Sunday, July 18, 2010

In Search Of Balance

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

About a year ago, I stumbled across an online site that calculated a more complete horoscope than just your sun sign. In addition to being a Sagittarius with Aquarius rising, one of my other important 'houses' (and of course I don't remember which one) was in Libra. Maybe this is why I'm constantly trying to find balance.

I have this tendency to go overboard (I know, I know, no surprise) in certain areas. And I've learned from vast prior experience that the "too much of a good thing" definitely applies to me. So when my natural enthusiasm (and any horoscope book or site will tell you, we Sagis are always enthusiastic) for something new gets a bit out of hand, I find myself working hard to counter balance.

In my everyday pursuits, I can often go too far in one direction or the other. I used to 'pull all-nighters' in the reading and writing arenas. Or I invested waay too much time and effort on a particular project. Or I decided to add avocados to very dish I prepared because they were just sooo darn tasty, and they were on sale so I bought fifteen!

Getting the picture?

So what has this got to do with writing? A few things, actually.

Back in the "good ole days" when I wrote in and around my Dreaded Day Job (where I invested too much time and effort), I started many a story. I LURVED the idea, the characters, the setting and I would rush home from work, nuke some dinner and write for an hour or two before I had to put myself and the child to bed. On the weekends, I'd spend every spare moment scribbling (yes, I had little or no social life).

This writing frenzy usually lasted about four or five weeks before I burnt myself out. Then after a few weeks of actually catching up on housework, yard work, and family obligations, I'd get another story idea and the same scenario would repeat itself. It was only after I left the DDJ that I learned how to balance my writing and the other aspects of my life. And I actually FINISHED manuscripts!

Alas, that was not the end of my balancing act.

Once I had finished the first draft and started revisions, the perfectionism set in. Maybe I have Virgo in one of my astrological houses too, because I could not leave my manuscripts alone. Actually, I wasn't so much a perfectionist as I was a tinkerer. Every time I got ready to send something out, whether to an editor, agent, or critique partner, I'd see something I just had to change.

It was only after I joined the ranks of published authors that I finally overcame my tinkeritis. Deadlines will do that to you. So in this case, it was a matter of finding my balance or DIE! (That's another thing about us Sagis, we tend to be slightly over-dramatic.) I gradually learned to embrace the mantra of 'doing the best I can at that point in time.' A much better alternative than adapt or die!

Now that I've moved into the heady realm of multi-published author, I'm struggling to keep my balance again. At this time last year, I'd just finished writing the first draft of Book #3 when I went to RWA National in Washington DC. While I was there, I signed copies and talked about Book #1, while at the same time I was planning the promotional tour for Book #2 (which started in August)! ACK!! Do you see why I was tipsy without tasting even a wee drop?

I survived that craziness none the worse for wear. But now I'm at it again! For the past three weeks I'm been on a wild and crazy blog tour for The Wild Irish Sea. Yes, it's been fun but also exhausting. Plus it has seriously cut into my writing time for my current work-in-progress. Oh, and did I mention I've also been on the great agent search? ACK!!!

I really had NO CLUE how much more than simply writing a good story was involved in this publishing game. But, of course, now that I'm in up to my arm-pits, I'm not about to stop. Seeing my books on the shelf and hearing from readers who have enjoyed my stories is even better than those yummy avocados! But I desperately need to work on my balancing act.

This multi-tasking is highly over-rated!

So this is where I call on my Banditas and all the BBs for help. What do you do to maintain or regain your balance? Yoga? Color-coded agendas? Lamaze breathing?

Any and ALL suggestions are greatly appreciated!

41 comments:

barb said...

Hi Aunty Cindy... I think I am first again.....

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

YAY Barb!
Yes you are, and that wily chook is headed your way! Congrats. :-)

AC

barb said...

Thanks ... I will entertain him ... when Helen gets home from work she may visit him too

I take life more leisurely now as I am retired and as long as I have a book and some sewing and my friends and family, I am OK.... I have learnt to say no sometimes LOL but not to family and friends but let them know that I no longer work under pressure.... this probably won't help as I know you have to work to deadlines if you want to make a living.......

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL, Barb.
I learned that trick about saying NO a long time ago. About the same time I learned that if you eat lunch at your desk, people will come in and expect you to do work-related things. Um... NO! I always left my desk for lunch. ;-)

AC

Jane said...

Hey Aunty Cindy,
I'm A Sag, too. I haven't done yoga in a while, but it does help me to relax. Laughter also helps and reading the comics or watching a sitcom will always relieve the pressure.

Virginia said...

Congrats Barb on the rooster!

What is balance in like, I didn't know there was such a thing. I do know about the no word though I just don't use it enough so therefore I have no balance in life.

Helen said...

