Last week, I did something exceedingly hard for me: I turned down a wonderful opportunity to participate in an event where I would have been paid and gotten comped hotel and meals. It would have given me a chance to connect with other writers and see a new city and teach, all things I love to do. But this year, my goal is to work smarter and to live smarter, not just to say yes to anything and everything without a thought to the consequences.
I was originally intrigued by the invitation because it's in Southern California, and I will be in Southern California the weekend preceding this event for CatalystCon West. "South" is south, right? Well, not exactly. Not only was this event five days after CatalystCon ends, it wasn't exactly next door to Burbank. Plus, after checking flights, I realized I will likely fly out to Catalyst the Wednesday beforehand, which would mean 10-12 days away from home, a month following what will probably be an international vacation of that length that I'm hoping to take in August.
The very idea of all that travel was starting to stress me out, which was my first sign. Then I wondered if I'd be pregnant by then (universe, PLEASE MAKE THIS HAPPEN) and whether I wouldn't be more comfortable with a shorter trip. Then I thought about how, even though I love the theoretical ability to "work from anywhere," the truth is I do my best work in my home these days. I think more clearly, make my umpteen to do lists, have access to books and papers and creature comforts.
But still. I felt guilty, because I'd already expressed interest to the organizers and the person who connected me to them. As many good reasons as I had to turn it down, there were also good reasons to say yes. The more I considered it, though, the more I realized that by saying no in this case, it freed me up to say yes to other things. Maybe that week I'll pitch my heart out and land an amazing byline. Maybe that week I'll work on promoting my fall books, or start a new project. Maybe that week I'll reconnect with my boyfriend after being away probably far too much for his liking. Who knows? I just sensed that even though it had a lot of pluses on its side, it wasn't right for me at that exact time.
Saying no in order to leave my options option is something I want to do much more of this year. I've committed to my upcoming erotica writing workshops in State College (April 27) and Philadelphia at SEXx Interactive (May 8), and will be doing events in Portland, Maine June 2nd at Nomia and June 3rd (the latter is being finalized any day now, I hope), and after that, I am mainly focused on building my business in the way that works best for me. I've done events, more than enough of them, and I've even gotten a book deal based on an editor seeing me do a reading. But that is not where my heart is. My writing heart is at home, and that's where I need to focus if I ever hope to have a freelance career with longevity, let alone become a mom. Yet standing up and saying that, especially when it means turning down what feel like exciting opportunities, is unnerving. There's a part of me that thinks, But if I say no to this, will I ever get asked to do anything again? That's the voice I'm trying to silence as much as possible, because sometimes, it's not about being asked, but about making our own opportunities. So here's to those, and whatever the future holds.