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Studying, Socializing, and Sentence Fragments: The Ultimate Balancing Act -- by Allyson Gottlieb

Except for a very rare, elite few, all writers have another job: the one that pays the bills.  So working on your next bestseller (a full-time job in and of itself) has to be squeezed between other obligations of life.  It’s a bit like walking a tightrope sometimes, trying to fit it all in – walking a tightrope backwards, while blindfolded, carrying a massive bowl of fruit (on your head).

I’m sure we’ve all had that moment where we felt certain we were going to slip and fall, knowing that no amount of flailing or struggling was going to get us back on that rope.  Sometimes the impetus for the fall has to do with your writing, sometimes it doesn’t.  Either way, it still hurts when you hit the ground – because there’s no such thing as a safety net in life.

But we dust ourselves off, pick up that bowl of fruit, climb back up to the tightrope, and keep going.

Why?  For the same reason we ever got on it in the first place.


We all have it, or we wouldn’t be here.  It’s what keeps us going – keeps us writing – even when life starts spinning out of control, when things are piling up and it would be so much easier if we just didn’t care so much.  But we do care.  And that’s how we manage to do what we do, even with our extraordinarily busy schedules.

I’m certainly no exception, though I daresay my schedule looks quite a bit different than most of the rest of you.  My ‘second job’ is high school.  So in the last two years, as I’ve been writing (and finally finished!) my debut novel Inner Circle, I’ve been balancing French homework, studying for the SATs, and fretting over whether or not the guy who sits across from me in math class likes me.

There are nights when the workload is overwhelming and I don’t get to write – my family complains when that happens, because it puts me in the worst mood.  I’ve recently developed a bad habit of correcting people’s grammar, which as you can imagine doesn’t make me the most popular girl in school, coupled with the fact that my idea of a fun Friday night is watching an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy and doing some editing.  And don’t even get me started on my nonexistent love life.

But at the same time, I’m so incredibly lucky.  I look around at my friends and classmates, see them struggling to figure out what they want to do with their lives as college looms on the horizon, and I don’t have to wrestle with those same questions.  Because I’ve found my passion.

Despite the ups and downs, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is what I want to do with my life.  I’ve been writing for so long that at this point, it’s as much a part of who I am as the fact that I have brown hair or am hopelessly klutzy (don’t ask).  And since it’s always been like that for me, I think I sort of assumed it was like that for everyone my age, but it’s not.  In fact, it’s really rare.

My high school is very highly regarded for the quality of its education in a public school, but I haven’t always felt right there.  The focus is much more on math and science, and even the business electives and clubs like DECA or FBLA.  It’s been enough to make me doubt myself more than once.

But then a friend of my English teacher told me about CC, and it was exactly what I hadn’t realized I needed.  (Shout out to you Megan, wherever you are!)  I can’t tell you how amazing it is to have found such an awesome group of people like this – to get to read your stories, get feedback on mine, pass ideas around in the forums, and just generally to know that I’m not alone.

Nothing about this life we’ve all chosen is easy.  But we didn’t choose it because of that.  We’re here because we love what we’re doing, and that in itself is reward enough.

So even though I might slip and fall a hundred times, at the end of the day there’s nothing I’d rather be doing more than walking that tightrope.

(Now why can’t my love interest character be real?  He’d make the perfect prom date.)

Posted by Allyson Gottlieb 25 Mar 2013 at 05:36
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Responses to this blog

Zacs 27 Mar 2013 at 01:55  
I agreed that it is passion for writing that keep us going. Work is work that pay the bills.
Breeze 28 Mar 2013 at 14:08  
Great attitude, Allyson, and vital for success. Thanks for sharing. Many older people must be envious that you're focused and determined and young, too!
Lindymoon 29 Mar 2013 at 10:55  
Too many writers say that they hate writing, that they love having written. I don't know why they do it then. Allyson, you may not be the first to know what you want, and why, so early in life — but you are lucky that it's in this time, this place. You are also, obviously, a talent to watch!
Mhtritter 31 Mar 2013 at 17:33  
Great blog, Allyson. I was surprised when I got to the part that said your job was high-school; you already write with great confidence and clarity. Passion and persistence will keep you on that rope!
Ml2872 31 Mar 2013 at 23:32  
One of the best blogs I've seen on CC. You hit the nail on the head.
Megan09 4 Apr 2013 at 21:56  
You're welcome!

Totally kidding, just saw my name and said, 'why not'?

I applaud you for knowing whst you want. In college, it's so hard to know what classes to take and which degrees to pursue, especially when there are so many opprtunities.
Idoj 7 Apr 2013 at 15:42  

Idoj 7 Apr 2013 at 15:43  
It's entirely possible to develop your story ideas while you're doing whatever pays your bills. It's further entirely possible that this occupies all of the time in which you're on someone else's clock to perform some other sort of work.

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