Then on Official Pirate Queen Holiday I had the best idea for the most perfect thing ever: a long, sweet writing vacation. Not just going on Skabbatical but being somewhere fabulous for it.
And I knew this was something I really, really wanted because about ten monsters showed up immediately and were extremely emphatic about what a terrible idea this is.
I made it clear that I’ll only deal with one at a time. This is the one who showed up.
And of course I took notes, scribbling furiously in an effort to keep up. It was pretty trippy, for the record. Shocking, I know. Here we go.
Me: Thanks. It was getting really hard to hear with all the yelling. So. Can you tell me what your issues are with this?
Monster: Too many to even list!
Me: Well, what if you just list as many as you can?
Monster: Okay. It’s stupid. It’s frivolous. And there is nothing worse than doing things that are frivolous. It’s not a good use of your time. You don’t have the money. You can’t justify this. No one can ever know about it because it’s so …. peinlich.
Me: Wait, you’re German? I have German monsters?
Monster: You’re avoiding the issue. This thing you want is embarrassing. Shame! Shame on you. That’s the main thing.
Monster: But also your business will suffer. And it’s not fair to your gentleman friend. And you’re abandoning Hoppy House. And your whole business will fall apart. And no one can EVER KNOW that you even want this thing because if they find out, they’ll lose all respect for you. Shame!
Me: Ah, you mean because people don’t understand what vacations are like. They don’t know the kind of awesome creative explosions that I get on holiday.
Monster: Are you out of your mind? If someone finds out you were even considering spending that much money on a VACATION?! You’re doomed! No one will ever respect you again. No one will ever be able to relate to you again. Your credibility will be shot to pieces.
Me: Oh. You’re afraid people will lose respect for me.
Monster: They’ll know what a traitor you are! They’ll be disappointed. They’ll abandon you like you abandoned them. They’ll know that you betrayed them.
Me: Ah. This isn’t about vacation, is it? This is about betrayals and shame again. Old stuff.
Monster: Maybe. But my point still stands.
Me: Which point is that?
Monster: If your people find out, they will detest you. Why would you even want to risk that? How can you help them if they can’t stand you?
Me: That doesn’t strike me as especially likely. You really think that’s what will happen? And is that the only option of how this could go, in your opinion?
Monster: Remember the noozletter of that one biggified chick? When she was all, ooh look at me I’m in vacation in Paris and this is the view from my fancy hotel, don’t you want to be fabulously successful like me, you should buy my blah blah product. And then you unsubscribed because she was so annoying.
Me: You’re right. I did.
Monster: See? That’s what will happen!
Me: I’m glad you don’t want that to happen. Can you really imagine me doing something like that?
Monster: No, not intentionally. But a lot your people are really, truly struggling. A lot of times they’re working a gazillion hours a week at a job they hate and they’re working on destuckifying, using your techniques and they’re working on their thing. How DARE YOU take three months off? How dare you?!
Me: Well, to be fair, it’s not off. It’s not time off. It’s three months devoted to working on one specific project.
Monster: (accusing) That will make you money.
Me: Well, yeah. That’s one of the perks of having a business, once it reaches a certain level of healthiness. And anyway, if it helps people and makes money, isn’t that okay? And I cannot believe you are ganging up on me like this with my money monsters when you said you’d come alone. And when we’re supposed to be discussing my Skabbatical.
Monster: So it’s not vacation.
Me: No. Though, to be honest, that would be nice. We might have to have a talk about that someday too.
Monster: It’s not vacation?
Back to the shame shame shame again …
Me: No. It’s projectizing. Intentional projectizing time.
Monster: But such an extravagant environment for it? Is that really necessary? So much money? What if you get caught? EXPOSED! Shame!
Me: Wait a minute. Are you implying … wait, that can’t be right. It kind of sounds as though you don’t really care whether or not I do this as long as no one finds out about it. Can that be right? What happened to “all things that cost money are bad”?
Monster: As long as no one finds out — AND — as long as you are working — AND — as long as you are convinced that this particular environment will help you be creative and produce (which I have seen happen and so I believe it), it isn’t necessarily bad. You know, in this particular situation.
Me: I don’t believe this. Really?! You don’t care about the all-luxury-is-bad thing anymore? We’re over that one? Ohmygod.
Monster: But NO ONE can find out. Ever. And here’s the thing. Someone could. Someone probably will. And you do not want to risk that. Remember the people who were jealous and horrified when you bought the really nice mattress? Remember?
Me: Okay. So I’m on board! What’s our plan?
Monster: Our plan? Our plan? Huh?
Me: Our plan! We either need a Super Secret Glamorous Spy plan to not get found out. Or we need to have a plan to bring it out into the open, and frame it in such a way that my people will get it.
Monster: Get it? Get it how?
Me: Listen, my people like me.
Monster: Pfffffft. If you say so.
