Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Trade-Offs

 This morning as I gave up my writing time to finally get the laundry situation under control, I thought about trade-offs. We all make them on a daily basis based on mood, preference, necessity. I regularly let my laundry pile up like Mt. Everest so I can steal away to my computer. Whether it's working on my WIP, reading for one of my critique partners, or sending out another query, the time must come from somewhere.

Life is full of trade-offs. After months and months in the query trenches, I started to think about all the things I've forgone. How much I've really invested. From the years of writing and revising to the months of querying, to all the things I have given up in the pursuit of this dream. Of course there have also been times I've put the dream on hold: when my children were younger and my desire to homeschool them won out. When my parents' health declined and my writing, in comparison, fell back into the category of a selfish pursuit. The trade-offs we make basically come down to perspective.

Last week I came closer than I ever have to thinking maybe all I've invested will come to nothing. Querying for long periods of time will do that to you, no matter how resilient you think you are. And yet, even on the days I give myself permission to give up this dream, I can't do it. The writing -- it feels essential. So I continue to make the trade-offs that allow me to do the work. I skipped grocery shopping today to get out a requested full and another handful of queries. And as long as dinner was in the crock pot, I pushed off the vacuuming for another few hours to ensure I got the next scene of my WIP written.

We devote ourselves to a writing project for years, all the while knowing that it may not succeed. So, yes, it feels good to complete household tasks: Laundry folded and put away? Check. Dinner simmering? Check. Especially when progress in the publishing world is so achingly slow. But maybe that's also why I'm okay with letting the dust gather a bit, or letting the waste baskets fill to the rim before emptying. It doesn’t all have to get done today. Tonight, I put aside my WIP to write this blog post, and tomorrow I'll start letting another mountain of laundry accumulate, because I’m still chasing that dream, one query at a time.

What do you most readily trade-off in pursuit of writing time?



34 comments:

  1. Ruth, you are a born writer, so even when the publishing part of the process is stalled out, you *must* write, it's who you are. I think if someone told me today I'd never have another byline or make another dime from my writing, I'd still go on writing.

    About the laundry: My mother was a creative free spirit who never scheduled household tasks, did things when the mood struck or the need simply had to be met. One time when the laundry had piled up "like Mt. Everest," my oldest brother who was about 14 at the time took it upon himself to enlist the next oldest child, my 13 year old sister, and tackle the mountain. You won't be surprised to learn that all the whites ended up being pinks!

    Another time, her brother and sister-in-law were visiting, and my mother started doing laundry on Sunday morning. This sister-in-law was a very organized and rigid housekeeper who "knew" that laundry is only ever done on Mondays. When she said something to my mother about her being a week behind on the laundry, my mother came back quickly with a perfectly straight-faced "Oh no, I'm a day early!"

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    1. Ha! Great stories, both of them, Jean. Love your mother's comeback. Just perfect =) And thanks for the encouragement!

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  2. Writing, when not on contracted deadline, will always give in to life's other demands unless I decide the writing time is sacred time. It took me too many years to acknowledge this and to (finally) get my ducks in a row marching to a sane and productive beat.
    The one thing, and one thing only, that I allow to annul sacred time is a medical/health issue, whether my own or my dear ones.
    As for it (writing) coming to naught, this depends if your definition is that only published writing counts. I find that sitting with the muse is an essential part of life, so nothing is wasted regardless of how many readers my musings gather, if any.

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    1. I know you're right, Mirka. There are all kinds of reasons to write, and getting published is not the only thing that matters. It is difficult though to shift your thinking after you've spent years on a story your were confident would find readers.

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  3. A full request! That's awesome, fingers crossed for you!

    I made a permanent trade-off a few years ago - I no longer iron. Some tactical and vigorous shaking, plus the use of hangers over pegging out for some items, means so much more writing time :-)

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    1. Hah, ironing? Yes, absolutely, the first thing to go ;)

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  4. Ruth, I found myself nodding along with this entire post. Yes, laundry piles up. I don't go out as much as I should. I have neglected the kids now and then. Once in a while, I hit a wall and wonder why I keep doing this?
    I wish you the best of luck on that requested full. One yes can change everything.

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    1. I've hit that wall more than once, Theresa. But I do keep doing this, because I love it. I always figured if I kept at it long enough, kept learning, kept working, kept growing, I would get there. The hardest part was when it recently hit me that maybe I won't. Not everyone achieves their dream. I may never have a book published. Depressing, for sure. But the reality is, it won't stop me from continuing to try.

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  5. So agree with this too. I've had to put my creative writing aside for my contract writing job, which I do every day, and the blog, which helps others. I wonder why I do the blog often because I could have more free time, but it helps people. Don't give up. If you read some of the interviews and guest posts by debut authors on my blog, some wrote 10 books or more before finally getting an agent. And I have about 3 query critique giveaways each month through June. Maybe a critique could help you. You'll get there.

