Peri PakrooYesterday I decided to pull the plug (or at least, put on a far-back burner…on low) on a project that I realized I just couldn’t do right now. This project being my next book project which I was aiming to have done by the end of the summer. The thing is that I had already committed to it, and I really have a visceral aversion to not following through with my commitments. Put another way, I don’t like to fail. And since I had already said yes to the book and went all the way through the contract process and had even received an advance check, after three months of failing to make significant progress I finally had to get real and admit that I just can’t do this project right now. I think I knew deep down that this might happen (how I would do it with a toddler at home was always a mystery), as I never cashed the advance check that I received weeks ago.

It’s still possible that we’ll spin the book idea into something else (smaller), and/or put it off by 3 months, or even a year, but the hard part was making the decision yesterday that I just had to throw in the towel on the book as we originally planned and scheduled it. And then after making the decision, to send an email to my editor telling her the news. I still haven’t heard back from her but I’m just going to have to hope it’s OK.

The feeling of dread and shame for not being able to do what I said I’d do is still there but waning, and I’m getting flashes and longer stretches of feeling incredibly invigorated by how this frees up my life. Being able to focus on the other things that I’ve been wanting to focus on — my kids and husband, playing music, starting a meditation practice, expanding my coaching and other aspects of business — feels great. So great, in fact, that it’s telling me that I really made the right decision. No Rooz (Persian New Year) is right around the corner, so I can enjoy getting ready for it instead of feeling guilty that I’m not working on my book. I can tackle spring cleaning, fix the pile of toys and random objects on my “fix it” bench, get regular about running again, make some crafts and maybe even write some songs.

I think what I’m most looking forward to is enjoying spring and summer with the kids, especially Jasper who can now walk and actually play outside for the first time! The weather has been getting quite lovely lately, and in the few times I’ve been able to take him out (it’s mostly been daddy these days) it was just the most fun thing ever hanging out with him and watching him dig around in the dirt, poke at spiders and watch birds in the sky. It had been weighing on me that I’d be preoccupied with a book during these months which made me sad…and now I feel such great relief and excitement about the months to come. I’m all pumped up now about working in the garden and planning some spring/summer travel. If having spring fever is wrong I don’t wanna be right!

Still I will be grappling with how to make good on this book project and am leaning towards scaling it down just a bit and aiming for next spring. I do truly want to write it, but frankly I think it’ll be a better book if I wait a bit and write from a clearer place. Sigh.

Photo by Christina Kennedy.

6 Comments

  • here here!
    good for you!
    I all too often can’t say no…or feel the same guilt you describe (years of catholic school will do it every time).
    I wish I was in a position to say “screw it” and go play more…but unless I win the lottery, that just ain’t gonna happen 🙂
    Have fun with the kiddo – lord knows they go and grow up waaaay too fast!

  • Thanks peeps. My feeling is that the whole idea of failure is definitely not black and white; I’ve actually had a draft of a blog post on this topic for a while now! I’ll have to finish that up soon. But anytime I can’t follow through on a promise I do see it at least as a minor failure. The trick for my mental health is just to put it in perspective–not overrationalize it or blow it out of proportion, but just see it for what it is.

    @Lisa: Rereading my post it sure does seem like I’ll be filling my non-book time with nothing but fun! I guess that’s just what’s capturing my imagination right now. But in truth I’m also relieved that I’ll be able to take on more profitable projects and make some money in these next few months. Book writing is tough financially in the short-term; the advances aren’t huge so I need to juggle book work with clients in order to keep bringing home the bacon. Without a book in the mix I can focus on money-making clients. And I’m really good at juggling smaller projects with my life and all the non-work stuff I like to do. Not so much with book writing — it’s a lot harder to get that sustained quiet time that book writing requires.

    The money aspect really didn’t factor into my decision though; I knew it would be a financial squeeze to write the book this summer and had resigned myself to it. My decision was more of a reckoning with reality as I got more and more behind schedule, with no relief in sight. Aaargh!

  • Yep. I too share a total dread of reneging on commitments, even to myself. I hope the publishers were supportive. Perhaps the gardening metaphor is useful here–we all end up weeding at some point, and the veteran, granny gardeners have no qualms about just grabbing what isn’t working by the neck and ripping it out. I hope to get my own granny on when I grown up.

  • Update: I’ve been in touch with my editor since the day I posted this and things are kosher. In fact we just finished a phone meeting planning out how to shift gears with a scaled-down project and I’m really happy with where we’re going. I’ll undoubtedly blog about it at some point when it has taken more shape. Onward!

    I love the idea of channeling grandma, Andrew! Grannies know best of course.

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