Knowing Your Limits

8 04 2016

Reality CheckMy post-Boskone proclaimation was pretty bold. Perhaps it was a tad ambitious. But it’s a bit like writing a first draft: You dump it all out there in wild eloquent profusion, and then begin the task of trimming and developing. As I polish off Week 1 of my library management course and get at this week’s blog, I am settling into the realization that maybe I can’t do it all. But that’s okay.

We women are prone to attempted superwoman. Much has been made of the “second shift”, the working women who come home and then tackle all the housework that has been our more traditional role. Somewhere between total exhaustion and nervous breakdown, we face the fact that “having it all” simply isn’t a reasonable goal for most of us. Especially if we haven’t the financial resources to hire somebody to pick up the slack, whether it be a housekeeper or a nanny. So we need to figure out what is truly reasonable, what fulfills our deepest needs and priorities, and what can be set aside. For some of us, that is devoting ourselves to being a domestic goddess. Shut up, old school feminists; if a woman really wants to prioritize the roles of wife and mother, she has that right. Leave her alone.

If, on the other hand, she wants with all her heart to be a professional writer, astronaut, or archaeologist, or manage a fortune 500 company, or be a career politician, she should go for it. Just lose the shame of not being a stellar housekeeper or the ever-available soccer mom. It’s up to each of us to manage the dance, to find a partner willing to help out with the domestic necessities and parenting, or to settle for just having a cat and a home that looks—ahem—lived-in. It doesn’t matter how we do it, as long as everybody involved is satisfied with the arrangement.

Now then, how shall I figure this out for myself? What are my priorities? And how many of my multiple goals can I reasonably achieve, keeping in mind that if one tries to do too much, one does none of the tasks well? I turn to my marvelous empowering collection of lists and spreadsheets.

First of all, I must earn a living. So, I must keep up with the library management course and pursue my goal to become a library director. I also cannot give up the writing that is my life-long sense of identity. Therefore, I will keep up with my Concord Monitor articles, which serve the dual purpose of fulfilling my need to write and earning me bucks. All the stuff that brings in cash here and there, even if only gas money, must stay until something better comes along. So, Boscawen writers group, check. (Besides, I really enjoy this gig.) Heritage Commission webmaven, check. (Also have the bonus of enjoying working with these folks.) Conventions…well, maybe not. Unless I can make them at least break even; I’ve got to sell enough books to balance out the expense if I’m to justify it. Yes, publicity and connections are important. Conventions are fun and energizing and useful in so many ways, but right now, I’m in survival mode. Conventions are in the “good to do if I can afford it” category.

Awake Chimera sequel: back burner. I just can’t focus on a new creative writing project right now. Too much pressure, emotional stress, and demands on my time. Maybe when life stops being so blasted real I’ll be able to sink into prolonged imaginative reveries again.

Archimedes Nesselrode screenplay: Stroke of brilliant good fortune! Just as I was wondering how in the name of all that’s holy I was going to manage doing this, By Light Unseen Media approached me with an offer to buy the film rights. I get an advance, and someone else much more savvy and connected than I gets to do the work. Oh, those beautiful unexpected coincidences in life!

So, I can switch my focus to something much easier—revising an existing ms. for publication. I have Eloise and Avalon, an SF novel that has already been through round one of beta readers, and got back-burnered as I got focused on other stuff. I was in touch with my publisher about something else and asked if he was open for submissions. Wheee! Within a few hours, I have a release date, publicity, and a cover artist lined up. Man, that was fast. I’ll keep you all posted.

I now must overhaul my spreadsheet to reflect these changes. It’s all starting to look more doable. As always, at the bottom of the list are domestic chores. Ugh. Well, hell. Got to keep the place habitable. But it’s time to get serious about delegating some stuff. Of course, I’ve told myself that before, and it somehow never gets done. This is in the category of “Well I’ve always done that” and “They won’t like it” which is all part of “I hate asking other people to do things”, a subset of “I hate making waves and causing upset.” But that’s a whole other bucket of worms. At least I know I have a problem. That’s the first step towards dealing with it.

Oh, and this blog. Yes, I have on my spreadsheet to post something every Friday. I’ll try to keep to that unless the sky falls. Because…well, just because.

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4 responses

8 04 2016
heretherebespiders

Because I’d miss you!
Well, it works for me, anyway 🙂
Cleveland ConCoction is run by friends of mine – memebers of the first Barfleet ship. If I can help you get in there at a discount or something, let me know? If you are interested. I’m not even sure when it is – might have already happened this year…yes, it was in March. Well, next year maybe!
I’d also love to read anything, if that would help.
Screw the dust-bunnies. There will always be more no matter how much you clean!

10 04 2016
justinegraykin

Darn tootin’! I have observed that one of the major differences between writing and housework is that when you have invested the labor, in one case you have a book (or other artifact) and in the other you have a clean house. Both are very satisfying. A month later the house is dirty again, but you still have a book.

9 04 2016
Mary Jolles

Payoff at last! Sounds like your “one thing at a time” method and a reasonable list of priorities is beginning to work. Hope that hiking is on the list for at least one hike every six weeks, maybe every four weeks?

10 04 2016
justinegraykin

Oh, absolutely! Hiking is sanity. In wilderness is the salvation of my soul.

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