There is a little devil in me that hates for me to succeed. I have lived with this little devil all my life.  This devil in my brain is a saboteur. Time and time again I get so close to wonder, so close to real creation then I change tacks and wander off to something else.  Sabotaging myself. fields-and-babies-005

Yesterday was the day I was going to send my last piece of writing to my mentor for her to look at it and make notes before the final edit. The whole book of letters to my sister is ready except for my own piece. My own letter to my sister. The inspiration for the book. In fact the crux of the book.

I only have the tiniest of edits to do before I can release it.fields-and-babies-007

So yesterday I went shopping. I  collected books from all over the house and filled the book shelves in The Coupe. I ordered semen for the cows. I booked all the flights for John’s son to come home on leave. I ordered more chicks for a second run of chooks for the freezer. I shifted hay from one side of the barn to the other. I moved all the stock about the farm. I dug out the North door again.  Then I rearranged my bedroom, rearranged the linen cupboard, I stripped the bed and then I did more laundry than a sane person should be doing. I threw out all the clothes I will never wear again and hauled the bags to the car. I sat in the long grass and photographed animals.I weeded and watered into the night. I turned the volume up on my talking book (The Good House by Ann Leary. So far it is a great listen).  fields-and-babies-010

For the last two days I have done everything but write. I had to stop myself starting the endless work of booking my tickets to NZ in October. I must get onto that, My little devil said. I mean I really must!

I allowed my Little Devil to drag me down the road of sabotage.  Maybe I had done enough I thought. Maybe it would be alright without another edit. Maybe it did not need that much polishing. No-one would mind surely. I am not that important. All the other letters are wonderful. I am little, no-one will notice. Punctuation is for sissies, said my little demon.fields-and-babies-012

My little devil needs a good kick.fields-and-babies-014

The book: Letters to My Sister must be brought into the light. Collecting all 63 of your beautiful letters to my sister about menopause is probably one of the most important things I have ever done. The art department is already at work. The printers are being priced. All we need is for me to finish my letter and then write my bio.  So I am going to take the next two days off from the blog and I am going to rewrite the bloody thing then send it to my darling mentor.fields-and-babies-015

Starting now.

There. No more sabotaging myself right at the cusp. I need to break that cycle. I have you now.


Your friend



60 Comments on “Sabotage

  1. I do that too. So many started projects. So few finished ones. No cow semen in my life, but other equivalents. Closets. Homework. Etc. Partners help a lot. And you have many pulling for you. Many who will offer their hand and say, “Let’s jump!”

    • Yep me too -really good at starting things , but hopeless at finishing!

  2. Gee Marcel is looking just great. He certainly is growing into a great one.
    You are almost there with the book Cel -kick that darn devil away.

  3. and i thought i was the only 1 that was an expert at stalling

  4. I empathise with your procrastinating before the finish line of any project. Painters, sculptors and famous writers all suffer in this way. Take the time and have a carrot, read treat for when you are finished. You can do it!

  5. It’s displacement activity. Bad, but boy, do you ever get a lot done in your endless quest for ANYTHING other than what you should be doing. Dear Celi, how will you ever fly if you do not step off the edge? Come back to us when it’s done. We know where you are, and we’re behind you. Go and produce something great.

  6. LOL I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing with you. Frequently, I sit down to write and I get a burst of energy. I think it comes from deep in my psyche, creative forces gathering, all the potential beginnings and endings and details in between whirling around in me like Dervishes. And so I often “find” myself weeding, running the dogs, weeding, watering, weeding, digging, inspecting for slugs. Anything but sitting still and writing. Until I figured this out, I suspected that I had ADD. I’m just now trying to sit with and through this initial burst of energy while keeping my keister still in the chair. Oh my, it isn’t easy. I have to take deep breathes and remind myself to stay seated. My success rate at this is still dismal… duct tape or rope may be needed to imprison myself to the chair 🙂

    • Yep, been there. When I was supposed to be finishing my PhD dissertation, I wasted so much time on ironing, cleaning the fridge, going to a movie, ANYthing to avoid the desk chair, I finally ended up moving to a remote cottage with no distractions just so I could finish it on time. I am very slightly better now, depending on the project, but am really, really proficient at making excuses, haha.

  7. Spoken like the perfectionist that you are, which many of us can appreciate. But it is sort of true that punctuation is for sissies, when you know an editor who thinks that stuff is fun will fix all the little technical glitches. Just send it. And then breathe.

