Monday, May 17, 2010

Guest Post: Balance, and the Pursuit Thereof

by Lisa DeNikolits

Seeking balance. Everything in moderation. Now where’s the fun in that? Or rather, where’s the adrenalin rush in that? Folks like me, we like to rush headlong into things, hunting down that flush of hyper energy. The concept of balance brings with it an uneasy sense of compromise, tedium and even lethargy. Balance. No thanks, I’d rather push myself to the extreme – neck strained, shoulders hunched, eyes focused, hands punishing the keyboard – I type as fast as I can.

It’s this kind of rush that had me pound out a 220,000 word novel in six weeks straight. And, hot on the heels of that, but with the same passion and single-mindedness, I edited and rewrote the manuscript, then edited it and rewrote it again.

Then… a weird thing happens.

So, backtrack for a moment and imagine there’s a video camera behind each of your eyeballs, and the right and left viewfinders are running in such perfect synch that you don’t even notice they’re there.

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, the right video feed twitches, just enough to jolt your view of the world in a continuous and horribly erratic fashion.

This is not good. It’s tough to write when your one eyeball’s gone manic. But you have to get to the end of the chapter, nay, you have to rewrite the entire book. You don’t have time for a neurotic eyeball. You console yourself with the thought that maybe this is simply a weird shadow thing, all you really need is a low-brimmed fedora. So you don a hat and pull it down low but to your dismay, the eyeball continues to fizz and pop. You try to ignore it and continue at fever pitch because who knows when you’ll get this beautiful undisturbed time again, you have to max it out, the eyeball will have to adjust.

But the frantic antics refuse to cease and desist, and I seek out my partner for help and advice.

“Maybe I should try sunglasses as well as the hat,” I offer by way of solution.

“Rest the eye, go for a walk, get some balance in your day,” he advises. “You can’t just sit there, hunched over, for days on end, writing and staring at your screen.”

Who says I can’t? I look at him. Or at least I try to. But my eye is twitching and I think maybe there is a hamster in my right eyeball, running on a wheel, snorting speed.

“I have to finish this first,” I say.

“But there is no end,” he reminds me.

I look at him in horror. Ah. Right. There is no end.

“In which case,” I say, and I return to my keyboard, “I had better work even faster.”

About Lisa: Lisa made a family road trip a little more interesting when she was 10 by announcing that she had decided on her pee-u-da-name. After a moment of silence her father asked if she meant pseudonym? Exactly! And the name she had spent endless miles mulling over was Elizabeth Deane. Although
Elizabeth Deane has no bylines, Lisa de Nikolits--the name Lisa's parents mulled over endlessly--has many.

At age 21 Lisa started out as a feature writer at a South African magazine. After a few months she was asked to pinch hit for the layout artist. She had found her true love--she enjoyed designing pages, it was fun! So much fun that she spent the next 20 years as art director for magazines including Vogue and Marie Claire.

But one of the best things about her job was that she got to meet remarkable women every day. Women who were crying out to be written about. So Lisa wrote. Late at night on borrowed typewriters and eventually a dinosaur of a PC. With orange type that flickered on a black screen she captured the stories of the women who populated her days.

Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies, her poetry received a bronze medal in Canada, and her book Single Girls Go Mad Sooner was published in 1995. Along
the way she's also dealt with the heartache of the book that went into final proofs before the publisher shut down because of financial troubles leaving Lisa's literary baby stranded. Despite setbacks, this writer/art director/photographer who calls Toronto home is still "fired up" with the help of her supportive parents, feisty sister, and companion and fellow photographer Bradford Dunlop.

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