One thing I’ve learned in my work as a fundraiser and consultant, and just personally in my life, is how to say ‘No’. No to more work, to projects that don’t really interest me, to allowing people and things into my life that would drain me more than nourish or enrich me, or that I’m just not ready for for whatever reason.
This week, I said ‘No’ to applying to another residency program, this time at the nearby Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside, Calif. It looks like a great program and I could meet the deadline fairly easily, but after looking at the list of people they’ve accepted in the past, as well as their writing sample requirements for fiction/non-fiction writers (they request a chapter of a book), I realized I’m not ready yet. I’m just not at the stage in my writing career where I have enough material—namely, a real manuscript of a book that I’m working on—to make it into the program. But it’s all good, because I know now that Djerassi is one of the places I can apply to when I do have a manuscript that I’m trying to finish. Right now, I’m just trying to finish a series of short stories, which is plenty of work for the moment.
Saying ‘No’ can be very liberating—especially once I get over the guilt! It frees up my time to pursue things that do excite and nurture my creativity, helps me get clearer on what I want in my life, keeps me from being burnt-out which in turn keeps me healthier, and just makes me a happier person overall. And being happy is a very good thing.