Saying “Yes” to Saying “No”

ID-10075071_2Today is my last day as webmaster for SouthWest Writers (SWW). Tomorrow I’ll begin a semi-sabbatical for the remainder of the year. Not a rest from everything, just from taking on new responsibilities. A sabbatical, I suppose, from saying “yes.”

I’ve been a member of SWW for ten years now, having served on their board of directors for four years—at various times as secretary, webmaster, blogmaster, newsletter editor, brownie baker, and general volunteer. It’s an odd thing to be part of a writing organization and not to write, at least not in any committed, consistent kind of way. I’m not blaming SWW. It’s clearly my fault for failing to knuckle down and take my writing seriously.

But I’ve come to realize I’ve said “yes” to requests to volunteer, not just out of a desire to help but as a way to avoid finishing my writing projects (including five novel drafts and two partials). For the past few years I’ve told myself, “I can’t write today. I’m too busy with such-and-such,” or, “I’ll write tomorrow. So-and-so needs me today.” These seemed like good excuses at the time, and writing does take gobs of focus and energy…

I suppressed the gentle call to write until it screamed at me, more and more often. My characters wanted their stories finished, and only I could do it.

Letting go of my volunteer responsibilities has not been easy, but it was necessary. Several positives came out of these last few years: I helped a great organization I truly care about, I made awesome friends, and I learned how important writing is to me.

So…tomorrow I finish the query letter and synopsis for my fantasy novel, and then hold my breath as I email them to an agent who requested them a few weeks ago. (I wrote the first chapter in May of 2005 and completed the draft in 2015. Wow, where did those 10 years go?)

For the remaining seven months of 2016, I’ll work to make that novel shine and to finalize a dozen short stories for submission to speculative fiction magazines. If there’s still time left in the year, I’ll pick one of my four other novel drafts to start editing. I have a lot of work to do, but I’m excited to jump in and put as much energy into writing as I did into volunteering.

How about you? Have you let something get in the way of your dreams? We’re almost at the halfway point of the year—where are you on meeting your goals?

Image “Clean Idea”courtesy of thaikrit at

Speculative Fiction Writer

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Posted in Musings
4 comments on “Saying “Yes” to Saying “No”
  1. Good for you! Knowing when to say no is important for your sanity.

  2. FancyRW says:

    I had hoped to have a first draft of my novel done by June 30th. I’m pretty sure that isn’t going to happen, yet I am dedicated to working harder than I ever have to complete it as soon as humanly possible. We will cheer each other on!

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All who wander are not lost.~ JRR Tolkien

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