14 January 2013

No is Not a 4-Letter Word

As I've reflected this week on my plan for 2013, I've found myself thinking a lot about my favorite quote from one of my all-time favorite books, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. Lost in Wonderland, Alice meets the Cheshire Cat and asks for his advice on how to proceed with her journey...

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don’t much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn’t matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you’re sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

(Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 6)
I'm determined to "move forward" with my writing career this year, no matter what it takes, and I've realized that I need to be willing to say no to the many distractions that pop up in my way. The challenge is recognizing the difference between those things that will propel me forward along my path and those that will take me off on unproductive detours.

In 2012, I accepted nearly every challenge that was presented to me... I took on (and conquered) every writing challenge presented on the SCBWI MD/DE/WV blog... I said "Yes!" when some friends suggested that I should write a how-to book on knitting with recycled materials... I entered every online writing contest I could find... I agreed to add a weekly Crock Pot recipe feature to my blog, and turned my attention to creating gluten-free and vegan recipes as well, for my friends and readers with special dietary needs. And while each of these challenges taught me a little bit more about who I am and what I am capable of, I realized that I've been spreading myself pretty thin. Although I believe that it's never a good idea to close the door on any possibilities, I've realized that I won't ever arrive at my destination, if I don't have a clear picture of where I want to go. And it's possible that I said "Yes" too many times in 2012.

Unlike Alice, I know where I want my journey to take me. "Somewhere" isn't good enough.

That's why  decided that "No" will be an acceptable answer in 2013. I'm determined not to feel guilty when I can't do it all, because maybe we're not meant to be all things to all people, all the time. I probably won't accept every challenge presented to me this year. And that's okay. I'll focus on the opportunities and challenges that will help me to move forward toward my ultimate destination.

As of this moment, I don't have any plans to drop any of my current projects. This year, I'd like to finalize (and find a publisher for) the knitting book (I have the patterns written, I'm just working on putting it all together in book form)... I'll continue to accept many of the SCBWI MD/DE/WV writing challenges, though I may not complete them all... I'll write/revise/edit my YA novels and picture books, and I'll even swallow my fears and start sending my manuscripts out into the world...

And I'm going to be more consistent with my blog postings. My official 2013 blog schedule will be:

* Tuesdays: Book Reviews
* Thursdays: Recipe (either Crock Pot Gourmet or a Gluten Free or Vegan dish)
* Sundays: What I've Learned This Week (updates on my goals and progress, reflections on what I'm grateful for, etc.)

However, as I began writing this post last night, after spending the day sick and in bed, I realized that it was silly to force myself to stay up, pushing myself past my limits, in order to write a blog post about how I wasn't going to push myself to do more than I can this year. So I went to bed instead. And honestly, this probably won't be the only time it happens this year. I will do my best to stick to the official schedule I've set for myself, but I reserve the right (if life gets crazy) to sometimes post on Wednesdays, Fridays or Mondays instead! (And if I get really excited about a recipe, like this one, I reserve the right to post it as soon as it's ready, instead of waiting for the next Thursday!)

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