For the last three weeks, I’ve been clomping around the house, snarling at everyone within range, including the cats and dogs. I’ve grumbled and fretted and whined and complained, and generally let stress become my constant companion. Why? Because my . . . *shudder . . . DEADLINE was approaching, and I wasn’t making fast enough progress on finishing my fifth book.
I railed at every delay, shaking my fist at the sky, and shouting imprecations. Okay, maybe not quite that much drama, but I can assure you, I was not a pleasant person to be around. Ask my husband. I had set my mind to having this book published before the end of May, and it seemed obvious to me that the Fates were conspiring against me. The last edits were hampered by everything from me falling ill (Stress-related? You think?) to an uncooperative internet that had emails taking up to six hours to reach my editor.
Oh, it was SO unfair, and I was just totally wrecked by the very idea that I was going to miss that hideous, looming deadline. It became a certainty, and there was simply no way around it. Even tossing and turning for two straight nights didn’t improve the picture. (Imagine. As if that ever solved anything.)
But guess what? Yesterday morning, I awoke calm and stress free. (Mostly. Let’s not try to alter my basic make-up, here.) Somewhere during the night, I’d had a revelation, to wit: I am not in control of Time. Not on a cosmic scale, or even on a day-to-day basis. It is far beyond my capacity to do anything about Time, other than aim at certain, usually arbitrary goals.
And therein lies the other part of my revelation. My deadline, which I’d been slaving and sweating and stressing toward reaching, was arbitrary. Arbitrary. As in, “Based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system. Whimsical. Capricious.”
Excuse me? Whimsical? Capricious? Well. In a word, yes. I did it to myself, for no good reason other than I thought I could have the book done by that date. And then I beat myself up day and night, because it wasn’t happening the way I planned. How stupid is that? (Rhetorical question. Please stop shouting out the obvious answer.)
The bottom line is, I set that deadline, and I could, by golly, eliminate it! I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen firsthand how many times release dates get pushed back, even by my favorite authors. Not naming any names here ( Jim Butcher), but it happens. And the world doesn’t stop spinning on its axis. Rifts in the space/time continuum don’t suddenly appear. Life finds a way to forge ahead, with or without that particular book on the Kindle Store shelves.
Revelations rock! Yesterday, I smiled at the morning sun, and strolled outside to water my slowly recuperating garden, just as if I had all the time in the world at my disposal. What happened, you ask? (You did ask, right?) Simple. I let go. Of the stress. Of the worries. And mostly, of the freakin’ impossible to reach deadline!
How about you? Ever stress yourself out in this way? Setting impossible to reach goals and then smacking yourself around because you fail to meet them? If so, you might need a revelation of your own. Deadlines? Put ’em to rest!