Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Importance of Having Friends Who Are Not Involved With Writing or the Publishing Business At All

So I'm going to play some more basketball this morning.

Which is pretty cool, considering that basketball - along with reading - predates writing as my first love.  I was blessed with a moderate amount of success at the high school and small college level, and I can honestly say basketball has been good to me.  

To make things even cooler, Abby played high school and college basketball herself, so playing basketball has always been just another bond between us, rather than a wedge that could drive us apart.  In fact, as the below pictures attest, basketball was  a key component in our wedding:





















I played league and pick-up basketball pretty regularly until about two years ago, when I landed my biggest writing gig ever in Hiram Grange, plus it was a year into writing my weekly freelance column for the city paper.  Not exactly writing NYT Bestselling novels, but suddenly I had deadlines for publication.  For the first time, playing basketball was cutting into writing time, so basketball really started taking the back seat.

Now, two years later, I'm slowly crawling my way back into playing basketball regularly.  Not ready for league play, yet (because with kids and the potential for writing deadlines, I don't want the weekly commitment)Anyway, I've returned to the court for two reasons:

1. the 60-70 pounds I lost four years ago are starting to creep back

and, most importantly:

2. I've realized I really, really need friends who have nothing to do with writing or the publishing business at ALL.

Those of us involved in creative endeavors understand how addictive they are.  We get sucked into our little world, mimicking the Ultimate Creator with our own little creative attempts.  And, on a much more basic level: it's just so cool.  Giving birth to stories and worlds and characters, being just as surprised by anyone else at what comes to life under our hands.

It can be addictive.  Really addictive.  

Too addictive, maybe.

I've blogged a lot about how for me, Cons are restorative.  Because being a creator is lonely, at times.  It's important to once and awhile reconnect with other creators, talk shop, keep in touch with the market and the business, and just hang with people who love stuff like you do.  But I've realized it's JUST AS IMPORTANT, maybe even more so, to stay rooted in the real world, hang out with friends who have nothing to do with writing or publishing, who are rooted in the real world, just like you.

So Thursday, I went to a social gathering - IE, party - with my fellow faculty from school.  Granted, we ended up talking a lot of "teacher shop", but still: these folks aren't writers.  Not living the "writer life", with no aspirations of doing so.  They were just regular folks, some with families, some young families with no kids, some single folks.  But regular, non-writing folks.

Today, I'm hitting the court with a friend I've made - yes, another English teacher - at school who's just a "regular guy" like me.  Yeah, he's an English teacher, so he's a book and word-nerd like myself, and he plays in a band (saxophone) and he's killer on Guitar Hero.  And he played high school basketball and is an assistant for one of the area's high school boys varsity teams, but he's something SEPARATE from the writing industry.

See, I've been fighting to balance between two things: 

1. the writing life and all it entails (Cons, the industry, the "pull" of being with writer friends)
2. my family: wife and kids

But I think I've been missing an integral ingredient: friends who are just regular joes like myself, who have nothing to do with writing at all. Because let's be honest, the addictive pull of #1 is SO strong. I need something in the middle of 1 & 2 to even things out.

So I'm off to play basketball.  Trying to get back in shape, hanging out with just regular folks.

Of course, I also re-engaged the 3 AM schedule this morning, too.

Cause it's all about balance...