Blogger: Wendy Lawton
I tend to carry a load of guilt around with me wherever I go. My bed seems to be a favorite place to examine each piece of guilt. I meant to call so and so. I have a stack of manuscripts a mile high. Oh no, I didn’t get that form filled out. Did the taxes get filed? I fall asleep each night asking God to cover all my omissions.
Can any of you identify?
I know some of you can because I hear the same type of things from you. I may be feeling guilty that I haven’t touched base with a client for a long time. I pick up the phone to call, trying to assuage my guilt. Guess what I hear. “Oh, Wendy. I’m so embarrassed. I know I told you I’d have that proposal and finished chapters by the end of November but . . ..” Yep. Guilt to guilt communication.
Or I go to a writer’s conference filled with guilt because I know I’m going to see writers I still have not yet responded to– writers I’m interested in and just can’t take them on at the present for one reason or another. Invariably when I see them I hear something like, “I feel guilty every time we cross paths. I promised I would send an updated proposal and never got it done.”
Or, at the same writer’s conference I see someone I visited with at an earlier conference. Guess what? They feel awful because they never sent something I gave them leave to send.
One of my 2018 resolutions was to stop allowing guilt to intrude on my professional and personal relationships. The truth is I’m a hard worker and I accomplish what two or three agents would have accomplished a couple decades ago. Everything has sped up. As I said to an editor who apologized to me last week, “We can’t feel bad when something slips through the cracks because we are all working at warp speed in today’s publishing climate– fewer people doing more work.”
The same goes for you! You may be working full time, active in your community, raising a family and trying to launch a writing career at the same time. At our weekly agent meeting we talked about guilt and accountability and my brilliant colleague Rachelle said, “Accountability is good only if it motivates.”
So here are some points of freedom for you today:
- Unless your agent has specified it is important for you to have your uncontracted manuscript done by a certain date, do not feel guilty if you miss the accountability deadline. That deadline was meant to motivate not convict.
- If you see me at a writer’s conference, no guilt on either side. Let’s allow grace to replace guilt!
- If I said you could send something, there is no expiration date. Who better than me to understand that work gets in the way of those things we want to do. And a little secret: Chances are I won’t remember I asked you to send something and I won’t remember that you didn’t send it. 🙂
Anyone want to join me in finding freedom from guilt?