How to Balance Writing and Home Life

How to Balance Writing and Home Life by Thriller Author Gary Morgenstein

Writing is total war. You are in the trenches of your imagination with fictional characters who nag and scold and clamor for constant attention. Everything you see, think, experience, ponder is a prism for the work. In a way, writing’s like living in a maximum-security prison except you get to order in Thai food and DVR Sons of Anarchy (my favorite show). Escape is difficult.

But you must, otherwise you will lose your mind. And for a writer, so absorbed in make-believe worlds, an intense physical world is imperative.

For 15 years I studied martial arts and rose to first-degree black belt. My discipline was Okinawan go-ju-te, though my senseis (teachers) always incorporated other types of martial arts, from Chinese staff and Filipino sticks to Japanese swords (I always managed to slice my stomach practicing one specific routine).

Classes in the dojo, working out in between, mastering the zen of being prepared to respond if someone tried hurting you or a loved one. Preferably without being physical. Once in London with my son, packed in a crowded elevator at a tube station heading to the theatre, a 30-something man inadvertently pushed him. Being eight, he pushed back. The guy started jawing at my child.

Papa Bear shot him a long, steely look, saying in my Brooklyn accent, “Chill man.” The elevator of Brits quieted at the reincarnation of Leo Gorcey, but the dude ignored me, continuing his trash talk. I repeated, “I said, chill man.” His girl friend tugged at his sleeve, gesturing at my expression You don’t want to go there. Convinced he might be headed for a diet of soft foods, he quickly sought a graceful way to exit. I said to my son, “See, that’s how to handle disputes, without violence,” but, being eight, he was a little disappointed his father hadn’t smashed the guy’s head.

About a year and a half ago, I got tired of hitting and being hit. Once I wore my bruises proudly. At a certain point in life, stubbing your toe can send you to the Mayo Clinic, much less punched by some 20-year-old white belt looking to impress his girl friend.

I turned to vinyasser yoga. Compared to martial arts training, I expected mellow. Guess again. Different training utilizes different muscles. My first couple classes, I felt like my body was made of low quality plywood. I tilted, groaned and, since I have a bad right knee from playing football as a kid, certain positions defied me. Gradually, my body adjusted and embraced. Now I’m a yoga addict. Plus there are so many pretty girls in the class!

Hey, I never claimed to be Buddha. Writing does require all kinds of balances.

Novelist/playwright Gary Morgenstein is the author of four novels. In addition to Jesse’s Girl, a thriller about a widowed father’s search for his adopted teenage son who has run away from a drug treatment program to find his biological sister, his books include the romantic triangle Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, the political thriller Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and the baseball Rocky The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees. His prophetic play Ponzi Man performed to sell-out crowds at a recent New York Fringe Festival. His other full-length work, You Can’t Grow Tomatoes in the Bronx, is in development. He can be reached at You can pick up your copy of Jesse's Girl at Amazon by clicking here!

How about you? How do you handle writing and home life?

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