Friday, April 15, 2011

N is for .... No

No. It's a tiny word, two letters, almost insignificant when you look at it on its own. Yet these two letters hold incredible power. No is one of the first words children learn, it's also a word that can cause terrific conflict in any number of situations. No one likes being told 'no'.

I'm terrible at saying no. I end up totally overcommitted all the time because I find it really difficult to say no. I guess I'm afraid I'll miss out on something if I do. At work, I tend to say yes to almost every film title offered to me which means some weeks I have do some serious juggling to fit everything in.

In my writing life, I don't say no enough either, and often find myself roped into projects I don't particularly want to be a part of. Sometimes it works out well. For example, last year, right when I was in the middle of a serious rewrite of A9, and busy with an umber of other projects, one of my writing groups came up with a novella project (novella- another good 'n' word). I wasn't that inspired by the initial concept for the linked novellas, but thought it would be a challenge. I came up with an idea, but the leader of the group, the guy whose world these novellas were to take place in, didn't like it. I almost backed out then and there, but as more people joined the project, we realized we were going to need to put together two different collections.

At that point, I had a long story that wasn't a big enough idea to be a novel, but was too long to be a traditional short story. It needed some work and I had already considered turning it into a novella length piece. I suggested it as a starting point (or possibly ending point) for a second collection of novellas and didn't get any nos. Two other amazing writers joined this second project and we got started. Unfortunately for various reasons, neither collection has been finished or collated. Illness, life and other writing projects got in the way. I guess other people have the same problem saying 'no' that I do. So the result is, I have a finished novella sitting on my hard drive.

Do you find it easy to say no? If so, how do you do it? I really need to know!


  1. I used to have that problem, but the older I get the more I realize I want quality in my life, and if I say yes to every good idea or project that comes across my path, I will not offer quality. Priorities have helped me say no. Time and experience have taught me that. Good luck, I know you can do it!

  2. I never say no, I like to keep people happy and it does leave me stretched incredibly thin sometimes. However, it has left me with a great circle of people around me who always say yes when I need something.

  3. No! Can't do it - especially when it comes to writing projects! Which explains the many manuscripts I have on my desktop right now, begging for editing.

    No. Nope. Non. Nyet. Can't do it.

  4. I can't do it either! Sometimes I rehearse 'no' over and over, prior to trying to say it to, e.g. somone who wants to borrow something precious; someone who wants me to go somewhere with them and I really don't want to ... the list of examples is endless. Somehow, it always seems to come out 'yes' when push comes to shove!
    Enjoyed your N post very much
    All best, Karla

  5. So good to know this affliction is not mine alone! It's hard, but I guess in a way, saying yes to everything means you're much more open to new experiences and sensations. Which can only be good for a writer, right?

  6. It is hard to say no. Especially when you consider that what you are being asked to do might be very helpful to you in your writing experience. The good news is that I am getting better at it. The bad news is that I am 60 years old so it took me a while to perfect it!