The Writer’s Life: A Question of Balance


A Question of Balance

Balancing your day job with your passion for writing and reading is hard. The day job is important. You need a regular paycheck and insurance for survival.

So unless you’re a Dean Koontz with a spouse who is willing to give you five years to make it with her working full-time to support you or you have enough wealth, savings, or other sources of income, you need a day job.

Having a Life is Important

You need to manage your time to keep yourself fiscally, spiritually and physically fit. You need a sound body and a sound mind as you write. You need time for a spouse or whoever your relationship is with.

Your spouse isn’t going to cook, clean, and give sex on demand to you while you hibernate in your office researching, reading, and writing. You have to invest time in your relationship(s).

Let’s face it, there are days when you are too tired or exhausted to write. There are other days where all you feel like is reading. The reading recharges your energy and is fodder for future writing.

You Need to Write Regularly

Notice I used the word regularly, not daily.

Why not daily? Because you will have some days you cannot write. If you are trying daily and miss a day you will feel guilty and may give up. If you just write one page a day for 25 out of 30 days in a month that is a 300-page book in just one year!

You Can Do It

You can find the time to write if it’s your passion. You can find the balance to do it. Go for it!


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Meet the Poets: Carl Sandburg – 1919 and 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1940 Pulitzer Prize for History

“I make it clear why I write as I do and why other poets write as they do. After hundreds of experiments, I decided to go my own way in style and see what would happen.” – Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He received three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and another for his history, a biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Sandburg was almost unknown to the literary world when, in 1914, a group of his poems appeared in the nationally circulated Poetry magazine.

Two years later his book Chicago Poems was published, and the thirty-eight-year-old author found himself on the brink of a career that would bring him international acclaim.

Sandburg published another volume of poems, Cornhuskers, in 1918, and wrote a searching analysis of the 1919 Chicago race riots.

More poetry followed, along with Rootabaga Stories (1922), a book of fanciful children’s tales. That book prompted Sandburg’s publisher, Alfred Harcourt, to suggest a biography of Abraham Lincoln for children. Sandburg researched and wrote for three years, producing not a children’s book, but a two-volume biography for adults. His Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, published in 1926, was Sandburg’s first financial success.

With the financial success, he moved to a new home on the Michigan dunes and devoted the next several years to completing four more volumes, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940.

Sandburg continued his prolific writing, publishing more poems, a novel, Remembrance Rock, a second volume of folk songs, and an autobiography, Always the Young Strangers.

In 1945 the Sandburg family moved with their herd of prize-winning goats and thousands of books to Flat Rock, North Carolina.

Sandburg’s Complete Poems won him a second Pulitzer Prize in 1951. Sandburg died at his North Carolina home July 22, 1967. His ashes were returned, as he had requested, to his Galesburg birthplace. In the small Carl Sandburg Park behind the house, his ashes were placed beneath Remembrance Rock, a red granite boulder. Ten years later the ashes of his wife were placed there.

Source:  Pulitzer Awards 1919, Pulitzer Awards 1940, and Pulitzer Awards 1951

For more on Carl Sandburg see: http://carl-sandburg.com/biography.htm

Poem: Gone Electric

Gone Electric

Our music choice was known as folk
We all laughed at a knock-knock joke
Acoustic was our favorite sound
In D.C. The Beatles played in the round

We cried when JFK was killed that day
And why the war we asked LBJ
Newport Folk Festival was going strong
And Bob Dylan wrote our favorite song

On TV we got Lost in Space
And Ryan O’Neil was on Payton Place
Way back in ’65 the words were Supreme
And played the greatest lyricist ever seen

The times were a changing because of him
Sara Lownds never went to the gym
Just gave him three sons and a little girl
Some before, some after the tour that rocked the world

His acoustic half sounded the same
The electric half critics called a shame
As his music changed the world
Shouts of Judas started to swirl

They hated him at the Royal Albert Hall
And some were glad when he took that fall
Others thought after his motorcycle accident
That his life and career were spent.

Eight years before he toured again
Wouldn’t let the critic boss him with their pen
And his music never really would change
Though his voice now shows age’s strain

To the arenas, we still all come
And he sings never chewing gum
Just Like a Woman, Mr. Tambourine Man and Desolation Row
And singing Like a Rolling Stone, he closes the show.

© 2011 by Jimmie A. Kepler

One Great Way to Discipline Yourself for Success

Below is a little guide I put together. I call it “One Great Way to Discipline Yourself for Success.”

1. You must master your moods.

Proverbs 25:8 – Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.

2. You must watch your words.

Proverbs 13: 3 – He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

3. You must restrain your actions.

Proverbs 19:11 – A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

4. You must stick to your schedule.

Ephesians 5:15-16 – Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

5. You must manage your money.

Proverbs 21:20 – The wise person saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.