Well done Barbara I have just got home from work so I may be able to visit later LOL

Aunty Cindy

I am an Aries and have no idea what I am supposed to be like LOL. I need to learn to say no more often as much as I adore my family I tend to mind my grandkids an awful lot and then I don't get any time for myself considering I work 40 hours a week and have Friday and Saturday off. But for me relaxing is sitting in my compfy recliner with a good book checking out blogs on the pc and yes playing with the grandkids I do love to have them but only once a week now I must make a stand LOL.

Have Fun
Helen

PinkPeony said...

Hola AC!

I'm a Virgo and when I'm ninety and gummy, I'll bet you I can recite the first chapter of my ms word for word. I've tweaked it so many times. For balance..well, right now, this giant bag of peanut M&Ms are helping me along. I can't write when there's a bunch of stuff I know I need to do. I find that spending a few hours away from the computer helps me recharge my "creativity" (heh.)However, I will admit that there are times when I shop on-line between writing and that helps with the creative process too.
congrats on the the GR, Barb!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Jane,
Thanx for the reminder that laughter is 'good medicine.' Netflix just delivered a romantic comedy for me to watch tonight, so that should help.

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Virginia,

Sorry to hear you are one of those "girls who can't say no." :-P Practice in front of the mirror, hon. Put your tongue behind your front teeth and repeat after me: "No! No, no, no, no, no!" Trust me, you might feel a bit of guilt at first, my it will be worth it!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Helen,
Nice of you to help Barb keep the GR in line. I'm sure your cool weather will make him feel frisky and you know that means trouble!

My son is also an Aries (born on the cusp) which is also a fire sign, so no wonder we get on so well! :-) I know you love your grandkids, but having them in addition to working your job is too much. Stand your ground! We'll all back you up. ;-)

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL Pink, on reciting that chapter word-for-word!

My BFF is a Virgo and I like to tease her about wanting things perfect. ;-) Interestingly enough, she often recommends chocolate and/or retail therapy too! You Virgos are pretty smart cookies. :-)

AC

peggy said...

Hello aunty Cindy.I find taking a walk or spending some time with my son or just taking a hot bubble bath helps me to relax.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Peggy,

Thanks for the great suggestions. It's a bit warm for a walk at the moment, but a bubble bath is always good for what ails ya!

AC

Pissenlit said...

Oooh, I'm like that too! To regain some balance, I sometimes reread some favourite comfort read books or listen to certain favourite music albums. Or maybe rearrange my bookshelves. Or do some cleaning around the house. The cleaning one doesn't happen as often as the others...lol.

Nancy said...

Barb, congrats on the rooster!

AC, I also tend to dive into things. The current wip, for example, is pushing all else to the side, mostly because I want to finish and get a revision done before I leave for Orlando, and time is rapidly, so rapidly, running out.

My family helps keep me balanced. Dinner as a unit is presumed. One of us may be gone from time to time, but day in and day out, we eat together.

I miss the gym. I'd be happier and more fit if I went back. At this point, I've been gone so long that the going back requires a certain screwing up of resolve, which I so far have not mustered.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Pissenlit,

I have to be in truly DESPERATE straits to resort to cleaning! :-P But listening to music if a great way to get some balance and a different perspective. Thanks for the idea! I find Beethoven's 6th symphony (The Pastoral) particularly soothing, and I haven't listened to it in awhile...

AC
humming

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Nancy,
Thanks for popping out of the writing cave to comment. I know you set stringent personal goals for yourself and I admire you for it.

The DH and I almost always sit down for dinner together. Of course, he does 95% of the cooking so that helps too. ;-)

I have heard from many people how exercise helps your psyche. Me? I'd rather watch than participate! LOL!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Speaking of watching exercise rather than participating, I think it's about time for the Cabana boys to start their daily round of calisthetics... Who wants to join me down at the observation deck?!?!

AC

Helen said...

I will join you watching those Cabana boys do a work out would be relaxing or maybe not LOL

Have Fun
Helen

Donna MacMeans said...

Balance? What's Balance"

I understand your pain, AC. I truly do. Plus, I don't think anyone really told us that we'd have to wear so many hats simultaneously.

My only rule for balance is to write some everyday- it may not be alot on some days, but everyday I have to write some. Everyday, I also make time for my family. If anything, it's the housekeeping and gardening that suffers. I can live with that.

Cassondra said...

Yay I can POST!

I haven't been able to see the comments for several days. :0(

I've felt like I've been locked out of the lair. Blogger acting up I guess.

Aunty Cindy I'm not the one to ask about balance because I'm on a never-ending search for how to balance work and writing and the things in my life which actually stoke the fire of the muse for me (gardening, painting, and time to just "be still" with the world around me).

If you get any good ideas, let me know, will you?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Helen,
You bring the tim tams and I'll bring the cold drinks. We'll have some nice comfy chaise lounges to watch the Cabana boys work out! :-)

AC
who doesn't mind watching other people sweat but is not keen on doing it herself!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

YAY Donna!

