Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Adapt or Die

     A recurring question that comes up at so many of the writer or illustrator retreats that I attend is “how do I find balance?” I’ve asked this often enough myself. People who have day jobs, or families, or other responsibilities wonder how they can create some sort of harmony between the art they want to do and the demands that seem to drag them away from that art.
     I’ve come to the conclusion that the question itself is a cheat, if by “balance” you mean some sort of peaceful stasis, like one of those circus performers doing a one-armed handstand on the back of a chair. You know the ones. They strike an elaborate but completely static pose. Only the slight vibration of the arm on the chair hints at the tension required to maintain such a position. And really, they can’t hold that pose for long. If you try to achieve this sort of balance you are sure to be miserable, because the fulcrum we balance on is life and it is never as solid and unmoving as a chair.
     I’ve decided to quit seeking balance, and instead aim for adaptability. Like one of those jugglers who is keeping three balls in the air, when someone decides to toss him a fragile glass ornament and a running chainsaw. That sounds much more like real life, anyway.


Anonymous said...

I agree. Adaptability is far more important than balance. Balance intimates we can find the perfect measure between two or more competing interests. Since life throws us curves, what may seem like balance today, may not work tomorrow. Day by day, hour by hour, we adapt.

By the way, I was fortunate enough to hear you speak at the California Writers Club, Tri Valley Branch last Saturday. You offered words of wisdom and encouragement for writers of all genres. I attended the meeting thinking, "I really don't want to write children's fiction," but left grateful for the lessons you shared. In fact, you even made me want to try my hand at a children's book (right after the historical fiction I'm working on.)

Thanks for the pleasure of meeting you and hearing about your writing journey.

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