and hold on, OK? And let us know how you're doing.

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