Thursday, November 18, 2010

Necessary Losses

I've been at this writing game for a few years now. Not as many as some, but definitely longer than others. My level of commitment and time to this wonderful and crazy obsession has increased steadily over the years. I'm not just writing stories for myself anymore. I'm writing, revising, submitting, going to conferences, pitching, taking online classes, attending meetings, going to workshops, moderating online workshops, blogging, twittering, facebooking (is that a verb?), networking, and entering contests.

I'm spending a lot of time writing which means I've had to cut some things from my life. Here are the necessary losses I've incurred as I've grown as a writer who is actively trying to get published:

*Regular manicures and pedicures. I only get them prior to a conference and even then I cheat cause my fingernails are so short and stubby now it is a "why bother to use any other color than clear" kind of moment for me.

*Scrapbooking. I used to scrapbook once a week with a friend. I'd go to the store and buy paper and notions and plan out beautiful pages. Most of my scrapbooks have a lot of writing in them. Scrapbooking is my first foray back into writing. I still drool over paper and make cutesy things but I don't fill entire scrapbooks anymore. That's why the Mac and making albums online was invented.

*Long lunches and shopping with friends. I used to go for long walks and talks up north with a dear friend. Now? Well, I'd walk and talk still, but we also used to go for lunch once a week and explore the area together at least twice a month along with our walks. Now? Well, I'd schedule it, but it would be less frequent due to all the writing I am doing.

*Long talks on the phone. I let the phone ring till the answering machine picks up. I still have long talks with long distance friends, but I tend to use my walk time as talk time now. I multi-task. There are two or three people that I will drop all my work for if they call. They know who they are. But for the most part, I am typing on my computer.

*Uber volunteer mom duties at church and at the darling daughter's school. Now I keep it to a minimum. In fact, I stopped going to church on a regular basis just to avoid getting sucked into the volunteer vortex. I know. Selfish. But I still read my bible, pray, and love God. I just don't want to get stuck in "Martha Land" again. And those of you who read and study the bible know exactly who Martha is--she was that sister in the kitchen doing all the cooking and cleaning while her sister Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus loving Him and adoring Him. I guess I am "Mary" now. I can love and adore Him at home or when I am outside walking in His glorious world.

*Putting up with negative people. If someone isn't positive or edifying in my life, I tend to cut that person out pretty quick. I need positivity. I crave it. This business is tough enough without having a Negative Nellie whining about life or putting my dreams down. I don't have patience for that kind of stuff anymore. Course this could just be because I am getting older and pickier about my friendships. There's only so much time in the day. Why waste it with someone who isn't fun or positive?

Those are the main things that I have given up. They were necessary losses because I had to cut them in order to make room for the new growth in my life. I think the most important thing I weeded out was the impact of negative people.

So what about you? What necessary losses have you incurred to pursue your dream?


Callie James said...

I definitely wouldn't call cutting out negative people a loss. :)

There's enough negative in this business and way too much rejection to keep downer-people in your life. Good for you.

Christine said...

Exactly. But sometimes it is hard to know who the negative people are until you start pursuing your dreams. Suddenly people you thought might be your greatest supporters are the worst of the lot because they are too afraid to pursue their own heart's desire or because they are afraid of how your successes will impact their lives. They're afraid of the changes your dream will bring to the relationship.


Callie James said...

It's strange. I think many people believe the writing life is glamorous, and it isn't, even if you're well published.

I still get a kick out of the people who think once I'm published I get to quit my job. So many think it's a lucrative profession. Wow. If only.

Anne Gallagher said...

Getting sucked in to volunteer at school. Because I'm a stay at home mom and people don't really think writing is a full-time job, they expect me to volunteer for everything. Guess what? I lied and told the teachers I got a job. And I don't feel guilty.

Gwen Hernandez said...

I have a new house to decorate--and even the budget for it, which is unusual--and I still can't bring myself to take the time away from writing to shop. I watch a lot less TV, read fewer books (though I still find time for quite a few), and don't go out much.

I too try to minimize outside commitments. I still volunteer for occasional school activities and swim team events, but I'll never be a regular (every Tuesday at 9 am) type of volunteer.

And, I'm happier than ever. The rest was just filler when I didn't know what to do with myself.