I like your priorities -- writing everyday and family. Everything else can wait. :-P

I think most of us were pretty surprised to learn how much more is involved in publishing a book than just writing it.

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Cassondra,
SO GLAD to see you back in the Lair! Blogger has been a real P*SSER lately. :-( I had problems the other day too. Here's hoping those issues are now resolved.

Balance is so important because stress really can KILL YOU! I've had some great suggestions today -- listening to music, taking a walk, laughter -- I hope you can find one or two that work for you! Wanna join me and Helen watching the Cabana boys?!?!

AC

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Barb! You got Goldie for the day...whatcha gonna do with him? Its' National Ice Cream Day. Don't let him near the Chocolate Chip Cookie DOugh ice cream...

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Barb, you are so much more balanced than I.

AC, I had to LOL about your post. I am a double Sagi - sun sign and rising sign - so I have a double helping of that Ooooh, won't THIS be FUN! kind of enthusiasm.

It can overwhelm the unintiated.

Snork.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Jane! Another Sag! WOot! We're out in full force today.

You know, rumor has it that you can power small cities with Saggittarian energy.

Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Virginia, I had to LOL. Balance? Balance?

I don't need no stinkin' balance....

Oops. Maybe I do...heehehehe.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Good for you, Helen, in making a stand.

It's hard though, esp. with the kiddoes. They're so much fun. :>

I'm biased about my own, of course. Hahaha!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Pink said: For balance..well, right now, this giant bag of peanut M&Ms are helping me along. I can't write when there's a bunch of stuff I know I need to do. I find that spending a few hours away from the computer helps me recharge my "creativity" (heh.)


Oooh, peanut M&M's...slurp. Pink, I often have to leave the house if I'm working on something that HAS to be done. That "bunch of stuff" is waaaay too distracting sometimes. And there's ALWAYS stuff to be done around here.

Sigh. I need a wife. Snork.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Nancy said: At this point, I've been gone so long that the going back requires a certain screwing up of resolve, which I so far have not mustered.

Oh, I feel that pain, Nancy! I've tried going back to Karate, but I don't like it as well as Tae Kwon Do. I need to lose 10 lbs before going back to be tossed around the mats, but I don't have time to lose....

Well, you know. Snork.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Donna, I do the gardening to get balance, but it still suffers, esp when it's 100+ degrees. My garden looks like a tropical jungle of bindweed at the moment. Sigh.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL Duchesse!

Small cities, indeed! Medium-sized towns at the very least. :-P

I have Sagittarius in another of my "houses" but I don't remember which one. But what can I say? You can NEVER have too much Sag! Well... maybe you can, but you'll enjoy it. ;-)

AC

Louisa Cornell said...

Way to go, Barb! Have fun with the Golden One.

Balance? Are you KIDDING me? Between the DDJ and keeping up with the dogs and cats, especially in this heat I have to write myself a note to sleep and take a shower. The days are starting to run into each other and the collision is NOT pretty!

I am SO looking forward to Orlando! I hope to recharge my writing batteries there and come back ready to achieve some balance.

One thing I try to do is give myself credit for the things I DO get done. Spending time worrying about what I haven't gotten done simply isn't productive.

I do try to write something every day. I just need to try and write MORE every day!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

AC said: You can NEVER have too much Sag! Well... maybe you can, but you'll enjoy it. ;-)

Oh, so true! Snork! We like to have fun and take it with us wherever we go. :>

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

HUGS, Louisa!

Anyone who manages to write AND work their DDJ deserves TONS of credit! Like I said in the post, I really never managed to do it and FINISH anything. :-(

The unconditional LOVE we get from our lil furry friends does make the work we do for them worthwhile, doesn't it?!?! Some days, my girls (you'll never convince them they are dogs) are the only reason I crawl out of bed.

I'm sure you'll have a WONDERFUL time in Orlando. Just wish I was going so I could see you!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

SNORK!!! Duchesse, you are so right about us Sagis having FUN where ever we go. And we do LURVE to GO! Whether across the street or the continent, we're always ready. ;-)

AC

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Cindy! I'm busily trying to do the balancing act these days. One of the advantages of living in Texas that from mid May, (if you don't mind rather chilly water temps) to mid October I can spend 30-90 minutes a day in my pool. That really relaxes me, and I feel more like tackling the world around me!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Louisa, I'm right there with you, girl! Except of course I have the DNJ. But still, between work, babysitting grand babies, critiquing for very productive peopl and wrestling with all the new goals of a newly sold author, I'm struggling to find time to write...of course, the sexy hero keeps pulling me towards his story! But finishing a book while doing this? Major ego booster!!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Suz,
I'm not much for swimming, but a cool dip in the pool sounds REALLY GOOD right about now. It was 101 here today, but is only going to be 95 tomorrow. BRRRR! :-P

Do you have a release date yet for Lacy?!?! Can't WAIT to read the whole story! And lucky you to have a sexy hero beckoning you. This writing gig has some definite perks. ;-)

AC