DEBORAH CROMBIE: There are days when I love Facebook.
And my writer friends. Yesterday I was skimming, as I hadn't been on Facebook in a few days (more than a few days) and a post by my very talented writer friend Catriona McPherson (author of the Dandy Gilver series, wonderful novels set in Scotland in the 1920s) jumped off the screen and smacked me right in the face. It was a photo of a page from Catriona's diary, reproduced here with her permission.
THIS WEEK NO TO ALL THINGS
This is the sweetest, and the hardest, sentence in the writer's universe. And meant, I was sure, just for me.
Following the thread, I saw that Cat had posted a link to a blog by someone named Kevin Ashton, titled CREATIVE PEOPLE SAY NO.
For anyone who engages in any sort of creative work, I'd list this as a MUST READ. Mr. Ashton begins by recounting the story of a Hungarian psychology professor professor who once wrote to famous creators asking them to be interviewed for a book he was writing. A third said NO, they were too busy. Another third didn't answer, probably because they were too busy and didn't have secretaries.
Mr. Ashton goes on to say that time equals creativity, and that any loss of time is a loss of productive work. My favorite of his examples is a quote from Charles Dickens, rejecting an invitation from a friend: "It is only half an hour’ — ‘It is only an afternoon’ — ‘It is only an
evening,’ people say to me over and over again; but they don’t know that
it is impossible to command one’s self sometimes to any stipulated and
set disposal of five minutes — or that the mere consciousness of an
engagement will sometime worry a whole day … Who ever is devoted to an
art must be content to deliver himself wholly up to it, and to find his
recompense in it. I am grieved if you suspect me of not wanting to see
you, but I can’t help it; I must go in my way whether or no.”
I would go so far as to say that loss of time/work due to an inability to say NO has been the biggest hurdle of my writing life, and one certainly not conquered.
I'm getting out my desk diary now and putting in my page-per-day goals, and filling in any "free" time with THIS WEEK NO TO ALL THINGS. (And thanking Catriona.)
REDS and READERS, is the constant erosion of creative time by little requests and chores a problem for everyone? If so, how do you deal with it?