I Don’t Want to Play

March 18, 2021 § 23 Comments

By Sue Fagalde Lick

9 a.m. Tuesday morning

Remember how when we were kids, sometimes we’d just walk away from what the other kids were doing? “I don’t want to play,” we’d say. And we’d go home and pout.

Well, that’s how I feel today. I don’t want to play this writer game anymore. Not the writing itself, but all the other nonsense that goes with it.

I think I blew my Zoom talk last night. I blathered for 45 minutes straight. With “share screen” showing my handout and the audience on “mute,” I couldn’t see anyone’s faces or hear any reactions. Was anyone even listening? Afterward, I gorged on banana bread to comfort myself, so there goes my diet, too.

I had spent an hour trying various setups on my laptop, but I tested it during daylight. In the evening, everything, including my face, had a blue tint. I’d gotten all dressed up with jewels and my red blazer and red lipstick. Did I look like a fool?

I got another rejection yesterday. Eighteen “no’s” in two months. One yes.

Amazon returned a copy of my Childless by Marriage book. “Overstock,” the slip said. I guess nobody wanted to buy it, and they decided this copy had sat too long. Crap.

I have 11 books out. Woohoo. But check my sales. Most of the time, people are only buying three of them, the nonfiction ones, and mostly the Kindle versions, which are cheaper. Nobody wants to pay full price for a book anymore. I need to do more marketing. More networking, more PR, more social media. But I’m a writer, not a salesperson.

A local newspaper editor invited me to write for her. I could go back to doing interviews, taking pictures and writing short articles on deadline. Over the years, I have written thousands of those. There would be no marketing, I’d be published regularly, and I’d get paid. But it would take me away from the creative nonfiction and poetry to which I am supposed to be devoting myself these days. I said no. Should I have said yes?

I’m past retirement age. Why not just spend these years quilting, crocheting, and watching daytime TV?


4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon

On my walk with the dog, we ran into our neighbor Cheryl. She’s 72, partnered with Alex, who is dying of lung cancer. A couple weeks ago, she invited us to join her in her sunroom where she and her cat Charlie were going to get high, Charlie on catnip and Cheryl on weed. Can’t, I said. I have to get back to work.

Normally we only talk about dogs, gardening, health, and the neighbors. We don’t know each other’s last names or life history. “Work?” she said. “What kind of work?”

Well, then I had to confess that I’m a writer.

“No kidding! I had no idea. What’s your name?” She rolled her eyes at the three-name business with Fagalde in the middle. I told her she could learn everything at suelick.com. I didn’t expect her to remember or to look me up.

Today, on Cedar, there she was, walking slowly to strengthen her gimpy knee. She asked if she could join us. Right away, she started telling me how she was reading my books one after another and she just loved the way I write. Up Beaver Creek made her cry, but in a good way. Now she’s reading Unleashed in Oregon and loving it. Then she’s going on to Stories Grandma Never Told . . .

Wow. The website worked. I do want to play this writing game. It’s actually kind of fun.

If I can just remember that writing and being read are what count, I can manage the rest. I can keep submitting, marketing, speaking, networking, and all that other writer business as long as I know there are people like Cheryl reading what I write.

Every time I want to quit, the writer gods give me a kick in the pants to get me back in the game. An acceptance, an encouraging word, a reader who loved what I wrote. As we walked slowly toward home, the dog dashing between us and into the weeds to sniff for edible trash, my fingers itched to get back to the computer, back to the writing game.


Sue Fagalde Lick, a former California journalist, is a writer/musician/dog mom living with her dog Annie in the woods on the Oregon coast. Her books include Stories Grandma Never Told, Childless by Marriage, and Love or Children: When You Can’t Have Both. Every day at 2:30, her dog insists she leave the computer and visit the real world for a while.

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§ 23 Responses to I Don’t Want to Play

  • rgummere says:

    Love this. Like, BIG love.

  • I love this, and I love Cheryl. And her cat too.

  • rachaelhanel says:

    This is lovely, Sue! I find that when I’m down about writing, something good comes along to pick me up. We have to trust the process!

  • Lynette Benton says:

    What an encouraging, truthful essay. Just what I needed today. So keep writing whatever you write, Sue, and I’ll go in search of your books!

  • youngv2015 says:

    Thanks for putting all these feelings into words. You’ve captured so much about the process of writing and trying to get work out there. I want to give your neighbor a hug for looking up your website and reading your work! She took you seriously when you said that you were a writer. So nice.

  • Liza says:

    Isn’t this just the pure and simple truth of a creative and human life, with great honesty and humor. I loved reading this, and the timing was perfect!

  • Lyn says:

    Thank you for writing and sending these words out into the world. What you said got me thinking about the web of writers and readers and people and stress and changing times and needs. Being connected this way feels good. I wish for an easier way to do the business of writng. Wishes sometimes come true. Living life well and writing. Both are good. Thanks for saying more about how you manage to make a life.

  • This is why. (And greetings from another writer/quilter who has to be making whether anyone reads or not.)

  • Cindy Leiffer says:

    I was working on “Why I Hate Everything I Write and I’m Going to Stop Doing This.” I’ve been moping about it for a week. Read your blog this morning. Maybe I’ll write today.

  • Phyllis Brotherton says:

    Have I indulged the “screw it” thoughts lately? Yes! Thanks, Sue, for reminding me that it’s normal! Must admit I haven’t read your books, but heading on over to your website right now! Very much enjoyed your humor and humility in this piece.

    Phyllis Brotherton

  • Thank you all for the sweet comments. I’m going into my day with a great big smile. And yes, Cheryl rocks.

  • kperrymn says:

    Just want to add my thanks to the comments above. Some days there are so many things that show up to stop us–it could be a pandemic, an “overstock slip” from Amazon, or the change of lighting on Zoom. Other days, nothing can get in our way. Thanks for this lovely reminder oh why we write.

  • judyreeveswriter says:

    Just what I needed on Thursday morning at 9 am. Thank you, Sue, for your oh so real take on the up-and-down life of a writer. I think I need to get a dog.

  • carolyn fay mosby says:

    You know, Sue, I get that you get discouraged at times, but I can’t imagine that you would quit writing because I think that it is a major part of who you are. We all get discouraged at times, for example, I look around my house and think, Why am I cleaning it? Then after I have done it, my sister comes over and says, Your house looks so inviting and I decide to continue.

  • bearcee says:

    Good one! Thank you . . .The ups and downs, mostly downs, of the writing life are all here. And then the brightening from just one reader of your books. That’s all it takes, really, is just one person’s appreciation, and we’re back at it all again. Well, we appreciate what you wrote here, Sue!

  • Jeanne Anderson says:

    I love Unleashed. I have to get more. Maybe I needed a kick in the pants reminder too.

  • Rasma Haidri says:

    Love this, thank you Sue!

  • ninagaby says:

    Every damn day. Except now my sister has become my biggest fan, and before you laugh, we have gone for almost a decade here and there without speaking, so connecting deeply over our art is a huge gift. Especially at our age! Thanks for your transparency!

  • I blog and I agree!

  • mizlatea says:

    I love this post! Partly because I don’t feel well after Covid shot #1, but also because I have so many days when I wonder why I’m even trying my hand at writing. I have a draft almost completed of a non-fiction book I’ve been working on for about four years now and I wax and wain with determination to finish it. Then something usually happens and I get inspired again–a new relevant book to read on the topic, a fellow writer cheering others like me on, or just getting the opportunity to talk about it.
    So, writers of the world–hang in there! Your voice is what keeps people alive inside!💕

  • […] This post over at the Brevity Blog really gave me the feels – I go through those phases too. […]

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