September 20, 2019

Looking for Balance

I often see myself as two different people. Me, the person. Me, the author. In my real life, I strive for balance. In my fictional world, I create drama. Yin and Yang. Order and chaos.

What is balance?

Achieving both internal and external balance is ideal. Self-care is an important ingredient. So is moderation. There really can be too much of a good thing.

Internal balance can be mastered through equal parts engagement and retreat in your mind, heart, and body. Think, then rest. Give love, and then receive. Make healthy choices, and then allow yourself treats.

External factors affecting balance include work, social, family, and fun. Achieve career goals, and then enjoy vacation time. See friends, and then take time for yourself. Take care of your family and ensure your boundaries are respected. Participate in fun actives, and then rest.

[Tanjeloff, Jasmin. "How to Create a Balanced Life: 9 Tips to Feel Calm and Grounded." Tiny Buddha. Retrieved from]

I struggle to maintain balance in a life that constantly invites extremes. At times, my thoughts and emotions fall within an incoherent sliding scale. I see life as either very, very good or very, very bad—all or nothing—when an objective evaluation would be a more logical approach. What's logic got to do with it? I take my volatile thoughts and emotions and process them creatively.

How to create chaos?

An important part of writing is creating chaos for your characters—drawing them into impossible situations or giving them problems to resolve. A happily-ever-after is the end goal, but it's all about the journey, right?

In Duet at Midnight, my Chapters: Interactive Stories app contest entry, I threw one problem after another at my main character Drew Parker. I would wake up each morning and ask myself, "What can I do to Drew today?" For my story to work, I needed bad things to happen to him. A lot of bad things And, just when it seemed things were looking up, I rolled yet another hurdle at him.

Duet at Midnight

Drew Parker is headed to college with his girlfriend until he meets his twin sisters. Will he save his old life or find a new dream?

Read for free online or on the Chapters: Interactive Stories app. Download the app on your mobile device through the Apple App Store or Google Play.
*** Spoiler Alert ***

His father walks out on his birthday. His mother abandons him emotionally. His father dies. He becomes the legal guardian of his half-sisters. His high school girlfriend breaks up with him. He loses his job. He worries about losing his financial aid for college.

These trials helped Drew determine what he wants in life. Without conflict—chaos—Drew's life would've been drastically different.

*** Back to the Post ***

Encountering problems helps your characters evolve and grow. A life without conflict, as lovely as it sounds, would be pretty boring. Strife molds who you become and helps you build resilience for future problems.

"What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

It's not realistic to hand a character everything they want. Even good things come at a cost. And, truly, the happy ending becomes that much sweeter when the journey there has been filled with trouble.

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