Me: Whatever. Either way. They like the fact that the stuff I write about is useful to them. And so if this is a trip designed to help me write more things that are useful and better things that are useful … and if I’m still going to be posting regularly to the blog, why wouldn’t they be happy for me? You’re the one they don’t like, anyway.
Monster: You are delusional, my crazy, crazy friend. Sure, they’d be supportive of the idea, maybe. But not if they knew how much it costs to take three months off. That’s luxury. You can’t flaunt luxury. It’s extravagant. It’s disgusting. Shame!
Me: Yeah, I know. We’ve covered this so many times. And yet, it still sounded for a while there like you wanted me to have this beautiful writing project vacation.
Monster: I do. You deserve it.
Me: What? Who are you?!
Monster: I know you.
Me: You know me?
Monster: Remember Berlin?
Me: How could I forget Berlin?
Monster: Huddled in the cold. Writing the very first version of your website? You were amazing. But your situation was so … shaky. The abandoned building, the punks in the yard, the squatters, the junkies, the complete and utter lack of funds, lack of plans, lack of options.
Me: I remember. I was there. And that wasn’t even the worst we’ve been in, not by a long shot.
Monster: So, I don’t know, it seems like poetic justice somehow. Having three months to travel, be somewhere beautiful, eat good food, write your heart out and create something that the world needs. It sounds really good, actually.
Me: Are you sure you’re one of my monsters? Did I accidentally invoke a helper mouse instead? I do not believe what I’m hearing.
Monster: But no one can know — you cannot ever tell them, because they won’t understand. They weren’t there. They never slept in a kindergarten. They don’t know loss like you know loss. They can’t understand the way you have lived. They won’t get it. They won’t understand that this is about redemption.
Who doesn’t know loss.
Me: I’m not sure that I understand that this is about redemption either. But either way, I think that’s kind of presumptuous. How can either of us know what my people have gone through?
Monster: I don’t know.
Me: That’s my point. How can we know what kinds of loss they have experienced? Anyway, who hasn’t experienced loss and pain? So what if they weren’t there? Why should we assume that they won’t or can’t understand?
Monster: Do you really want to risk being shunned?
Me: Whoah. Who is shunning? What are you talking about?
Monster: (closed eyes and deep scary voice) They’ll cut you off. You will have no community. You will die alone.
Me: Wait. Who are you? This sounds like really old stuff. It’s not from now, is it?
Monster: (emerges from trance): Huh? Maybe.
Me: Listen. How much of this belongs to now?
Me: Come on. Give me a percentage.
Monster: Five percent. Maybe seven.
Me: Okay. So we’re going to give the rest back to wherever it came from. And how much of what’s left belongs to me?
Monster: Not very much.
Me: So it can go back to where it came from too.
Monster: I guess.
Me: So what’s this shunning thing about?
Monster: I don’t know. That was weird. I’m not sure where that came from but you’re right. It really doesn’t have anything to do with your life. My job is to protect you from disaster but I’m not going to fight disasters that don’t exist. Not anymore.
Me: Thank you.
Me: Where do we stand now?
Monster: In relation to?
Me: Three months of Skabbatical.
Monster: I still really don’t like the idea of people knowing.
Me: What can’t they know?
Monster: How much you spend on it. And you cannot be too loud in your enjoyment. It can’t seem like you’re lording it over them. You have to write about the sucky parts too.
Me: I always do, no?
Monster: Yeah, but you have to be careful. It could seem like you’re bragging.
Me: What, that I’m working on the book?
Monster: You’re moving forward on a dream. That shit pisses people off. Don’t you know that yet? How have you not learned that yet?!
Responsibility and freedom.
Me: Who? Who am I supposedly going to be pissing off?
Monster: You know who.
Me: Say it.
Monster: Nuh-uh. Not going to say it. You know.
Me: I don’t, actually. Is it __________? Is it X? Is it Y?
Monster: Who cares. There are a lot of people in your life who don’t act on stuff they want. Do you really want to be responsible for their pain?
Monster: I told you so.
Me: But that’s because I’m not responsible.
Monster: What? What are you talking about?
Me: It has nothing to do with me. It’s not my responsibility. It’s their responsibility to do stuff with their dreams. If the steps I take inspire them, yay. If not, oh well. It has nothing to do with me.
Monster: Remember how you wanted to spend this week getting better at being sovereign?
Monster: Behold the master. Shaka!
Me: Dude, have you been devil’s-advocate-ing me? No way! Get out of town!
Monster: You’re the queen, baby. You’re the queen.
Me: I don’t believe this.
Monster: That’s how transformation works. Or have you not noticed?
Me: So we’re done here?
Monster: You wanna hit the bar?
And … comment zen for today.
So yeah. Talking to monsters is challenging, intimidating and can be really painful. I’m so sorry. And I highly recommend having a Negotiator with you at all times.
Anyway. We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. We all get to talk about what we’re working on. We’re here to support each other.
This is an incredibly personal thing I’m sharing here — not to be told what to do with it, but in the hope that someone else gets a glimpse of something useful. Love, as always, to everyone who reads.