Friday, April 11, 2014

Juggling by Debra H. Goldstein

I’m not a writer’s writer.  If I could claim that distinction, I would follow a schedule – perhaps coffee, exercise and writing before and after a short lunch until so many words or pages are completed.  I marvel at writers who live a pre-ordained lifestyle that produces a specified number of words or pages stopping only when "The End" is typed.  Me, I’m a juggler.

Jugglers balance balls, oranges, bowling pins, or whatever comes up in life in the air.  When we watch a juggler, we hold our breath hoping nothing breaks the cycle by falling.  Invariably, at some point, there is a miss, but the juggler grins or grimaces and tries again.

My writing is exactly like the juggler’s act.  Sometimes things go smoothly and the words flow in an easy timely manner, but more often, I add one more ball and my rhythm gets out of kilter.  This week was going to be simple:  two blogs to prepare, a rewrite of the book I am working on, a couple of contest entries if I had spare time, and the beginning of a two week online course with daily homework.  A piece of cake.  That is, until I lost a few hours to a medical appointment, an old friend called to catch up for an hour plus, my husband had the audacity to want to have dinner and conversation, all of the kids checked in, I had to spend hours on the computer and phone purchasing airline tickets for some upcoming trips and wrangling with the television, TV, and internet provider because my bill took a funny jump.  My goals for the week all came tumbling down.

Frustrated, I prioritized.  1) Get homework for class done; 2) smile…this is a guest blogger week on “It’s Not Always a Mystery” and Paula Benson sent me a great piece for Monday, April 14, explaining “What the Bar Exam Taught Me About Writing” (why didn’t I think of that?); 3) Do more class homework; 4) rewrite two pages; 5) write my Stiletto Gang blog; and take a deep breath so that easing in a few extra balls marked as the distractions of life didn’t cause me to drop anything.  Will I finish all the words and pages I hoped for this week?  No.  The contest stuff may have to wait until closer to deadline, the book rewrite may take an extra week, but I’m sure managing to successfully keep a lot of balls in the air and I’m grateful for that.
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Debra H. Goldstein is the author of 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue, a mystery set on the University of Michigan's campus in the 1970's.  Her most recent short stories, "Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief!" and "Early Frost" can be found in the anthology Mardi Gras Murder (2014) and in The Birmingham Arts Journal (April 2014).  Contact Debra through her website or through her personal blog, "It's Not Always a Mystery,"


  1. Replies
    1. Kathi,
      So good to hear someone identify with what I'm feeling!

  2. Juggling is just a part of the writing life--and something only other writers understand. A right-on post.

    1. Marilyn,
      Coming from you - a master juggler, I appreciate your comment. Any words from the wise?

    2. I'm a list maker--and love when I can cross something off. I do not have long conversations on the phone or watch TV in the daytime, except the soap I nap through in the afternoon.

  3. What a timely message, Debra. Spring always seems to bring a flock of responsibilities with the pollen! Thank you for such a thoughtful message and a kind mention of my guest blog with you next week. I am really looking forward to it.

  4. Paula,
    Thank You for your comments and for taking the time out of your flock of responsibilities to blog for "It's Not Always a Mystery" this coming Monday at on "What the Bar Exam Taught Me About Writing"

  5. I'm a juggler too. Between working full time and writing, my time is very structured. So I fit in what I can where. Sounds like you have some good time management skills in place.