Tag Archives: Writing

Story Instead of Balance

People, including myself, talk a lot about leading a balanced life. In general, people mean this to be healthy, like eating a balanced diet.

However, I started thinking about it, and I really DON’T like the image of myself teetering along a rooftop, or walking a tightrope. Nor to I like to think of myself carrying a heavy bag on each shoulder in an attempt to remain balanced.  And I am definitely NOT a scale.

Yes, it’s just a saying – but I believe the way we think about these things matters. If I keep visualizing myself barely staying on the tightrope, I’m going to be scared and stressed out, and that is definitely not healthy.

So how can I visualize my life and manage all of the different demands it brings me?

Story is one way, and it’s something I’m learning more about. What is my story right now, and what do I really want it to be? How do my job, child-rearing, housekeeping, marriage and writing all fit into my story?  And how am I part of the larger story of God and the universe?

Big questions.  And I’m starting to find answers. I’m cooking up something on the writing front, and have a long-term goal in mind. But I think finding my story is about more than just goal-setting. I mean, a story is supposed to have a plot, and a theme, and a conflict to overcome.  It’s not just a steady plod toward a goal.

The glimmerings are there, in my head. I just have to put it all together.

I had this post half-written when I found that Chris Brogan was asking people to post about the importance of story in their lives. And he’s offering free books, so I figured I’d better get it done!  This post was also partly inspired by Christina Katz’s piece on balance in her weekly e-zine, The Prosperous Writer. And further inspired by a retreat I attended with Narrative Actualization.

Need Some Balance?

Here’s the deal. We just got home from a softball game, and now I have to do some child-nurturing and get myself to bed too. And I’m sending you elsewhere to read about balance, so that I can balance myself.

Actually, I’m suddenly wondering whether balance is really a good metaphor for life after all. I’ll have to think about that more.

But for now, here you go:

Author Christina Katz (The Writer Mama) recommends A Lovely Little Book About Claiming the Physical, Mental, and Emotional Space You Need to Write. Christina also has a new ebook out, Author Mama.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi interviewed Katz earlier this year on Time Management For Writers.

Fellow Portlander Katy Wolk-Stanley recently noted that control is an illusion.

And here’s a post from Zen Habits on The Lost Art of Solitude.

Good night!

Blogging Elsewhere, 2/28/10

In case you didn’t know, yes, I do blog elsewhere from time to time! Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been doing lately.

On What’s the Mission, I post spiritual reflections and book reviews (I belong to a great program called Viral Bloggers in which I get free books!).  Latest reviews include Picking Dandelions by Sarah Cunningham, Thy Kingdom Connected by Dwight J. Friesen, and A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren.

Six Boxes of Books was started by my sister Wendy (who once read all of the Newbery Award winners), and has expanded to include all three Burton sisters. We mostly write about children’s and young adult books. Some posts are reviews and some cover other book-related topics, like school book orders.

ParkroseGateway.com is a local news site/blog that I started for the neighborhood in which I live. It runs on the Neighborlogs platform.  I write about local schools, community events, sports, crime, businesses, or whatever I see that is interesting. Neighbors are invited to post, too. My most recent post is a roundup of coverage on the Aaron Campbell shooting, which occurred not far from here.

You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook pretty much every day.

Night Person/Morning Person

At 5:00 this morning, the alarm clock came to life and blared out that there’d been another earthquake in Haiti, magnitude 6.1.

“Oh, no”


My husband and I responded simultaneously. He turned the alarm off and went back to sleep, since he was going to work two hours late today.  I rolled over and didn’t go back to sleep; I got up, checked the news on the web, and then went in to work early.

It’s now just after 9:00 p.m.  If I go to bed now, can I get up at 5:00 again?

I’ve been a night person for as long as I can remember, but when I do manage to get a decent amount of sleep and get up in the morning, I can be very productive.  This would be a good thing for my writing.  I’ve been struggling with finding time in the evening. The girls need my attention, and that’s how it should be! Tonight, we played Star Wars Trivial Pursuit and watched a little American Idol, and it was great. I want to spend time with them.

I do like to stay up late, but by the time they’ve gone to bed, I’m not at my most productive. I’m often caught in between: too tired to think but not tired enough to sleep.