6. You must maintain your health.

I Thessalonians 4:4 – Each of you should learn to control his own body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect …

The above Bible verses offer a Bible-based, common sense approach to success.


Photo Source: Pixaby

Ten Thoughts to Encourage Others

Ten Thoughts to Encourage Others:

Over the years I have noticed people who have the ability and skill to do a task or assignment often lack the confidence to tackle the job before them. If they are a writer, they may fear to put words on paper. If an analyst, they may hesitate or question themselves before solving a problem or recommending a solution.

I have found that a little encouragement helps them achieve their goals and do their job. Here are ten thoughts on how I encourage others.

1. Show a Sincere Interest in the Person.

  • Listen to what they are saying.
  • When they are talking, look at them not your smartphone.
  • Be interested in what is happening in their life, the challenge(s) they are facing.
  • Let them know you care.

2. Acknowledge What’s Important. 

  • When you acknowledge what’s important to others, you offer a form of verification and support about who they are and what they’re doing.
  • A proper technique I use is merely to restate their question or challenge and then allow them to talk it through.
  • Follow-up and ask how it’s going, are they making progress.
  • Do not share similar circumstances you have lived through or had a friend or family member survive. It’s about them, not you!

3. Say “Congratulations.”

  • These magical “Words of Encouragement” at the right time can make all the difference between a person “keeping going” and “giving up.”
  • Congratulate them on a job or task well done. This may be as simple as their meeting a deadline.
  • A “Post-It” note or email congratulatory word has fantastic results.
  • Give a person the credit they’ve earned. Do not claim it for yourself.

4. Be There. 

  • Sometimes the “ministry of your presence” is all they need.
  • Just being there for them is encouraging.
  • Many times all they need is a listening ear to talk through the issue or task.
  • Let them know “you have there back.” Many times these simple acts share hope.

5. Say “Thank You.”

  • Saying thank you is a common courtesy.
  • It is good manners.
  • People like a little reward for hard work.
  • A simple thank you will make others aware that you know what they have done worthwhile and find it meaningful to you.

6. Return the Favor.

  • If someone does something sweet for you, an excellent way to show your appreciation is merely to return the favor.
  • It will both shock and encourage them.
  • I can be as simple as bring them a coffee or offering to help them with their next project or routine tasks when they are overloaded. You might take their “on-call” where they can have a weekend break instead of swapping weekends with them.
  • Note: don’t ever do something expecting someone to return the favor for you.

7. Answer With Something Unexpected. 

  • I have a phrase I have used for years … love them from where they are to where they need to be!
  • Even when others let me down or they know I know they “dropped the ball” I don’t tell them so, I usually pick the ball up for them.
  • If something went wrong, help them focus on the solution instead of assigning blame.
  • It is incredible the long-term results this can have in encouraging someone.

8. Be a “Good Finder.”

  • A “good finder” is a person who looks for the good, not the bad in a person or a situation.
  • An example would be if a person is always late to meetings, but makes in on time to your meeting instead of saying “About time you attended a meeting on time” say “I really appreciate the extra effort you made to get here on time” without any reference to their usual tardiness.
  • A good finder affirms their coworkers or friends.
  • People will gravitate toward you where you’re a “good finder” as you’ll become someone who makes others feel good.

9. Smile.

  • Have you ever experienced the magic of a simple smile?
  • Have you ever noticed how when you smile at someone they smile back?
  • Share an encouraging smile.
  • Smiling will transform your own attitude as well.

10. Offer to Lend a Hand. 

  • You can offer to lend a hand.
  • Sometimes a person feels like the weight of the world is on their shoulders and no one cares.
  • Show them you really care. You can be there.
  • If a person gives me an excessive workload, I usually ask them if there is anything else I can do for them when I finish the job. I do not complain about the amount of work.

What are some ways you encourage friends or coworkers? These techniques also work with your spouse or partner. Please share your suggestions in the comments.

Photo Source: Pixaby

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Four

God’s Grace is Enough

How in the world am I ever going to care for my loved one? I can’t do this. I don’t know how. I don’t have the physical strength to help them to lift them in and out of bed. How will I ever get them on and off a potty chair? I’ll never keep the prescriptions straight. How will I ever give my loved one the right medications at the right time? There are so many prescriptions. What do I do when they don’t want to eat or drink?

Caring for a loved one with a chronic illness isn’t easy. You may be the only caregiver. You may have family help. If they offer, please consider accepting the help. You might have your church or Bible study class giving some assistance where you can go to the grocery store or just have a few hours for yourself.

