Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Juggling Chainsaws—Work-Life Balance for Writers

by Elizabeth Schechter

If you work, or have worked, in the corporate world for any length of time, you've probably heard the term "work-life balance." Modern white-collar employment is all about maximizing work-life balance, which means that you should leave work at work, and when you're at home, you should focus on family and leisure. It's a teeter-totter -- when one side is up, you're at work. When the other side is up, you play. Toggle on, toggle off.  Looks good on paper, right? The problem is that work-life balance doesn't really existat least, not the way that people think. I've learned that the work-life balance isn't so much a teeter-totter as it is a juggling act. And what you're doing is juggling chainsaws.
I have to admit, juggling chainsaws looks fantastically impressive. You get these heavy, dangerous things all up in the air all at once, and everyone thinks you're amazing. Until you drop one. Then the screaming and running start.
Now, I can't speak for all writers, because I'm just me. I know several writers who juggle writing, a full-time job outside the home, family, and countless other things. In my world, I have the following chainsaws:
Domestic Life
Leisure Time/Hobbies
Writing is the obvious one here. Domestic life is housekeeping and cooking. Leisure time and hobbies, that's self-explanatory, as is Health. Homeschooling is one that's a bit outside the norm for most writersI'm currently homeschooling my 10-year-old son, which means that he's with me pretty much all day. So, five chainsaws. And I'm supposed to keep them all in the air, because that's what moms who are writers who also happen to homeschool do, right?
The most I can keep in the air and still stay sane (remember, one of those chainsaws is health) is Four. Writing and Health are usually not optional; there will be writing, and there will be doctor's appointments and gym trips and Weight Watchers meetings. Homeschooling is also in the usually not optional category there will be school, unless I get too close to a deadline, in which case there will be documentary school courtesy of Blu-ray, YouTube and CuriosityStream.  Domestic Life? That's a fuzzy chainsaw. There will always be home-cooked meals and clean laundry, but there might not always be a spotless house (more on that later). The chainsaw I pick up the least is the hobbies one; my to-read pile is almost as tall as I am, and my UFO (UnFinished Object) pile of knitting is getting pretty tall.
Sometimes I have to change out chainsaws . Just recently, I set down the Writing Chainsaw (gasp!) so I could more full focus on the Domestic Life one (translation: I took a few days off of finishing Rebel Mage 3 to clean my house). Sometimes, I have to put the chainsaws down and focus on other things. When Hurricane Matthew headed for Florida, the chainsaws all went away, because the one thing you don't want to be doing in an emergency situation is throwing around dangerous tools.
Am I pushing the limits on the metaphor? Maybe. But it's a fun one, so work with me.
And sometimes, yes, I do drop a chainsaw. People get sick, or important revisions have to be done right now, or we lose power (five days after the hurricane? Seriously, power company?). When that happens, all you can do is regroup, pick them all up again, and get started all over.
Because, you know, those chainsaws aren't going to juggle themselves.

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and not the SFR Brigade. 

 Elizabeth Schechter has been called  one of the top erotica and alternative sexuality writers in the world. Her writing credits include the award-winning steampunk erotic romance House of Sable Locks,  the Celtic fantasy Princes of Air, and the dystopian fantasy Rebel Mage trilogy.  Her shorter work has appeared in anthologies edited by D.L King (Carnal Machines), Laura Antoniou (No Safewords), and Cecilia Tan (Jingle Balls; Like a Prince).
Elizabeth Schechter was born in New York at some point in the past. She is officially old enough to know better, but refuses to grow up. She lives in Central Florida with her husband and son, and a most accepting circle of friends who are both very amused and very proud of the pervy, fetish writer in their midst.
Elizabeth can be found online at http://elizabethschechterwrites.com, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Elizabeth.A.Schechter.

Haven had been their goal since escaping the destruction of the School. Haven had promised safety, rest, an end to running and death. But things had gone badly wrong in the mountains. Tam and Linnea had to leave Matthias and Solomon behind to face the Elders, hoping to return for them once they’d found Haven. The reality does not live up to the promise. Isolated and dying, Haven fears outsiders almost more than it needs new blood. With only the griffon Dancer and the human healer Ilane for allies, Tam and Linnea fear that Haven’s rulers will prevent them from going back for their friends—then fire rains down from the sky, and things became so much worse for everyone

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