We all play multiple parts in the game of life, but because the pace and stress of daily living, particularly in tough economic times, can be pretty hectic, we don’t always get a chance to reflect on these roles. I’ve been dubiously fortunate in recent months to have plenty of opportunity to engage in personal reflection. While it’s a valuable and sometimes humbling experience, it can also be pretty painful at times.
Prior to writing this week’s column, I edited what will be my monthly guest blog on the Maine Crime Writer’s website. I’ve been reading a lot of young adult and juvenile fiction this year, mostly because there are so darn many new entries in these genres that for a fantasy lover (and writer) it’s like being ten pounds underweight and locked in a pastry shop overnight. The column I just edited includes reviews of six such books that I hope other blog readers, particularly librarians, will get excited about and buy for their patrons to read. Every so often, I’ll be in the middle of one of these books and abruptly stop to wonder if my own writing is anywhere near as good or just a sloppy assemblage of words. The ambivalence associated with those moments can cause temporary insanity, but taking time to really reflect (and sometimes re-read a story I wrote several years ago) can really help.
On the other hand, I’m convinced that there needs to be a balance to a writer’s life. If all you do is write, it’s like leaving a flashlight on during the daytime. You end up with a severely depleted battery. By balancing writing with reading, the battery is never in danger of depletion and sometimes reading someone else’s work helps break up a log jam in my own writing.
Reflection about my other life roles is necessary if I want to keep things in balance. Experience has taught me that anything I do, be it work, family, or recreation related without examining it periodically is likely to get skewed out of balance. Socrates said it best several thousand years ago: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Want some examples? Think about how many commitments you have made in the past year. If you’re dialed into society, chances are good that there are more than you bargained for. We’ve reached a point where 90% of what needs to be done on a voluntary basis to make and keep the world a better place, tends to be done by 10% of the populace. Current social dynamics tend to keep the new obligations/commitments flying at those same folks day after day because they have a really tough time saying “Enough! My plate is full.” Examining life, for them, might lead to better skill at saying no when such a response is in their best interests. Heaven knows, I’m not very good at it, but I am oh so slowly, getting better. Contrary to popular opinion, society won’t fall apart if the 10% start saying no once in a while.
Now, if you will excuse me, I left my main character stuck inside the end of a wire atop a microwave tower out in the Maine wilderness and he’s in need of rescue, but that’s a tale for another day.
About the AuthorJohn Clark is an author, freelance editor and librarian. He lives in Hartland where he is constantly amazed by the social scenery. If you’d like to contact him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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