Part of your education in caring for a loved one with a chronic illness is learning that God’s grace is enough. 

The Bible Says

2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV), “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

My Story

My wife had surgery within a week of her initial diagnosis of Melanoma Cancer. I was mentally prepared to provide her with world-class care and unconditional love. It was almost like I had put on my superhero uniform and was singlehandedly going to do it all.

While she was still in the hospital it was easy. I cared for her every need and the nurses and surgeon came in from time to time to check on her. This is a breeze, I thought. 

I brought her home. There was a challenge in getting her from the car to the bedroom. I wasn’t as easy as I had envisioned.

My Bible fellowship class brought in a few meals to help. I was so thankful for their assistance. They also provided several restaurant gift cards for food. The gifts cards were a challenge. They required me to be gone from the house which meant I was leaving my sweet wife alone as I drove to the Subway or another restaurant to get the food. 

On one trip I was greeted by a severe thunderstorm that pounded me, flooded the roadway, and contributed to a significant automobile accident that had the road blocked for over an hour. I was stuck. I tried calling my wife but her telephone was turned on vibrate where it wouldn’t disturb her rest. I had visions of her crying out needing help and no one responding.

By the time I returned home, I was soaking wet from the rain and exasperated from the delay. My thoughts were of the worst proved unfounded. However, the storm and accident had my wife having lunch almost two hours late. 

I discovered a hard lesson. I learned to be smart in using what God has provided. Going forward I wouldn’t go out for food during periods where my wife was recovering from surgery or treatments unless I had someone to sit with my wife.

My wife’s sisters offered to come from out of state to help. At first, I thought, I don’t need them. I can handle this. They need to wait until she is sicker and she requires more care. I was afraid they didn’t think I could care for their sister.

My oldest son was a voice of reason. He suggested to me that I welcome my sisters-in-law. He pointed out I was already tired. He was sure I could use the help where I maintained energy and strength for the extended challenge ahead. Besides, he said, the sisters needed each other. He added that God might even be prompting them to come.

I agreed. My wife’s sisters came. God’s grace and provision were sufficient for the challenge. 

I learned lessons then that prepared me for thirty months later when we needed all hands on deck to walk through the valley of her last five months before she ultimate passed away.

God’s grace is sufficient. He may provide you with the strength you need for a specific task. He may send the family to you to help. He may have meals delivered to meet your needs. Regardless of how He does it, God’s grace is sufficient.

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

Suffering uncovers your heart’s weaknesses so that Christ is your strength.

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, help us to cry out to You in our weakness and claim Your promise that Your grace is sufficient for us, for Your power is made perfect in weakness. 
  2. Thank you, Lord, for providing your sufficient grace. 
  3. Teach us how to boast all the more gladly of our weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon us. We don’t understand how but trust in you for our strength to be made perfect in weakness.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Have you asked God to give you Grace for today? What challenges are you facing today? Have you turned it over to God? Turn it over to God now. Dear Lord, today I am facing [enter challenges here]. I ask for Your help.
  2. Have you prayed for the power of Christ to rest upon you?  If not, ask Him now.
  3. You need to acknowledge your weakness and pray for God’s sufficiency.  Are you trusting God to help you and then willing to accept the help He offers?

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Kepler’s Aphorism #2 – Don’t Plan on Earning Enough Money Writing to Live On

I was sixty-four years old before I was able to write full-time and I don’t make enough money off my writing to support myself solely on my writing income. I required having multiple streams of income to achieve this goal. It also took my being debt free.

Even with my simple lifestyle, my combined earnings from my writing income, interest received on savings, and earnings from a 403B, my income is about what an hourly employee at a big box store earns. I am only able to write full-time through frugality, lack of debt, and a very modest lifestyle.

I have been writing full-time for twelve months. The plus is I have earned money from my writing every month. The minus is the monthly income from just writing has never made me four figures in a month. It helped that I understood the business, have been writing and regularly publishing since 1981, and had multiple books and articles published.

The late Ray Bradbury was one of the first who said don’t plan on making money writing. Bradbury and his wife, who “took a vow of poverty” to marry him, hit thirty-seven years old before they could afford a car. For years he sold newspapers on the street corner to get enough money to pay the rent. He even used a pay typewriter in the UCLA library that charged him twenty-five cents per thirty minutes of writing before he earned enough money to buy his own.

You can be a working writer and earn a modest income. According to BookScan, the average U.S. book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.  With average royalties that’s less than $5,000 a year for a book and less than $60,000 over a book’s lifetime for an Indie author, you cannot survive on just that income. The earnings figure is significantly less for traditionally published authors.

You can see detailed information on author earnings at Author Earnings.


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