Some Big Decisions about Writing, and Other Things

I am sorry that I haven’t been here in a week. It turns out that living mindfully in the moment means that you are involved in the life you can see around you, rather than the intellectual, virtual life. I have been…resting more, and doing things that give me delight, trying to be here, rather than somewhere else in my head. So, I don’t get here as much as I did, and I’m okay with that.

I did promise you a post where I praise myself. For those of you just tuning in, this is good therapy for someone like me, who measures herself by accomplishments, but I am sorry, I will be letting you down. I’ve been doing some thinking about where I am now, and what I look like, what my health and energy is like, and how much stress I put myself under.

This has all led me to some interesting thoughts, none of which are carved in stone, because I’m getting away from that sort of thing, but still, interesting thoughts to me.

But, if not to you, here’s a cut.

So. If you know me, you know I struggle with weight, and I am still there. I’ll be fighting this fight all my life. It actually causes me to engage in Obsessive Compulsive Behavior–planning my food, not following through, berating myself, and hating that I can’t stick with it. And I also engage in that whole American, “Tomorrow, I will be perfect and win!” regarding each day, starting over with fitness and weight loss.

Every health condition I have would be helped if I lost weight. Every single one. Dust allergies, acid reflux, other GI issues, breathing issues. And since I am 72 pounds overweight, I am reducing my life span.

One of the things I’m really working on is loving myself as I am. This is not meant to deride fat, or be fat shaming. All of you who know me know what a beautiful, entertaining, smart woman I am. IF I were single, you could take me home to Mom and Dad and certainly not be ashamed. 🙂 So, this isn’t about that. But if I really love myself, shouldn’t I take better care of the body I’ll be in, hopefully for a long time? Yes, yes I should. I can’t figure out any way around that, given the health issues.

That means that weight loss and fitness training need to be my number one priority for…well, I guess forever. Because every time I let go of it, I gain some weight back. So, by the power of Sandra Wickham, I will be engaging in Project Valkyrie. I rejoin Weight Watchers tomorrow. I am back from the cold, and I am stepping right now. I will be actively and mindfully pursuing this. I want to live, and I don’t want an old age where I’ve damaged myself and can’t enjoy it.


But really, in spite of the weight, it is not the culprit that is most likely to shorten my life. It is the stress. Stress. STRESS. As you know, I am working on it, and David has been pleased with the results. I see him again next week. Last week, busy colding, taking care of myself wasn’t too much about destressing, but mostly about sleeping and relaxing. This, THIS is key. Sure I didn’t get as much work done as I wanted, but hey, I’m really not stressing about it. I have this log that shows me that I did get stuff done, and I am living up to my own expectations. Removing pressure from myself is awesome.

That…brings me to the whole big decisions about writing thing. Ladies and gentlemen….I will still be writing and sending things out. My emphasis has always been completing projects to my satisfaction and seeing what happens, but occasionally I fall off the wagon and think, “Why not me? I’m good. I’m ready.” Whether I am not is beside the point.

The publishing industry is a stressful place. Do I get published or not? What does not getting published say about my worth? Why am I not moving forward? What is wrong with my writing? Can you feel the stress tonight?

And then, if I should get a novel, and have to write it, with my occupation, I would stress myself out even more working two full time jobs in one life. I can see why writers quit their jobs. But you know, I like insurance, health care, food, and a roof. “Food and a roof,” mused Katharine Hepburn in “The Philadelphia Story.” “Food and a roof.”

There’s no way around it. I don’t want this kind of stress. I am destressing. I am de-Type Aing. So I will continue to write, and I hope publish some, but I can’t be a career writing with three books under contract. Now, this is definitely putting the cart before the horse. I don’t even have an agent yet. And many, many things can change in the future, which is not yet written.

That said, I have decided that a mentally healthy person takes care of her body and her emotions and her mind. I need to create, because otherwise I get, well weird. I feel blocked, or damaged. But I realize that the publication thing is something I want to do not because of my love of creating, but because, like the PhD, it is another notch in my “ain’t I cool” belt.

I am cool. I don’t have to prove anything to you. Wait, you already know that. I don’t have to prove anything to myself. There it is.

So, look for me to pretty much not change my behavior. Look for me to write and work with other writers and really get into the creative process of it when I want to. Don’t look for me to actively, hungrily pursue agenting or publishing. What happens, happens, and we’ll weigh each thing with regard to my overall balance, not just the achievement, when and if we have anything to weigh at all.

Now, I used to suggest that I wanted writing to be part of my retirement income. I don’t think that’s going to happen, for many reasons. I no longer believe in the increasing skill theory of writing as a route to publication. Hey, it helps. Mostly, I want to continue to improve for myself, but I know writers aren’t chosen for skill alone. It’s arbitrary after a certain point. Agents want to sell, and they won’t take you on if you can’t help them pay for their ramen. And why should they? I know marketability is a big part of the game, and frankly, I’m not terribly commercial. So it goes.

But the biggest thing at this point, realistically, is given my make up, I’m not going to give into the accomplishment demon. I’m living a full life with a relationship and a rewarding career. I like having friends and traveling. I need to take better care of my health. And I need to be creative and I like writing. What I don’t need is to add pressure to my main creative pursuit.

The writing community is wonderful, and I still intend to write and be part of it. On the front end, you won’t notice anything different, except perhaps for less whining.

So, back to whatever it is I’m back to today. Each day is a brand new, unpredictable adventure that doesn’t have to go to some pre-ordained plan. There are no beginnings and endings. Only a life to live the best I can. I have spent a lot of my life trying to get somewhere. I’m done with that game.


Halloween is coming. Have you bought your candy? Have you eaten your candy? 🙂

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

7 thoughts on “Some Big Decisions about Writing, and Other Things”

  1. Actually…I may want to talk to you about my training regimen.

    I have no idea where is a good place to begin at this weight. My usual approach is to do too much too soon and injure myself. I’d rather not do that.

    Of course, I have done 0 research yet, so if you can point me toward a website, I *can* read. 🙂

  2. The power of Sandra Wickham is mighty power indeed. Hugs to you both, and do what is best for you, Cath. I still want to read your stories when they emerge.

  3. Hey Catherine, good luck with the de-stressing. Part of my going back to school was based on thinking that I also wouldn’t be making a secondary living from writing. Hopefully I can supplement Soc Sec with a little income, but I’ve also taken the attitude that I’m going to write what I want and if it can get published, that’s extra.

  4. Writing what we want. How crazy is that?

    By the time we’re old, Steve, the world will be filled with Writing Barges that float the Internet, publishers will be gone and we will all be small boutique business persons fending for ourselves. Sort of like literary jawas.

    Okay, it has been a long day….

  5. If you ever decide you want to self-publish any of your stuff, let me know and I’ll give you some pointers. I bet you have a lot of great stuff lying around that people would like to read. I started by e-publishing some stories that were printed, along with some trunk stories I loved but never found a home for. I even get (tiny) checks every quarter.

    If you get that de-stressing thing figured out, let me know! Life just never slows down.

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