Do What You Can
“How do you get it all done?” It’s a common question which writers, editors and others in this business of publishing. The real answer is something rarely discussed. Whether you are new to the business of writing or have been here a long time, you may feel overwhelmed about the possibilities and unsure which way to jump. Welcome to our world.
The possibilities for a writer are endless: fiction, nonfiction, magazine articles, children’s books, thank you letters, resume writing, etc. It’s a matter of selecting which type of writing is best for you. Then you focus on that writing area and produce the best possible material. It will take time, skill and talent along with developing relationships with editors before you work at it long enough and hard enough that you get published. It’s the journey that I’ve taken and many others before me (and after me). You can do it. It’s a matter of keeping at it.
No one gets it all done. At one time, I thought I could get it done working more hours in the editorial offices. I discovered that such effort was rewarded with more responsibility and more work. The long hours cut short my family time and exercise time and anything else that should have been in my life for balance. My weight ballooned 40 pounds and my waist and pants size grew.
Several years ago, I was sitting in the publication board meeting. I was prepared to present a number of book projects for the various members of the board to consider. Several of these projects has been pushed back to later meetings and I was determined to get my shot at the presentations. Yet I didn’t feel good. I was sweating (more than usual) and felt a bit flush. I had tightness in my chest. In general, I ignored everything and managed to present my books.
On the way home, I called my wife and she encouraged me to drive to the doctor’s office—which I did. They wouldn’t let me drive to the hospital but they took me in an ambulance. The doctors believed I was having a heart attack and treated me for one. I spent the night in the intensive care unit and was released the next day.
Thankfully I didn’t have a heart attack but I had an inflammation around the sack of my heart. More than anything I think my immune system had worn down and I was too stressed and pressured. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I made some changes since that experience. I’ve lost those 40 pounds. I’ve continued to watch my diet and regularly devote time to exercise.
Most of all, I try to be realistic with myself—and understand that I’m doing all I can do. Each day when I leave my office there is a lot that doesn’t happen. Emails unanswered. Manuscripts unread. Mail unanswered. Phone calls not made. Paperwork unfiled. Manuscripts not written. (You get the idea—lots of things not done).
My focus is moving forward. Am I moving forward? Is my writing growing? Am I continuing to learn more about the business of writing and the craft of writing? Am I taking a bit of time for my wife and family? Am I taking care of myself through diet and exercise and regular spiritual nourishment? Normally I can answer yes to these questions and walk out of my office with that certainty.
Each of us have to do what we can do—and let the rest go until another day.
In his amazing Sermon on the Mount, Jesus captured these thoughts. Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”