Prune and survive

If you don’t learn to say no, you’ll either be miserable or die

This week I had to get a grip on my work, which meant sorting out where to continue and what to leave behind. A slight change of direction. It implied quitting some commitments, annoying some contacts, maybe even hurting some feelings. I will no longer write for my local newspaper, I’m going national. 

For my writing it’s a great step in the right direction, first and foremost because I will get to have two editors reading with argus-eyes everything I try to publish. Secondly, it gives me an opportunity to write not mainly about local art exhibitions, but about the exhibitions I find most interesting from all over the country, even including a few trips abroad. 

But I know that my new route will hurt people, some will see me as ungrateful when saying no to continuing writing for the paper which in first instance made it possible for me to become a critic. But the thing is: I can’t do it all.

This morning I read a beautiful little piece by Courtney Martin which to a certain degree soothed my bad conscience. It’s a text about saying no. A text about sorting out. In short it postulates: “if you don’t learn to say no, you use your energy in ways that don’t make you happy – If you don’t learn to say no, you’ll either be miserable or die”. 

I seems perfectly true …


Rosa canina – no pruning needed

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Yes to pruning and surviving. It has taken me so many years to learn.

    1. Sigrun says:

      It’s strange that this take such a long time. Do you think saying no is more difficult for women than for men?

  2. Mary says:

    Best wishes for your new endeavour.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Hi Mary,
      you have changed direction yourself – how is your new project coming along?

  3. flowerville says:

    good luck with all – it sounds like the right decision and extra-congratulation on the no, because it can be so difficult….

    1. Sigrun says:

      oh yes, such a lot easier to try to please everyone …

  4. Arti says:

    The choice is clear, even if it’s pruning or staying stagnant. And, a big congrats! That must be so exciting.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Thank you, it is! I am very grateful for having this opportunity to develop my work, to become a better and more considerate writer.

  5. Harold Rhenisch says:

    By the image, I’d say it’s time to make a nice cup of tea. I made a move like this many years ago. It had to be, but, over time, I found that my provincial and national vision made my local one stronger and I was still playing a role there. In my case, what was a no became, with considerable work, a yes. I applaud the positive directions in which you are going…and rose hip tea.

  6. Harold Rhenisch says:

    Oh, by the way, as a master fruit tree pruner (if 44 years can be called mastery), I can add this: it’s not a matter of saying ‘no’ and dispensing death — that’s all in the moment (although in the moment it’s true); it’s more a matter of sculpture, in time; one must work with the life force of the tree, and know the effects of each cut five years forward in time, and dance with the tree, in tension, as one moves forward to that, as co-creators.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Beautiful, thank you!

    2. Kay says:

      I like this notion of working with the life force. I think saying no is about taking notice of what i am saying yes to and what has influenced that yes – what energy is behind it. an energy that is familiar may not be an energy to continue with in the future. making the cut is not always easy or clean but in making it space opens up and something happens in the stillness and over time.

      1. Sigrun says:

        The force of this energy surprises me, as if there is something unreflected within me taking the lead, demanding me to follow on.

    3. True in the case of trees, and also of life endeavors. Seven years ago, after a bad ice storm, I pruned my Japanese maple pretty severely. It looked awful; for awhile, I thought I’d killed it, though I was following a tree specialist’s advice. In the long run, it filled out and recovered–with a new but still attractive shape. I would like to think we can do that with our work-life-creative endeavors as well. Metaphorically speaking. Best of luck, Sigrun! Even if the shape of things looks a bit messy for awhile.

      1. Sigrun says:

        I feel this very strange mixture of sadness and relief, dizziness, I will have to readjust.

  7. I had never thought of it this way. Indeed, I have to prune my roses to get a new growth of flowers. I also like your comments about having two editors–it is hard on the ego sometimes, but usually leads to better writing. And congratulations oh going national.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Thank you!
      I do believe it is essential for me as a critic to experience what it’s like to receive critique, and to learn more about how to give critique in a useful & helpful way. It’s terrible when I have to kill my darlings, but I do see that the best view on any kind of work is not necessarily achieved from within.


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