Balance…I will if you will!

- by Charlotte Hubbard

As 2011 comes to a close, I find myself resembling the remark, “the hurrier I go, the behinder I get,” and I have to wonder why. Is it me, or is life spinning past us at a faster pace than we’ve ever known before? Or is there just more work to do?

Back in the early years, whoever said computers would give us so much more leisure time obviously had no vision of the Internet or social media, eh? Because we now must promote our work via the various social media sites—and keep up with unforeseen changes on those sites–racing along the Information Highway seems to be an end in itself some days. At times I wish I could head for the nearest exit, but I realize I’m cruising along for the long haul because, thank God, I’m contracted for more books in the two Amish series I’m writing.

Even James, one of the main series characters in my WIP, ROSEMARY OPENS HER HEART (out 10/12 from NAL) has hit the wall when it comes to having too much work: he’s a carriage maker who got noticed in a national magazine when Miss America rode a custom white “princess” carriage he built for DisneyWorld–and the orders for specialized carriages poured in. Suddenly he’s working late, still in his shop when he would previously have been at home with his family after supper in the evenings. As the Detweiler family’s Plain carriage clip-clops past him, its orange triangular sign states the glaring truth: this Slow Moving Vehicle is going just his speed! And because he designed this carriage with a hydraulic lift for the wheelchair young Joel is confined to, he realizes that this vehicle represents his finest work because it supports his values of “faith and family first.”

It was an epiphany when this scene played itself out in my story. I hadn’t seen it coming, and it was as if James was pointing his finger at ME, instead of me directing him. So I’ve had some soul-searching to do.

Does your work support your values? Your inner mission? You don’t have to wax too spiritual to answer that question, because if you’re like I’ve become lately, you’re writing more hours yet enjoying it less. You think back to all the activities and groups and hobbies you used to enjoy and wonder how you once had so much time for those . . . yet they’ve gotten left behind so you can meet your deadlines.

It’s a BALANCE issue, and I’ve come to realize that I can no longer sacrifice my social, physical, and spiritual needs at the altar of my writing. I crave the hour I used to spend first thing on a weekday morning, meditating with my tarot cards, and I need to get back into that peace-inspiring habit. I miss my friends from the MoRWA group in St. Louis, and I need to sign on with the Twin Cities chapter to make new writer friends. Over the years I’ve played a small orchestra’s-worth of instruments, yet for the first time since I was ten I don’t have even a harmonica in my home.

I used to do crafty things and keep a jigsaw puzzle in progress and READ–remember when you got lost in a book for pleasure rather than for research or to see what so-and-so author was writing? And homemade bread? Can’t recall the last time I made a loaf and slathered butter on a slice still warm from the oven.

So who’s with me? What issues keep you from balancing your life? Chime in here–confession is good for the soul!–and then tell me how you’re going to get your groove back. To me, it sounds like a lot more fun to get my groove back than to write a bunch of New Year’s resolutions I’ll never keep, so I hope you’ll join me. Like my heroine Rosemary, I’m going to open my heart to the people and activities I truly enjoy–because I know my work and my spirit can only fly higher when I strike a better balance.

Merry Christmas to you!

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