Choosing a Victim #amwriting #WorkLifeBalance

Last week, I had to cancel CapitalIndieBookCon 3. Also last week, I almost passed out twice, couldn’t sleep more than 2/3rds of my usual, and started getting my seasonal allergy symptoms.

In some ways, I was lucky that so many hints popped up to tell me I was stressed. I can be brick-like in my awareness of this particular problem with myself. Can I do more? THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS YES. Until it’s a really hard no.

Something had to give, and I chose CIBC3 for a wide variety of reasons.

How do you choose the thing that takes the fall so you can do the other things?

There are so many ways to do this. I chose a tactical approach similar to a decluttering philosophy I’m familiar with. Effectively, you have to take each thing and determine its individual, non-relative value to you. Why do you keep it, and is that reason worth it? If you can only think of the things you might someday do with it, then chuck that sucker, because it’s not adding value to your life, it’s adding burdens.


In my youth, I enjoyed cross-stitch and sewing. If you stick to the basic techniques and don’t try fancy stuff, these are relatively simple activities that require patience, practice, precision, and patterns. When you finish a thing, you have an actual, physical object that has a use. Sewing makes, among other things, clothes. Cross-stitch makes decorative pillows, blankets, all-hangings, ornaments, and so on.

When I had kids, I tried to keep doing the cross-stitch, but the challenge of fitting it into my life grew more and more daunting, so I stopped. When my kids grew out of baby and toddler clothes, making things for them to wear became more of an ugh chore than a fun task.

So I packed up all my stuff for both and put it in the closet. Maybe, I said to myself, I’ll have some time later in the year to make a new ornament. Maybe I’ll have some time to make a thing for my friend’s new baby. Maybe I’ll do a thing for that kid’s second birthday. Maybe I’ll make myself a skirt with pockets. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Here I am, about fifteen years later, not having made anything yet still holding onto a few bags of fabric and another of cross-stitch stuff. They don’t take up much space, and I don’t really think about them often, so it’s not a hardship to keep those things. I mean, I might take it all out for some purpose at some point. Some of the pieces have come in handy for quick plushie, clothing, or bag repair. The cross-stitch thread is good for stringing beads or hanging things.

And yet, if I really took the time to consider the actual worth, those bags of stuff only have two kinds of value: sentimental and potential. I remember making clothing for my kids, and I know I can make something cute with these things if I just take the time to do it. All the skills are still in my brain, just a bit rusty.

So there I was, looking at all the things on my plate. Of them, a fair number are self-imposed. I can pause writing at any time and not suffer much for it–I set all my own deadlines. Even when it’s an anthology I want to submit to, it’s me wanting to submit that sets the deadline. Sales goals are likewise created by me. Not hitting those targets isn’t a big deal.

Some things I can’t drop. Clearly, my kids and their dramas fall under this category. The usual things going on with the house and car won’t go away by ignoring them of reducing their time allotments. Cleaning has to get done, and so does laundry. I have to cook the meals I am slated to cook or we don’t eat.

I took a long, hard look at the cost vs benefit of CIBC, and added on the fact that important kid stuff popped up on that same day. CIBC is a great opportunity to spend time with people I like and to meet new people, and also to find new audience. It’s also a heckuva lot of work, and none of my helpers could help this year. With the entirety of the advertising and setup falling squarely on my shoulders, I made the hard decision to cancel.

Better to thrive doing what you can than suffer doing what you might be able to maybe manage if you don’t blink too much.

Related news: I have a new YA book coming in late June. Cover reveal soon!

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