Monday, 14 January 2013

Musa Monday: The Art of Saying No with Meggan Connors

Today on Musa Monday, I have the return of Meggan Connors. Take it away, Meggan. 

The Art of Saying No

As writers, especially in the beginning, we hear the word no a lot. I mean, a lot a lot. No, your book isn’t for me. No, we’re not accepting submissions in this category. No, we don’t think this book is right for our line.

No, no, no.

But what happens when we finally get that yes?

Like many writers, I have another job. I have small children, a husband and responsibilities. In short, I have a lot of stuff. (Very specific word there, “stuff.” It can describe anything—I could have an enormous collection of Regency-era pantaloons. I don’t, but I could).

In any case, when I got my first yes, I mistakenly thought the hard part was over. After all, someone had agreed to publish my book. All I had were edits and then I’d be a bestseller, right?

No. (There’s that dreaded word again!)

It’s not just edits. It’s edits and marketing and tweeting and blog posts and Facebook and keeping up with comments on the blog(s). Oh, and don’t forget to write the next book!

So, how does one do all of this and still have a job, a family and responsibilities?

By saying no, of course.

Now, I’m a people-pleaser by nature, and a teacher by profession, so of course I want to help.

Arrange the PTA dinner? Of course

Teach an extra course after school? Absolutely

Provide private therapy services during your off-time? Sure

Coach soccer (even though I never played)? Uh, okay.

In the end, the only thing I said no to was sleep.

But there is a tipping point, where something has to give. Where you can’t be all things to every person who requires something of you. Where, if you say yes to just one more thing, your head might explode.

This happened to me this fall, when, on top of trying to finish up both Jessie’s War and Wandering Heart, I was, indeed, coaching soccer, teaching a course after school, and trying to work the full time job on top of everything else. By November, I had reached my breaking point.  Stick a fork in me. I was done.

So, instead, the questions being asked and their answers sounded something like this:

Will you arrange for a parental shopping night for the PTA? No

Will you provide therapy during your track break? No.

Wife, will you please do the dishes? No.

Mom, will you feed us? .

Okay, being honest, I did do the dishes (but I learned to tolerate a few in the sink), and I did feed the children (but discovered sometimes pancakes for dinner are a big hit), and I wound up caving on the therapy services during the time I was off (but only one Saturday a month). As the title of this blog implies, saying no is an art, not a science. It takes practice and negotiation.

I, like the book I’m writing, am a Work-in-Progress. But at least this time, I’m learning to say no.

I find saying no is good if I want to stay sane.

What about you? Do you find yourself saying yes a little too often? And how do you maintain your sanity with all that life has to throw at you? (I ask because I really want to know!)

Thanks, Meggan. 

Check out Meggan's latest release, Jessie's War (what a brilliant cover!)

She's about to become a pawn in a brutal game between nations...

The American Civil War has raged for more than ten years. The outcast daughter of a famous inventor, Jessica White has struggled to salvage what little remains of her life. Then, one cold winter night, the lover she'd give up for dead returns, claiming the Union Army bought the plans for her father's last invention. But he's not the only one who lays claim to the device, for the Confederacy wants the invention as well. Both sides will kill to have it.

...And only he can save her.

As an agent for the Union Army, Luke Bradshaw is a man who will use whomever and whatever is at his disposal in order to complete his mission. An attack by Confederate soldiers ensures that Jessie will turn to him for help, but Luke can't help but wonder about the secrets she keeps--and if those secrets will ultimately prove fatal.

Musa buy link

You can find Megan at



Anonymous said...

Great advice, Meggan. I learned to say 'no' a few years ago. It was either that or I'd have a really good insanity defence. The problem is, so few people say yes that when someone does, those doing the asking come back again and again.

Still, you've done your bit so you can so 'no' with a clear conscience.

Good luck with the new books. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Sandy!

I think I'll have to practice a little bit more in order to master the "no."

And you're right--so few people say yes these days. It's sad, and then I feel bad, and then I wind up doing stuff because I don't want everyone to lose out. But maybe that's the lesson they have to learn in order to spur them into action?

I'll convince myself I'm doing it for their benefit the next time I'm asked to do something. :)


Holley Trent said...

I am sooooooo there. I'm getting better about parceling my time, but it's rather difficult for me to let positions remain open once someone has asked for a volunteer.

I'm not in the PTA, though, so I do pat myself on the back for that.

Anonymous said...

Heh. I'm only on the PTA because my boss asked me, and since my kids are there, too, I feel obligated. Still, I had no idea it was so much work. All the dang fundraisers...

Sharon Ledwith said...

OMG - you're post is sooo timely! Yes, it's hard to say NO for people pleasers like me. But you're right, something's gotta give, and it shouldn't be our insanity. We set ourselves up in life, so having the foresight to know when to say NO is a great start to reprogramming our pleasing natures! Cheers and best wishes!

Eleni Konstantine said...

Meggan, thanks for being a guest on my blog. Your blog post hits the nail on the head with many of us who can't say no. And if you're like me, you see a gap somewhere and *volunteer yourself*.

I'm seriously going to look at where I can rejig my life so that if I do do other 'stuff', that it doesn't take too much time.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Sharon!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for having me, Eleni. I truly appreciate it.

I still need to work on saying no, but at least I've gotten better at saying yes with conditions!


Janna Shay said...

Terrific post. Saying no is something I still haven't learned to do. The only area of my life that gets a no, is no sleep.
Best of luck with Jessie's War. I can't wait to read it.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Thanks to everyone for coming along to comment and make Meggan feel at home. :)

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