Work-Life Balance

I’ve been thinking a lot about work-life balance lately. I have three books coming out this month: The Beggar’s Opera hits the US market in paperback in March; it will be released in Canada in the paperback version next week, and the second in the Inspector Ramirez series, The Poisoned Pawn, will be hitting Canadian bookstores on Tuesday.

My agent emailed me last week to say my commissioning editor had asked if I was working on any other Inspector Ramirez books, and while I have an idea in my head, I don’t have any time to do much more than think about writing right now.


I’m in real estate and January is usually our slow period, a time to take a little breather and get ready for the busy spring market. But for some reason, people in Ottawa are acting like it’s already spring.

Out of the blue, I was referred a lovely pair of buyers who weren’t really thinking about buying until the summer –we decided to go take a look at what was out there and they found a house they absolutely loved on the first day we went scouting; deal done.

I’m working on a listing that required some updates, so I’ve been stickhandling all the details on getting the trades in and staging it. (53 Esterlawn should hit the market next week if you’re in Ottawa. It’s a 3 bedroom, 3 bath end unit with a lovely layout, new appliances and brand new carpet, an attached garage and a yard for less than 300K in the Carlingwood area).

And then thanks to an unexpected  (but very welcome) Twitter referral, I have a new listing presentation  this afternoon. That’s three new files this month when I wasn’t expecting any. Any plans I might have had to think about what the next book might look like have flown out the window.

I have a good friend at the office who’s struggling with work-life balance too. He has a new woman in his life and they keep making plans for date nights which get tossed out when  their work commitments intercede. He used to work 24/7, but he’s starting to realize there’s more to life than work.

Luckily, I don’t have anyone whose schedule I have to accommodate, except the cat and dog. (Poor Scout: I let him out into backyard the other morning in the bitter cold, then ran off to Esterlawn when I got a call to say the appliance delivery truck was on the way and would be there in 15 minutes. I came home to find him still outside, nose pressed against the door and very happy to see me home.)

I am hitting that stage where a day off feels like a luxury: it’s a day when I can actually do a laundry and get the house cleaned, get some filing done, take the dog for a walk, find 40 minutes for yoga. When do I get a few hours to myself I have tons of things to do.

The interesting thing when it comes to the intersection between writing and real estate, however, is that writing feels like work; real estate is fun. One is isolating and often frustrating and very time consuming; the other involves socializing, wandering through people’s homes, and working with people I really like.

When I started writing, I became part of the writing community and that’s been terrific — writers are creative and smart and interesting (although we can also be anxious and neurotic). But when I became a realtor, I found a family. There isn’t a day when I don’t look forward to seeing my pals at the office or working with my clients.

On the work-life balance, then, I’ve been lucky enough to (finally) find a career that is balanced in all the important ways. Oddly enough, it’s the writing that pushes it askew.

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