When I realized my deadline for writing this post was looming, I dredged up what choices I thought I had. I’d just been in Wyoming for a month and wondered if I should share my photos with you all, but a number of them have already hit the pages of Facebook and Instagram so I nixed that. Then, of course, I had just attended a conference in Tucson so considered words of wisdom emanating from that experience, but so many of us have already talked about our conferences, I also let that idea go. Next thought to enter my mind was that I’ve returned to the traumas of selling an apartment—in NYC VERY traumatic waiting for Board approval on top of everything else—and buying a house, but all that is better left in the recesses of my mind.
And then I was reading a wonderful book, Irene Sandell’s River of the Arms of God (highly recommended!) in which two women, one hundred years apart, are imprisoned in different ways. Well, that got me thinking! Prisons! As Sandell made me realize, not all prisons have bars. While one of the women in her book is in something of a ‘gilded cage,’ it struck me that her husband was as much imprisoned as she was, and at his own hand. He felt the compulsion to behave in a certain way and maintain his inheritance in the same manner his forebears had done, and there was no one else cracking the whip. How many of us do something similar to ourselves?
A friend and I have been moaning the usual array of rants against publishing and promoting the last few months. You know the kind I mean if you’re an author or work in publishing. It’s the ‘gotta get that book out,’ gotta meet that deadline, gotta get that blog written or that Facebook post out, put something up on Pinterest or Instagram, show off my new cover, arrange that book signing, 'like' my friend’s page, comment on that author’s post, announce that five star review, and so on that we all have got ourselves into. In other words, it’s pressure we put on ourselves. And to be perfectly frank, I don’t think I can stop! I can let things go for a while, but then when time permits, it’s a Murphy’s Law situation: if there is time to be filled, it will certainly be filled (and probably something will go wrong as well!).
Behind this all is the love of writing, of course. We want to create and get those words down on the page, hell or high water. There is that ‘something’ inside us that persistently nags us to write and if we’re not writing, we’re not happy. Once that happens, of course, the rest follows. We’ve all thrown away the keys.
But I am curious: do you feel you have other prisons you’ve created for yourself?
And so: I just got a lovely 4* review from InD’Tale Magazine for Bad Boy, Big Heart, available at https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Boy-Big-Heart-Book-ebook/dp/B072MKG48B/:
“Bad Boy, Big Heart” is a fast paced short story with such beautiful descriptions of the Wyoming countryside, readers will feel as if they have been swept into the very pages of the book. One cannot help but instantly fall in love with the characters, feel their connection and share the struggle they face. . . the writing is beautifully vivid and the characters likable, with a plot that any romance lover could easily sink their teeth into, especially if one enjoys a quick, enjoyable read.”
What a great analogy! I can think of several "prisons" I inhabit: the hard-time-saying-no prison, for example. For some reason, I always feel guilty if I'm not able to answer a call for volunteers. Oddly, it might have been breaking out of the must-promo-daily prison that helped! I found out that the world didn't end when I didn't post on Facebook daily, or didn't read, comment and RT every blog in my Triberr feeds. (I'm exhausted just remembering.) These days I really think if I have time before committing to something new, and although I may feel a bit guilty when I can't, I know the world won't end without my participation! LOL! Thanks for the post!
Leah, good for you for the break-out! I have a terrible feeling there's a bit of OCD in all of us, the compulsion to 'do'. We just need to figure out how to overcome that. If I get the answer, I'll write about that!
We do all create our own prisons, I learned a long time ago, the only way to open the door is to let it go. I ask myself if it is life or death and that usually is the answer. If you take your keys and squeeze them in your hand you soon realize how bad it hurts. When all you have to do is turn your hand over and open your fingers to get rid of the pain. No matter what excuse there is, there is none great enough to suffer, let it go.
There's the prison of housework...but I frequently leave the door open to escape, so that doesn't count. LOL Right now I'm between day jobs during the off season, so that doesn't feel very prison-like. Writing "stuff" could feel like a prison, but I try not to let it. I enjoy the actual writing part, so I'm good with the pressure of meeting deadlines. As for promo...I've tried lots of different things and have whittled it down to a few. I passed on the last opportunity I felt would be a time-suck. I'm trying very hard to only stick with what I can handle without stress. It's an acquired skill...
