I didn’t get to see the US women’s team compete on the balance beam in the Rio Olympics. But if I had, I would’ve oohed and aahed at the astounding physical prowess that allows those female athletes to twist and contort their bodies all over the place – while staying on a four-inch-wide beam.
How do they do it? Practice, practice, practice. Raw talent and skill. But mostly practice, practice, practice.
And when they practice, they fall down. They make mistakes. They bobble and wiggle, maybe even flail their arms or miss a dismount. But they get back up and keep going, absolutely determined they can and will do better the next time.
I admire that conviction, that perseverance, that dedication to finding balance.
Balance has been missing in my life this past year. I’ve launched myself into this fantastic, brilliant, beautiful, overwhelming, competitive, uncertain world of romance writing. Well, specifically romance publishing. I love it. I truly do.
But in my quest to meet the expectations and requirements “they” say one must do to be successful (publish as much as possible as quickly as possible, be active across social media, write newsletters, go to conferences and signings, guest blog, etc), I lost my balance in other areas of my life.
This doesn’t surprise me. I’d be the first to fall off that beam and land on my head. I’m rather all-or-nothing in my general personality and love to throw myself into new projects and new adventures. Which is fine, until I realize there’s stuff I’ve left behind as I set off on my new quest. Important stuff.
How do you do it, fellow authors? Fellow human beings? How do you find balance and manage to get everything done without ignoring your spouse, your kids, your home, your health?
What I’ve come to realize over the last month is I need to pick a simpler routine, so I don’t fall on my tush and disregard the ones I love most. And disregard myself.
See, I’m a stress eater. An emotional eater. I’ve got serious food issues. And over the course of writing, editing, and publishing A Scandalous Matter, I put on twenty-five pounds.
This was and is a clear sign I don’t have things in balance. (As is the state of my house, but let’s not go there…)
If I could, I would spend all my time writing and reading and editing and especially learning about marketing and publicity and connecting with readers and doing everything I can to be the best indie author I can be. Because it’s fun. And I have spent my time that way. Well, more the latter things, because writing and editing are hard, y’all.
But I have a husband who loves me and wants some attention, kids who still need me and deserve my attention, and a body that IS me and requires more movement and care than I’ve been giving it.
This is not to say I’m quitting. No way. I’m finally doing what I feel in my bones is what I was meant to do: write romance.
But I have to slow down, change things up, accept that I can’t do everything I want to do when I want to do it. Being an author is easily a full-time job and more. But I don’t have full time to give it. Not at this stage in my life, when I’m still mom and chef and taxi driver and school volunteer and Girl Scout parent, etc., etc.
In addition to limited time, I also have limited energy. (Those twenty five pounds on top of all the rest might be influencing that, but frankly I’ve always had less physical energy than many I know…)
So I’m accepting that and relaxing my schedule.
I’d love to have a new book out every six months, but it might be that nine months to a year is more realistic. That means I’ll miss out. I won’t hit the right beats in the coveted Amazon algorithm. Some readers may not be satisfied and may move on because I don’t produce quickly enough. I guess I might lose potentially higher income from having more books on the market.
So be it.
I hope you’ll stick with me and support me and read my books and engage with me online, because that’s what I love – interacting with readers and writers and just talking about the glory that is language and writing and stories and words.
In the meantime, I’ll go back to editing The Demon Duke (Grace Mattersley’s story) and planning out storylines for The Legendary Duke and The Boy Next Door (Taylor Goodson’s story) and A Delicate Matter (Sophie Mattersley’s story) and whatever else pops into my head.
But I’m no Olympic gymnast. I’m no gymnast, period. So while others authors manage to dazzle you with their speed, I’ll just be over here, trying to stay on the silly bar. One foot in front of the other.
Speaking of which, one foot in front of the other is exactly what I need to do to get some of this Book Baby weight back off, too. So excuse me while I put on my walking shoes and head out the door…
Hear that? It’s me applauding … good for you, Margaret.
Thanks, Meg! Now let’s see if I can hold myself to it! 🙂
Balance is such a challenge!!! I think many people struggle with it, especially working women who still have children at home. That seems to be the hardest scenario.
I never did get it figured out. I worked toward balance every day, and then one day I noticed my kids had grown up and left home and all of a sudden I had the time to be balanced. You’ll probably figure it out before then, Margaret. But if you don’t, just remember: it IS a temporary problem. A LONG temporary problem, but temporary nonetheless.