About Commitment — A Writing Proposal

When I was invited to become part of the Indies Unlimited staff and write an article every month, I felt surprised and delighted and honored. Then I wanted to vomit. I’m not good with commitment. I tell myself that I like writing too much to be obligated to it, so we’ve just been cohabitating. I write whatever I want to, whenever I feel like it — or not — no pressure.

We have had our periods of exclusivity, and I’ll admit that I used to swing dance every Friday and Saturday night but now I mostly write. Yet the choices leading to now have been more about the moment or an alternative than a decision to make writing a priority. I’d rather research an essay than dance this Friday. I’d rather edit stories than watch TV on Tuesdays. I’d rather work on character development than cook — ever. There were some big concessions, but I never fully committed. Okay, I’ll write a book, but I’m not promising to let anyone read it. Okay, I’ll publish it, but I’m not going to tell my friends about it. Okay, I’ll start a second novel, but if it frustrates me so much I cry, I swear I’ll put it in a drawer and not think twice about it; I can’t handle that kind of drama in my life.

Recently, writing and I have been in a good place. I want to write every week. The stories are humming along, I’m getting ready to publish again, and my next novel is beyond the throw-it-out-the-window stage. For crying out loud, we were in Vegas on vacation and the thing I most wanted to do was write (by the pool and in between concerts, but still…). Isn’t that enough? Why did this proposal have to come now?

I like my freedom. Plus I have a day job that takes a lot of energy, so if I want to flake out in the evening to recuperate, I need space to do that. Unless my writing is going to pay the bills, and I don’t see that happening, do you? So there have been months in the past when I haven’t even put pen to paper outside my day job. But I wasn’t happy. I could never see why I was cranky and blue with a muddled mind, until as a last resort I dumped my thoughts into a notebook, and 10 or 15 pages later, I felt fresh like a spring shower. So I guess I don’t always write just because I want to; sometimes I have to.

A few years ago there was no personal blog and no Facebook and no Indies Unlimited in my life. There was just my manuscript with me, sneaking moments here and there to tweak a scene and scribbling intensely into the dark morning. There were times I was so frustrated I did cry and want to rip it to shreds, and I did put it in a drawer for a while. But I came back and toiled through the bad parts. Now, I feel that secret pride and deep joy of accomplishment that is only found on the other side of work. There are still many days when I doubt that feeling, and I think that writing is not for me. But I can’t ignore the bookshelf full of journals from 20 years of pouring my heart out in words. Or the scraps of paper piled in my box of story ideas. Or the blog and the Facebook and the Twitter and the reviews and the speaking engagements and the coworkers talking about my book at lunch when they think I can’t hear. The secret is out, and there is no turning back.

Excuse me, here comes the nausea again…

Whatever it is that makes me want to run from the obligation, it doesn’t matter. I’m already in the relationship. Writing is more than a hobby to me and has been for a while, and maybe I’ve been holding it back from its potential. It is long past time to step up, acknowledge the commitment, and take it to the next level. So, I do.

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Krista Tibbs is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novel, THE NEUROLOGY OF ANGELS. For more information, please see the IU Bio page and her blog: shadesofwhitematter.com[subscribe2]

Author: Krista Tibbs

Krista Tibbs studied neuroscience at MIT. She once had a job that involved transplanting pig cells into live human brains. She had another job that gave her clearance to the White House. Her books, The Neurology of Angels and Reflections and Tails, are mostly not about those things. Learn more about Krista from her blog, and her Amazon author page.

24 thoughts on “About Commitment — A Writing Proposal”

  1. Great post. I have the same problem with commitment. I always feel like I have to 'do it forever'. I talk myself in to bite sized commitments just the way you described, but in the back of my head is that niggling voice. It says things like; 'keep saying yes and all you will be doing is X. When will you write? When will you find the next contract to pay the bills? Blah, blah blah.'

    Sometimes it's an effort and sometimes it's a bit of rebellion – 'yes, that might be true,' I say to the voice. "But you are not the boss of me.'

    I hope I can continue to take on new challenges and keep up my blog posts and tweeting and facebooking and google+ and pintresting – oh crap look at that list. I have go and try to get it all done. 🙂

    1. Yes, the rebellion is also very familiar! I have recently adopted the "Done" list; it's so much less nauseating than a to-do list.

  2. I can relate. I have a day job still. Three years ago, I had no blog, no twitter, no Facebook. Now I'm also on Goodreads, Shelfari, Linkedin, and I could go on. I remember a time when I enjoyed cooking. I now also own more websites, some for my books and a video trailer coming. Not to mention books screenplays and over 1,000 blog articles online. I'm exhausted. lol

    Best of luck, to you, to anyone who is working hard. Be Happy! Don't Worry!

  3. Krista, your piece grabbed my attention in the first two sentences. How well I understand, and doubtlessly so will everyone else here. Glad you'll be contributing to Indies Unlimited. Your book trailer is impressive and provoked my interest in knowing what your day job entails.

    Wouldn't it be a perfect world if we could commit to dancing at least twice a week and still maintain our writing regimens? For a solid year, Argentine tango utterly replaced writing in my life. I was divorcing after a long marriage, and needed to keep my endorphines cooking. Five days a week, tango, tango tango. Although I had to give it up to complete and publish my book, I miss it. Let's face it, writing is too sedentary. How to lead a balanced life…that is the perennial question.

    1. Oh, Argentine tango! I never learned that one; I'm too chicken. =) But yes, someday we'll figure out how to do both at the same time. I wonder if there's an app for that…

  4. I wish I could think of something clever to add to this article but you've said all that needs to be said.

    Thank you for saying it so well.

  5. Can relate. When something's scheduled it can feel less spontaneous, but then deep down we know it's true when people tell us writing is work. Work that can be deeply, almost unbelievably satisfying, but sometimes it can feel like drudgery. I find it's pretty much *always* worth pushing through, though.

  6. I'm yet another author who can understand this so well. I committed wholeheartedly to my blog and to my writing then as things escalated I gave up my very popular blog to take on other writing commitments (including writing for Indies Unlimited) and yet, what has happened? I find I have been writing blog posts (but not publishing them) because I can't give up writing.

    As for writing rather than cooking-I'm there too.

    I'm also in the writing rather than sleep camp too…desperate isn't it?

    Really enjoyed this post. When I'm, next buying a ready made meal for Hubby instead of preparing one from scratch – I'll think of you.

  7. You sound a lot like me. I spent 20 years in the military- most of it not writing. The last few years I decided to dust off that old ms and see what I'd written. Yikes! Well, it ended up published (not as I'd really wanted) but it was out there. I have since retired, moved to a 100 acre farm which requires vast amounts of physical labor, and yet, I still find time to write and format books for others. I guess if there is a will, there is a way.

    Great post!

    1. Ah, yes, I remember you the farmer from last month's post on book farming. Good for you, although it doesn't sound like you really know what "retired" actually means… =)

  8. I get it, too. Discipline and preparation have never been strong suits, so committing to a particular post on a pre-scheduled day scares me. I mean, what if I have nothing to say? I'll be drawn and quartered by our evil mastermind. Oh yeah, that's right, fear of reparation is a great motivator. It'll be there, Hise, I promise. Gulp!

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