Balance is the Goal — And the Reward

I’m a neat freak. I’d venture to say, my family probably thinks I have a fixation. Or they used to.

Up until a year ago, I performed a little ritual every Friday. I’d haul my ass out of bed, gather all my supplies, and clean my house from top to bottom. For hours. Drawers were upturned, cabinets were overhauled, and cans in my pantry were adjusted so the labels all faced forward. Yeah—I was that girl.

After one such session I was chatting with my editor when my computer crashed. When I told her what kind of set up I had, she blanched. Mind you, I couldn’t see the blanch. But I pictured it. I quickly assured her that I was going to get a new computer, because, hey, I was COMMITTED to my craft.

She snickered (couldn’t see that either, but I KNOW this woman), and then asked, “What kind of computer?”

Hopping over to the Best Buy website, I sent her a link.

It took her all of two seconds to reply: “Uh, no.”


There’s no way she had time to look at the ad. She didn’t even know what I was looking at. Touchscreen. Latest Microsoft operating system. I rushed to type all of this into our little chat box.

“No,” she responded emphatically. “You need to get a MacBook.”

A MacBook? The crazy expensive machine that Apple produced? Was she nuts? I didn’t own a piece of tech that was that expensive. And I wasn’t about to spend that kind of dough a month before Christmas. Until I did.

Reluctantly, I made the purchase, even going so far as to have it shipped to my editor’s house so she could trick it out. She installed the latest writing software, “blew out the ram”—whatever the hell that means—and had the beast delivered to my doorstep a week later. When I opened the box and turned on the little silver machine, I quickly got frustrated and set it aside. The Mac—or the “mothership” as she is now affectionately known—was way to complicated to master in one sitting.

My daughter smirked when she saw the Mac propped against my nightstand later that evening. “Giving up already?” She raised a brow. Since the girl worshipped at the alter of Apple, she was a little offended. The next day I relented and let her guide me through the painful process of learning the system.

And then a funny thing happened. This new machine, with its intuitive interface and brain that was so in sync with mine, rocked my world.

I swear to you, this isn’t an ad for Apple. I’m not being paid to write this blurb. Which brings me to the downside of my story.

Armed with this powerful new technology, I began to write anything and everything. Obsessively. Since I already lean toward OCD, and there are only so many hours in the day, something had to give. And it was the cleaning.

Don’t get me wrong, y’all aren’t going to see me on an upcoming episode of Hoarders or anything. My house is still very clean. It’s just not organized. Hell, my LIFE isn’t organized. The computer? Yeah, she’s organized. The mothership is obviously more intelligent than I am.

Since I’ve just wasted about five minutes of your time, I’ll get to my point now. Balance. I’ve never had it. Not in my work or my personal habits. I’m your typical “Type A” personality. Even with my old computer it wasn’t unusual to tap out eight thousand words on a good day. Now? I can hit fifteen thousand.

Of course, that won’t do me any good when I finally drag myself from my desk and I have no water to take a shower because I forgot to pay my water bill. Yeah, there’s that.

Coming from a corporate background, I never thought I needed balance. Balance, or as my editor likes to call it: “not using up every bit of creative energy I have in one sitting,” was for weaklings.

My way of doing things was all well and good, or so I thought. Until life threw me a little curveball. Ah, karma. Gotta love that bitch. As I struggled to find my footing, I realized that I needed some of those organizational skills that fell by the wayside when I decided that the only thing that was important was my word count. Dissolving into a puddle, I gave up finding the document I was searching for on my messy desk and turned to the mothership for comfort. I could just write. But the words wouldn’t come.

Great. Now I would have to take a day off—or seven—to try to get my life in order. Because I damn sure wasn’t going to get any writing done while I was concerned with the Sword of Damocles hanging over my head. I’m being dramatic—all I really needed was to get my hands on my homeowner’s policy.

Then it hit me. Maybe I should set aside little parcels of time everyday to work on different things. People do it all the time. I just wasn’t one of them. So, I downloaded some nifty software and made a schedule. A little time for this, a little time for that. And soon, I was feeling a whole lot better. I even managed to get two manuscripts finished. Well, one is finished. The other one is stuck in editing hell.

I’m bringing up the issue of balance this month because I’ve noticed a lot of writers making their yearly pilgrimage to NaNoWriMo. Let me be perfectly honest—writing sixty thousand words is not difficult for me to accomplish in a month. But I don’t have a toddler, a demanding job, or a sick dog. For those of you that do, please don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get that crazy word count in.

Its great to have goals. But you need balance or your writing will suffer…that much I can promise.

I’ve come to the painful conclusion that I’d rather write two or three thousand quality words than ten thousand words of sh*t that I’ll have to edit the hell out of later. Since I’m hardheaded and defiant, I had to learn that lesson the hard way. But my life would have been a hell of a lot easier if I listened sooner to what people were telling me.

Find your balance, Jayne.

Well, my little alarm has just gone off. Which means its time for me to move onto something other than this blog. Pancakes, I think. Yes, pancakes. I’m making them for my daughter. Because that’s important too.