I sat down to work on this post last night after a hectic couple of hours and ended up reading the news on msnbc.com instead. Whoops.
Anyway, I read a fantastic post the other day on Kristen Lamb’s blog about taking time to rest and how there is a season to everything under the sun. Yes, I know Ecclesiastes says the exact same thing, but Ms. Lamb said it in regards to writing by quoting the Byrds and the song “Turn, Turn, Turn.” By the way, I love that song. The melody is beautiful and would be playing in my head were it not for whatever is playing on the radio and distracting me (I know the song, I just can’t think of its name – “Angel Eyes” perhaps? – and I couldn’t tell you who sings it for the life of me). The comparisons she draws between farming and writing are obvious, yet they’d never occurred to me before (despite having grown up in America’s breadbasket, where I still currently live). Her words struck a particular chord with me as I’ve been dealing with quite a lot of guilt lately concerning a variety of tasks that seem to go undone despite my best intentions to accomplish them.
I constantly feel as though I’m being pulled in a thousand directions at once. After all, I have responsibilities at work, family obligations, social commitments, and personal goals – there are only so many hours in a day and I can’t accomplish everything I set out to do at once! Years of working alone in order to ensure that the job would be done correctly and on time have left my delegation skills withered and crumbling (except when it comes to housework – just ask my kids). Years of living with a pantser (and I mean that in regard to all areas of life, not just writing) have left my time management skills seriously injured and residing in ICU, so even when I have a day off from work, I find myself easily distracted, which results in very little actually getting done, much to Seymour’s – and my own – consternation.
Despite all this, I feel guilty as sin if I have to miss a day of work due to illness or if I fail to get something done at home because I was so tired that I took a nap (or spent an hour looking up synonyms for the word despite, seeing as how I’ve used it so often in this post :)). Actually, I feel guilty taking time for myself. Period. And I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a little me-time every now and then, should I? I mean, if I’m not taking a little time to myself now and then to recharge my batteries, I can’t very well be the best wife/mother/employee/author/friend possible, can I? And yet, I feel guilty regardless and overextend myself to the point where I suffer stress-induced heartburn and serious worries about ulcers. Even when I do take a little time to myself, I rarely feel relaxed – I’ve noticed lately that I always seem to be multi-tasking, which may explain my recent inability to really focus on one thing at a time.
Still, I think I’ll make it my New Year’s resolution (What? It may not be January, but since I didn’t make any resolutions in January, I feel qualified to make one now!) to set aside time for myself to rest, recharge, and relax at least once a week. Resolution number two will be to try to avoid feeling guilty about said private time (easier said than done as I’m overly prone to guilt). Yes, I know, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Thank you, Yoda. Perhaps you can give me a hand with the guilt-banishing?
The latest source of guilt for me, and the one Ms. Lamb’s post addressed for me, was not writing. I’ve been posting here slightly more regularly, sure, and I’ve been actively poetic lately, but I’m currently between major writing projects. I’ve finished editing The Lokana Chronicles and it’s out on submission now, but I feel like querying doesn’t really count as writing. I’ve got a couple of old projects that I want to rework so that they’re worth reading, but at the same time, I feel like they’re projects I should perhaps give up on as they lack any sort of coherent plot and more or less proceed like soap operas – one melodramatic event after another. I’ve had a couple ideas for new projects and even started one yesterday and, while they’re very important to me and things that I think would benefit my mental health greatly if nothing else, I’m not sure that I’m committed to them enough to see them through to the end. And I hate not finishing things.
See? Banishing guilt is easier said than done. For me, anyway. But, to quote Danielle du Barbarac, “I shall try.”
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