Even if no one else treats my writing like a job, I have to. My family is starting to get it. The rest of the world will just have to deal with it.

And, Anne, you do have a job. You might not be getting paid yet, but you're working hard!

Louisa Cornell said...

Good for you, Christine! Making your writing a priority is MAJOR !!

I think I forgot that for a while, but not anymore.

I have NO social life unless the gals in my writing group drag me out to a play or a movie. I love 'em for it and they don't expect it constantly the way some friends would. They get how important and time consuming writing is (especially with a regular 40 hour a week job in the mix!)

I don't have cable or an outside antenna so I don't have the temptation of television to suck me in anymore. Of course if the world comes to an end I hope someone sends me an e-mail!

And the biggest deterrent to sitting in the chair every day can be (and has been for me) negative people, fellow writers, who for whatever reason stay focused on all of the reasons and things that make this gig so hard. I am perfectly aware of all of the odds stacked against me. They get bigger and more plentiful every day. I acknowledge them and then I MOVE ON! I refuse to dwell on them. I refuse to ruminate and worry about them. I refuse to waste time wringing my hands and worrying that the entire publishing industry is going to implode and the only people who will ever get paid to write books are John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks and Stephen King and the rest of us are just wasting our time. I don't have time for that crap. Life is too short and my writing is too important to me to spend time worrying about what MIGHT happen. I can't control any of that. My writing! I can control that and I fully intend to from now on. I'm good at this gig. I'll get even better. The more I write, the more I learn and the better chance I have of getting published. If I sit around and worry about what might happen all I'll ever get for my trouble is a wider butt and high blood pressure. If I'm going to get a wider butt I'd just as soon get it doing something I love EVEN WHEN IT IS HARD AS HECK AND MAKES ME WANT TO SCREAM !! Writing is not for everyone. It is for the stubborn, the dreamers and the people who see all the flames and land mines and snipers trying to gun down their dreams on either side of the road and they just keep on walking!

Jeanie said...

I'm learning to say no. I still do things at my daughter's school and at church, but I keep it to a minimum. I have also given up community theater, something my husband and I have been involved in for 25 years. In fact, we met doing a play! But, no more. Something had to give and I don't have the time for rehearsals. I had to give up scrapbooking, too, Christine. I was an avid scrapbooker until about three years ago and now nada. I don't even take pictures much anymore and I used to take thousands a year, literally.

Oh, and television. Who has time for that? And I don't read for pleasure nearly as much as I used. to. Before, I would read 3 or 4 books a week. Now I'm lucky if I get time to read at all!

Kieran Kramer said...


I really liked this post. I had to go through the same things. I used to be a big volunteer at school and church, and now I do NOTHING in either arena. I used to spend tons of time decorating, re-decorating, etc. and now I don't, ever.

As for the negative people, wow--that really had to change, and I made a conscious effort to do so.

Would love to talk more about this with you wonderful ladies, but I have to go back to writing, LOL!!

Isn't it nice to have work you don't do because everyone else expects you to so you're guilted into it--but because you WANT to?

All righty, ya'll take care.


Kieran :>)

Christine said...

Anne, what a brilliant idea. I just tell people I work from my home and if they ask I say I am a writer. But lying works, too. I used to volunteer a lot at the schools, but now I pick and choose very carefully--and I pick stuff that requires very little of me.


Christine said...

Gwen: I know what you mean about shopping time. It took my BF from Canada to come here and visit me to get me to go out and buy stuff for the house that I needed. I also think I was paralyzed with making decisions about the house because all my creative mojo went into the writing. Now I try to schedule a little putzing around and shopping time after I'm done a big project. That way I can free my mind for future writing and satisfy the family needs.

One thing I have discovered is that I am lax about following up on organizing trips. Ugh. I have to book our vacation for spring break and I keep putting it off. And this is for something fun!

I'll get to it--after all I get to go on vacation, too. ;-)

Christine said...

"Writing is not for everyone. It is for the stubborn, the dreamers and the people who see all the flames and land mines and snipers trying to gun down their dreams on either side of the road and they just keep on walking!"

