Finding Balance

Good wine does not just happen. The owner of the vineyard must tend to his land and the vines. During the growing season, the amount of sunshine and rainfall helps determine the excellence of the grapes, as does the severity of the winter weather. The harvesting and pressing are crucial factors, and the aging process must be timed just right. Producing a good vintage is an art. When the wine is ready for market, the vintner must find the right distributor. He prays the long-necked bottles will be transported and stored with care, and that wine connoisseurs will enjoy the result of his labor.

In ways, writing is like making wine. The more care a writer takes and the more experience she has – the better the results. A writer needs solitude, but not so much that she grows absolutely dependent upon it – the world around her plays a vital part in the creative process. When the manuscript is finished, the editing begins. More revision makes for a better book. Hopefully the writer finds an agent, publisher and distributor who will take her book to market – it has to be where readers can find it. And of course, the author hopes her book will be read over and over again – that it will find a forever home in public libraries, and on private bookshelves.

Those who enjoy wine need some restraint. All of us know that drinking in excess is not a healthy habit.

And writing? Truth be told, too much time in front of the computer is not good either. When I am deep into a lengthy project, it is easy to get so involved that the book’s world becomes my world. I think about my characters all the time. They take on a life of their own, and if I fail to keep perspective, they could become as important to me as my real time family and friends.

And this is the crux. To reach our full potential in any pursuit – winemaking, writing, painting, cooking, carpentry or whatever – we have to spend time away from our day-to-day lives. . I’ve heard it said that 10,000 hours of practice are necessary  to become proficient at anything. During those 10,000 hours, the danger of ostracizing family and frieds is definitely there.

Is excess involvement ever a good thing?  Some artists argue that “the work” must come first. But hey – of those who truly dedicate themselves to their art – how many have happy home lives, solid marriages, and children who do not feel ignored?

The other day, someone asked me when I would write another book. I want to – I do – but my real world needs a lot of attention right now. I hope that I will soon be able to carve out enough time and make the commitment – I’ve got ideas I could develop – it’s all about finding balance..

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8 thoughts on “Finding Balance

  1. Well said! Finding a balance is hard. You have a wonderful family around you that supports you all the way and that is key.

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    1. I do have a wonderful family, and they indeedsupport my writing. But at times I feel the perspective is missing on my part. If I get really into a project, I want to write all the time… not good. Self-censure keeps hurt feelings away…

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      1. I agree with you. I sent your blog to my brother who is also a writer and he isolates himself from his family and lose touch with us so many times!

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  2. You have done it right my friend – at least from my perspective! Your balance of work – life is admirable. And yes, it is soooo easy to get lost in what one is doing! whatever the project or interest. As for your next book – you will have lots to write about your experience ‘coming home’ – although I am not sure you think of here as ‘home’ anymore – you are more Mexican now 🙂 I think I can speak for your many family and friends in saying we are all happy that you will be up in your ‘alternate’ home for a while too. Many new adventures await you my dear friend!

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    1. Thank you Marilou… truly I have two homes. I could never forget my first one – North Vancouver – the place where you and I met in Grade One. But I have been in Merida for so long now, and it too has become my home.

      Sometimes having two homes is like having a split personality, but I feel lucky to feel at home in Yucatan and western Canada. They are different as night and day, but both are beautiful,

      I am looking forward to the opportunity to spend equal time in both places.

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  3. Your first two books were so valuable, Joanna, and I am still introducing them to the new people going to Progreso /Chicxulub/Merida for the first time. They were/are gems at bridging the Cultures and fostering understanding between the two Countries. I’m speaking from Canada but I’m sure your loyal US readers feel the same way. Thanks for the reminder about balance! .

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