There is one good thing about the dentist – nitrous gas! As I lay there this morning a little high with a drill in my mouth, and music in my ears, I was struck by a line in Ashley McBryde’s Andy (I Can’t Live Without You).
You’re the only one who knows -- Me and my heart can’t get along
Or put another way, My Head and My Heart can’t get along.
At the same time I was hearing those lines, a check for $500 was in the mailbox waiting to be sent to my writing coach. Me and my heart are not getting along. Again.
The truth is I will never “make it” as an author. While my books are well-written and on important topics (PTSD recovery), I am not Celeste Ng or Jodi Picoult or Jeanine Cummins. I have talent but not TALENT. You know the difference.
In the past month I’ve sold 22 copies of Journey To Hope (book 2) and a little less of Decide to Hope (book 1). Most of these have been to family and friends. And I can’t even get ALL of my family and friends to invest $4.99.
My husband and I would like to buy a cabin in the NC mountains. While he won’t retire for nine more years, we could start using the cabin now. We could escape life every weekend. Our family could enjoy the property.
I spend a lot – a lot – of money on what should be a hobby and not a career. If I hadn’t spent so much money on writing in the last few years, we would have that cabin. I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not. My brain has done the math and weighed the benefits. There is no argument – I should let writing be a hobbyand not try to find “commercial” success. I should be happy writing more for fun and less for publication. That’s my HEAD.
My HEART is not necessarily in agreement. While I sat there with gas pumping through my veins, I was able to see some of this a little more clearly. I love my writing coach. She and I have become friends, sort of. We talk about our families and since my novels are emotional journeys, she’s learned a lot about me through my stories. But we are not friends. I am her customer and if I quit paying her, she would not contact me at all. Am I paying for a friendship? I’ve gotten caught in the trap of paying for friendships many times.
I imagined taking the check out of the mailbox. What would that feel like (heart)? What would the impact be (head)?
HEART: More truth time – part of the reason I want to send the check is because I don’t want to hurt her feelings. If you know me, you know the fear of “disappointing others” is a trigger for an emotional spiral. If I discontinue this relationship, I could disappoint her. I don’t want the conflict. I want the friendship. Could this be real friendship AND a business relationship?.
HEAD: That $500 (and all the other $) could be invested in a cabin. Or invested in decorating the cabin. It could be used for travel when COVID ends. I could spend a fraction of that money to create a scrapbook space that allows me to enjoy my hobby. ETC ETC
HEART: I do better when I’m busy. Actually, I do better when I’m too busy. It frightens me to have nothing to do. I know I could fill my time with other things. I could also keep writing. After all, I’ve learned a lot and likely don’t need as much coaching. But I know me – if there is no accountability, I won’t do anything.
HEAD: Probably I should “heal” the part of me that needs outside accountability and the part of me that’s unhappy just sitting still. I could fill my time with my best talent – teaching. I enjoy the adult classes I have at local colleges. I could easily make those a focus for my time.
HEART: These blogs and my books help others. That’s why I do it. Right? Part of me believes that altruism.
HEAD: But I’m not really helping anyone except maybe myself. The only people that read my blog are friends. And these blogs aren’t free (well, the blogs are free but trying to find subscribers is not). This is another expense that could be channeled elsewhere.
HEART: I like writing – mostly. I liked seeing my book on the shelf and on Amazon. I liked people telling me my writing is good.
HEAD: Writing is free. And if/when I finish a project, I can still hire someone (or not) for editing, cover design, etc. I’d spend a lot less $. A lot less. I can find other types of writing projects that pay me instead of my paying others.
HEART: Other people I know are churning out book after book. They are supposedly making money. My books are just as good. I should be making $ too.
HEAD: First, I am not a ‘churner’ so if I tried, I’d be miserable. Second, “making money” is quite subjective. The churners don’t use coaches. The point is, I can write or not write, I can teach or not teach. What I shouldn’t do is pour “good money after bad”. If I quit spending this money, I will effectively give us a significant raise!
Well, Dave will read this blog because he edits them all. He will tell me to do whatever makes me happy. I want to ask him to tell me I can’t do this anymore. But he and I both know telling me I can’t causes me to dig my heels in. But I must find a way to be happy without employing others (not writing coaches or social media experts or therapists or any other non-friend friends).
After the mental breakdown (2012) and the loss of my career and most friends, I began to really focus on my health -- hiking, nutrition, reading, even cleaning and organizing my house. I was happy then. I think? I was lonely though. And I don’t know how to find “real” friends.
I need to start hiking again. I need to focus on creating good meals. I need to teach (that’s where my energy comes from). I need to write for fun.
All of my contracts (coach and social media) come to an end on December 31. It will be a good time to stop, to save the money, to buy a cabin, to plan a trip to Glacier. Writing will be a hobby that might or might not become something on a shelf.
I will have to find a way to spend my energy.
HEAD: I have to learn to tell myself “no”. I have to determine why that’s so difficult.
HEART: I’m not sure I can do that. Not having anything structured is scary. This blog has taken me two hours. If I’m not doing writing, how would I spend those two hours?
HEAD: I got the check out of the mailbox and tore it up.
HEART: It’s easy to write another one.
If you still see me on this blog in January, you’ll know my heart won. If you see me hiking the Appalachian Trail, you’ll know my head won.
Surely my heart and my head can get along.
My husband edits all of my blogs. I expected -- hoped -- he'd say, "Follow you're heart, honey." He didn't. He said, "This has been my favorite post so far." Hmmmm
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