The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, February 21, 2005

Week #5--Yearlong Writer's program

When Stress becomes strain.  Hans Selye, the man who created the concept of stress, commented before his death that it is not stress that hurts us--it is strain.  In an engineering sense, Stress is pressure per unit area, while strain is deformation per unit length.  In other words, it's not the pressure you're under, it's whether or not you are balanced enough to keep from warping out of "true."  so BALANCE is a key, key aspect of life.
I determined long ago that the only way to achieve great success in life is to be obsessive. And the ONLY thing I can think of that it is safe to be obsessive about is balance.  Well, I'm sure you can overdo this as well, (think: obsessive-compulsive disorder) but it's still the best choice I know.
There are thousands of wonderful stories to be told about people who lose their balance, and begin to let stress turn to strain.  That strain will always manefest in one of three arenas: their person life, their physical body, or their mental acuity.  This week, write a story that deals with someone at this critical juncture.  Make it funny or horrifying, but try to tell the truth about human beings as you see them.

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