Amen! And it is a good idea to get the negative writer/industry doomsayers out of your mind as well. I don't worry about the things I can't control. I figure somehow, no matter what, an opportunity will arise from which I will flourish as a published writer. And the same is true for you and all the other dreamers out there!

Christine said...

Jeanie: Saying no is the key. I put my volunteer efforts where they have the most bang for the least amount of effort (sad I know). I am trying to up my reading for pleasure, but when I am in writing mode I'm lucky to get a book a week or in two weeks. So I reward myself with a lot of intense reading time between major projects. I've got three I want to read back-to-back and I'm in a holding pattern now (waiting and waiting to see what the "landing orders" are from the Universe) so I'm using the time to read and get lots of blogs cued up as well as catch up on my screenwriting course with Alexandra Sokoloff.

Christine said...

Kieran: You're so right. We all put our energy into helping others and not ourselves. Now we balance that with a focus on what drives us and gives us fulfillment.

Now get back to work cause I am almost done WHEN HARRY MET MOLLY and I can't wait to read the entire series!!

Hugs Back :-)

Wendy S Marcus said...

Hi Christine!
Great post, as always. I've recently been sucked into the volunteer vortex, and while I consider myself a charitable person, it certainly adds another layer of stress to my days.
Writing is all about committment and prioritizing. And staying focused....which I seem to be having a bit of trouble with recently.
Wish I lived closer. We could go on long plotting and characterization walks. I get some great ideas while taking a long walk.

Ellen Brickley said...

Great post!

I've given up duty-socialising - going to things that I feel I should go to, rather than things I want to go to. I don't watch TV any more, except for House (I *need* Greg House in my life).

I've also given up leaving the office at lunchtime, although once a week I treat myself to lunch in a cafe. Every other day, I bring a packed lunch and a laptop and write at lunchtime.

Cari Hislop said...

I love reading about how other writers's nice to know I'm not the only one who had to learn how to say no to the "volunteer vortex". What an excellent description!

Louise: You are So funny! Thanks for making me laugh.

One of the things I've put off to the side is my painting and drawing which I'm not happy about. I think I need a better balance for my inner artist. I go out taking photos, but I need to be sketching and I'm out of the habit. I need to cut out some staring at the wall time and sketch.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Cari: I'll bet sketching would be a good way to stoke the muse because you would be focused on something else. Similar to driving, showering, or running. =)

M.V.Freeman said...

I totally understand about cutting things.

I've cut back on house cleaning (the dust bunnies have names now), I've cut back on spending time with friends, I don't read as much, and rarely get chance to read blogs --But I try.

My favorite word is no. I don't volunteer unless its necessary. Writing does come first when it comes to extra time.

The hardest thing to pull back from is family. My children need a lot of my time.

But I do agree with distancing yourself from the negative. Life is too short and the writing process too daunting...I get enough from judges!

I miss reading. I don't get to read near as much as I used to. :-)
(Cari, I gave up my drawing...I regret that)

Christine said...

Hi Wendy: I would love to go for long walks and talks about characterization and plotting with you. That's a great way to multi-task! I know what you mean about the writing being hard right now. I'm forcing myself to muddle through but I'm between projects and have to focus on some info about the WIP I sent out which is giving me twitches. Sigh. A constant juggle.

Christine said...

Ellen: I'm glad to see you emerging from your NaNo rabbit hole to comment. Hope the challenge is going well :-)

I think that treating yourself once a week to lunch in the cafe is a fabulous way to create balance with your writing life.


Christine said...

Cari: One thing I try to do is a "something different" project between big writing projects. That seems to happen less and less nowadays, but I do manage to squeeze it in.

Maybe if you "reward" yourself with painting between revisions, that might free your creative mind a bit.

And yeah, I don't think any of us miss the "volunteer vortex" LOL.

Christine said...

I miss reading too, M.V. I give myself dedicated reading breaks, but then it's back to writing, critiquing, querying, and etc.

Family is a tough one. I also feel that tug of war as well. I try to give them dedicated time in the evenings but I don't work outside the home so I can do that. It's much harder to do that when you've got a job in the mix.

Somehow I believe you manage to get it done despite the tug.

I love how your dust bunnies have names. I just swept away the current crop. I'm sure I'll have a new one soon.