When we decided to get the house with the big yard, a kind of prison sentence began. My 10 fruit trees need attention, even the distribution of fruit takes planning if I have a plentiful season (and you know all about the grass/water use problem and re-landscaping a half acre...watch those dollars add up!) We like living where sun shines (leaving Seattle's gloom), but that means we are far away from family. We are still Washington residents as we sell property there, so we remain in California only 9 months out of the year...that takes some tricky planning. HAVING to vacation for three months out of the year presents hassles you don't expect from 'vacation' planning. The 4-months-on-the-boat-every summer...Whew! Selling the boat was hard, but also a big relief. So we can let go of these things, but in the meantime, we have to ask: "Why did we decide to do this thing? And are we sure we're still happy with this thing?"
I can honestly say that on the eve of the fifth anniversary of my retirement from my job as a corporate executive I'm still reveling in my "escape." I didn't hate my job, but after 37 years in insurance I was more desperate to escape than I realized. Within weeks of my retirement, OG and I pulled up stakes in Minnesota after nearly 25 years and headed west. It's so beautiful here, I'm in awe every day. I feel reborn. I'm eternally grateful that job provided the wherewithal to allow me to leave it at age 58. If I were still slogging through every day, knowing I had two or three years left to go, I might give up.
Prisons of our choice. So apt. I did that big in my earlier years. Now that I'm retired and living close to our kids, I chose what I do. I love writing, but I'm not tethered to it. I promote when I can, which isn't saying much. Since I'm self-published, I choose my deadlines and change when necessary. Maybe I'd earn more money with a publisher. Considering my past experience, I'm not so sure I would. I've broken out of most of my prisons. With prudent spending and a lot of saving in our earning years, we now can enjoy our retirement. Are there still prisons? Probably. Again, they're my choice.
Cindy, what a remarkable analogy. And you're absolutely right. But for many of us, it's not quite so simple--with pain, yes, one wants that to stop, but I think for most authors it's not something we can easily control. Once we take up the cudgel of writing, it snowballs from there like some 'moreish' food you can't stop eating. But I do see your point and will be keeping that in mind next time I feel the compulsion to do something I really don't want to do!. thanks.
Jannine, yes,an acquired skill. I truly need to acquire it--that ability to stand back and see if something is really worth the time. Maybe you could write a post on how to do that!
Rolynn, I do feel for you and have a similar problem. My house is on Long Is. but my family, and hence at present my apt. are in the city. The house is my primary so I have to spend more than half the year there and then I want to get to WY. Sooooo....finally selling apt. When was I writing? No idea. I really would be happy in an RV out in the country. I think possessions are the biggest prison if you want to know the truth. I met a guy, a photographer, in Grand Teton Pk. this past trip who was living in his van. Happy as anything. I was really jealous of that freedom.
So, Alison, it was all worthwhile--and you do live in an incredibly beautiful area and have the knowledge you worked hard to get there which must be rewarding. I'm just wondering if you 'knew' it was time to go at 58 or were there extenuating circumstances which caused you to leave and retire early? Because it's the letting go that's difficult; another person may have thought of hanging on for more money right til the bitter end.
Diane, I think you're lucky to have that attitude and be in control. You seem to have a very laid back attitude about it all, which I envy. And, btw, I doubt you'd make more money with a publisher. I certainly didn't.
Andi, there were definitely extenuating circumstances. The owner of the company died and his children took over and made a number of significant changes. The last six months were pure hell for me. I lost a lot of weight and at least a third of my hair. That's probably why I still feel so joyous about being out.
Good for you, Alison, to realize it was time to go! I think another problem with us all, if we're optimists of any kind, is that we hang on thinking things will get better. In your case, they did-by leaving!
My husband and I each had extremely stressful jobs for years and were convinced we couldn’t exist without them. When the opportunity presented itself for us to leave them and still remain financially viable, we jumped, Best move we ever made. Turns out we survived and thrived. Like Alison, I remain joyous about being out.
Margo, I can only envisage what convinced you that you couldn't exist without those jobs. Were you like the person I described above to Alison, someone who couldn't see themself living without the $ from the job they held? Thanks for sharing this.
Yes. a very blunt yes to being in a prison built by my own choices. I've been fighting to free myself for several months and think I might have found a path forward. If not, I'm not giving up. I will find a waay.
Congratulations on the awesome review, and thank you for the book recommendation. I agree, most of us our prisoners of our own making. I hadn't thought about it before, but it's so true.
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