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    1. Hey Natalie. I hate to hear that you've put your own writing aside. I've had to do that in the past and I found it so difficult, like something essential was missing in my life. You put so much work into Literary Rambles, and it is a help to so many, (Thank You!!) but I hate to think that you give up your own writing time to do it. I bet if you asked, you could find other writers who would help you out with the blog. It's become a well-known resource, and if you took on a team of co-bloggers, maybe you'd have time for your own writing again.

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  6. I love the mature way you approach this. You accept when real life needs to be attended to, as it always does, but keep going because you love it. All of us must try to balance. The good news is, all those detours and challenges make you into a wiser person, and that comes out in your writing. Be true to yourself, keep plugging away, and good luck on those queries!

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    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Lexa!

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  7. Congrats on the full request! That's exciting. Keep us posted, okay? I agree, life is full of trade offs. Some days there are so many things clamoring to be done that I don't know which will make the trade off list and which will just fall by the wayside. Like you, I feel the need to write, so I keep plugging away, even if it's just in little bits and pieces. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

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    1. Bits and pieces - exactly, Karen. That's the only way I get anything done ;)

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  8. Those domestic tasks are the easiest to put off - at least temporarily. It's hard finding a balance, isn't it?

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    1. It is all temporary, isn't it? The chores always wait for us. It's really just a game we play, shuffling things around to fit more conveniently into the allotted hours.

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  9. Great post. It is about trade offs. There are times when writing falls to the bottom of the list. I'm at one of those times now. But there are times when it's at the top of the list. Querying is so hard, so discouraging. Keep at it. Rejoice in the requests. Don't get discouraged. Good luck!

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  10. As a writer I believe it's important to accept trade-offs. Flexibility in all of life is so important, but so difficult to master. Great post, Ruth! All the best ~

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  11. Welcome back, Ruth. I suppose life is always about trade offs. There's just so much time, right? I readily give up anything to do with housework to write. I was a total fail at it anyway. :-)

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    1. There is only so much time. (I also give up housework to read.) ;)

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  12. We do have to accept trade offs to get in some writing time. I give up certain bits of reading and entertainment time. I definitely am willing to put off laundry folding and other chores. :)
    Wonderful post!

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    1. I find it easy to give up television, but not reading. I'm always working my way through the day thinking about when I'll be able to either pick up a book or sit down at the computer to write. Those are my ultimate goals ;)

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  13. I can so relate. I think I go through wondering if it's all worth it every time I query too. But I keep going. Like you, writing is just part of me. And even though I sometimes wonder if it's worth it, I know it is, because my life has been richer through writing, whether I ever get that book published or not.

    I think one of the hardest trade-offs for me is giving up social time or just veg in front of the TV time. I don't do either as much as I'd like.

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    1. It definitely is worth it, Jenni. But the publishing part would be nice, too ;) Ah well, we'll both keep plugging away and hoping for the best ;)

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  14. We do have to decide what is most important, especially when it comes to something like writing. It's hard to progress unless you set aside regular time, and that means other things have to be reconfigured. I'm like Annalisa - I don't iron unless it's absolutely necessary. Most of the time it's not!

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    1. I agree, Nick, writing time over ironing any day of the week!

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  15. We must be on the same brain wave! I have postponed for kids, ailing parents, and life. There are times when I wonder if my time wouldn't be better spent devoted to other goals, but then I feel like I'm cutting a piece out of my soul.

    Maybe it's not a waste of time...when my mother died, the first thing grabbed up was her notebook where she had notes and poems jotted down. She never dreamed of publishing. She just did them for fun, and we all wanted them.

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    1. I love that you saw the value in your mother's writing and treasured it after she was gone. What a special way to keep her close. Thanks for sharing that, Elizabeth.

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  16. I am right there with you! I trade off chores like laundry and grocery shopping for writing related things. And then when I am waiting to hear back about writing projects I get caught up on my chores. Definitely a give and take or trade-off. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. I wish I could be one of those people who is organized enough to grocery shop for a month at a time, so I wouldn't have to run to the store every week, but that's just not me. I'm lucky if I'm thorough enough to get us through the week.

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  17. Actually, I've been really lax on my writing lately. Something about baby brain and the day to day insanity of 4.5 kids... Here's the thing, when you make that jump, you'll have an abundance of material and experience to pull from. Both are invaluable.

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    1. That's true, Crystal. Following the times when I've had to be away from writing, there is always a great flow of words afterwards. You're allowed to be lax when you're expecting. Actually, I don't know how you get as much done as you do!

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