Learning to Say NO

It’s another one of those mornings here on the third coast where the sky is wrapped in a soft palette of grays and quiet blue. I can’t see it from my cramped spot in the basement (third shift working love of life is snoring in the office slash bedroom so I’m banished to the bowels of the castle) but I’m sure the lake is restless, sending intermittent ivory flocked wavelets of moss green and brown against her sandy prison. Since I’ve been entrusted by my dear friend to guard her blog whilst she is away, I’ve scrounged a few moments of solitude scrunched between my familial obligations and my career. Okay, I took a day off from my skull numbing manufacturing accounting job and am hiding from my perpetually chatty mother in law so I can string a sentence together. I’m typing as fast as I can because snapping at my heels is an editing project, a writer’s conference, oh and my first grandchild is due to be born in TWO DAYS! My daughter in love has family in town so there will be at least a couple of meet and greets – patience my dear readers, I have a writerly point or several points, depending on how many my tiny brain attempts to cram into one cohesive post. Brace yourself. This could get messy.

The days of sequestering oneself in the attic whilst writing a plethora of Plathian pages in one’s personal journal are gone. Unless you’re King or Rowling or twelve, you probably have a day job, and you serve some productive position in your familial hierarchy or social sphere. Life is busy and in our struggle to be responsible humans, often our identities as writers suffer. Sure, you can schedule every single moment of your life, including that hour in the morning or midnight to scribe your tome, effectively eliminating all spontaneity from your proximity because we all know writing is more about dedication and perspiration than inspiration.  You could languish in the inevitable demise of your novel yet unfinished, letting the lamentations loop in your head until you are quite mad. You could flip out on your family, your coworkers and the beloved pet labradoodle and end up on the evening news. Or you could simply say “NO.” Come on. You’re a writer. You know the power of words and next to “love” and “I’ve got a plate of nachos” “No” is one of the most power packed words around. Use it. I’ll give you some examples:

No, I am not working overtime from dusk till dawn on my day off. I have a book to write.

No, I am not going to take you to Pokemon Go – the movie. I have some poetry to finish.

No, I will not whip up an impromptu feast of pulled pork, brisket and turducken. I’m researching indigenous dung beetles for my short story.

I know what you’re thinking. “ I’ll get fired, unfriended, I’ll go hungry – I love pulled pork.” Yes, the word “No” carries its own risk but it is sometimes our only buffer between “what if” and “if only.” Truth is, if your life is so full of obligations and responsibilities that you have to throw a walleyed, canine bared, yowling fit to eep out a moment of writer time – “No” is a word grossly under used in your vocabulary. Start using it a little more and the benefits will far outweigh the risk. “No” will allow you to be the writer you you need to be and the you everyone else clamors over for whatever service, solace or smoked bovine you so generously provide will be a better you.

For those of you who are mortified at the thought of refusing a boss, a friend, a family member or that curly coiffed canid, there is another less abrupt but almost as efficient word to place in your “Lord I need time to write” arsenal. “Wait.” In most cases, unless there is bleeding, gunfire or sirens “wait” will not do any harm and may allow you some respite. You may not be able to finish a novel by using the word “wait” but you will be able to finish a thought.

And so this blog has been brought to you by the words “No” and “Wait.” Use them wisely. Use them well. I’ve been using them both all morning.


Tammy Boehm