It Happened Again

Cynthia Herron Writing 10 Comments

Photo Credit: FrameAngel/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: FrameAngel/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It happened again. It’s not something I like to talk about because I’m the kind of gal who doesn’t like to hurt folks’ feelings. But here’s the truth: Sometimes, kind people–gals, guys, writers, bakers, and candlestick makers–get used. And not in a good way.

Today’s post is a little diddy about TIME. If that’s something you struggle with or find difficult to balance, then pull up a seat, pour a cuppa, and stay tuned. I’m about to delve into brass tacks. I don’t really want to. I find it awkward to talk nitty-gritty so early in the morning, but occasionally, it’s necessary.

It’s cathartic to get things off my chest. Perhaps, it’s the writer in me, but once I bring a sensitive subject to the forefront, it allows me to visualize it, assess it, deal with it, and then put it away. Which brings me back to today’s topic at hand–time. Specifically, the value of being proactive with it.

I don’t know about you, but there never seems to be enough hours in the day. I’m a wife, I’m a mom, and I’m a writer. Writing is my profession. It’s what I do from my home office–day in, day out. When I’m in my writing mode, some things have to take a backseat to other less important tasks or interruptions.

For instance:

  • I may not always answer the phone.
  • I may not answer my door.
  • Dusting may have to wait, as well as clothes-folding, toilet-scrubbing, and errand-running.

And call me a “meanie,” BUT

  • I will no longer serve on every committee, join every club, or attend social functions for the sake of “putting in an appearance.”
  • I can’t walk your dog.
  • I don’t do laundry (other than my own).
  • I won’t organize your closets, clean your kitchen, or mow your lawn.
  • I know nothing about stamp-collecting, bee-keeping, or turnip-growing.

Last, but not least (and this brings me to today’s delicate dilemma regarding TIME)… I’m unable to read your 600 page manuscript and provide an edit, critique, or evaluation. There are professionals who do this for a living.

Why am I so blunt? Well, because you’d be amazed at how often I’ve been asked to do this type of thing. (I’m not really sure why since I’m still navigating the path myself, but I suspect it’s because I’m an encourager and I genuinely like to be helpful.)

Here are some scenarios:

  • “Would you help me write my grandfather’s life story? It’s sort of an epic biography, but not really.”

 

  • “Would you be willing to read my children’s book and tell me why it’s not working? I’m thinking 300 pages might be too long.”

 

  • “I want you to read my 600 page memoir. You’re gonna love it. There’s lots of romance.”

 

  • “I’d really like your opinion. My book is 100 pages. Could you help me add another 200?”

 

  • “I know you write Christian fiction, but I think you’ll really like my erotic thriller. Oh…and don’t forget your blinders.”

 

  • “You should be able to read my manuscript pretty quickly. I wrote it in three days.” 

 

Now, I love folks. I really do. But because writing is my full-time profession, I find if I don’t value my time and my career, no one else will. That’s why there are instances when I must say, “No, thank you” and “I’m sorry–I’d like to, but I’ll have to pass.”

An additional reason besides the time infringement is that, quite honestly, I may not be the best judge of your work. I write Heartfelt, Homespun (Christian) Fiction, specifically romance. Other genres I’m not as familiar with. While I may be able to shed some light on the mechanics of writing and give you an idea of why something isn’t working, “erotic thrillers” just don’t appeal to me, so I’ve never read them.

For folks pursuing a writing career, I’d recommend a critique group or at least a partner who shares similar interests. Joining professional writing organizations like ACFW is a great place to start, as well as taking writing courses and investing in books about the writing craft.

All this being said, I do understand the need for feedback (I’ve been there. I’m still there.)  Feedback is vital to an author’s success. But I need for YOU to understand that literary representation isn’t necessarily the golden ticket. It’s a HUGE (awesome!) STEP, yes, but one that still requires time, effort, and good judgment–especially at the pre-published stage.

And while I may have to pass on reading your 600 page novel or memoir, it doesn’t mean that I won’t be your biggest cheerleader!

In fact, let me be the first to say RAH RAH RAH! GO, FRIEND, GO! YOU CAN DO IT!

******

How do you handle life’s delicate situations?

Any time-saving tips you care to share?

TWEETABLES:

Time management for writers. At what point do you draw the line? (Click to Tweet)

How to add value to your writing time (Click to Tweet)

Another post you might like… Delicate (and Some Not So Delicate) Questions Answered

Photo Credit: FrameAngel/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Blessings Always,

Comments 10

  1. Jill Kemerer

    You handle these situations with grace, Cynthia! I laughed at the erotic thriller! Ha!!

    I’m with you–writing is my career and I sacrifice my personal time for it. I’m very selective about what I agree to. 🙂

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  3. Loree Huebner

    Your time is YOUR time. We cannot waste it, or let others snatch our precious moments away in a selfish manner. Some people just don’t realize they are encroaching. I don’t mind helping people when help is needed, but I have learned to say “no” to some time suckers.

    When it comes to time, I stick to my rules – it’s God, family/close friends, work, writing, and everything else…

    We’ve had to deal a lot with family issues in the past month. Nearly ALL of our time was given to family for a hard two week period. We knew that God was in the middle of it. Even though it was exhausting, Hubs and I have become closer than ever during and after that fact. We realized how little time we have when it really comes down to it. I’ll be sharing a blog post on it soon.

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    Cynthia Herron

    Loree, you echoed my thoughts. Time slips away so quickly, and without priorities and boundaries, we can find ourselves entrenched in regret. Praying for you, my friend, that family issues will soon be resolved. I look forward to you sharing! (((Hugs)))

  5. Jennifer Major

    You hit the nail on the head!!

    But I just finished my epic space opera about hydroponic lettuce farming on Jupiter, can you give it a skim?
    It’s as good as Twilight. And it’s 872 pages in 8 point sparkle font.

    😉

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  8. Melissa Tagg

    Good stuff, Cindy. Sometimes we just have to say no. Earlier this spring and summer when I was in the throes of a deadline, I said no to several people who asked me to read their stuff…I felt guilty and yet, not. Because I knew it’s what I had to say and I had a responsibility to the agent and editor I was working with. Now that I’m slightly freer, I’ve been able to say yes to helping a couple friends this month–which is a good feeling, too. So yeah…that whole balancing time and knowing when to say no thing, I’m still learning it.

    One thing I can say for sure though: I really DON’T have a hard time saying no to housework. Haha!

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