Melancholy or Maybe Not

Hello friends –

I hope your day is going well.  It is a beautiful one here, sunny and warm enough to have the windows open, cats lying in various belly exposing prostrations.  Very nice.

I wish my disposition were more like the weather, to be frank.  I am a little melancholy thinking about yesterday – the one year anniversary of the completion of my novel, Polite Society. It is a bit strange to think that I finished it that long ago.  The worst bit, and the one getting me down, is the fact that none of the many agents or publishers I submitted my work to has opened their doors to me, grabbed me by the shoulders in utter delight and said, “This is great!  Let’s get it published!”

However, as I sit with this and wonder what it really means, what I really want, I’m not so sure.  I finished a novel.  I really did, one that makes me proud and giggly at the same time.  That fact will never change.  As for what I want, sometimes I think it is money.  Other times, I think it is about having people read what I believe is a magical story.

Speaking to the money part, I have never made much, ever.  Most of the time, I am okay with this.  Other times, like today, I only look at myself in disappointment that I’m not contributing financially to our household.  That being said, when I was working for a dollar, I wasn’t very happy, actually quite crabby, a little bitchy, and awfully whiny.  Writing, however, I really like.  I love the conversations in my head, the accumulation of words and ideas.  Oh yes, I like it very much.

Why then, do I get so hung up on this?  Being happy is much better than having a paycheck.  Besides, how would having more money change my life, anyway?  Greg and I already live comfortably.  We spend wisely and have no debt besides our mortgage.   We travel, watch movies, eat good food, give to charity.  What else do I want?

For a while, I thought it was a house in the country, but have since realized that, social girl that I am, I would be a bit lonely.  As for our house, maybe we would finally get our bathroom refinished.  It is old and quite ugly.  The carpet upstairs isn’t it the best shape, and the basement isn’t finished.  So I guess I would like those things to be done, but I can’t say my quality of life would be drastically improved should this happen.

Now about people reading my work.  That’s already been done by several friends and some strangers.  (An aside here, my friend Maria did a great job of finding many, many typos here recently, some of which I had already corrected, many not.  I am very grateful.)  Anyway, everyone likes it, and I don’t believe any of them to be liars.

I guess the real problem is my silly head.  The only time I feel upset is when I start comparing myself to other people or idealized versions of myself.  In the grand scheme of things, I am the only one who can make me happy, ever.  No amount of people reading my book, money, or success can change this, not one bit.

Oh goodness, finally, I am smiling.  More money and a popular novel might make my bathroom look nice,  take me on a book tour, and give me a slot on the New York Times best seller list, but it won’t give me what I already have:  a wonderful marriage, a great home in a city that I love, good friends, cute and cuddly cats, the list goes on.

I think what is really on order is a bit of patience and some kindness toward myself.  There is no rush here.  If the doors open, I’ll be delighted.  If not, I’ve already got it pretty good.  Thanks for listening to me work it through.


  1. Roberto’s avatar

    “However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.”

    not sure who wrote this, but it seemed fitting.

    myself, if I had a choice, I would be happy to not have to work. I never understood people who define themselves by their job. my job supports the things that I do to define myself.

    be careful, craving leads to suffering. you’re always better off being happy with what you’ve got – as little as it may seem.

  2. Amber’s avatar

    This post is so timely for me in two ways–first and most importantly, because I feel like my life has finally become my own again and I have a plan to curl up with your novel tonight… I CANNOT WAIT. I feel like such a loser for not starting it sooner but just know that I waited because it’s important to me and I wanted to really be able to enjoy it, which would not have been possible before today. I am so honored to be among the first few (hundreds? dozens?) to read it!

    Second, I feel your tug-of-war with money vs. happiness so much. To so many people a salary is a definition of a lot more than it should be, and although I think I don’t care what other people think about my choices, sometimes I feel like I have to justify myself or feel bad about myself, etc. You are totally right that a best-selling novel or a job with a big fat paycheck can’t make the core of your life any better than it is right now. Sure, a new bathroom would be swell, but you (and I) are so lucky with what we’ve already got!

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