Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Saturday, 10 September 2016

GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT by Gill Stewart



I’ve been thinking recently that I’ve not being getting the balance right – then I started to wonder what I meant about getting the balance right. And I realised there were two aspects to this.


Trying to get the balance right between this ...
... and this















Firstly, there’s my personal life and the balance I was thinking about was about time alone (mostly but not solely to write) and time with other people. I’m an introvert and I LOVE time alone. Moving to this new house has been ideal from that point of view. It’s a long way from anywhere and there is little chance of passers by dropping in, definitely no traffic noise, etc. It would be all too easy to spend days if not weeks without seeing anyone at all.

And much as I love solitude, I do love seeing people, too. And if I want to see people, living out here means I have to make an effort to do that. To organise for visitors to come here, or for me to go elsewhere. After a flurry of visitors over the summer we have very little lined up. So note to self – you need to make this effort. Not just because I enjoy the occasions for themselves, but also because afterwards they leave me with a new view on the world, new information, new ideas for writing. And an even greater enjoyment of said solitude!

Secondly, there’s my writing. Getting the balance right in my writing between my adult and teen novels isn’t always easy. But the most difficult thing is getting the balance right within a novel, that perfect mixture of romance, setting, character, action. How do people manage that? The best books make it look effortless. Maybe it is for some people, but not for me. I’ve been trying to plot my novels more, and, although this hasn’t been completely successful, it has allowed me to keep track of what is happening when (and sometimes, more importantly, what is NOT happening). It’s all about that dreaded word, pace, varying it and – yes – getting the balance right. It’s not something that comes naturally but I think I’m learning some of the tricks that will help me achieve it.

How do other people manage to balance everything in their own lives and work?

9 comments:

  1. It's not easy, Gill. I love company and the stimulation of being surrounded by family, friends and other writers, but equally I need space to write and enjoy the peace of the countryside. Apparently the Danes have a word for finding your 'happy place' - hygge -pronounced 'hooga' (derived from hug!) - which is all about carving out some simple happy time each day. At times 'hygge' might mean you wish to spend time with friends, but on other days your 'hygge' time might be sitting drinking coffee enjoying a beautiful sunset. Wishing you lots of 'hygge' time over the coming months - whatever form that takes. : )

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    1. That's such a lovely idea Rae. Will work on accepting that my 'hygge' time is different things on different days.

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  2. I love time alone too, Gill, which was more difficult when husband started working from home! But you're right, we also need the company of others and I always feel more stimulated and inspired after meeting with friends or other writers - even though I'm glad to be home again afterwards. As for balance within writing - I don't think I've given that enough thought!

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    1. Thanks for popping by Rosemary. You're books seem perfectly balanced to me, so maybe it comes naturally to you!

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  3. I love time alone too, Gill. I'm guessing that must be a common thread with writers? There's nothing better than space and time to get right inside your head with your characters. That's been sadly lacking for me recently, as other activities and interests have taken over, and commitments to promo stuff and necessary work on social media has impinged.

    I'm not sure how I would react to living somewhere isolated, however. I like to be able to make the choice of whether to see friends or not without too much effort - having visitors is a definite and rather all-consuming commitment, and travelling to see others takes up, well, time travelling!

    As for balance in novels ... I wouldn't worry about that. Having read your books, I know you have a natural feel for what is right.

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    1. Thanks Jenny! I'm starting to see the attraction of living somewhere like Edinburgh. But on blanace (ha!) I think it suits us better to be here.

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  4. Finding the balance is definitely not easy. I love time alone but I know the more I have, the more reluctant I become to even leave the house!

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    1. Yup, I know that feeling. I think having so much time alone has made me more aware of the dangers of being a hermit. I'm starting to think there is such a thing as too much alone-time. Still not absolutely sure of that, but just starting to suspect ...

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  5. Crikey, with a view like that you could be inundated with people wanting to come and help you balance! And there's the other sort of balance .... wine in one hand, wooden spoon stirring supper in the other...... :)

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