In the hands of an expert juggler all the balls stay aloft, the pins fly in a blur and beneath this flurry of motion the juggler pedals his herky, jerky unicycle across the high wire while the crowd holds it collective breath waiting for the pins, balls, unicycle and rider to crash into the floor in a giant puff of sawdust. It doesn’t happen because this is the show. In practice sessions the juggler gets a crash helmet and a net.
Juggling is learning proficiency while everything is in motion, which reminds me of writing. Writing is just like juggling without the high wire. Writing has tension wires aplenty. The other elements of writing are outlined as follows:
• The Balls of Writing
It takes at least a pair to get in the game, otherwise what is the challenge?
• The Pins of Writing
The pins are never still, but if they were, it would be clear they have faces. Husband, children, six-year-old grandson, the dog needing to be let out to potty, all five of the cats want to snuggle on me or the laptop keyboard, the neighbors crazy dogs are barking again, the telephone rings, the yahoo next door is on his lawnmower while his youngest son pounds drums as if discordance is a mating call , the doorbell rings and the Orkin man has to tell me about the life cycle of termites, my cell phone rings and the cheeriest broad on the planet wants to take me to Hawaii and give me $50,000 in cash, the neighbors crazy dogs are still barking at falling leaves and I feel a preternatural pull toward the kitchen when I hear the Hershey’s chocolate soulfully crooning like Barry White with the Starbucks blonde roast singing back up. Those pins are enough to drive a writer crazy at any given moment and it is unclear whose head is going to be traumatized first.
• The Unicycle of Writing
The balancing act happens on one wheel with a thin sliver of padded metal between the legs with feet going jerkily backward and forward on slippery pedals to keep the whole thing in motion. One slip and there go the balls. The pins rain down like judgment day and sawdust tastes like, well sawdust. If writing were to be fitted with wheels, it would be a unicycle. It is a one-seater, doesn’t go very fast, takes perfect balance and co-ordination, looks shiny and fun but is guaranteed to throw its rider face first into a steaming pile of elephant poo.
• The High Wire of Writing
Didn’t I already explain I am not a candidate for the high wire? Nope, all I have is tension wires. Ah well, an explanation must be forthcoming to round this circus act out. Tension wires are the wires that hold up the high wire. We writers all aspire to the high wire but very few make it. Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Harlen Coben, James Patterson and Susan Elizabeth Phillips have all made the high wire. They make this juggling act look easy. They also make it look like any one of us, with a lot of talent and even more luck could make it to the big top.
Are your writing juggling experiences anything like this? Let me know in the comments if this idea comes close to your idea of juggling writing and let me know the other things you struggle with in your act.