Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I have always struggled with the concept of balance—and not just because I am a born klutz, either. Yoga? Not my forte. Surfing? Only because I don’t mind falling into the water. Career/personal life? Perpetually off-kilter. Writing projects? An object lesson in tipped scales.

Recently I’ve been dealing with an upswing in activity at my day job. It isn’t unexpected—this is an election year, after all—but the crush of projects and research that have appeared on my desk lately appear to have begun breeding to produce gnarly, genetically-altered work that mysteriously causes my head to connect repeatedly with my keyboard. At the same time, I have two writing projects that I dearly want to be working on. One is my unfinished paranormal, which whispers (and sometimes shouts) sweet nothings about vampires and destiny and doomed love stories in my ear until I am dying to write ANGST. The other project is an edit of my spychick novel that my lovely agent and I have hammered out together. (Side note: how encouraging is it to open a project you haven’t looked at in several months and find that you still like it?) I’m enjoying being back in that world again, too, and honestly it’s nice to have a break from the more serious and complicated world of my paranormal. This edit is exactly what my spychick novel needs, and it’s progressing well. If the vampires would shut up—just for a couple of weeks, guys, I swear!—all would be well in Muse World.

When my longer work hours, I’ve had to really think about the way I use my writing time. Dabbling in other projects has had to go, and obviously I’ve neglected this blog for a while now. But--but--I’m writing. In a little over two months, I have 150 good pages and about a hundred more of backstory and brainstorming for my paranormal. In ten days, I’ve made edits on about half my spychick novel, adding around 6,500 of my target 10,000. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

I’m not sure if balance is something I’ll ever be able to attain (or keep) in my writing process. I’m not even sure if balance is my style. I write a lot more in the bursts of creative output that my Muse seems to favor than in systematic, Stephen King-like routines. My ideas don’t come in convenient packages that fit into wordcount goals and carefully planned writing sessions. Instead, I find myself dictating messages into my cell phone while walking through underground parking garages, furiously jotting down notes on the subway and toting my laptop with me day in and day out just in case I have ten minutes in which I can lose myself in writing. That is what works for me, and I’m beginning to realize that messing with the formula just causes me problems. I can meet deadlines. I can shut the door and force myself to write (or edit) when the occasion calls. But that’s not how I write best, or how my best ideas foment.

So for now, I will thank the Muse for those bursts of creativity that send me fumbling for paper on my morning commute and even for those nights when I don’t stumble to bed until 4am because I just had to finish a chapter. Maybe balance is for the birds.


Blogger Jana J. Hanson said...

Glad to see you on this side of the blogosphere, Mel! Good luck with your spychick edits -- I know you can do it!!

8:38 PM  
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