So I’m heading for bed. I’ll let you know if I get up in the morning.

Five Books

I don’t do many of these list memes, but I liked this one. Wendy (she’s my sister) started this one. And she didn’t make up any silly rules about tagging people, which is refreshing. Making lists is hard for me, though. Why this one, and not that one?

Five Books I Know Better Than I Know Myself

  • Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
  • The Other Side of the Sun by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
  • Betsy In Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace

Five Books I Wish I Could Read Again For the First Time

(besides the ones above?!?)

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
  • Laura by Donald Zochert
  • A Severed Wasp by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Red Thunder by John Varley

Five Books I Look Forward To Knowing More Intimately

(hard because I don’t find these so often any more)

  • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
  • A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  • Welcome To the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life by Pamela Smith Hill
  • the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (no, I’m not intimate with these yet)

Writing My Technology Memoir

I’m dead tired tonight, and couldn’t deal with any of the topics on my list of things to blog about.  Still, I wanted to do some kind of writing, even if it wasn’t fit for public consumption.  So I’ve been writing, in a very rough form, my technology memoir.

New genre?  Sure. You see, when techie types get together (or get into a chat room), they often end up comparing notes on what their earliest technology experiences were.  What was your first computer?  Your first programming language? Who has the oldest and most obsolete knowledge in the room?

I know.  GEEKS!  But it is an interesting topic to me, so it got me writing. It’s a way out of writer’s block, or a way to keep writing even when you’re brain dead — just write about something you’re interested in, or about a memory or series of memories, and don’t worry about whether anyone will ever read it.

I’m not publishing my technology memoir (at least not in its current form), but for the record, my first computer (my school’s first computer, that is) was a Commodore PET, on which I learned to program in BASIC.

Sleep. Or Lack Thereof. A Loop.

I really need to get more sleep, but I’m caught in a loop. This happens fairly often.

It starts with me not getting enough sleep, either because I stayed up too late playing on the internets or because some kid was keeping me awake. Or because I was hacking and coughing all night.

The next day, I lack energy, and I get very little done.  I sleep in until the last possible moment, and rush through getting myself and the kids out of the house.  I push through the day at work, and arrive home around 5:15 to make dinner. I look in the fridge, sigh at the fresh vegetables beginning to turn brown, and pull something easy out of the freezer.  Beans and rice and salsa.  My husband groans because he wants meat. If I’m sufficiently cranky about this, I send him out to Papa Murphy’s and save the beans for another day.

After dinner, I’m ready to fall into bed, but the dishes at least need to be done. The kids empty the dishwasher, and I load it up.  There’s probably still stuff left over.  I may or may not take care of it.

I really need to sweep the floors, and clean the bathrooms, and put away my clothes.  I need to go through my inbox and make some headway on the other piles on my desk.  I want to write a blog post, and there’s that article I’ve been meaning to write, and another I wanted to send a query about.  I’ve got an unfinished novel from NaNoWriMo, too.

The kids want to sit on my lap.  All three of them. And I want them there. We sit and watch Live at 7 and Wheel of Fortune; or we sit and read. I can sit there with the laptop, but if I have things to do besides surf the internet, I need them off my lap.

When they go to bed at 8:00, I’m too tired to do anything interesting.  The energy isn’t there for writing. I might be able to get more household tasks done if I have to.  Or I could go to bed early.

If I have things that must be done that night, I won’t go to bed early. I might even go to bed late.  And the cycle continues. I don’t get enough sleep. I lack energy. I get things done slowly, so I stay up late again.  Or, I drink a couple of energy drinks during the day, I do get things done, but then I can’t fall asleep at night.  FAIL.

I’ve got to break out of this loop, but I’ve forgotten how.

The Winner of the Writer Mama Two-Year Anniversary Giveway

trophy_1In case you missed it, yesterday’s post was a contest.  Guest blogger and author Christina Katz posted about why one should write a book, and she asked readers to comment on why they wanted to write a book.  All commenters on that post were eligible for a drawing.

The winner, by random drawing, is Erin Goodman of exhale, return to center!  Erin has won a signed, numbered copy of Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz.  Congratulations, Erin!