  8. Okay, am I the only one who was disconcerted by the absence of a farmy blog post yesterday? There’s always a post everyday even if its a shorty, it seems. I had dire thoughts of death and dismemberment from farm equipment, of tornadoes whisking C and Sheila up into the sky (cue the wicked witch music), or just plain old loss of internet service. I did manage to get through my day, tho I did wonder. I even got my hair shorn, if only I had curly hair like Marcel! That devil of a saboteur has his own bedroom at my house. So, he can stay here for as long as you need him to. Do your writing. I’ll tie him to the bedposts….and not in a fun way!

    • Wonderful pictures your little devil produced, by the way. The first looks like it should be titled “The Fatal Thrust!”

  9. i understand this completely. know that you deserve this and are entitled to see it’s success in it’s completion. i look forward to it.

  10. Good luck! I think that little devil appears in lots of people when the work involved is less exciting than the world around you 😉

  11. Your feelings are so familiar…when I was writing my thesis, it seemed as if washing the bathroom was more appealing! Good luck with the last part!

  12. Ha yes I know that feeling, do anything but the thing your meant to do! I wondered where you were yesterday too, got slightly worried, then told myself off for being a worry wort ! Go for it Celi x

    • Thank you for admitting to wondering too! Mostly because it makes me feel like less of a whack job…haha

      Type Celi, type! We’re rooting for you..if you hear the faint sound of a cheering section in the quiet countryside where you are, that’s us, the Fellowship! Or maybe Sheila and Poppy… 🙂

  13. Yes, for sure you can and will do it! Sending energies to focus and write! xo

  14. It’s fear….. You want to finish it, but there is a nagging fear of failure. I know that little devil. His name is doubt, so we find 1000’s of other thing to do as an excuse. We’ll let me say something to that guy devil doubt, “go away, our Miss C is fabulous and her letter is going to be fabulous!” Put me down for 5 copies. I have 4 sweet ladies that are not even 30 yet that I want to give this book to when they turn 35. Our family starts menopause at 38 to 40, so I want them to understand life continues….

  15. Cecilia, I can totally relate to your put-off behavior. Glad you’re putting that little devil in its place…behind you…and you are charging ahead with your letter and bio. Yay!!

  16. I too tend to find ways of sabotaging my success. But then again, how does one measure success? It is different for each of us. Maybe deep down I fear what will happen if I somehow managing to get everything done. What will I do then? Or how does someone go about getting everything done? My being seem to thrive on busyness and chaos. I also find that in those busy and chaotic times my most creative thoughts and ideas flood me.

    So keep on going Celi and eventually that little devil will get worn out and quiet long enough for you to put your special thoughts and feelings to paper.

  17. I seem to find “busy work” to do when there is a deadline or something of importance to tackle… like the Daisy book I started to write. It’s been on the back burner all of this time. It’s all part of the process, Celi. We make realizations all along the way – like your saboteur edging into the scene and poking its little devil fork at you. You’ll get tired of being poked, and the desire to take care of the last details of the book will prevail and you’ll feel great accomplishment at last!

  18. We are all rooting for you and know that you will do a wonderful job completing your book. You throw that little devil in the pig pen and Sheila will keep him occupied.

  19. This is known as displacement activity to all kinds of creative people. It happens. But you win through in the end when the time is right. Bon courage.

    PS I stole that picture of Marcel and Poppy chatting.

  20. Ah, sabotage, we know your name. You will put the devil in its place. And I never sent you my contribution, I am sorry. Another kind of devil, sometimes called Life, overwhelmed.

  21. I was so worried something happened to you yesterday, too. Never have you gone without telling us. Your devil has many brothers and one lives with me, too. Of course, in the end, he will not win, but we sure get a lot done in the meantime, don’t we?

  22. No reply as you are not are busy doing what you are supposed to be doing

  23. Ah Cinders, it’s not really a little devil…well maybe a little…you see, we all do this…it’s a tiny bit fear, a tiny bit excitement, a tiny bit doubt…tiny bits of lots of things in this process, we call success or finishing something very important to us and especially when it involves others. You are putting your last thoughts together, even though you are doing other things. Your contribution to this book will be brilliant…we all know that and we cannot wait to read it. It will be wonderful and will be the most lovely gift you could ever give to your sister…it’s love!

