Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Which I Learn a Lesson Right Before Your Eyes

It’s a bit humbling to have to think about the lessons I had to keep learning over and over again. Because it seems like it’s all of them.

And I keep thinking I have this one (the one I’m about to address) right, but then it turns out I don’t have it right enough. Or, as the old saying goes, “The road narrows.”

I’m not as good as I should be at saying no. It took me years to say no to people who wanted me to travel across the country to speak. Almost as long to admit the truth to myself: that even though I felt resentful of all the travel, it wasn’t their fault for asking. It was my fault. I still felt guilty for saying no. So I said yes, then resented the time away from my writing. I said yes to get out from under the pressure I felt when I said no. But that pressure is not put on me from any outside source. That’s me pressuring me.

Lately I’ve said yes to a small handful of local talks, thinking that would take up far less time. But when it’s actually time to get dressed and go do it, I realize it’s still pulling me away from my writing. And I really, really wish I’d said no. It’s so clear when it’s right in front of me that yes was not the right answer. But at the time I said the word out loud, it seemed like it would be okay. So now I’m clearer on the fact that I need to draw a much finer line on public speaking. Again, nobody’s fault but my own. All the other party did was ask. I’m the one who said yes when I should have put my writing first.

Then there are things I say yes to because I really do want to them. The things I enjoy being part of. Like this blog.

But about a week ago I remember tweeting something along the lines of: "There’s something wrong with the hours in this day. Like they’re not calibrated correctly or something.” Every time I looked at the clock, I thought, No. Can’t be. That can’t be right. Day after day I do a series of things I agreed to do, none of which involve working on my novel in progress. And then the day is gone.

So it is with great regret that I announce that this will be my last post on this blog. Now that I’ve identified this lesson, I need to show I've learned it. My plate is too full, it’s my own fault, and I need to clear off everything that isn’t finishing the current project.

I’ll miss this one. But you’ve got to learn your lessons. Sooner or later.


  1. Guilt plays a big part in making us do things. It's hard to remember that our needs are of the utmost importance and *then* others' can follow suit. Sometimes we say yes simply because we think it will benefit our career, too, when in reality, this exact same step (being part of a blog, for instance) will be *more* beneficial in a couple of years. You know what's best for you. Good for you for seeing it and making this choice! Sending lots of productive and inspired writing time your way!


  2. Oh shoot, Catherine, and I was just getting to know you through these posts. Well, there is always Twitter...

  3. We'll miss you! But I know what you mean about not enough hours in the day. Good luck on finishing your projects!

  4. I'm sorry you're leaving, but I can understand you want to devote more time to your writing. It is tough to say no; I read somewhere that a lot of people think that writers' schedules are more flexible, but they don't realize that writers have to work just as hard as (and in some cases, even harder than) other people.

  5. We'll miss you! Thanks for all the great posts, and happy writing!

  6. I'll miss you here at the blog, but I'll be soooo happy to have that new Catherine Ryan Hyde book on my Kindle!

  7. Boundaries are critical for my survival! I'm sorry you're leaving, but happy you've learned to say NO :-)

  8. Gonna miss you! But it feels good to know when to say no. Good luck!