Friday, September 17, 2010

The Hard Choice

Generally, the Matronly blog is light of heart and spirit. Uplifting, even.

But today she is somber. Yesterday, two events in her life collided. First, she attended a wake for the life partner of a beloved friend. The Matron didn't know the deceased well (who died instantly after suffering a sudden and unexpected heart attack) but loves the woman left behind. This was a vivid and visceral reminder that here is our future: soon, we will all be gone.

Second, she made and acted on a hard decision. Three or four months ago, the Matron was handed a book contract. An editor at a well-established publishing house (for academic and medical books -- don't think Random House) asked her to write a book on being an advocate for yourself and family in the medical system.

A book?!! Guaranteed publisher?! You bet!!

The Matron signed on, happily. By signing she means a bona fide contract.

But then she never started real work on the book. Sure, she toyed. She dabbled and dallied. Deliberated. But it became quickly clear that her heart was not in health care reform, insurance guidelines, and laws regarding patients' rights in 50 states (and don't forget Puerto Rico).

Time for the book--or the dalliance and drama-- was between 11 pm and 1 am. The quality of her already very busy life deteriorated. Much of her mental energy was spent worrying about a book she didn't care about or want to write. Within a couple of months she began also carrying the concerns of legal obligations: that contract!

After much soul searching ( really, what writer says no to a book?), yesterday, the Matron asked the publisher to release her from the contract -- which they did. With no legal obligations or backlash. Thank you!

For her entire life, the Matron has wanted to be a writer, to see lovely books with her name crowded on shelves in bookstores, and now, on web pages. But she learned a little something here. It is, without question, trite to say that life is short. But trite implies common knowledge, something that goes without saying. She was reminded of her own brevity yesterday as she held her sobbing friend and bid good-bye to a box of ashes. Dust to dust.

The series of events also reinforced one thing: chase the dream.

But a book on health care advocacy was not her dream.

Sure, she wants that crowded shelf, those readers. Yours truly isn't someone who writes for the pleasure of it (although it's pleasant) but to know that someone else is interacting with her work (thank you, blogger). But she also learned that good writing requires investment, passion, concern, care--and that it's time to focus on a project that incorporates all of these things instead of a project that feels like one more job.

So she said no to the book. She said good-bye to the beautiful life of her friend's partner, one of millions before him and millions ahead and fully appreciated that one day she would join him in being lost to history. And she turned toward where her spirit led her -- writing about life and raising the beloved children (who will also be gone one day)-- and said, yes.


Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

So strong. So wise. So loving. So you. XO

KL Crab said...

Hard choices are some of the most rewarding. Good for you, the book will come, the right book at the right time, it will flow like water from your fingers. I can see it.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Oh I bet that was a tough call, but you're going to have so many other opportunities that are JUST RIGHT for YOU. You're smart to back off from the ones that aren't.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What's interesting is that I'm not surprised--your writing here is honest enough that I could sense your heart was not in that book.

I'm glad that it all worked out.

trash said...

That was a hard choice and at the same time so simple. I congratulate Matron.

MJ said...

It's hard to walk away from contracts. I did it myself in August & was relieved when there wasn't backlash either. We do too many things for reasons other than "our heart was in it". You made a wise choice.

Daisy said...

We (husband and I) still dream of writing and publishing a book on a different sort of advocacy: raising a disabled child and getting him through the public school system. We have a lot to share, and we feel our experiences will help others.

*m* said...

So happy for you. Brava!

Anonymous said...

When asking my Mom probably 1,000's of times "What I should do?" about any number of things, she always said "Listen to that quiet voice and follow your true heart's desire". Seems to me you just did that with great insight, kindness and understanding of what is right for you, right now.Good for you knowing just what you want!

JFS in IL said...

Sometimes the hard choice is the right choice - just because an opportunity knocks does not mean it is the right time to answer the door.

Let some would-be author with a burning desire to tackle that topic gt this particular book contract. You have other, more important items on your plate at this time in your life.

Maybe you are meant to write a book about juggling life as a Stage Mother - who knows? Add in some stuff from moms of kids in major tv/movies and you have an interesting book right there.

But write it a bit LATER, after the kids are older and can drive themselves around.

Anonymous said...

This hard choice sounds like the very best choice you could make. I'm glad it worked out for you, and I'm sorry for your friend's terrible loss.

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