  24. My house was never so clean as when I had a paper due in college. I do think on a certain level many of us self sabotage, but deep down I think it is really about fear of failure. Your mind is protecting you with bad logic. I used to do a lot of self sabotaging until I got really comfortable with failing. In all those failures came so true enlighten lessons. The more I was proud of my self for trying without having to be a success, the more I was actually successful. And best of all I have learn a lot in the process. If we look at the journey of life as an adventure and not a succession of wins…we can relax and live in the present moment. Que’ sera sera!

  25. Oh, I get this too, except mine means that I get nothing, zero, zilch accomplished. Self-saboutage. It’s why I didn’t write my piece about menopause, why I’ve spent this afternoon working … partly learnt behaviour that I haven’t got shot of from past depression, and partly the effects of the menopause itself (which I why I wanted to write about it). Bleh. I have a twelve-year-old son and a life I’d like to lead, so I need to find myself answers and strategies. You can do it… you write beautifully, you have a mentor to help you out, and a great desire to do this task. You will get it done! All strength, focus, concentrations and the right words in the right order to you.

  26. You could just think of it as creative procrastination……don’t beat yourself up, sometimes our inner artist knows that a pause is needed, kind of like when you rest meat after it’s been cooked and before you taste it, or when you turn the heat off under the soup and give it that little waiting space before the next step. Your writing is like a yoga practise, resting asanas while your body absorbs and releases, then on to the next……perhaps in your case some apprehension about re-reading your story and the memories and losses it conjures. Be gentle on Self 🙂

  27. Good for you. You are outwitting your little devil. It’s amazing how much housework/farmwork etc gets done when a writer is avoiding writing! At least you’ve spotted the little devil. It’s when they lurk in the unconscious that we are powerless. Flush them out into the light of day and we have whole new choices. Good luck with the writing. (Are you setting yourself too high a standard? Do you think you have to write the best piece of the 63? If so, forget it, and be good enough!)

    • Oh mercy no, no-one is best, that is the wonderful thing about the collection and my letter to my sister is actually TO my sister and I want it right, plus the foreword, collating the bio’s, acknowledgements, checking everyone has their work in, their names right, their releases in..checking everyones work for typos spacings etc. The List, many other bits and pieces when creating an anthology. Plus now we are doing the cover of the book, my own bio and etc, etc.. Raising the money and etc.. You know! Just that stage.. a wee bit manic.. I am enjoying it though.. now back to work for me!!.. c

      • All the normal mass of detail when a project is coming to a conclusion I know it well. Lots of focus is required for this stage.

        • It is exhausting, I always read before I go to bed and the last few weeks i have fallen face down into the pillow and – lights out! c

          • I know this so well! But satisfying too, especially when it’s all done and you hold the book in your hand.

  28. The longer you wait, the more you think about ‘it’, the more of an ‘exceptional problem’ it will become . . . . you are a natural in writing and superclear in thinking . . . . just go with the proverbial flow, put it behind you and get on with the next hundred things on your calendar . . . . says eha-mama . . . .

  29. I started writing one for Letters to My Sister, and then got whisked away in the annual planting frenzy here on the farm. So I understand procrastination. So I am there in spirit. I will buy the book. You will get it done.

  30. My 85 year old mother (the one who still has hot flashes) declares to me whenever she has a “procrastination free day”. Her way of dealing with the sabatoge. I think it took her 75 years to figure that one out. I haven’t tried it yet.

  31. We all experience this terrible affliction –that’s what it is all right. Steady as you go!

  32. This, of course, is why you’ll do so well when you write those children’s books about the farmy, because you just *know* that Sheila will want to be writing them herself, perhaps with a little oversight from Daisy, and you’ll be hard pressed to get a word in edgewise!

  33. Your photography has gone another level, c, just stunning! Good luck with your letter.. sending you lovely creative thoughts across the prairies and over to you! Your work will be stunning and heartfelt, as it always is!

  34. Displacement activity… looking back I was good at it although I thought it was just a strategy produce my best work under pressure at the last possible moment. At least after your solid day of sabotage-displacement activities, and then getting on with it you will once it’s done be able to step forward into a new space ready for the next wonderful creative project.

  35. Sigh… I’m doing it about the book, too. Have not sent you the release form. Keep thinking how ridiculous it would be to have a letter from me included in a book!

    • Susan you are not ridiculous. The book is a collection of very ordinary people. Just like us. Shall I write anonymous below your work? email me and tell me what you think, c

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