Tuesday, August 31, 2021

September IWSG - Responsibility and Success

If you do not care to hear about the personal drama swirling in my head, skip to the question...PLEASE

As I sit here writing this (at the last minute, Tuesday night) I am devouring my gluten-free, sugar-free, mug cookie (which is absolutely fantastic, seriously, butter, cashew butter, honey, gluten-free pancake mix, oats, choc. chips) and I am completely over it. ALL of it. (It = humans). 

I just can't focus on my writing until this is out of my mind.

If you have followed me for a while, you know that I was a teacher until right before the pandemic. Something told me it was time for a break so when I moved across the country I switched my day job to childcare. And fate has been laughing ever since. One month later, the schools shut down and my childcare center was flooded with school-aged kids with nowhere else to go. Fast forward (17 months) and last week was the first week they all went back to school! FINALLY!

But wait! We are exhausted, all of us, every teacher, parent, worker, employer, human being... I like to think I am a compassionate person, but the unbelievable chaos of the past two weeks (which should have been my chance to relax) has me angry and frustrated. Positive Covid cases, classrooms quarantining, employees and kids not following the rules... I'm just over it. 

Seriously, stop reading here and skip to the question. At this point, I'm whining.

Where do we draw the line between self-care and caring for others? Why do some of us continue to sacrifice and push ourselves to our limits while others take a step back? Why does having a bad sunburn mean you can't come to work? (Trust me, I know how it feels. I got one two weeks ago. I forgot to ask anyone to do my back after I took care of everyone else. It is hot and cold and feels like my shirt is made of sandpaper and my bra is razor wire. I get it!) Is it selfish to put your own comfort first? Should we "self-care" every time we have a stomach cramp, a sore ankle, lose our voice, get a migraine? Do some people just lack the sense of responsibility to do a job despite hardships?

If you are still reading this, I am so sorry! I am just in shock when I think about the contradiction I am seeing. Take care of yourself OR serve others. But is it truly taking care of yourself if you can do both? Is pain and discomfort far worse than the burden you place on others to do your responsibilities? Is the human race becoming weak? I've seen a diabetic coworker go through chemotherapy and be at work every day, and at the same time seen another coworker call out two days EVERY week. How are we so far apart in how we view our duties? I know we have different limits, but do we really?

Is it a matter of integrity? How do we wake others up to their responsibilities? How do we move them toward strength? How do we lead others to find honor and pride in their daily work? And how do we continue to trust and feel supportive towards others' pain when we are taken advantage of so often?



September 1 question - How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

The awesome co-hosts for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

This one is hard, especially when my mind is fully clouded by daily stress and this strange inability to focus on my writing at all. Every time I sit down to work on my novel, my mind fills with fog. I have plenty to do on my list, my revisions are just sitting there, waiting for me, and I'm staring at the screen like I do not know how to use a keyboard.

I have held a book in my hand with my name at the top of some of the pages. My short story was published earlier this year. I even got that first royalty check this week! I consider this a huge success, but is this my definition of "success as a writer?" I honestly don't know. I feel like I will consider myself successful when this novel is fully revised and ready to publish. If... (I mean when) When I make it that far, it will be a success because it means I have made it through the fire swamp alive. The next time I enter, I will feel confident. That confidence is my success. If I know I can do something, then I can do it. 

Please click on the badge below for a complete list of participants in the IWSG Blog Hop. Have a great month. Find your strength!


  1. I think it's great that you define success by your own writing. I will be very excited too when I get my manuscript finished and revised.

  2. It is becoming a large gap between those who barely make an effort and those who give their all. You can take care of both yourself and others, but you can't lose sight of either because both will suffer.

  3. Hari OM
    A - if anything I have written has elicited a response that observes, contributes, acknowledges the post and expands it in some way, then that piece goes on my 'success pile.' It's what keeps me writing at all.

    Now, in response to the exhaustion and exasperation observed throughout your post today; all the best carers know how to care for themselves too. How to tell when one's own time-out is due? When one is noticing whether anybody else is performing to the measure one holds for oneself. Unless you are responsible (i.e. supervisor) of others, their performance must not affect or be of interest to you. That way lies the route to envy and anger. Concentrate only on what you are capable of... and know when you are not.

    I presecribe rose, chamomile, cederwood and myrrh for the oil burner; herbal boost from sage, rosemary, guarana and bacopa monnieri... YAM xx

  4. Ugh... I feel your pain, and I only have two kids to take care of. They haven't left the house in 18 months and I'm just exhausted. I wanted to look forward to them finally going back to school, but case counts are up and protective measures are down and my kids aren't old enough to even get the vaccine... and that's not to mention that our oldest has some learning issues and him going to back to school is complicated and difficult at the best of times. Part of me just wants to give up and keep them home again, but that's not good for anyone's well being either, so we're all just fed-up and tired.

    So yeah, I don't have an answer. But I can commiserate and agree that it sucks.

  5. It's making me upset today that many people on the hop aren't considering themselves successful writers. Waiting for Stephen king to weigh in with the same idea because, yup, he's probably never going to get that book of sonnets done.

  6. I fully understand your frustration with the others' behavior, but I think you're asking the wrong questions. I once talked to a psychotherapist about my depression, and he said: "You can't control the others' actions. You can't change people. The only thing you can change is your personal reaction to them. To feel good, try not to get upset. Accept and move on. If that is impossible, if you can't accept what people do, try to find a new place/tribe/job... Get away from what upsets you." I found this the best advice on interpersonal relationships I've ever got. I follow it too. That way, I've been able to keep my depression checked for almost 20 years.

  7. I've spent a lot of time over the last year beating myself up for not writing. As stupid as it maybe sounds, it was nice to read your post and be reminded that this last 17 months SUCKED for all of us! We survived. That's success for now, right? Hang in there, and congrats on those first royalties!! 😁

  8. I'm with you, Steph! I am over it too! Sometimes I rant my frustrations at my poor husband, and when I calm down, I remember that just about everything is out of my control. I can only control what I do. We have all been through so much in the past year and a half, so any writing we accomplished should be celebrated! Do the best you can and give yourself a little break. And congratulations on that royalty check! Sending you a big hug!

  9. I think realizing that different times call for different measures of success is a good observation. Sometimes, (as in circumstances mentioned in the first part of your post) just not screaming in frustration is a victory.

    Best wishes getting out of the fire swamp sooner than later!