~writing and finding balance

Imagine walking barefoot on an I-beam at the top of a skyscraper undergoing construction. You’re walking out to the end, your attention fixed to that point where steel stops and sky starts.

You place one foot at a time on the cold metal, not daring to look away. Your entire focus is on that steel lifeline beneath your feet.  Electric fear raises the hairs on your skin and you hope neither dust nor dew turns the next step into a slip. 

The world floats in your peripheral vision, but you don’t dare look. The infinite sky expands above you — its weight presses down and around your fragile body.  The earth waits below, the city’s concrete and asphalt promising instant death. But sky and earth are not the source of your fear. 

It’s not falling that fuels the fear, either, though that seems the most obvious. 

It’s your balance, or lack thereof. Your balance is what determines whether you careen off the edge or reach your goal. You hope you’ve trained and schooled enough to maintain an even keel, instilled enough discipline in yourself to keep walking and not lose sight of the end.

But maintaining that focus is difficult – and exhausting. One moment you’re sweating and your foot trembles as it seeks a stable grip. The next is filled with elation at your success, giving you a boost of confidence that you are going to make it.

Something flies by and your eyes are drawn to it against your will. Your body wobbles and you take a sharp breath and stop.

But you can’t stop when you’re walking an I-beam, because to stop is to risk becoming frozen by fear – the fear of starting again and taking the next step. And so you stand there, the world spinning at your feet, and try to summon the courage to begin again. You will your leg to move, to relax the deathgrip your foot has on the steel and seek a new resting spot ahead. And it does, and the other foot follows, and you are once again on your way.

The end is in sight and you drive on toward it. You become aware of voices below, some shouting encouragement, others screaming that you’ll fall. But you can’t give them your attention, because you must keep it on the steel beneath your feet.

The end of the beam becomes everything. You hope that when you reach it, wings will sprout from your back and you can launch into a welcoming sky – a sky that will open up a whole new world and way of living.

The life of a writer seeking to become published is like walking that I-beam. Work and family vie for attention, and it must be given. The trick is to find the balance between the demands of others and the demands of self.


How do you find it?

6 thoughts on “~writing and finding balance

  1. Oh if only balance was so simple as walking an I-beam on a hundred story building in high wind. All to often it’s our writing that gets put on the back burner, while the needs of the ones you love, that make life on an I-beam tolerable, then there’s work, friends, and even eating and sleep that chip away at that valuable time.

    Isaac Asimov once described a perfect day as one spent writing every minute, the only breaks coming from the three daily meals he spent with his wife.

    We all scramble for those precious moments, and quite often find too few. When that final step is found that creates a book that gives us the time and finances to write like Isaac, we will struggle for those fleeting moments when the balance we seek and yearn for are found.

    Well written Roh.

  2. LOL – I’m so much more likely to sit down on the beam every now and then and enjoy the birds and clouds!

    There is a need to balance your goals and your responsibilities, but there is also a need to balance the urgent with the important. It’s so easy to get those mixed up, and (of course) those priorities are different for each person – the first thing to do is identify what is which for YOU, because that determines “weight” and weight is the key to balance. You need to find your center, something only you can do.

    That sounds like good psychobabble, doesn’t it? 🙂 For me, I find balance with lists – 1) What MUST be done? 2) What can I do to reduce my “must be done” list? 3) What do I WANT to do? Then I assign “When do I want it done” times to my tasks. And finally, I’m forgiving when I miss my time goal, but I don’t take the task off my list. It gets done eventually.

    After all – we all want to be published. But if I get published next year instead of this November, will I not still be published? 🙂

  3. > Balance.
    > How do you find it?

    I wasn’t looking for it. I never understood balance. I am more of an “enough or more” kinda guy, not a “right amount” guy.

    As for your girder analogy: I am sitting in the midst of a thousand-story framework of bare I-beams, which protrude at every angle, many to no apparent purpose. I try to decide which one to jump off of, to bridge the gap to “become published.” My only hope, short of actually bridging the gap, is to hit the street below softly enough to survive, climb back up, and jump off another beam.

  4. Beautifully written insight on not only the will of a writer but the internal drive towards all dreams. It is that internal drive that becomes a hypnotic drug whose hunger seems to have an endless appetite. From one “dreamer” to another, what has and continues to push me forward is the start of each new day. I start every day with at least one thing I need to accomplish towards my reality, then and only then will I allow myself to address others needs. It is true that reaching dreams can take time when life interrupts however, by starting each day with the needs of self, each day is a day of progression. Progression towards ones future reality is the only gift you and only you may give yourself.

    Proud of you and love you!

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