Thursday, May 04, 2006


With the release of my latest romantic thriller, The Deadliest Denial, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the various types of denial in human life. While I was writing the book, I was thinking of denial as the psychological equivalent of a life ring thrown to a drowning person in the face of unendurable pain: the betrayal of a spouse, the death of a loved one, the failure of a beloved child to live up to a parent’s expectations. Sometimes this denial turns into a desperate, self-imposed blindness, occasionally with fatal results.

But fortunately, most denial is more innocuous. Here are some of my personal favorites:

· I am going to clean out my perpetually-cluttered office once this book is turned in. (Bwahahaha! What a riot! Once the book is turned in, I will realize I am unemployed and frantically start work on a new proposal. Or two. Then I’ll do those pesky tasks, like paying bills, restocking the kitchen, and cleaning the bathroom before the health authorities show up. Any time I look at the overwhelming stacks of unfiled papers, I will immediately come up with some pressing self-promotional chore – or check my e-mail for the thousandth time.)

· I am going to walk more as soon as the pollen dies down (or the humidity decreases or the heat tapers off or – rarely – the cold snap ends). I live in the Houston area. Allergens, heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and rare cold snaps come with the territory. If I really want to walk, I’ll deal with it and do it. Daily, just like writing.

· One day, my house will all be clean at the same moment. (This is only happening if a. my mother-in-law, a famous white-glove tester type, is swooping in for a visit or some financial miracle allows me to hire a maid. I’d rather spend my days writing than cleaning something my family won’t allow to stay clean for more than ten minutes. After all, the books, once written, stay written.

· My book’s success is directly correlated to the amount of money and effort I pour into self-promotion. (I’ve mostly decided it has much more to do with the quality of the writing and universal appeal of the story, but I still catch myself panicking over not doing enough on my own. Whatever “enough” is.)

I frequently meet people who struggle with their own brand of denial in the writing department. They tell me:

· I’ll start that book tomorrow.

· I’m going to write as soon as I retire.

· You’re so lucky to have time to write (said resentfully). I have to a. work to support my family, b. raise children, c. tend to my ailing parents (as if those of us who write live in ivory towers with elves who come out at night to handle all the dirty work of life!)

· I’d be published by now, but I haven’t had the same breaks that you have. (This is always uttered by people who fail to complete manuscripts, send out queries, keep up with the marketplace, or do any of those out pesky chores associated with actual selling.)

· The only people who sell are mindless hacks like (insert name of famous, successful author). New York is too afraid to take chances on truly original work like mine. (Usually uttered by someone who’s written a 1,000-page tome on hairy, bisexual Neanderthals teleported to some technologically advanced-planet populated by goop-creatures – or something equally marketable.)

So what’s your favorite denial? And which ones are you most sick of hearing from others? Inquiring minds what to know…


Nancy Herkness said...

My most deadly denial: If I run two miles (or do step aerobics for one hour or run stadiums until I collapse gasping in a heap), the calories in that double chocolate triple layer cake iced with chocolate ganache won't show up on my hips. Ha! Can you say metabolism of a snail?

Ann Roth said...

You and I share the same "I'll clean and organize my office when I finish this current project" denial. My office needs a good cleaning and organizing, but I can't bear the thought! I'm glad I'm in good company. ;)

Colleen Thompson said...

How about the denial where drinking diet cola cancels out the calories from that giant cheeseburger and fries?

And I'm glad to know, Ann, that not everyone's office looks like those Smithsonian-worthy ones pictured when Oprah's book club goes to film an intimate chat with an author. Personally, I think vertical filing is a perfectly viable way to organize.

Sharon Schulze said...


I think my most insidious "plan" that doesn't happen is that, if I'd only spend 10 - 15 minutes a day going through the 30 years' worth of photos and assorted memorabilia currently piled, stacked, and shoved in shoe boxes under the spare desk, I could pull it all together. Maybe even have room to sit at that desk, too. I could get it all beautifully organized, have nice labelled photo albums (and maybe some scrapbooks--might as well think big :-)).

Every so often I'll get out the timer and do a little bit. It's kind of like bailing the Atlantic with a teaspoon.

I'm going to be forced to actually do something with all that stuff soon. My daughter-in-law has become a consultant for a well-known scrapbooking company. Since I want to be a supportive MIL (and maybe, finally, make some progress with Mt. Photo), I've been attending her scrapbooking workshops and accumulating photo organizing stuff and scrapbooking supplies.

She knows about my photo stash--she just might shame me into at least making a dent in it!

JoAnn Ross said...

Sharon -- Warning! It was a reader who got me into scrapping a couple years ago when she sent me a card she'd made and a magazine with a story about her scrapbook retreats. I figured it looked like fun, and like you, I had boxes of photos that needed something done with them.

It's absolutely addictive. In fact, I have so much stuff now, I was getting overwhelmed, and it might take me all day instead of an hr to figure out what to do with a page. So, I decided in January to switch to making cards. Surely those, being smaller, would take less time. Of course, they also require more stuff. And now I've heaven help me, just got into stamping. Otoh, my kid and grandbabies love the albums I've made them, and I've found that the creativity involved in creating them also stimulates my writing, although all too often I'll wake up thinking of pages or card layouts, instead of stories.

Greatest denial. . . which I still want to believe is a truism. . . Calories eaten standing up do not count.

MaryF said...

Hi, Colleen! Yes, on the "one day my WHOLE house will be clean at the same time," and on the exercising!

And on the reading all the books in my TBR....

Colleen Thompson said...

Hi, everyone! I don't even pretend (to myself) about the photos. Mine are a mess.

But I definitely do subscribe to the "calories consumed while standing don't count" theory!