Monday, June 9, 2014
Are You Having Fun?
This month has been a stressful one, filled with lots of travel, book deadlines and book edits, household service men fixing stuff, anxiousness about meeting deadlines and making swag for upcoming conferences, and the general inability (because of book deadlines) to get to anything else that needs to be done, including my burgeoning, unwanted collection of garden weeds. Which, believe it or not, stresses me to no end. I like order in my garden, and it doesn’t have it right now, except for the front yard that shows to the whole world. I got that cleaned up before our last big trip so it wouldn’t look like an abandoned yard and the neighbors wouldn’t call the city on me.
Last week, before my first RAGT reader author conference, I was making a list of the things that HAD to get done before the conference started and moaning about whether or not we really had the time to attend the conference. As I read the list out loud to my husband to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything, he said, “Have fun.”
“What?” I asked, totally confused by his answer.
“Have fun,” he repeated. “Being an author is supposed to be fun. You are stressing way too much.”
I just looked at him and he said, “Write it down. HAVE FUN.”
I complied and wrote down, have fun. As I sat there contemplating the list, I realized I was not having fun. A part of my life that had always given me joy — writing—was now my biggest stress factor. Don’t get me wrong, I love the process of writing, the creation of a story and characters and their worlds. It’s the rest of the stuff that goes along with it that doesn’t thrill me so much —social media, promotion, deadlines that fall on top of each other, and the lack of time to do the other things I want and need to do.
Not once, but several times this past month, I’ve thought longingly about the early days of our life together, long before I was published, where I always had a clean, tidy house that wouldn’t embarrass me if company dropped in unexpectedly; the laundry was washed on Monday and put away before time to do it again; and I took the time to actually cook, instead of going out to eat. Monday was for washing, Tuesday for gardening, Wednesday for writing, Thursday for shopping, Friday for cleaning the house, Saturday was devoted to family, and Sunday belonged God. I had a schedule and I stuck to it. Life was orderly and mostly calm.
Not so anymore.
Somewhere after achieving my goal of becoming a published author, I’ve allowed the tyranny of the urgent (which has centered around writing) to overrule my order, dominate me, and steal my joy.
Proverbs 15:15 says, “All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.” As I sat there thinking about what my husband had said, I realized there wasn’t anyone to blame for my losing my joy than myself. I alone had let the pressures of my published writing duties, become just that—duties that oppressed me and not things I loved to do.
Instead of looking at editing and deadlines and social media and promotion as chores, I need to reassess my attitude and my schedule to allow more balance in my life. Perhaps it’s time to go back to a version of the daily ordering I used years ago, because I want the orderly house again, and I want the cheerful heart that continually says, “You are so blessed to have achieved your goal. Rejoice and quit looking at the stuff that goes with it as chores.” I want to celebrate every little thing about the gift God has given me, including the things I don’t like.
What about you? How do you keep the joy in your life when it’s overrun with things you don’t want to do? What do you do to keep order?