My biggest ambition when I was in elementary school gym class was to walk the balance beam.
The balance beam in question was part of an obstacle course. You climbed a set of stairs on a wooden structure with three twenty foot beams. You had an option of picking one that was eighteen inches, twenty-four inches, or thirty-six inches off the ground. In the five years I was at that school, I never managed to walk across it without grabbing the other beam for support.
I have idiopathic scholiosis severe enough that in my teens I had to wear a Boston brace for four years. My sense of balance is questionable at best. I’m infamous in my family for losing my balance while sitting on the couch. I never did manage to walk the eighteen inch beam without falling off after managing two or three feet.
Right now, I feel like I’m trying to walk that beam again. It may appear I’m smoothly crossing the length with slow, deliberate pacing, but look closer and you’ll see my wobbling ankles and trembling calves. Give me a few more steps, and you’ll see me stumble and fall. During the last few months it has become clearer to me that I need to refine my balancing act. I have not made any appreciable movement forward on my novel, and I need to change that. So why do I feel a step away from falling?
The short answer is time. I work a 40-hour-a-week job doing data entry and reporting said data to the state. At this point, it’s a non-negotiable block of about 10 hours (including travel time to and from the office) that must exist to pay the bills. After work, I spend the evening between taking care of my mother, who has several medical issues, my cat, who also has several medical issues, catching up on email, blogs, Twitter, and any TV shows I want to watch. This is also the time I have to write. Usually I will go to bed around 11:00 PM to wake up around 6:00 AM and repeat the process. Weekends are spent catching up doing things that I can’t get done during business hours, like grocery shopping. I write up blog entries for the next week. I try to spend part of one day of the weekend with my friends to reset and recharge. And whenever I can, I sneak in some knitting.
Since the day job isn’t going away any time soon and my mother won’t be miraculously healed, I need to restructure how I spend my “free” time after work. I’ve had it recommended by several people that instead of coming straight home, I go find a coffee shop or a library and work there uninterrupted for several hours. Given my mother’s health issues, that’s not really an option.
How will I fix this issue? I’m not sure. I’m open to suggestions. But I will continue to attempt to walk that balance beam. I will slip and fall, but I’ll get back on it.