Look at your wristwatch.

I’ve been doing it—all afternoon, in fact. Longingly, and perhaps a tad frantically, not unlike the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. WD deadlines, freelance deadlines, contest deadlines, family deadlines, hungry-cat-staring-at-me deadlines; deadlines, deadlines.

As any writer knows, it all adds up—for you, and your art.

But take another look at your watch, fellow White Rabbits.

If you’re wearing an older mechanical watch, hidden in that charming case, within that tiny industrial labyrinth, there’s something called a hairspring. It’s attached to a wheel. In symphony, their job is to keep the time clicking along. Crafted just right, the watch works perfectly. The hands continue on their circular path, calmly, unaffected by the chaos of the world around them and, for that matter, whatever owner the poor little hairspring and wheel are strapped to.

Appropriately, the hairspring is also called the balance spring. The wheel, the balance wheel.

Balance. It keeps a watch moving forward. And, I believe, it’s also what best keeps our writing lives moving forward.

It’s easy to forget—after all, we’ve all witnessed case studies of writers who write to the brink of dawn and to the brink of death, family and friends be damned, second to the story. And, on the flip side, we’ve all see writers who, well, never write—life just doesn’t allow it, doesn’t give it room to breathe, story itself be damned.

Maybe we’ve even been both of those writers. I have. Which is why my goal to cap 2011 off is to create a deeper sense of balance in my writing life. Take time to breathe, absorb. Take time to live, and then really write. Take time to remember what’s within the watch—zealous little time-telling rabbits be damned.

So here’s to ending the year right. And here’s to our current feature package (which I intend to field-test), designed in various ways to help us all do just that, and leave us primed for the most productive 2012 we can have.

Of course, there are myriad ways to end your writing year right. Take WD Editor Jessica Strawser, who recently gave birth to her first child, a boy whom I have just seen.


And at the moment, Jessica is at home being a mom.


Perhaps it’s the secret to—and maybe even the meaning of—our writing lives, our lives as writers.