Monday, May 30, 2011

Favorite Words

Life has a way of identifying favorite words. They may be favorites for a short period of time, or they may be permanent favorites. A feeling of piling on led to this round of favorite words.

I generally don't read the sappy, inspirational forwards that flood our email inboxes. One came last week that struck a chord. Why? Because I was in the midst of a similar thought pattern. The message was about separating the important things from the chaff in your life. I realized a few weeks back I mislaid my Zen calmness. I missed it. I've let too much small stuff get in the way of the truly important things. Clutter in parts of my house represented clutter in my brain. I decided it was time to declutter and focus on the big stuff, stuff important to me and my family. Blow away, rest of the chaff, thank you very much.

So, my first favorite word right now is an old favorite: sabbatical. For me, a sabbatical is part of the decluttering of my life. I decided which important things I will focus on for the next period of time: my husband, my children, my adorable new grandson (all grandchildren are adorable in the eyes of the grandparents), making my home a place of peace and harmony, and rewriting my first Mad Max manuscript.

You wouldn't think that rewriting a manuscript would be part of the important stuff. I've worked on Mad Max 1 for a long time. My agent has been shopping it about for several months. Last week, three editors from top six publishers pointed out the same flaw in the novel. After a long conversation with my agent, we plotted how I can fix it. Two editors left the door open for a requery; one didn't. That one didn't like the murderer; thought the novel was too dark. We won't query that editor again.

To achieve the sabbatical, my second favorite word comes into play. I often have this word as a favorite. Just as often, I forget why it helps simplify my life. That word is "no." Powerful. Might mean, No, never. Might mean, No, not right now. Might mean, No, I have to take a break from this activity until the rewrite is back in my agent's hands.

Expect me to say No a lot in the next few weeks. Expect that you are not alone when I say No. Expect that I will qualify that No with not now/not never/maybe in the future.

I'm not sorry, because the important stuff has to come first. That's the only way I'll regain my Zen balance and stop the piling on of the small stuff. And that's just the way it has to be for a while.


  1. Wise words from a wise lady. Your list details what's vitally important to the woman you are. I, too, have gone through the same phase of "what's really important to me?" My writing is near the top under Calvin, the kids and grandkids. Much success in revamping your manuscript. You'll do it with style and grace. Write on.

  2. I knew you'd understand, Vonnie. Others won't. One has already attacked me for renigging on a promise. I did, with an explanation. What I said I'd do wasn't rocket surgery, but the person who said he was counting on my has NEVER been there when I needed something. Maybe it's time to dial back the relationship, too...

  3. As you know, you got me thinking that way, too. My favorite (well, almost) word will be "No." At least for the next few weeks. Already I feel calmer.

  4. I hear you, Sally. Some people will be angry. Some won't understand. Too bad.

  5. Sometimes it is very difficult to share and help with others, I find it also in my field of photography. There is only so much of me that can go around. I noticed that you are reading Clifford's book. My photo was used for his cover. By the way if you did not know, he is an editor for Press 53 now, and a very friendly person to talk with. Good luck with your writting.
    Robert Miller

  6. Robert, it's nice to know who took the photo. I love Clifford's work. I met him at James River last year. I also know he's the editor at Press 53. I just submitted a short story for Prime Number. Don't know if he'll accept it, but I know he'll read it. Thanks for reaching out.