I have not had much trouble balancing my responsibilities in years—until lately. Every writer works, waits, and prays that one day she will be able to say, "I'm on deadline." But it's a double edged sword. It means that finally, finally someone has bought your book on proposal, but you have signed a contract promising to have that book finished by a certain time.
Stephanie and I are there. That certain time is January 1. I have been terrified that we won't get done. And what would happen? Well, surely our editor would call all the other editors in the known world and say, "Jean and Stephanie, writing as Alicia Hunter Pace, did not get done. Put them on THE LIST." And everyone knows what the THE LIST is. It's the roster of people who never get to publish another book. Not only that, they have had their computers, legal pads, pens, and that old dusty Smith-Corona typewriter in the attic taken away. No more writing. And that is worse than no more publishing.
So all I did was write, worry, and fret because my house was dirty and I needed to do some things to begin to get ready for Christmas. Then I realized I was doing more worrying and fretting (which is the same thing in my internal dictionary, no matter what Daniel Webster thought) than I was writing.
I don't function well when my house is not in order. It messes with me. I can't help it.
It was time to call on my old friend Logic. I got out that handy dandy plot chart that Stephanie insisted that we make. I figured out we lacked four scenes—two pretty long, one medium, and one short. They would all have a lot of dialogue because that's how we roll. Add on a little epilogue and done. Though we are not tied to a word count, I reckoned we lacked about 9 thousand words.
I have never been one to look at how many words I write in a day. Lots of writers do. They even have goals. I don't know why I don't care about that. I just write and hope for the best. But now I wondered.
So I did a little figuring. On a good unrushed day, I can write 2000-2500 words. That's after I edit the previous days writing, which I always, always do.
I finally faced what Stephanie had been trying to tell me all along: We were not in trouble. So, last Friday, I did not write. I cleaned my house, went to lunch with Oldest Friend, conned Oldest Friend into helping me finish decorating the front of my house for Christmas. That night, I took my niece to eat at Red Robin and to see Breaking Dawn. Over the weekend, The Guy and I got a tree, set it up, and got boxes out of the attic. We went to church, to lunch, a party, and played D&D. Most important, we watched our team win the SEC Championship. (Roll Tide and National Championship, here we come!)
And all the while—well maybe not during that intense game—, I played in my head what I would write today. I am ready to roll. It's going to be a great writing day.
Did you have to learn balance or does it come natural?