How’s your balance?Recently I went to Paris for a week. It was an unplanned trip. Very last minute and I was thrilled to return to a city I love and where I lived years ago. I declined at first, citing work load. I’m working through my draft and want to keep momentum. I was lured by a free ticket and the offer of a friend’s empty apartment. Who could turn that down? It should be noted that when I said yes, I also said, Thanks, I’ll work five or six hours a day and use the rest of the time to re-visit the city.Here’s what really happened. I spent every hour of every day (and night) visiting the city. I went to the Louvre three times, and about 12 other museums, including an unfortunate venture to the Musée des Égouts de Paris (the Museum of the Sewers). With my husband I strolled the streets, visited the stores, gazed at the Seine and enjoyed many fine restaurants.What I didn’t do is take a look at my manuscript. Not once. Not even a glimpse (I was beyond lying to myself). However, and this is a big however, two things did happen. One, I got some distance from it and now that I’m home and working again I have a fresh perspective. Second, and most important, I came up with the theme and plot for my next book! It was liberating to be in a place where I had no other obligations and think, really think, about what comes next. Clearly the next in the series will now be partly set in France, specifically in Paris, and I spent several days following up on ideas and wandering to the appropriate places, and talking to people.I think it can be hard to balance life and work. It can also be hard to justify taking a real break. Now that it’s over, I’m glad I took that break. A break that is far from the routine of daily life is a wondrous thing.Anybody else thinking about a break? My advice, take it.