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Sabotage

I'd like to introduce, my dear friend Terena Scott, writer, editor and owner of Medusa's Muse. Medusa's Muse is a small press publishing company, specializing in memoir and creative non-fiction. Her blog post is about something we writers have experienced a few times in our writing career.

 

How many of you feel that if you're not earning money with your writing, then you're not really a writer? Deep down, do you feel doubt in your abilities as an artist if no one pays you for what you create? Does price denote value?

I do. That's why I dabble at writing. I write "when I have time." When all the bills have been paid and phone calls returned and emails sent, when the house is clean, dishes done, laundry folded and put away. When the plants have been watered and my desk cleaned off and all the grocery shopping done. Then, and only then, am I allowed to write.

And this attitude bleeds into Medusa's Muse too. I edit manuscripts because I owe that to my authors; I do it for them. But everything else, the promotion of my press, updating the website, marketing books, lining up teaching gigs, record keeping and networking… all of those things that help my press thrive get put on the list called "when I have time."

This is called sabotage. I am sabotaging myself by not dedicating the same focus and energy to my press and my writing that I gave to grad school. It was easy to give focus to grad school, because that would eventually lead to a job and a paycheck. A so called real job. My press is a job, but it doesn't make much money, therefore it doesn't feed my family. The press feeds itself. I can't justify devoting time to it when it doesn't sustain me economically.

Which is bullshit, because my press sustains me in every other way but economics. It feeds my soul, my spirit, my artistic needs and creativity. Writing feeds me in even deeper ways. Why does economics always take priority?

Yes, we have to eat and keep a roof over our head. Making money is very important, especially if you have children. We live in this world which requires sacrifice sometimes to survive. I'm not knocking the importance of work.

But we must not let that importance destroy the other things that are important, especially our art.

And if you find yourself saying things like, "I don't have time to write" or "The grocery shopping is way more important right now" then it's time to take a good long look at your priorities. Are you saying this because it's true? Or are you finding an excuse to quit, and in so doing sabotage yourself.

Sabotage. The power to destroy your art before you've devoted yourself to it.

I know I'm just as guilty as anyone of sabotage, and I'm trying hard to stop. My press is important, not just to my authors, but for the joy it brings me. So why do I just dabble at publishing rather than treat it like the job it is?

I don't know, other than I must believe on some deep level that I don't deserve to be a successful publisher and writer.

Have you ever felt that way?

 

8 replies on “Sabotage”

I am walking away from a house that needs cleaning today, to go to the beach. Now, that sounds wonderful, does it not? But I'm going to help my mom take care of her house and yard. I will beachcomb and write while I'm out there, of course, but the responsibilities of adulthood have weighed in heavily of late, and sometimes it becomes a struggle to find the time to do what I love to do.  In the end, everything will work out. I'm not the housekeeper I once was, yet I am the daughter I always wanted to be.  It is a trade-off, done with love.  The dust will keep, the bathrooms will get scrubbed next week, my husband will help with the floors and cook, and I will write and get my WIP finished in time.  I sympathize with everyone who is struggling, too, but in the end do what you can do and forgive yourself if you can't do it all.

Deb, your response is so true. I, too, am the daughter of an aging mother. Your line about not being the housekeeper you used to be, but being the daughter you always wanted to be, is beautiful. I'm the same. My housekeeping can wait but I don't know how long I'll have my Mom. It is a struggle to give up something you love to do, in our cases, writing, but I know there were many times in my life she gave up her time to paint to care for me. I want to honor her sacrifices by being there for her as much as possible. As you say, "It is a trade-off, done with love." Thanks, Deborah!

Thanks, Carol.  We both love our Moms, don't we?  I dedicated my second book to her, because she always reads what I write, and she is not the typical mother in that she actually critiques my work (she's a former schooteacher).  🙂

This hits so close to home for me because I do this constantly! In fact, my last blog post was titled "Call me Crazy" because having recently signed a contract and a book releasing in two weeks, I'll find ANYTHING to avoid writing or promoting myself.

I could cry when you said it so beautifully, when everyone's else's needs are met, then I'll try and coax my muse into the creation mode. Sad…very sad. And althougth I'd love to blame my family for being so selfish, it's really what I allow to do.

Thanks for such a wonderful post. I hope we find a way to stop sabotaging ourselves. We deserve more.

 

I've grown very skillful at sabotaging myself over the years.  I'm doing it now, by leaving my edits on the upstairs computer to check in on my social media commitments downstairs and getting sidetracked along the way.  I'm shutting down.

 

 

Thank you Galen for allowing me the space to share this post. My daughter has special needs so I know how hard it is to be a caregiver and try to take care yourself, let alone feed your creative spirit. Many days… even weeks… can go buy before I am able to once again sit with my laptop and craft a story. I just make sure it's really my daughter that is requiring my energy, and not me looking for an excuse to give up on myself. As for housework, waaaaaaaaaay down the list of priorities, but dang I'm a great duster when I'm avoiding writing. Right now I'm getting my website revamped and reassessing my business model to keep Medusa's Muse alive, rather than writing. Medusa needs to take priority right now. 

Thank you all for your posts. Lately I find myself spending far too much time on trying to promote my book, trying to find a topic to blog about, figuring out Twitter.. the list goes on and on. It seems to be much easier to schedule in everything else but my writing. I but I have to really make a point to reprioritize what really is important and what can be allowed to slip to the wayside… like dusting, laundry etc..

 

Galen

 

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