Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lighting the other end of the candle :: The Perils of Helium Hand

There comes a time when you have to make hard choices and for me, that time has arrived.

The candle is already lit at both ends and now I either have to figure out how to light the middle too, or something has got to give.

This is the main reason I haven't been blogging as much lately: I have a bad case of Helium Hand. When it comes time to volunteer for things, my hand just seems to rise of its own accord and before I know it, I'm letting things go that might further my career just trying to keep up with all of the things I volunteered to do.

I am a huge advocate of volunteering in your community. Help out anywhere and in any way that you can.

Education isn't something that should be delegated to teachers and then ignored, hoping they'll wave a magic wand and make our kids ready to take their places as a citizen. Hell, Washington State has a constitutional mandate to fully fund education and even they can't keep up with it. There are a number of reasons for this, among them that there's too little money, too many tests, and not enough hours in the day.

Never one to say "Go and do" without having gone and done, I kept putting my hand up until I needed a hand myself.

Awhile back, I was tapped to help create a new community Writing Center for the Tacoma area. We call it write@253. Out of that grew a wider effort to align all of the mentoring programd operating in Tacoma in a group effort to raise awareness and drive volunteerism in the south Puget Sound region.

They're both excellent causes that I am aching to lend them every kind of support I have at my disposal. The writing center is a specific cause, a cause near and dear to my heart where I get to directly help students find their words and assemble them into stories. Find an hour has a broader impact across the whole of the community. Every hour I spend with them, I'm theoretically helping an untold number of kids.

I am not saying that my presence or absence is the lynch pin for the whole effort. Far from it. Neither will fall apart without me. I cannot imagine walking away from either, but I'm coming to realize that I only have time for one of them.

Setting aside the fact that I see my family and friends less than I would like (because who can't say the same?) at this moment, I have two very personal novels ready to move center stage. Also, there's also a large-scale write-for-hire gig standing in the wings, clearing its throat and ready to push everything else aside with a real deadline. Oh, and I have a day job that I love.

Even when you only sleep four hours a night, you only have so many productive hours in a day.

My first impulse is to pick the very personal project that allows me to help students one-on-one. It came first anyway, the other just sort of happened. But I want to do both.

I believe that every writer carries a debt to the person, the place, and the culture that  put the pen in their hand. It is a debt that is repaid by encouraging more writers and spreading a love of reading and writing, an appreciation of our history and culture.

How do I keep the candle burning when I can't seem to keep my head above water?

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Pages to Type is a blog about books, writing and literary culture (with the occasional digression into coffee and the care and feeding of giant robots).