Balancing Act

I’ve been meaning to blog sooner but I have been so busy lately trying to balance work and school. It is not easy. I’ve been asking my fellow MFA friends how they do it. It is doable they tell me, just extremely difficult.

The thing about writing when you are just starting out is you have to have some kind of job that pays the bills while you pursue your dream. I don’t know many people who expect to become rich by writing or who enter the field expecting to make a lot of money. Like me, they simply write because they love it. With that being said, there has to be a way to find a better balance between the two.

An amazing opportunity opened up for me to enter a new career field and learn a new skill and I accepted the challenge. As it turns out I have a knack for it so there is a possibility that this temporary part-time position that became temporary full-time could become a permanent full-time position, which would be great – I think.

Living out here in this barren employment wasteland I’d be a fool not to take it if offered, but what about my writing? How do I find time to do homework? Work on my book? Hear myself think long enough to be creative? How do I find a balance between the two? What’s the secret to having a job you truly enjoy and staying on the path which leads from aspiring writer to accomplished author?

The thing is, the job isn’t stressful – not really. It’s actually quite fun. It involves meeting new people on an almost daily basis and is in an air conditioned office – a big step up from “cashierdom.” For the most part the clients are nice, the office staff is extremely pleasant and my boss is a jewel.  It is a wonderful opportunity. So how do I make it all work? There was an article in either Poets & Writers or Writers Digest about this particular issue, but I didn’t have time to read it when I saw it. Now I’ll have to dig through my back issues and see if I can find it.

The whole reason I moved to Tennessee was to be closer to campus. An hour and forty minute drive from Jackson is a major improvement from the three-day drive from Houston I did during my first residency. I have a year of the program left and am getting closer to seeing my hard work turn into something positive. My thesis semester officially begins in January so I am trying to get everything ready for it now. Meanwhile, fall semester begins in two weeks. I will be taking my last literature class and working on our campus literary magazine.  Just thinking about it stirs a mix of excitement and apprehension, but I’m hoping it all turns out well. Here are the books we will cover in the literature course.

American Literature 1870-1920

I’ve been in Tennessee almost fourteen months, but it seems like much longer. I’ve met some really amazing people and even a few new friends. I still miss home though. The other day a fellow Texan was on his way to Tennessee and asked me if there was anything I wanted him to bring me from Texas.  The first thing that came to mind was Fry’s since we don’t have one here, but my daughter reminded me that I’ve been going on and on about Whataburger. She said the first thing I’ll probably do when we get back home is stop off at the nearest Whataburger – while we’re still in the moving van.  She’s right about that, so I guess I should have said bring me a Whataburger!

I’m not going to make any traveling plans, even though I would love to get home this year for the holidays since I couldn’t last year. It might be pushing it if I drive back to Texas in December when I’ll only have to be back in Kentucky in January. There is also work to consider which may be a more stable situation by then – who knows. AWP is going to be held in Seattle in March and I’d really like to attend that. I hope to be finished with the story collection (or whatever we’re calling it now)  that I’m working on by then, but that’s optimism speaking not set plans.

More than anything I’d still love a solitary or really small writer’s retreat. No workshops, no lectures, just amazing scenery, peace and quiet to allow the creative voices that live in my head to start communicating again, maybe some jabber here and there from a few fellow writers because they always make everything better, and a little wine because – do I even need to explain this one?

As always I will continue to take each day one adventure at a time. It truly has been a remarkable journey and I’m grateful for every opportunity – even the ones that didn’t go so well because it provides good learning experience and great starting points for stories I might someday write. I know this is only one chapter and there are many more to come.

Until next time.

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Categories: Fiction, Moving, Residency, Tennessee, Texas, Traveling, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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