Finding the Balance (August theme - Sarah Dooley)

The tentative theme of my last few years has been freedom: from poverty, from marriage, from the patterns to which I had long been accustomed. The interesting thing about those patterns, though, was that I had, for years, learned to fit my writing in around their edges. Words trickled over the rocky path of my career, slipped through the growing cracks in my marriage, and found their way onto the page in the earliest hours of morning, when I was alone and not yet awake enough to think. By the time the sun rose, my writing day was done.

I didn't think I liked it much.

I longed to spend my days weaving words and spinning yarns, no longer a slave to the demands of jobs and meetings and the social life of a newly-single thirty-something. I wanted to spend the days in my pajamas, sipping coffee and clattering away at the keyboard. I wanted the passing of each hour marked by screen after screen filling up with story.

The stars aligned -- and by the stars, I mean my foot and a misplaced piece of furniture. Shortly after my divorce, and amid the chaos of huge career decisions, a fall and an injury ensured that I would have the time to write at last!  There would be no distractions! No clocking in, no "honey, I'm home," and none of that pesky getting dressed. Just me, my pajamas, my coffee, and my story, all the time.

I tried it for a month or two.

I didn't think I liked it much.

I forgot that stories aren't just written. They happen. And they could not happen to a girl in her pajamas hiding behind her keyboard. Removing myself from my distractions meant removing myself from my inspirations, as well as from the only writing routine I knew. Without being present in the chaos that is life, the best that I could hope to live, and to write, was an outline.

I have since returned wholeheartedly to my comfortable chaos. I admire those for whom full time writing is an option, but as for me, I've found the proper balance. I love my life. I love my job. I love the words that slip in through the cracks. I hope I always have the freedom to write around the edges of so many wonderful pieces of the world.


  1. "I love my life. I love my job. I love the words that slip in through the cracks."

    Sarah, your post held a bit of a surprise ending for me. I try to reserve my time for writing (meaning I don't go to another job) but life still manages to steal much of my writing time. However, you are so right about where inspiration comes from. I like the way you summed up your experiences and conclusions so succinctly and wrapped them up with optimism!

  2. Hi, Sarah! I love my job, too. Though at the moment it is a non-paying job. But, someday I hope that my words that slip through the cracks and spread onto paper find a home somewhere in the publishing world.

  3. Words that slip in through the cracks...beautiful!


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